The one secret to a happy, successful marriage? A giant, elaborate, sparkly ring worth approximately two months salary or more. You knew this right? It’s all about the ring. A mondo diamond shows his love for you to the world. It will elicit comments and admiration, maybe jealousy. Friends and family and total strangers will know you’re in a commited relationship, able to land a man and remain off the market for as long as you both shall live.
I remember clearly getting engaged and thinking “checkmark!” One more life milestone was crossed off the list, leaving “just” having kids (in my admittedly limited goals) on the To Do list of my 20s and 30s. I reveled in my ring, a clear carat of diamond in a simple and classic Tiffany-style gold setting. My left hand was always out, casually, so everyone could see my new status. I didn’t know how much my ring cost, but it was clearly expensive. He cared! He loved me! He wanted to spend the rest of his life with me! I was wanted and desired! He was a romantic! I immediatley started planning my big, white (who did I think I was kidding?!) wedding.
What I should have been thinking was “What am I trying to prove?” “Why does it mean so much to me to have bling on my ring finger?” and “Why didn’t I know he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me until his suprise proposal?” What should we have been doing with money that he spent on the ring (probably at least a few thousand dollars)? I think we should have been paying off his school debt. Or we could have invested it. Maybe take the money designated by my Mom for the wedding, close to $30,000, pooled it with the ring money and the money spent on the honeymoon and built a serious nest egg or put a down payment on a house. You know, plan for the future and not for the day.
Now that I’m in another relationship, post-divorce, I can’t help but think about how I’d do it differently if I were to go down the path to marriage again. First, the focus would be on us and our future together. By future I mean in the long term, not just how many months, days, minutes and seconds until our wedding. I’d plan to be financially independent of each other but know where we each stood and make sure that we shared similar goals for saving and spending and investing in addition to wanting to grow old together. If my man were to present me with an expensive ring my first though would be that he’d suffered some sort of head trauma, as big money blown on jewelry is not something either of us think is responsible in general or for our goals as a couple.
I’m not cranky enough (yet) about marriage to recommend you forgo a ring and a dress and a ceremony all together. But as someone whose marriage didn’t go down the “happily ever after” path, one of my biggest regrets is the amount of money poured into our nuptials and the associated items. At the time it seemed a necessity.Now it seems like a colossal waste.
If I had all the money in the world (I don’t) and were getting proposed to again any time soon (I’m not), I wouldn’t make the same mistakes twice. That would start with a lot of things before the ring, but the ring would definitely not escape my overhaul. Now, I love a big, sparkly ring as much as the next girl. But I enjoy them most in store windows and on the hands of others. For myself I’d not want to break the bank or draw the attention. But mostly I’d just want the ring to be what I feel it should be: a token of love and a bit of a promise for the future from the person you love and who loves you back. It’s not a guarantee, or a predictor or a measurement. It’s a piece of jewelry. If you don’t know how your man feels about you before he proposes then you’re doing it wrong. Trust me.
For your consideration, I’ve put together a board of bling to prove (at least in my opinion) that you can have a dreamy ring for under $500 instead of closer to $5000. And to those of you thinking, “OMG I’d never wear cubic zirconia!” or “Topaz? WTF!” I urge you to consider where you’ll be thinking those thoughts and why. Will a multi-thousand dollar ring help you get to your future together sooner? Also, what are you getting from your ring that you’re not getting from your partner? A shiny rock shouldn’t change the promise of your future or how you feel about your intended. It should just add to it.