Engagement Rings: Will She Hate It? How Much Should You Spend?
I finally proposed to my girlfriend last Valentine's Day. She said yes, but I knew something was wrong. About a month later I finally got her to admit to me what the problem was. She hated the ring. We are now in the process of shopping for another ring. My family and friends are very disturbed that she didn't want the ring I picked out. Any thoughts from you on this?
There are different reasons she may not like the ring. And I don't have enough information from your email to tell her reasoning, so I am going to discuss a couple.
Is the ring she is shopping for now a complete upgrade? This could be indicative of a major conflict between you and her. If you spent a reasonable amount of money on the ring but stayed within your means, then you did well. Her expecting more than what you can afford is a horrible foreshadowing of what's to come in a life with her.
If you were cheap, however, then I can understand her frustration. She's showing her hand to her friends and family, and she may be equating your cheapness, to how much you care about her. Before you think I am sympathizing with gold diggers, let me clarify further. I'm specifically comparing this ring, with how much you spend or can afford to spend, on luxury items for yourself. Did you just spend $1500 on yourself on a new leather jacket, but spent $800 on her ring? Do you easily drop $100 a week in a bar with your friends, but spent less than $1200 on her ring? I'm speaking strictly within the confines of what you really can afford.
This is supposed to be a token of your love and commitment. There is a fine line between frugal and cheap. There is also a fine line between showing her what she means to you, and insulting her.
They say the rule of thumb is three months salary. Personally, I think that's extreme. Many people can't spend three month's salary on a luxury item. And the money would be better used invested in a house, or a car. Consider what you spend on entertainment, toys and extras. And dipping a little into your savings is not out of the question: this is supposed to be the most important gift you ever give.
If you've really selected a monetarily appropriate ring, and she wants you to spend twice that, then your family is right in their concern. If that isn't the case, then straighten this out with your family now before they start seeing your girlfriend in an inaccurate or unfair light.
The other reason your fiancé may be looking for another ring could be the style. Don't forget that this is something she is going to wear every day. Did your style choice reflect her taste? Did you pick out a yellow gold band in spite of her never wearing yellow gold? Did you pick out something very busy, when her taste is much more simple? Did you pick out a very traditional ring, when clearly she is a very modern fashioned woman? To her, this may not be about the ring, but instead about your not noticing her taste and her choices. She may want the ring to represent your ability to pay attention to her. Noticing the color metal she predominantly wears, or her general style, is something that really may be very important to her. (Equate that with your being a Yankee fan, and her buying you a Mets jersey and saying, it's baseball. You should just love it.)
Maybe you've chosen a style that just isn't comfortable. Maybe the band is thin and cuts her, or hurts to wear. Maybe the setting is very high, and after wearing it for a month she found it to be getting caught on everything, and wanted to find something less protruding so she could wear it everyday comfortably without fear of losing the diamond.
I agree with the Spirit of the Contract philosophy on this. In general, she should love the ring for what it says, not what it looks like or how much it costs. I agree with that.
But Mario, there are two sides to every contract. Did you keep your side of the contract? Did you pick out a ring that you really thought she would like? Did you notice her taste and her style, and try to pick something SHE would have picked for herself? Did you spend a reasonable amount of money on it? And again, I'm not saying, did you go into debt. I'm saying does this conditional gift really represent how you feel about her as compared to the other luxury items you spend money on, like season tickets, your toys and cars, or your wardrobe?
The Spirit of the Contract goes both ways. She's "supposed" to love the ring. But, you're supposed to make an effort here too. If you don't already know, then find out exactly why she wanted a different ring. Before you get married and commit the rest of your life to someone, you should be on the same page when it comes to money and spending. And I think its also fair to say that you need to pay attention and notice her, and she needs to appreciate your efforts and meanings.
Good luck to you both, Mario.
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