Engagement Ring Shopping: Is All This Necessary?

My boyfriend and I have our seven year anniversary this month. I can’t believe we’ve been together seven years. For the last year, we’ve been on-and-off again shopping for an engagement ring. I told my boyfriend I don’t really want an engagement ring. It just seems silly to spend a few thousand dollars on a piece of jewelry. Rings bother me anyway when I type. But I also, deep down, have my mother’s voice in my head about how sad she never got her “diamond ring” for her wedding and I wonder if I’d regret not getting one later. I’d rather put the $5k or whatever to the downpayment on a house. And in that sense, I’ll just plan an entire wedding on Pinterest and invite my guests to a WebEx to look at it, while stashing the $30k+ from my dad into the house payment as well.

I feel so awkward going into jewelry stores, or any fancy stores for that matter. We went to a couple this weekend. I felt absolutely in love with a sapphire ring with four side diamonds (it was “estate jewelry” ie pre-owned) and it happened to fit perfectly on my now 6.5 size finger. The same person who was, just hours before saying that she didn’t want a ring, was ready to bust out her credit card to spend $6k on this beauty. Still, I don’t want a multi-thousand dollar ring. I’d be perfectly happy with a basic white gold band with some meaningful inscription on the inside. Or, as I joke with my bf, ten thousand $1 plastic rings, so I’ll never have to worry about losing them and he can still spend $10k.

The whole wedding thing is bizarre to me. I’m still torn about the whole marriage concept to begin with. All of the fanfare is just┬ásymbolism┬áthat there is great meaningful to marriage that is bigger than what it really is — a business contract. I’m already theoretically committed, and have been for seven years. What’s the difference between now and after a ring goes on my finger or that we legally bind ourselves together? Well, the only difference I see is my life savings is no longer mine alone. I don’t know how I feel about that. And I think pre-nups taste dirty. I’d rather not get married, avoid the pre-nup, and just live out life with one person if that works out. If I end up having kids, then that’s the time to get married. Not now. There’s no point in signing such a contract before you’re pregnant. Romanticism be damned for a minute. It just doesn’t make sense.

He knows how I feel about marriage. To him, getting married is so important because his parents were never married and he had a very unstable childhood as a result of it. Meanwhile my parents were and they found every excuse to yell at each other, whether that be in discussing the “right” directions to the same location they had been to a million times or what they were having for dinner. I don’t recall one peaceful day in my household when both my parents were around. On the better days, there was just screaming. On the worse, there was my dad calling my mother an idiot and shoving her across the room, bruising her arm or breaking her glasses. My mom wasn’t strong enough to leave and my dad didn’t “believe in” divorce (because it’s “bad for the kids” – because calling your wife and idiot and beating her up in front of the kids is great for them to witness, but anyway, I digress…)

I understand why marriage is important to him and I want to respect that. I also am terrified of contractually signing my life away, even if it is to someone I love. I like my independence… even if it’s just used as a spare tire in times when life is getting flat. But I have to make up my mind soon. He’s not going to stick around with a woman who isn’t the marrying type. And I don’t want to be alone forever. He’ll be a great father. I love him to death. He puts up with my crazy. I love him for his, mostly. We’re kind of perfect together. So maybe I’ll end up with some gemstone on my finger in the near future. And, despite not believing in marriage, I’ll probably get married. And one day I’ll be a mom, which will be so strange. And then the years will disappear in recitals and practices and birthday parties. And I hope more than anything that somehow I can fight against the odds and manage to maintain a love so strong through all the years that I won’t miss the independence that I’ve grown to love. The freedom that poisons me with loneliness as it drugs me with desire for adventure and escape from the mundane.

Maybe a $5000 engagement ring on my finger would be the symbol of growing out of that phase of my life. It’s a symbol of commitment, love, honor, and, being owned by someone else. It’s willful slavery of the flesh in exchange for everlasting love. It’s stability, routine, and practicality. It’s being an adult. I probably do need a giant ass rock to remind me of that for the rest of my life, one that digs into my skin and leaves a bruise on my finger every day. Because love is brilliantly heavy. It breathes sweetness into my soul and washes away the athlete of seduction, the runner who trains for her next race, failing to fully realize that one day her legs will no longer work the same way, and she will be unable to run as far or as fast, and at that point, will she just be lying out in the field against sharp grass, crying out in despair over her solitude?


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4 thoughts on “Engagement Ring Shopping: Is All This Necessary?”

    1. don’t mean to butt in, but that is clearly what I am doing now. I agree with Erin. it sounds like you love your s/o, but it also sounds like there’s somewhat of likelihood you are may be taken advantage of, financially I mean. pre-nup regardless of the situation, whether he has a job or not.

  1. I recently came across your blog (frugality, same age), so I’m a noob here, but I just wanted to make a quick comment. My wife and I went through the whole bizarro wedding experience 2 years ago (we were together for 6 years prior). I can’t really comment on the debate of your current partner, but with regards to rings…don’t waste the money! My wife got a very simple ring with smaller diamonds for $800, and I got a tungsten ring online for $50. No “engagement” ring…she just wears one band. We’re both very happy with the decision (on the rings, and the decision to have wedding ceremony….but keep that simple too!). Hope you’re able to sort through things between you and your partner.

  2. I am one of those women who dreamt of receiving an engagement ring. And I am happy because my hubby fulfilled that dream. We know how to adjust with each other and we talk things over. I guess that’s the most important part of the relationship. The communication. I hope you can sort out things with your partner as well. All the best for your relationship.

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