I was ready. I had spent several months doing my homework. I had been educated on what to look for and had been indoctrinated with the financial ground rules. Now it was time to put on my big boy underwear and move to the next stage of my life. It was time to get engaged.
It’s interesting that when you’re contemplating marriage every bloody commercial on TV has something to do with jewelry. As if some unseen force is getting you to second guess your decision.
“A diamond is forever”
“Give her a memory that will last a lifetime”.
“How else can you make two months salary last forever?”
She and I had talked about it and made enough trips to jewelry stores that I had the ring size and her preferred cut and style emblazoned on my brain. But the matter of stone size rested squarely on my shoulders. I mean it was my two months salary being spent, right? The pressure was intense, aside from the obvious concern of whether she’d say yes, the size of this ring would ultimately be a direct reflection on my manhood. Where I to be responsible and purchase something that actually fit into the budget then my ego might surely take a hit. But if I got macho and put a ring on her that necessitated an arm security detail then I would be a man among men, albeit a broke one. So I did what any Economics major might, I bypassed the middle man and went straight to the wholesaler. This let me achieve the necessary size requirements to satisfy all parties and my ego, plus I was still able to pay rent at the end of the month.
I won’t bore you with the details of the grand-slam I hit when I popped the question and presented her with the rock; but let’s just say that my buddies at the time would need to pull out all the stops to one-up me. It was that brilliant!
But this post isn’t about Disneyland fantasies and happily ever afters. Instead this is a conversation on the rules of engagement after the honeymoon is over, family and friends have gone home, and the divorce papers come out. During the seperation process everything is accounted for “I’ll take this, you take that”. The furniture, electronics, right down to the fake flowers sitting on the end table are logged and tallied. But in all of that it seems the engagement ring, that symbol of till death do us part, gets overlooked or avoided in the chaos and emotion.
I remember shortly before finalizing my own divorce, after the house was under contract and we had amicably split up most of the stuff, I asked about the ring.
Me – “I’ think I should get the ring back.”
Her- “No, that ring was a gift from you”
Me – “That ring was actually a symbol of a marriage that is over, why would you still want it?”
Her – “I will give it to our daughter when she gets older.”
I have asked about getting the engagement ring back twice early on after we split and both times the response was the same. Then a recent post by fellow blogger Divorce Encouragist got me to thinking about this topic again.
When the marriage is over who should get the engagement ring?
I have met women who gladly gave the ring back to their ex husbands citing its uselessness and they don’t want unnecessary reminders of a failed marriage. But as in my case, that isn’t usually how it goes down. Many times the ex wife sees the ring as chattel, like a pair of shoes or a blouse, and because it fits her finger she lays claim to it. Apparently its entire significance disappears with the judge’s final order.
The emotions around this topic can get touchy. Does the husband have any right to ask for its return? Does the person whose actions were the basis for the divorce even get a say in the matter? If he was the cheater in the relationship is it preposterous for him to dare ask? What is she was the perpetrator? Does the spouse who files for divorce forfeit any claim? Is it simply a gift?
Taking a stroll through your neighborhood jewelry store is a good indication of the price range for diamond rings. Then there are some that are simply mind blowing. It’s estimated that Jessica Simpson’s ring is valued at $150,000. Kate Middleton’s ring was $45,000 when Princess Diana wore it in 1981, and Evelyn Lozada’s ring from Chad Ochocinco is estimated at $500,000. While these are extreme cases, it’s easy to make this a money issue. But I know enough divorced men to convince me that this is far more than just being about dollars.
I’ve tried to take any financial bias or the fact that I have direct experience in this matter out of the equation. Personally I look at it this way, the engagement and subsequent wedding bands represent a union between two people, a symbol of vows taken and promises made. It isn’t a toaster or bar set and serves as far more than simply a gift. I can think of few presents that cost as much and none which triggers a nine-month stress parade in preparation for a fifteen minute ceremony in front of a couple hundred close friends and family replete with caterers, DJ, and if your lucky an open bar. To reduce it to just a mere gift smells of convenient self-interest. Regardless of a particular guys leaning, I think I speak for all men that when an engagement ring is given to a soon-to-be bride it is with the belief that token represents our love for one another and a union soon to be shared. Does anyone view their flatware in the same light?
I find it hard to debate the merits of that argument, so if the bond being represented no longer exists what is the rational for wanting to hold onto its symbol? That’s like getting fired from a job but keeping the business cards. I knew a woman who had burned every picture of her and her ex husband, but she adamantly refused to give up the engagement ring when he asked for it back.
And then there’s the idea about giving the ring to one of the children? Would my daughter even want the symbol of a relationship that ended? What would she do with it? Use it for her own engagement? Let’s be honest, no body likes used, we all want new and especially something that means this much. Plus I see it as bad luck to wear an engagement ring from a relationship that failed.
So, let the lambasting begin! Sound off all who are willing. This is an all-skate regardless of your current relationship status I’d love to hear what anybody else has to say.