I've heard that for the Polish, it's a cultural norm that the man asks the father for his daughter's hand in Marriage.
It is kind of old fashioned and up to the individual but I consider it proper form and I would ask the head of the family, in this case it sounds like the mother.
This makes me slightly ill. But I'm not marrying Mama.
Agreed, I think ever family has their skeletons and negative aspect.
Anyway, I expect that I really do need to ask her mother before I propose. How should I do this?
Dress nicely, bring flowers and chocolates (sweeten the deal) and ask.
Then ask her what kind of dowry she's willing to throw in for you, whatever she says double it :)
I want to survive this conversation without her issuing ridiculous threats or ultimatums, to which I simply cannot and will not bow down.
This is a bit vague, ridiculous threats? you are not going to live in the same house are you?
And why the hell would you be ruled by your mother-in-law? perhaps you are just nervous and thinking of the worst case scenario? although I would be wary of the mother asking for money in the future.
What do you think I should say, and what do you think would work best for a woman with her mom's personality?
Throw in a bottle of wine, make it short and sweet.
I also want to counter any threats or unpleasant suggestions with my superior manners, strength, breeding.
Again you are not being clear, what threats?
Mama (and for that matter, psycho sister) are nervous that my beloved will be "leaving home" to join my family.
Could it be possible that you are over analysing?