Man Says His Fiancée's Stepfather Is Enraged That He Didn't Ask Him For Her Hand In Marriage — 'You Don't Own Her'

He wasn't about to bow to old-fashioned tradition — especially since his fiancée asked him not to.

A groom angry over his fiancée's stepfather demanding he ask permission to marry her Happy Together / Shutterstock

There's something to be said about old-fashioned wedding traditions, and many of them are rooted in beautiful ideas about love, family, and companionship. But given the outdated ideas about gender roles that underpin so many marriage traditions—not to mention the institution of marriage itself—some traditions can feel a bit problematic nowadays.

And as a man recently shared on Reddit, things can become even more dramatic once the family drama is factored in.


A groom's stepfather-in-law is furious he didn't ask permission to marry his stepdaughter.

The groom and his bride-to-be Serenity's wedding announcement sparked controversy right from the start. "After we announced our engagement social media blew up," the groom writes, "because she didn't tell her family." The bride's mom was very upset, but it was nothing compared to the way her stepfather, John, reacted.

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The bride is mostly estranged from her family and has never gotten along with her stepfather, who considers her his daughter.

The 25-year-old couple "have been dating ... since we were in high school," the groom writes, and they "go back a long way and I have always been aware of her poor relationship with her family." It all stems from when Serenity was just six years old and her father died suddenly of heart failure.


Within a year, her mother was remarried to John, and while Serenity's sister and John instantly connected and he adopted her soon after, Serenity "didn't feel ready for John"—and John retaliated in damaging ways. "He went out of his way to take away memories of her dad in the house, and to insert himself into Father's Day and other holidays as 'dad,'" the groom writes.

The more Serenity resisted, the more volatile things became, escalating to him replacing her father in photos with pictures of himself and forcing Serenity to change her last name to his to make up for the fact that she wouldn't allow him to adopt her.

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The bride's stepfather showed up at their house demanding to know why the groom didn't ask permission to marry her.

Aside from the obvious, the groom refrained from talking to Serenity's stepfather about the wedding because she explicitly asked him not to do so. "When Serenity and I started dating she told me John was nothing but the [man] who took down all photos of her dad and replaced them with photos of him," he writes.


Given the toxicity of her family dynamics, Serenity was explicit that "she'd like for me not to ask her stepfather for his blessing to marry me," he goes on to say. Of course, he obliged. "I told her I wouldn't have dreamed of asking him and when we were ready to get engaged I would plan something special."

Despite all the context of their difficult relationship, John was undeterred. He drove five hours to their house to bang on their door demanding to know "what the hell was I thinking proposing to his daughter and not seeking his blessing first." The groom had a simple answer for him—"I told him that he does not own Serenity and she is perfectly capable of deciding whether she wants to marry me herself."

That wasn't good enough for John, who insisted it's tradition to ask permission to marry a man's daughter. But of course, there's one small problem here—Serenity isn't his daughter in the first place. The groom told John this and then "shut the door in his face." Now, the couple is "getting harassed through social media" by family members who've taken John's side.

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People were shocked by the stepfather's audacity and thought his demand that the groom asks permission to marry his fiancée was absurd.

"Just because you’re married to a child’s parent does not mean you’re their parent," one TikTok user wrote. "That is up to the child, no one else." One stepmom chimed in to say that John seemed to have fundamentally misunderstood the assignment of a step-parent. "As a bonus mom, my job to my 2 bonus kids is to let them know I love them & are there for them," she wrote. "But I'm also not their mom's replacement."

Experts agree, and say this is key to a successful blended family. In fact, it's divorce coach Dr. Karen Finn's #1 rule "stepparents MUST follow" if they want a happy blended family. "The stepparent is NOT the parent," she told us in 2015, "your job is to model healthy life perspectives that complement those of their biological parents."

Her rules include other areas where John has majorly fallen down on the job too. "Never, EVER, speak poorly of the child's other parent," she writes, "[and] never allow anyone else (including your spouse) to speak poorly of the child's other parent, either." And when it comes to the role a step-parent actually plays, it's pretty simple—"give support, not direction, unless explicitly requested." Sorry, John.


But if there was one silver lining to this uproar, it was the way the groom handled it, and many applauded his approach. As one woman put it, "You just proved that she can trust you to have her back." Their wedding planning may be rocky, but their marriage is already off to a good start. 

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John Sundholm is a news and entertainment writer who covers family, social media and human interest topics.