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Getting permission from your partner's family to marry

Updated on April 8, 2015

In a country like Japan, depending on the family, this can be a very formal and nerve wrecking procedure. Traditionally the all four, e.g. the boyfriend, the girlfriend, the boyfriend’s (or girlfriend’s) mother and father all sit around a low table with legs folded underneath them (the Japanese seiza position). Then the partner will be introduced. They may be wearing semi-formal attire and be prepared, a bit like a job interview.

If it’s a women introducing her boyfriend, then probably the father would want to make sure that he is financially stable and if not may question their future together. If it’s the other way round then the mother may worry about the type of women her son is bringing into the family.

In the case the parents reject the partner, nothing will actually be said face to face but a separate discussion may be held with the child only discussing why the partner is not suitable.

However many Japanese families nowadays are very relaxed about it and simply want their children to be happy regardless of income or job security.

Boyfriend is jobless

In any country a father will feel uncomfortable about his daughter getting married to somebody with no job. If he is in between jobs and has some skills / education then it wouldn’t be a worry however. No job, no skills and no enthusiasm to work is never going to make a good impression no matter how kind your girlfriends father may seem. Being Jobless is probably the worst period to ask your girlfriends parents for her hand.

Race issue

For many people in the west, race difference can be a big hurdle. Due to this, there are many mixed couple with children that are not married. In the UK for example it is not exactly frowned upon to have kids outside marriage however it is in countries like Japan.

Racist or not, it may be difficult for some middle class white fathers to accept their daughter marrying a black man. Being middle class in the first place either means you have done well for yourself academically and vocationally or have grown up around people who are financially stable in life. Therefore they could fear that marrying a black man would put them into a lower class, due to statistical thinking and stereotyping.

The father may however be relieved if the black boyfriend has good educational skills and a decent paying stable job, however some maybe so blinded with stereo typical thinking they just can’t see past the black skin.

This can be more of a barrier when marrying Japanese, however Japanese are more likely to accept westerners from a developed country than Asian’s from neighboring countries e.g. China, Korea, Thailand, Vietnam.

Type of employment

In some cases your girlfriends father may not accept you not because of the income, but due to the type of work you are in. Self employed small companies are a worry for some people here in Japan, as 1,000’s of small businesses rise and fall all the time. Being an athlete can be also worrying for some potential in-laws due to the short career length and possible injuries.

Age difference

It shouldn't really make a difference however being an age close to your partners parents will be an issue in many countries.

An older man and younger women is often more accepted but if the women (girlfriend) is a lot older then the younger mans mother is likely to intervene.

Language barrier

There are too many functionally illiterate people in the world. By this I mean that they are unable to speak the language of the country they are living in. First of all if you can’t speak to your girlfriends parents, how are they going to accept you?

If your girlfriend is bilingual then maybe she could interpret or translate to some extent, however you are going to run into issues down the line. If my daughter introduced me to a guy who can’t speak English (my language) or Japanese (her mother tongue) then I feel that he would become too dependent on her in life. Making an effort to speak the local language is very important if you are looking to marry the local people. Otherwise you because a constant weight they have to drag around.

What if you are rejected

A couple of scenarios here.

  • In some unfortunate cases as if Japan, if the father says “No”, the daughter may also be convinced not to marry and they will break up. If the daughter (or son) goes ahead while the family disagree, the family can actually go to the city office and remove their own son or daughter from the family register. This does happen.
  • They marry without the parents consent and break all ties with that side of the family
  • They marry without the parents consent but family come to terms at a later stage and accept.


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    • Hezekiah profile image

      Hezekiah 2 years ago from Japan

      Thank you, parents support would definitely be appreciated in these cases.

    • MsDora profile image

      Dora Weithers 2 years ago from The Caribbean

      This system of involving the parents is full of wisdom. It helps to get their blessing. Great that they concern themselves with the young people's ability to earn. Great if the parents offer their support to help them overcome what seems like obstacles. Thanks for sharing these insights.