A few years ago, I did something that was very unusual. At my daughter Christine’s wedding reception, I got up and told our guests what my five requirements were for a man who wanted to marry one of my daughters. Before I share my five requirements with you, I need to give you some background information.
When I was in high school, my mom told me that anytime I dated a girl, I needed to observe the way her mother treated her father and her siblings. My mom told me that it was important to see what type of woman the mother was because there was a likelihood that her daughter (the girl I was dating) would end up with some of the same traits and behavioral habits that her mother had.
My mom also told me that I needed to pay attention to whether the girl loved and respected her father because if I married the girl, there was a good chance that if she loved and respected her father, she would also love and respect me. On the other hand, if she resented and disrespected her father, there was a likelihood that she would, over time, begin to resent and disrespect me.
While I didn’t always follow my mom’s advice, what she said about associating the behavior of a potential future bride with her parents’ attitudes and behavior made sense to me, so I did exactly what she told me to do. Whenever I had the chance, I would spend time visiting with the parents of a girl I was dating. They didn’t know it, but I was checking them out, so I could try to determine the type of person the girl I was dating might grow up to be.
I met my wife Georgette in August 1978, when I was 21 years old. Shortly after we met, she invited me to her sister’s house for a family get together. That was my first opportunity to spend time with her family. After that, Georgette, who was still living at home with her parents, inviting me to have dinner with her family at her parents’ house. After that, almost every time I picked Georgette up for a date, her dad insisted that I come inside the house for a short visit.
It didn’t take very long for me to realize that if my mom’s theory was right, Georgette was destined to be a great wife and mother. Her mom, Anna Ghantous, was (and still is) a loving, loyal, respectful, faith-filled wife and mother who was always willing to sacrifice and work hard for the benefit of her family. She was also a great cook!
Georgette’s dad, Dumit Ghantous, was everything a woman would want in a man — loving, responsible, loyal, generous, hardworking, independent, and faithful to God. It was obvious to anyone who paid attention that Georgette loved and respected her dad.
While I fell in love with Georgette for other reasons, based on my mom’s advice, if we were to get married, there was a good chance we would have an evergreen marriage that lasted a lifetime.
By the time Georgette and I started dating, I had a long list of qualities that I was looking for in a woman. During my high school and college years, I frequently laid in bed at night, closed my eyes, and saw in my imagination a woman who had all the qualities that I believed were necessary to make her a great wife and mother.
Before I met Georgette, I never had a relationship with a girl that lasted for more than three months. The reason for that was because none of the girls I dated had all the qualities I was looking for in a woman. I didn’t think it was fair for me or them to continue our relationship if we weren’t meant to be married. For me, the hardest part of dating was ending relationships that I had with decent, kind girls who I believed were not right for me.
Georgette and I were married in June 1980. We had eight children, one of whom we lost as a result of a miscarriage. Of the seven children we raised — one boy and six girls — six of them are now married. For those who know me, I’m a man of many words, so at each of our children’s wedding receptions, I got up and told our guests stories about the child whose marriage we were celebrating.
A few years ago, when our daughter Christine married Joe Gorman, in addition to telling stories about Christine’s childhood, I shared five requirements that I had for any man who wanted to marry one of my daughters.
On the morning of Christine’s wedding, I questioned myself as to whether it was appropriate for me to share my five requirements at her wedding reception, but I thought that there would be enough people who would be interested in hearing what the father of six girls had to say about what his expectations were for his daughters’ husbands.
Here’s what I told the guests at Christine’s wedding about the five requirements:
The first requirement – Does the man who wants to marry my daughter have a faith? Does he believe in God? While there may be a lot of people in America who don’t have a faith, that’s something that is critically important to a marriage.
The second requirement – Does he love his mother and does he look up to her and honor her? That’s important because his mother is the first woman he ever loved, and she was the first woman who ever loved him. When a boy dates my daughter, I always keep my eyes and ears open, and I ask the questions that are necessary to find out what kind of relationship he has with his mother.
The third requirement – Does he have a father who was a good example to him while he was growing up and does he respect his father? If he did not have a father in his life, or if he had a father who was not a good example, what did he learn from that experience? Did he decide, “I’m never going to be like that” or “I’m going to be different”? Who were the men who had the most influence on him while he was growing up?
The fourth requirement – Is he family oriented? It’s one thing for him to love his parents, but does he love his extended family? Is he open to having children? I didn’t say child, I said children — plural.
The fifth requirement – Does he know how to work? Unfortunately, many of the young men in America don’t know how to work. They never learned how to work. They don’t like to work. They don’t have any ambition to get ahead. This is an important requirement because if he’s going to marry my daughter, he needs to be able to support her and be there when she needs him, and he has to be able to provide the security and stability that his family needs.
After I finished explaining my five requirements, I said, Now, let’s see if Joe passed the test. I then went through the requirements again and outlined the qualities Joe possessed that proved that he had met each of the requirements. That gave me a chance to highlight all the good qualities that he was bringing with him into his marriage.
Christine and Joe’s wedding was our fifth family wedding. After the speeches were finished, throughout the rest of the evening, I received more positive comments and compliments from people than I had received at any of our other weddings. Several mothers approached me and told me how grateful they were that I took the time to talk about what my expectations were for the men who married my daughters.
One of the women complained about how she and her husband were upset with their daughter who was involved with someone they felt was the wrong man for her. She asked me for advice on what she should do. I asked her if she prayed the rosary every day, and she said no. I told her that over the years, I had leaned heavily on the Mother of God to intervene and guide me, my wife, and our children in all our important decisions.
I also told her that I frequently asked the Blessed Mother to find the right spouse for each of my children and to see to it that my children met and developed a relationship with the people she had selected for them. I told her that the Blessed Mother would not let her down as long as she took the time to have a daily relationship with the Blessed Mother, which required a minimum of a daily rosary. The mother thanked me for listening to her and giving her guidance on what she should be doing.
Georgette and I have one more daughter who will likely be married in the near future and I’m looking forward to meeting the man who the Mother of God has picked out for her.