Friday, April 20, 2012

i want an engagement ring, and i want him to be happy about getting me an engagement ring

hey there esb,

so i've got a boyfriend and he's FANTASTIC. absolutely, super amazing.
and we're talking wedding things! and we're talking WELL about them, and i'm so happy about this!

except that
we have different viewpoints on engagement rings.

"why do i have to spend 1000-2000 dollars on something that doesn't DO anything?" he keeps saying.

it DOES DO something.

but....what does it do, actually?

i already know he's committed to me. i don't need a ring to tell me that.

then what am i missing? why is it that i want an engagement ring, and i want him to be happy about getting me an engagement ring, and i want him to have these old, traditional views of it like, "i get you a ring, you be my wife." why is it so hard to ask? WHY am i doing the asking?!

i've been through some pretty bad relationships, and i sure could use someone dropping 1k on me to prove they are committed to marrying me and not going to put me through the wringer with wedding-speak and then drop me like it's hot eventually.

we talk about it
and he kisses me and says "whatever you want, we will get it,"
but I KNOW he isn't thinking about engagement rings the same way i am.

he's thinking it's just a thing, another BS tradition he has to follow suit with and i'm thinking it's an example of commitment.

any words to help us bridge the gap?

burning ring of fire


Lady, if the ring is important to you, let him buy you a ring. HE ALREADY SAID HE WOULD.

But you can't make him be all stoked about it.

Illustration by Somefield via Trendland


  1. ack. that's hard. but do focus on the positives: he wants you to be happy (he's giving you what you want even if he doesn't "get it"). and he does care about commitment (he's marrying you). those speak more to his character than his ability to be on the same page about rings. but you mayyy want to have a discussion about ceremony stat, since he's so averse to "BS traditions."

  2. I think this says a lot about weddings in general. You will each have something that is very important to you, but it may not feel very important to your partner. And while you can accept that things that are notveryimportant to you are happening in your wedding, you can't force something to feel veryimportant to them. No matter how much you argue or discuss. Sometimes, you just have to accept that they don't care about the color of your flowers, but they're willing to wear a boutonniere. It doesn't mean they're not excited about marrying you. It just means they're not excited about flowers, and/or don't feel a need for traditions like flowers in order to make the day feel important. Neither side is wrong - it's just different approaches to the same tradition.

  3. My husband felt exactly the same way. He proposed to me with engagement earrings instead of a ring. I was really happy, but... also wanted a ring. I felt like a real brat at the time. I probably was... :)
    But as a compromise I got a 300 dollar engagement ring and it's the most beautiful ring ever. Maybe it doesn't have to be a 1000-2000 dollar ring for you guys too...

  4. 7 years ago, I had similar conversations with my now-former-fiance. I'm still trying to sell the ring.
    If you're already feeling this weird about different viewpoints on something as simple as a ring, you might first want to make sure you are 100% comfortable about different viewpoints on a lot of other more important things, too...
    Possible solution: My now-husband (different guy, obviously) and I picked out and purchased a modest ring together, with the understanding it would serve as both engagement + wedding ring.

    1. Yeah, sounds familiar to me too. Tread carefully, it sounds like you two may not be on the same page...

      Also, I can't imagine denying my SO a ring if it meant that much to them. I wouldn't even question it. So his reaction sends me signals...

  5. You're allowed to ask for a tangible symbol of your engagement, something that is deeply traditional and meaningful, and you're allowed to ask him to respect that it means something to you even if it doesn't mean something to him. But I do think you need to break free of this idea that if he spends $1-2k on it it somehow proves he's committed. Has a man ever said, "I really want to get out of this relationship, but I already spent two grand on a ring and I don't want to waste that money, so I'll just get married?" (Maybe, if the man was a moron, but you take my point).

    If what you really care about is the symbolism of an engagement ring and all that it entails, then explain that to him, drop the abitrary minimum price point and find a more reasonably-priced ring that you can both feel comfortable with (I have always loved this catbird number, for what it's worth). Or even a family/heirloom ring that is super meaningful and has the bonus of being free.

    If what you really care about is that he spent a chunk of cash on you, well, I can kind of see his point. You can't buy commitment; you either have it or you don't. It sounds like you do, so don't fret too much.

    1. That catbird ring is gorgeous!

      And ditto to everything Kirsty just said.

    2. Ditto re: arbitrary price point. My engagement ring was $7 at a pawn shop.

  6. I'm not an engagement ring kind of girl. It just wasn't important to me. Plus I'm bothered by the diamond trade, I'm bothered by DeBeers marketing, I'm bothered by the idea that it's an unequal symbol that is supposed to display the dude's wealth and the lady's being off the market. I didn't have one and my marriage is pretty great. There are reasonable reasons to be unexcited about engagement rings, even though that's still a minority opinion. So give the guy a break.

    If he's willing to listen and to get you a ring because it is important to you then it sound like he cares about *you* even if he doesn't care about the ring. It seems like he has his priorities in order. I'm guessing there are things that are important to him that you're not super into. That's okay. As long as you respect each other, communicate, and remain willing to compromise when something is important to your partner it sounds like things are good.

    (If your unease about the engagement ring thing is really a pretense for expressing unease about other things that bother you about the relationship, then maybe you should worry. If it's just the ring thing, then it sounds like you're fine.)

  7. Yeah, an engagement ring definitely doesn't need to be 1-2 grand. If you just want it as a symbol of the fact that you belong with someone for good, it can cost $75. I suggested this to my broke brother:

  8. Why don't you buy yourself an engagement ring? You will know what you want. Or why don't you guys split the cost of the ring?

  9. I had the exact same problem, but completely opposite! My fiance (now husband) wanted to get me a diamond ring, and I wanted something much cheaper. I ended up with a small diamond because it was very important to him.

    He may not understand why you want a ring, but if he's willing to do it for you just because he knows it's important to you, that's what counts. Pick something you like and be happy.

  10. As has been mentioned above, there are going to be lots of things about your wedding that are important to you and not to your fiance (and vice versa).
    But without wishing to state the obvious, this also holds true in married life too. There are things that my husband considers important that I just don't get, or that I don't consider important, but that doesn't mean I don't support his views and try and make him happy. And vice versa.
    It's how two people work together despite occasionally having different views and support each other (amongst other things) that makes a good marriage.

  11. "i've been through some pretty bad relationships, and i sure could use someone dropping 1k on me to prove they are committed to marrying me and not going to put me through the wringer with wedding-speak and then drop me like it's hot eventually."

    If this is your concern then what you need is more and better communication, and maybe therapy. I don't mean that comically, past relationship hurt is in the past and your current boyfriend should support you in healing, but not have to prove himself beyond loving, respecting and caring for you.

    Money does not buy love, money does not buy love, money does not buy love. Seriously. This 1k thing is quite sad to me.

    How about talking together about saving 1k and going travelling, or planning for children or a home, or something that you can share that really shows commitment?

    I think some people (myself included) see jewellery as symbols of love, and others don't. But that doesn't mean that jewellery has to cost a lot to be meaningful. Also, when you're not given gifts of jewellery it doesn't mean that you aren't loved.

    Why not buy yourself a ring as a sign of self-love? It may sound cheesy, but it might fill a ring shaped hole in your heart...

    1. This comment almost made me cry; I think it's the only one the author needs to see.


  12. All you can do is advocate for what you need. He sounds willing to do it. But ESB is right: you don't get to demand that HE need it, or want it, or value it the same way you do.

    There will be billions of similar situations in your marriage, by the way. Being willing to compromise and meet his needs even when it ISN'T important to you, and vice versa, is what it's all about.

  13. it's okay if a ring is important to you and not to him. he should respect that its important to you. sounds like he does. just don't be a nazi about price. that's petty. and let him get it in his own time. you might learn a lot about him in the process. (plus, i hope it's not lost on you that you're the one wearing it, of course you're gonna be way more invested in it)

  14. I'm basically anti everything wedding related but still felt I needed a ring. Primarily because it was a tangible object that sort of says "whoah for real you guys" and its just easier to have a ring for your boring every day small talk. I find having to explain your values to well meaning strangers to be tedious. "Oh you're engaged how nice. Let me see your ring!" "Well uh, you see I believe that a ring is a sort of an antiquated throwback that does not actually reflect blablabla." My ring was inexpensive and not a diamond. I didn't have to convince him to get an engagement ring, but he could've easily done without. Whatever. What Kristy and Actof Beauty said too.

  15. Once he sees how happy the ring makes you (bc it's an engagement ring and it's a symbol of your relationship and rest of your life and yadaydadayada...I love mine and couldn't stop looking at it, no judging)... ANYWAY. once he sees that, he'll be happy he spent every penny.

  16. Why would you even ask East Side Bride for advice? You knew that you wouldn't get an answer.

    1. Everyone seems to want ESB's advice but no one seems to listen to listen to her advice.

      If you scroll up you will find an answer.

    2. whut? she answered my question. i'm grateful. <3

  17. Yep, being an adult means telling your partner what you want/need and then being okay with the fact that maybe s/he is doing it to make you happy.

    Your BF can't control how he *feels*, he can only control his actions. The fact that he's willing to do this because it's important to you even though it doesn't make sense to him speaks volumes and that's something to be happy about.

    I do totally get wanting someone to want to do something for the sheer joy of it, sadly I've finally accepted that no one is a mind reader and/or able to feel exactly how I want them to feel at all times.

  18. My fiance got me a ring that I'm not reeaaallllyyy crazy about. I'm a relatively untraditional girl and my taste is just... different. So that's what he got the ring to suit. Little did he know that I've been harboring fantasies of a traditional pretty diamond jutting out of a very simple traditional band. No matter what it looks like, the symbolism and meaning was there, I was just being a brat about aesthetics. I realized that the ring he got was perfect and if I really want a ring that has a specific "look" I can always get it for myself. Then I get the best of both worlds.

    He can get you a lower priced ring that isn't going to break the bank and be a huge diamond, if what's important is the symbolism. And if you decide later you still want the big diamond bank buster, get it! There's no shame in it! You can get the best of both worlds too.

  19. YOU do the proposing. get him something cool. if he's so ho-hum about the whole tradition of rings.... i doubt being the one doing the proposing matters to him either.

    then... get YOURSELF an awesome ring to show off your engaged-ness

  20. My husband had similar views on the whole engagement ring/wedding thing. He views his being with me and loving me and putting up with my bullshit as evidence of his love and commitment. I wanted an on-paper relationship and the recognition of our friends and family. So I proposed. We went shopping for a modest little sapphire ring (on mega-sale! $250!) at a department store on Thanksgiving weekend, and we picked out a nice watch on Amazon as his engagement bling. He went along with all my ceremony desires, since having a church wedding was important to me. I never changed his mind, and I didn't need to. He is still committed in his way, and I am in my way.

    My point is, if he is willing to go along to make you happy, and everything else is good, maybe you should let go of how you think he "should" feel.

  21. $1K?! Dang, am I rolling with a different crowd than everyone here because I was thinking that would be very modestly priced ring.

    For the record, I'm totally against flashy diamond engagement rings, or any diamonds. I hate that people automatically ask to see the ring when they learn people got engaged...might as well have our fiances whip it out to compare.

    Mine actually ended up costing around $1K, it's from Bario-neal. I told my bf that I liked a particular ring from there months before. It's cute little funky ring and for sure people are thinking, wtf is that?, when they see it.

  22. Yeah, I'm with the other "I could give a shit about rings" ladies here. You're not going to talk him into embracing the idea, either, so why try? Just pick out a ring, let him buy it, and move on to bigger, better things.

    Plus if this ring debate is the biggest difference you guys have, then you are doing a-okay in your relationship.

  23. ALSO, there are some pretty AMAZING rings (artist-designed rings! vintage rings! nontraditional rings!) that cost WAY LESS than 1-2K. Just saying... that may help to soften the blow of it being "just a thing" to good 'ol boyfriend. (Who is being a total sweetheart for getting one for you even though he doesnt understand it, btw!)

  24. I am late to the game here ... but I know how you feel. I had a similar convo with my beloved about 6 mos after we started dating. He casually mentioned that rings were a waste of money and that diamonds are socially irresponsible--he didn't plan on getting one for whoever it was he married. I had a good feeling he was the one and therefore I flipped out --full on lost my mind/hysterical tears over the idea that we would one day get engaged and I would be sans ring. He was definitely put out by my behavior (admittedly not my finest hour) but we managed to get through it and it wasn’t long before we were shacking up and talking about a lifetime together. About a year ago it came up again –RING OR NO RING. I reiterated how important the symbolism and tradition was but also told him I wanted to marry him no matter what. I truly had no idea if he would get me a ring for the engagement. And then last week he did –a diamond NOT mined in Africa—and I cried like a baby. It’s simple and small and elegant and exactly what I wanted and let me tell you he is OBSESSED with it. For a guy who was all “rings are dumb” I think he’s very proud of it. He likes to tell me all about what he learned about diamonds and how long he spent working with the jeweler (A YEAR AND A HALF). I guess my point is that even if he seems disinterested now … he will see how happy it makes you and not be able to help but feel good about that. For a long time I thought that even if he did give me a ring it would feel meaningless because he was only doing it to appease me. But let me tell you that when it happens you won’t think that way at all. Instead I look at my hand and know that he put my feelings first –and it makes it all the more special.