My Boyfriend Wants to Marry Me But Doesn’t Want to Buy an Engagement Ring.

My Boyfriend Wants to Marry Me But Doesn’t Want to Buy an Engagement Ring

I’ve been with my boyfriend for almost 2 years. We were both married and divorced in our 20’s and are now in our mid-30s. We’ve lived together for the last 6 months and it’s been great. We’ve been talking about our future and wanting to start a family before it’s too late. We’re both reasonably frugal and have no desire to spend a fortune on a second wedding. He mentioned getting ring tattoos (not something I would do) and seemed surprised that I would want an engagement ring since I’m not that into jewelry or flash. I feel like an engagement ring is an important symbol and I’m hurt that he seems like he doesn’t want to get me one. He agreed to go looking, but I felt his reluctance and I’m dreading going now or bringing it up again.

I know his ex-wife was demanding and required a big rock and then she cheated on him less than a year into the marriage…I get that making another investment like that must bring up bad memories, but I also want to feel excited and secure knowing that he wants to marry me. He makes close to 100K, so is my wanting a less than $5k ring unreasonable? Can a guy really want to marry a woman and not want to buy a ring? I’m worried that I may be confusing his not wanting to spend money on a ring with him not thinking I’m worth it. And I’m left wondering: should the man have to buy an engagement ring if his girlfriend wants it, or should he tell her his budget and if she wants something beyond his means she can pay half?


The last blog question was about empathy. Putting yourself in someone else’s shoes. Seeing how it feels. Gaining a sense of perspective outside yourself.

I’ll be the first to tell you that women, in general, are more empathetic than men. They are sensitive to subtlety and nuance. They don’t want to hurt each others’ feelings. They are supportive (often blindly supportive) of friends, loved ones and boyfriends. Except when it comes to money. When it comes to money, there’s this huge honking blind spot that I honestly can’t explain.

I’ve written extensively about money but I’m still left with this odd double-standard:

Women and men are equal. They should have equal opportunity and equal pay. They should do equal amounts of housework and child rearing. Except men should make more money, pay for all the dates, and want to spend a disproportionate amount of his money compared to what she spends.

Chivalry is a nice concept that descends from a time before women made their own money, but still. It’s nice to have a guy take care of you.

Emotionally, that may make sense to you. Chivalry is a nice concept that descends from a time before women made their own money, but still. It’s nice to have a guy take care of you. And hell, I tell men that it’s in their best interests to be chivalrous and to pick up the check during the early phases of dating.

But what we’re talking about is past that. We’re talking about a man spending a percentage of his yearly salary on a shiny trinket — a token that you are equating with how much he loves you. You’re both frugal divorcees in your mid-30’s — he, in particular, has a checkered history with golddiggers — and here you are, actually wondering out loud if his reticence to buy a ring is somehow emblematic of whether you’re “worth it”? Sounds terrible, doesn’t it?

So let’s flip it around and turn this into the gender-blind exercise it should be:

Man tells you after two great years together that you have to buy him a $5000 flatscreen TV.

You balk. It seems a bit superfluous. He already has a TV. It works perfectly fine. Why does he need a new one? “Because of what it symbolizes,” he replies. “To whom,” you ask. After all, you’ve had a perfectly good relationship for all this time and you’re openly planning to get married and start a family. Why in God’s name would this guy need a TV from you? He explains:

“Because it shows me that you love me.”
“Because it shows the world how much you value me.”
“Because it lets me know that you’re excited about me.”
“Because it makes me feel secure knowing that you’re not leaving me.”

You’re taken aback. You slowly explain to him that you DO love him, you DO value him, you ARE excited about him, you’re NOT leaving him — that’s why you want to get married. You just don’t see why he needs a big fancy television. Your boyfriend just shrugs and tells you that it’s just how he feels.

Ultimately, it’s about having this conversation with your boyfriend, and instead of trying to negotiate for a ring, attempting to understand and validate HIS feelings about why he’s not feeling it.

Listen, Kelly, despite the role reversal, believe it or not, I’m sympathetic to your dilemma. It is commonplace for men to buy diamond rings. There is a whole wedding industrial complex around convincing men to spring for jewelry and women to spring for dresses they’ll only wear once.

So while it’s not “wrong” for you to want a diamond to wear that symbolizes your relationship, you have to look internally to figure out why you want it. It’s certainly not because you need proof that your boyfriend loves you; I’d guess it’s because you need external validation. You know he’s not going anywhere, but you want everyone else to know it, too. And just as it’s not wrong” for you to desire a ring in a society that places a premium on such commodities, it’s not “wrong” for a frugal divorcee to want to minimize his costs for this largely symbolic gesture when there are far better things one can invest $5000 in — like an index fund for your retirement or a 529 plan for your future baby.

Ultimately, it’s about having this conversation with your boyfriend, and instead of trying to negotiate for a ring, attempting to understand and validate HIS feelings about why he’s not feeling it. From there, you can come to a mutually agreeable compromise. But it doesn’t start until you’ve owned why you want a ring so bad and accepted he isn’t inherently wrong or selfish for not seeing eye to eye with you.

By the way if he were writing me this letter — he tells me he’s worried that he has another golddigging wife on his hands – I would offer similar advice in reverse. I’d tell him not to judge you for wanting a ring and attempt to understand the meaning behind your insecurity, before arriving at a fair point where you feel he’s invested in your marriage and he doesn’t have to break the bank to “prove” it to you.

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  1. 41

    I don’t know if links are allowed here but there were some interesting articles about engagement rings and the history/purpose of them. I do in fact believe that when a man INVESTS in a relationship by buying an engagement ring, it does say a lot about his true intentions and level of commitment. Also, I have read a lot about different studies that when someone does something for another person, the act does cause them to become more invested and/or like the person more.


    Here is one article about engagement rings, and it also links and discusses ther articles about them.

  2. 42

    Here is a quote from a follow up article about whether or not women should keep engagement rings after an engagement is broken off:


    Here’s my answer: I believe that Tyra should keep the ring, if she wants to keep it. Of course, she’d likely prefer to keep it and sell it than keep it for any sentimental reasons. But I can see why she would not return it to Sam. My reasoning is based in the fact that Tyra feels she lost something of value with Sam breaking off their long engagement. What was lost? Valuable time on her biological clock. In this particular case, the value of the engagement ring is in line with how they came to be commonly used in the past: As a promise backed by something of value to follow through on the intention to marry.

  3. 43

    Stacy2 said, “It  was a question for D_M. I could care less about where you live or your age, or to have any discussions with you at all since you have revealed yourself as a women-hating hypocrite”.

    You really seem like a lovely woman; so full of kindness and warmth.

    More than a few women have the mind set that we should come from a place of fairness and understanding in our relationships. In your book, that makes us woman haters??? Being accountable and having the insight to treat others fairly means I hate myself??? Sounds like you took some less than stellar psych classes. By the way, isn’t that part of Evan’s philosophy? Is he a woman hater too? Your comments are the opposite but equivalent to the MGTOW guys that spout hate and intolerance.

    1. 43.1

      If you insist on engaging me – no, “coming from a place of fairness” is not what makes you a hypocrite and a woman hater. It’s living privileged life with a rich husband, divorcing him (presumably getting alimony), and the going around calling hard-working women who want to partner up with an equal “gold diggers”. May be its this attitude of yours that lead career-women to hate on you in the past as you said.

      1. 43.1.1

        “If you insist on engaging me — no, “coming from a place of fairness” is not what makes you a hypocrite and a woman hater”.

        In the spirit of fairness, the only reason I engaged you is because you referred to me specifically, in your second comment. You have consistently made false statements based on assumptions.

        “It’s living privileged life with a rich husband, divorcing him (presumably getting alimony), and the going around calling hard-working women who want to partner up with an equal “gold diggers”.  

        Is it possible that a couple can marry and both be on board with the wife staying home to raise the children? Is it possible that regardless of income, specifically if that income increases significantly over the years, a family might still choose to live frugally in order to reach their financial goals? Just because you might watch The Real Housewives, doesn’t mean that all housewives with wealthy husbands are living ridiculously lavish, self indulgent lifestyles. Plenty of women choose to live on a budget. You made fun of people who choose to live below their means saying not everyone wants to drive an old car and clip coupons. Then you tried yet again to pigeonhole me and accused me of living a lavish, priveleged lifestyle. Which is it Stacy2? What exactly is okay with you? Who do you respect other than women who are in your exact same position in life? Plenty of women respect their husbands too much to blow all of their disposable income. Maybe that comes as a shock to you, but it is indeed a reality for many.

        “May be its this attitude of yours that lead career-women to hate on you in the past as you said”.

        SOME career women made hateful comments (very similar to you, in fact), without knowing anything about me besides the one fact of being a housewife. Personally, I think it’s jealousy. Why? Because the ones that were the loudest and spewed the most vitriol, were the same women who jumped at the chance to stay home when the opportunity finally presented itself. Ironic, huh?

        1. Stacy2

          Again, I could care less about your budget, frugality and lifestyle. Whether you’re clipping coupons or spending your allowance on Prada bags does not concern me one bit. You have those options and whatever you chose is your business. Having those choices  IS privilege (unprivileged live frugally because they have no other choice).

          I never passed judgment on you for your choices and preferences, nor do I have a problem with housewives as a class. To be honest I don’t know or socialize with any and they may as well exist in a separate universe.

          It is YOU who attacked me personally, told me that my prioirities were all wrong, called me a gold-digger (in the words of Whitney Cummings “I am the one with the gold, dummy!”) and you’re the one who’s been a vocal critic of career women in general in these discussions.

          So why don’t you leave me alone already? I don’t need any life advice from someone like you, sorry. May be you could try to learn to actually respect other people’s life choices without passing negative judgment.

        2. Chance

          How are you able to engage in all of this online back-and-forth during your 80+ hour work week?

        3. GoWithTheFlow


          Why has this turned into a completely useless and destructive argument over whether homemakers or working wives are the real women/morally superior/work harder/are more valuable than the other?

          This crap has been going on since since I was a kid in the late 70s. How much longer are we going to expend energy self-righteously yelling at each other that our way is the only way?

  4. 44

    Stacy2, Actually, you have made more than a few judgmental comments directed towards me. However, I will  acquiesce because I’m afraid those bulging veins in your forehead might pop.

  5. 45

    All I can say is men and women are equally different. Evans i think you lost out on   what is effective here.

    What would you have done Evans if your mum had not   received a ring from your dad for which she passed on to you which you gave to your wife. What did it mean to you when you did that and what did it mean to her? Ask your wife what   she would have thought if you gave her no ring . I hope she gives her answer in recording on your next podcast

  6. 46

    I told my ex I didn’t want a diamond. His response was basically well you can’t not have one, everyone does it. After going back and forth about it, he admitted he felt it would reflect poorly on him, as in people would think he couldn’t afford it. He bought one anyway. We didn’t get married.

    It works both ways. All the men here trying to take the moral high road are full of shit. Men are just as likely to succumb to societal pressure that says you must buy her an expensive engagement ring for their own selfish and insecure reasons.

    mclovin et al you can call me a liar all you want and say I’m making this up to prove a point. I assure you I am not.

    The following year when a friend of mine got engaged and her fiancé did not buy her a ring right away, he got ripped by men and women a like for being a cheapskate, a broke loser, you name it.

    Just stop pretending this is about the shallow materialistic women against the good virtuous misunderstood men. We are all materialistic in some ways and concerned with what others think of us. I’m not arguing it’s right but puleeze…

    1. 46.1

      You’re exactly right about this!

      Men are keeping up with the Joneses too.


  7. 47

    I would say that if my current boyfriend did not want to get me an engagement ring while I would understand and have compassion for his reluctance from past experiences I would see that as a deal breaker.   It is almost like a women saying she will never trust a man again because the ex-husband cheated. I think the individual needs to take a break from relationships and learn to recognize people of good character.   I can see both sides, but I think at the end of the day it boils down to whether or not the ring is really important for the women, and if so find someone who doesn’t have any qualms about it.

  8. 48

    Could it be that the engagement ring thing for women, is the near equivalent of a woman taking a man’s last name upon marriage ?

    Both are rooted in “tradition”, both are something that traditionally only one gender does for the other, and both are done for predominantly emotional reasons.

    Biggest difference is the cost, it doesn’t really cost a woman much except paperwork to change her last name.   I know some women argue that they’ve established a professional career in their names, and think that changing their names will somehow compromise that, but I’ve never seen any concrete proof that women lose money in business when they change their last name.

    I suppose near equivalent arguments too are “Buy your own damn ring if it means that much to you” vs “Change YOUR last name to MY last name, if having one family name is so damn important to you”

    If a woman is a hypocrite for wanting an engagement ring ?   Is a man a hypocrite for want his wife to share his last name ?

    I wondered about this and was surprised to find that more than half of    men surveyed in a Men’s Health survey had strong feelings about wanting their wives to take their last name.


    1. 48.1
      Serious question

      Actually both are rooted in the wife becoming the man’s property. Which is why this whole discussion is so ironic.

      I read the article you linked to and arguments are pretty similarly lacking in logic.

      “It means we are one family.”

      “Ok would you take her last name instead.”

      “No way!”


      Good point SE

      At the end of the day, they are all emotional  reasons and I don’t begrudge anyone for wanting what they want. Just stop trying to pretend eemotional reasons are rational ones when  they are not.

      1. 48.1.1

        ***Chuckles here***

        And just like a man who gives you a big rock as “proof of his love” can treat you poorly and cheat on you, a wife who takes her husband’s last name can do the same.

    2. 48.2

      This is actually something I’ve thought a lot about in the past.   Couldn’t care less if a woman takes my name or not, but it’s common for women my age to not want take the man’s name so they keep their own or hyphenate it.   Most of these women still want the rings, though, which always made me chuckle.   I think if a woman keeps her own name, there is an even stronger case against buying her a ring.

      1. 48.2.1

        Actually, I was super surprised that so many men cared about the name thing.   I used to think I would keep my maiden name IF I were to marry, but that was back in my very young, anti-marriage-for-me days.   (age 15-to approx my early 20’s)   I also said IF I were to marry (and I doubted I ever would) I would NOT wear a ring, not even a band, blah-blah-blah.   Of course, I didn’t want children then either.   So the idea of me marrying seemed pretty ludicrous to me.

        Once I started desiring children though, I did a turn about on the not wanting to get married thing, as I wouldn’t want to bring a fatherless child into the world.   Then the name change, the ring thing, became things that we would negotiate as a couple.   But since I really didn’t like my maiden name, changing my name became a no-brainer for me, and the ring was on my “nice to have” IF this hypothetical future hubby WANTED to give me one, and IF it didn’t break the bank.     I’m not a big fan of ring gems the size of a door knob and I can’t stand the diamond industry either.   And some of my girlfriends received family heirlooms from their husbands family which I think is soooooo romantic and meaningful.   Also, a sign not only of the love between the man and the woman, but a sign that his family loves his bride to be as well.   One of my girlfriends told me the story of how her mother in law passed down an amethyst family heirloom ring to her son to give as an engagement ring, because she overheard her say that purple was her favorite color.   How nice to get in-laws that WANT you to be part of the family !   When I she told me the story of her engagement ring, I was happy for her, not for proof that she snagged a rich guy, or a guy who was willing to buy her a $10,000 hunk of carbon to “prove” something, but she was marrying into a family who adored her as much as her hubby did.

        I’m guessing the men who want their wives to take on their last names, also want to give them engagement rings.   Not so sure how the ladies in the “I’m keeping my name” camp are in the ring category.

        Then again, some men WANT to give the ring.   One of my friends when she got engaged, her fiance was showing off her hand to everyone, even paid for her to get manicures, so her hands looked nice when he showed off her ring.   At the time (I was in my early 20’s) I thought that was rather sexist.   Now I think it’s sweet.   But they did everything pretty traditional.   (This was a long time ago)   She took his name, had five kids, she stayed home with them and her job was raising the kids, running the household AND doing the clerical work for his company (he owned his own company)

        It’s really only the business of the couple on the whole ring thing/getting married at all thing/ the last name thing, etc and it’s only an issue if they disagree.   If it wasn’t rings and the last name, it would be something else.   Where do we live ?   How many kids to have ?   How do we handle finances ? Who cooks, who mows the lawn etc. ?

        I hope this couple can come to an agreement that is satisfactory to both of them.   This is just the first of many disagreements they will have to negotiate.


      2. 48.2.2

        Many men DO care about their wives taking their last name, and I would guess that those men also WANT to buy their fiance’s an engagement ring.   I guess the reverse of your declaration “I think if a woman keeps her own name, there is an even stronger case against buying her a ring.” would be “If a man wants his wife to take his last name, there is a stronger case for him buying her a ring”. (not that I think either party should use these points as a bargaining chip for the other)

        Anyway, funny thing happened to me about the whole last name thing.   My finance wants me to take his last name, and since it doesn’t matter to me one way or the other, I agreed.     When I told my family about our engagement, we went to dinner with my father and my son.   My son expressed disappointment that I was changing my last name, as it would no longer match his last name, and my father told me I should never have given up my maiden name.     So here I am, with THREE men wanting me to share their last name.   (Maybe I should go with one very long, hyphenated triple last name   🙂

        Anyway, I never used the last name thing as a bargaining chip to get a ring.   (at this point in my life, doesn’t matter either way to me)   When we decided to get married, my fiance said “Let’s keep this a secret until I buy you your engagment ring”   He also said the most he could pay was $2,000, I said “pffft, I’d like to cap it at around $500. ” We ended up buying an “estate ring” (which is fancy way of saying second hand ring) which was closer to MY price range (the lower one) than his.

        I also wanted to elope, just the 2 of us,   but he wanted to invite family and friends, so I have put the first half down on a modest wedding venue and he will pay the balance on our wedding day.

        So your notions that men don’t want to buy women engagement rings or have fancy weddings, that these things are ONLY for the women, has not been true in my experience.

        You seem to think that all or   most men think like you do, but they don’t.   Men are not as monolithic as you seem to think.


  9. 49

    My takeaway from all the comments comes down to one thing:   Petty people struggle in relationships. I would also conclude that the more rational comments, coming from those that are able to see both sides, are less likely to have these silly power struggles.

    The letter writer said her boyfriend makes almost $100k. She also said he has an ex. She says they are both frugal and they want to start a family. My guess is that this is only a financial issue. If I had to make a bet, I’d say the issue has already been resolved IF she made it clear she doesn’t care about how big / expensive the ring is.

    When I see women comment that they don’t want a ring anyway because after all, it signifies ownership, I just roll my eyes. Some guys made the point that women only want to keep the traditions that benefit them. But what I didn’t see (and maybe I missed it) were those same guys being against buying a ring that was affordable.

    1. 49.1

      As one of the women who didn’t want an engagement ring because of its history signifying  ownership, can you explain to me why that sentiment made you roll your eyes? (this is a sincere question, not a defensive one, I promise! 🙂 )

      1. 49.1.1

        Hi Callie, I’ll do my best to explain. We live in a very unique time period in history. Political correctness is something we’ve never really pushed on people before; and it’s only here in the U.S. I was talking to an acquaintance that lives in Australia part of the time and I asked him what they thought of us. He responded with one word:   Weak. When I asked him why he gave me the answer I pretty much expected, which is basically that it appears we are so concerned with not offending anyone, we’re getting walked all over in the process. All that to say, people need to grow up a bit and quit being so whiny about every little thing. You’re talking about something from centuries ago. Look… I’m pretty certain no man is looking to own you like a slave. The past is dead and gone. Leave it there. When you bring up silly things, you’ll get a silly response. Just my 2 cents.

        1. Callie

          Ah okay I see what you’re getting at (also, btw, I’m not American 🙂 ). And I can totally respect that that’s how you look at the world.

          But there are also decisions we make that are not based on pragmatism. Things that we have gut responses to. Just like many women want an engagement ring for reasons  stated in this thread which are not logical and more emotional, just as humans in general enjoy certain ceremonies for the tradition of it, do you not think one is allowed to have a preference for something because of a gut reason?

          And am I really whiny? I didn’t think so. I said that I personally don’t like the tradition, but understand my partner does and am willing to make a compromise for him. (For the record, I also don’t like the tradition of the bride being given away.) There are certain traditions I don’t like for my own personal reasons, but I don’t think they are whiny or things I’m not willing to compromise on. Nor are they things that I get judgmental about others about. I LOVE seeing engagement rings of my friends, heck I’m even helping a friend design there’s as we speak. And there are also other traditions I do like. Like marriage itself. Many people find it pointless, and I respect that, but I also have a gut irrational desire to get married. One of my best friends just can’t understand why I’d want to get married and I’m okay with that. I know she loves me regardless 🙂 .

          I think sometimes we try to rationalise so much that we aren’t true to ourselves. We become ashamed of our desires that are emotionally based and shove them down. And I do find that shoving them down often results in bad results down the line. An explosion of emotion (from both men and women), a revelation of anger that they were made to not be true to themselves.

          So I personally don’t like the ownership traditions. It’s a gut thing. And I love that my partner respects and gets that. It’s a positive sign that he and I are on the same page, that we have things in common, that we respect each other and can communicate.

          I do get what you’re saying though. I see how that’s your opinion and how for you you are looking for someone who isn’t “silly”. But  I am sure there are some traditions you like that are also silly. But you like them for emotional reasons. And if not, well then, I suppose that makes even more sense, that you would see anyone who would use emotions over reason as silly. I can respect that. Thank you for your answer 🙂 .

        2. KK

          Glad to hear you and your boyfriend are on the same page. Best wishes! 😀

        3. Callie

          Thank you!! (and you too 🙂 )

  10. 50

    While married, when my husband told me a want of his, we would talk about it together.   Sometimes, I would whole-heartedly agree with what he wanted and thought it would enrich our lives.   Sometimes, I was not as keen on the idea but, you know, because i loved him, i would get it for him for birthday/fathers day/christmas if possible.   Sometimes it took some savings.   At   least once, I was against the idea completely.


    Here is the thing that strikes me.   Marriage is full of compromises and also of wants.   The LW wants an engagement ring.   This isn’t a right or wrong, it just is.   He isn’t opposed to engagement rings, he bought one in the past.   Since it matters to her (it seems to me) more than it matters to him, she should get an engagement ring.   I don’t think it should have have to cost a set amount of money, however.

    Today, tomorrow, sometime in the future, when he wants something (which will happen as he is human and humans have wants), if they have the finances to do so and it doesn’t hurt anyone, I think he should get what he wants.   And they do this because they do love each other and want to make the other happy.   It really scares me that they have to spell this out.

    For the record, my engagement/wedding ring cost $600.00.   I never felt that it was too small, I was never embarrassed by it, and I did not care about other people’s rings.   I loved mine because it was the one he picked out for me.


    1. 50.1

      Kristyn, best comment so far.

  11. 51

    Why are things so  complicated now? I met my husband 30 years ago. We got engaged, and we bought a $4,000 engagement ring together. (Yes, I expected a ring; it was the way things were done, both in my family and his.) We pooled our money to do it, the same way we pooled our money for everything without keeping score. He had been married before; I had not. We’ve been happily married for 28 years now. I still wear and treasure that ring. We are physically declining now, but it reminds me of when we were young and strong in a way photos can’t.  







  12. 52

    Engagement rings aren’t necessary and not having one doesn’t mean a man doesn’t want to marry you.

    Does wanting one make you shallow.

    Yes it does. This shallow need was created by the guys who marketed DeBeers and diamond engagement rings in the first place and made them come to mean a symbol of love when prior to like 1948 when all that changed.

    Does it make you a bad person because you want one. Nope.

    Should her fiance be expected to get her one because she wants one. Nope.

    But he probably should because it will make her happy.

    As she should meet him in the middle by hacking down that $5,000 price tag and looking at diamond alternatives, like sapphires which are way cheaper, or other options.

    To say she doesn’t have a right to a shallow need would be unfair and in the end the guy agreed to go looking for a ring with her.

    Hopefully she’ll do her part and meet him in the middle when it comes to cost, et al.

    Though I still think they should just get really nice bands and call it a day.




  13. 53

    I think if he wants to marry you, he  definitely thinks you’re worth it, and that to me is the end of that question. Think about it. If you get sick. At your fifth anniversary. Buying your dream house. I think marriage usually entails you’ll be willing to spend any amount of money on your spouse if the situation calls for it. He just doesn’t think this particular tradition is worth it. That said you’re not wrong to hold the view you do. Can you compromise? Can you have a cheaper ring or something custom/handmade? Synthetic diamonds? Something personal/creative? My boyfriend made me a necklace for my first birthday with him. All together I would not say it costed more than 50 dollars, but it was personal, it was  him, and he put, as a pendant, my favorite mathematical object (I’m a mathematician). It’s more precious to me than almost all the necklaces I’ve ever owned, including a diamond pendant (this one is equal in sentimental value it was a personal gift from my late grandfather shortly before he died). I wear it all the time. And when people ask (it’s a strange looking little thing) I proudly say it’s his gift.

  14. 54

    Hi, I’m the original poster. I want to clarify a generalization:    You said, “Except men should make more money,  pay for all the dates, and want to spend a disproportionate amount of his money compared to what she spends.” This is not true in our relationship. He does make more but we have had a household account for a long time which we contribute to equally so I do pay 50% of the mortgage, bills, vacations, dates, groceries, etc. Also, as a counterpoint to an engagement ring I wanted to buy him a very nice grill and pay to have the patio expanded to give him the outdoor “man cave” he’s been dreaming of. It isn’t all about me wanting him to spend money on me and me keeping all my money to myself.   He knows I’m not a gold digger.   I suppose it’s not just about the lack of desire to buy me a ring. I guess I’m worried  that he’s not that excited to marry me.   I’m sensitive about it because my ex didn’t get me a ring and then later said that he didn’t because he guessed he never wanted to get married in the first place.

    1. 54.1

      Hi Kelly,

      Given that information, I would still suggest sitting down with him and having a conversation. Find out WHY he’s really opposed to getting you an engagement ring. Try to leave the ex situation in the past where it belongs. Who knows if what he said was even true. He may have just been trying to hurt you. Give your new guy the benefit of the doubt unless he tells you otherwise. Best wishes!   ðŸ˜€

    2. 54.2

      Thanks for that further information Kelly.   Well, I understand how your experience with your ex would make you sensitive about this issue.   However, I would really try not to carry that into this situation here since your guy now is not your ex (I know, easier said than done!)   I actually think he is excited to marry you because if he wasn’t, I don’t think he would have moved in with you in the first place and be talking about a future.   Not to mention, he offered ring tattoos…which may not be your preference, but still shows he’s willing to give you some symbol of a deeper commitment.

      Believe me that truly non-committal men don’t do any of this!   From what I’ve seen and experienced, those guys wouldn’t move in with someone…and would be really vague about any future talk, or avoid it altogether.

      I think you just need to really, really talk to him about his opposition.   Don’t make assumptions and don’t try to read his mind, but just ask and try to get a deeper understanding of it.   I think a reasonable compromise is possible here.   Good luck!

    3. 54.3

      Thank you for your clarification.   Do you think that this man really doesn’t want to marry you?   That because he has been burned before, he wants a relationship with you but not marriage?   If that is your fear, please have a conversation with him before you get married, and let him know that you want his honest truth (with no judgment).   He will tell you one of two things (and hopefully he will be honest, in spite of a fear that you may break up with him depending on his answer) – either that he truly wants to marry you and it’s just about the ring, or that he really doesn’t want marriage but is doing it because you want it.   If it is the latter, you need to know to be able to decide how you want to proceed.   If it is the former (ie. just about a ring or differences in money-spending preferences), it would be helpful to set your mind at ease.

  15. 55

    So, I was married 25 years ago, and newly engaged 26 years ago. I remember that there were 2 other young women at my work (I was 32, they were younger) who also were newly engaged. One day I noticed them comparing their engagement rings. One asked me where mine was. Getting re sized? She seemed truly shocked when I told her I would not be getting or wearing an engagement ring. To me , the important ring was the wedding ring. Both of our rings would be make out of the same handful of Alaska gold , Since we were boycotting South Africa at the time, diamonds were not even a consideration. AND the work that I do (and those other newly engaged ladies) is not the kind where you can safely wear a fancy ring. We are in health care and have to have hands scrupulously clean. Why would I want an expensive ring just to worry about it getting stolen out of my house because I can’t wear it to work? I came to understand, from these 2, that an engagement ring is a symbol to the world how much your guy loves you and what kind of taste he has AND how much money he makes. I knew my guy loved me and I didn’t need to prove it to the world. We had our beautiful rings made – his slim and mine fat – and had special messages engraved inside, that we   read just before we were married. It was very, very special. And our rings have never come off. My lovely husband now wants to buy me pearls, or diamonds, or sapphires (my birthstone) because someone told him that every woman wants jewels. Why would I need these? The earrings I wear 90% of the time are silver things that my husband bought for me on a trip to Berkeley on the street from the artist who made them – open hands with a spirit swirl inside. Every week someone admires them and asks me where these came from. And I tell them That, to me, is a symbol of love.

    1. 55.1
      Emily, the original


      I agree with you about the engagement ring being a social symbol. When I was in graduate school, a lot of women got engaged and came in to class the next day to show off their rings. It was more of a status thing than anything else, and a shout-out to the world that they were acquiring/experiencing the social markers of a properly ordered life.

  16. 56

    Exactly. And if she wants a ring, why not put in some of her own money or buy it herself? My cousin had a big fat diamond from her first marriage (it was her first husband’s mother’s ring and the mother made him promise to give it to his bride. He did. 12 years later he wants a divorce but she kept the ring.) that she used for the engagement/wedding set for her second marriage. I thought that was kind of weird, but it goes to show that there is no one right way to do this. Somewhere in this thread, someone mentioned that   if the woman uses her own money to pay for the ring it would be like buying yourself your own mothers day gift. Well, guess what? Relying on others, spouse, children, to give you the perfect gift or the perfect day is a recipe for disappointment. I give myself exactly what I want for those occasions (usually TIME to do whatever I wish) and anything else that may come to me that day is the icing.

    Someone else said that using the money for a start in your future child’s college education instead of a ring is romantic and smart, and I agree. It is a focus on the marriage, the long term partnership that is this most important thing, not the fluff of a diamond or expensive wedding. This woman and her future husband will need to work on their communication about values and financial plans. From what she says, it seems like he has a good head on his shoulders. But they have to agree. Otherwise, every time he or she looks at the ring, there will be bad feelings, not happy ones.

  17. 57

    I don’t think this is about the entitlement of an expensive gift – nothing like the flat screen TV – I think it’s just about the two of them giving the ring different symbolism.   If he wanted to give her a ring and she didn’t want to wear it, that would be the same argument.   One of my friends wanted to keep her name and her husband wanted her to take his; he also liked keeping his head bald and she wanted him to let what hair he still has grown in.   You can judge them all you want for how much you don’t agree with those positions or how silly they are to hold them or you can psychoanalyze why they felt the way they did.   But none of that matters.   They negotiated on these points and are happily married for some 15 years so far.   Presumably all partnerships require this kind of negotiation and thank goodness we don’t all have to explain our motives to the web universe!

    The OP and her boyfriend will have to talk this out.   If they value their relationship more than they value their position on this single issue, they will find a solution (maybe a compromise, maybe one person simply conceding this point) and they will get to practice talking out their differences, which is a necessary lifelong skill in a marriage.   If neither of them can give enough on this issue to find a solution, then they have been spared a doomed marriage.   Either way, it’s a win win.

  18. 58
    Affable Morgana

    LOL This one is easy.   Go get a BEAUTIFUL, simple $1500-$2000  setting.   And put a LARGE-ISH CZ (Cubic Zirconia) in it. (Wao!!!!)   Lots of us (even the wealthy among us) believe Diamonds are a waste of money.   They are a ROCK, lol.   Cubic Ziconias are beautiful!   Just keep it clean and it will always look beautiful!

  19. 59

    If it were customary in society that a man receive a $5000 flatscreen television at the time of nuptials, I, as his woman, would have no issue whatsoever providing him with one.   Regardless of if he has a great television already or not. Hell, I would buy my guy a $5000 flatscreen on any day of the week regardless of the circumstances; I love him and would want to perform nice gestures for him.

    I can understand being “frugal” to a degree but frugality and wedding ring do not go together. If anything, maybe  they should or could be frugal regarding the ceremony, reception, food, invitations etc. but not the rings. If he loves her, why cant he just get the damn ring.. jeez. I don’t see what the big deal is here. Like, if he  thinks or  is concerned that she’s a gold digger (possibly) for simply wanting what is culturally & traditionally the norm then perhaps his insecurity has gotten the best of him and maybe he has not healed from old wounds as of yet. I don’t think that this new and obviously great woman should have to suffer for another woman’s mistakes. Sounds like its possible that he may have jumped into a new relationship too soon and is perhaps using his new GF as a means to “correct past wrongs”; via marrying someone and NOT buying a ring as a subconscious means of thinking that that will dispel acts of adultery in the future.

  20. 60

    I’m from a different generation. My husband supported me. I was a housewife & homeschooler. I’m insulted to have those of us who are old fashioned & traditional referred to as entitled. My father paid for my wedding after asking me to keep the price low. I was happy to do that for him, made my own gown which I shortened after so I could use it as a party dress. I inherited a huge diamond from my Great-Aunt which my husband paid to have set. We got him a wedding ring too. It’s been so many decades ago I don’t remember who paid for what but we carefully followed a traditional wedding book that outlined how expenses were traditionally divided & did it that way. Fast forward a lifetime: My husband is killed by a drunk driver, my glorious, beautiful & huge diamond ring is stolen out of my jewelry box, I have a boyfriend who has casually given me a simple silver ring with a semiprecious stone for Christmas. When I mention that I’m tired of living in sin he says that if he ever did marry me it would be with that ring because he likes it & it represents “him”. That took some adjusting.   I had hoped for 2-3 eternity rings stacked together. I love the look of the tiny diamonds on several rings sliding around each other. But we’re both quite old. He doesn’t make lots of money. He thinks diamonds are “tacky”. And as a traditional gal, I believe the man’s the boss – even though my husband left me provided for such that my now fiancé’s finances are not important to me. If that’s the ring he wants on my left hand that’s the one it will be! Also, he doesn’t want to wear a ring, doesn’t wear rings or watches – so I’ve accepted that.

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