Miss Manners

Picking the Right Time for Popping the Question

DEAR MISS MANNERS: At 58 and as a lifelong bachelor, I have finally found the person I wish to marry. She, I’m sure, feels the same. The issue is popping the question.

We live together in the Midwest, very near her family. We spend two weeks every year with my family in the East. I would like to ask her there, so I may immediately convey the Big News to my mother in person and share the delight I am certain she will feel.

I recognize that etiquette no longer requires I speak to my intended’s father first, but I wonder whether it is improper for me to ask at my convenience, and so deprive her of the pleasure of immediately informing her family in person. My hope is that the fact of the proposal will be enough for her.

Needless to say, I’m in no position to find out her thoughts on the matter. But I thought I might find out yours.

GENTLE READER: And yet Miss Manners has infinitely fewer personal feelings about the outcome than your potential betrothed. This lady will presumably have many --and thinking of her first would be a good way to set precedence for any future you may have with her.

A compromise might be to ask the father for her hand -- not as a means of consent, in this case, but as fair warning for the family, asking them not to spoil the surprise for your intended. This method also has the added benefit of being charming and subtly dismissive toward any question of your friend’s age and obvious independence from her parents.

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