Let me just say it: I do not want to look at pictures of your engagement ring. You might believe it looks different than everyone else’s or that it means something incredibly intimate, but it doesn’t. Not to me. It’s just a rock set in a piece of metal and no fancy details or braided band will change that.
I say this without resentment, because I, too, have an engagement ring that is exactly like yours. A rock and a band and a finger that screams “taken” to anyone with a set of eyeballs in their head.
Even though I have no desire to look at your engagement ring, I fully understand your need to plaster that ring all over the internet. However, my understanding comes from an admittedly distorted place.
The thing is, I never pictured myself as a marriage girl and I never imagined a wedding ring. I’m one of those fabled women who hate all types of jewelry. A single necklace or simple bracelet on my body and I immediately devolve into a meth addict without my fix -– itchy and uncomfortable and twitching like a crazy person.
Yet here I am, engaged and ringed, and only occasionally twitchy.
How did it happen? It all started when my fiancé decided to pop the question. We’d already discussed the engagement ring issue and I’d made it clear there was absolutely no way I was going to make myself suffer a metal noose on my finger for all eternity. So we got engaged without the diamond and we saved a bucket load of money. No big deal, right?
Wrong. Very wrong.
The next day I broke the news to a couple co-workers. All eyes immediately pinpointed my finger and took stock of the situation. No ring, no deal.
It took me a good 10 minutes to convince these people who had known me for over a year that I wasn’t completely imagining my upcoming nuptials. Without the ring, I might as well have claimed I was running off to Brobdingnag to elope with my bisexual centaur husband.
Assuming their reaction was a fluke, I tried again on another batch of friends. No one verbally questioned me, but they did gawk at my hand for far longer than appropriate.
Once more, I tried on a family member, a travel buddy and a friend. Same reaction from each. Finally, one girl stopped me after sharing my news and looked directly at my finger, “OK, but when is it going to be REAL?”
Because without the ring, love just can’t be real.
That’s when I decided the effort it took to wear a ring would be far less exhausting than the effort it would take to explain my ring-less decision. There are only so many excuses I could come up with (Uncomfortable. Expensive. Wedding Industry is insane. Blood diamonds. Too sparkly.) before I lost all interest in hearing myself talk.
Finally, I made a decision for the sake of my mental and marital health -– just get a ring. To show the world I wasn’t making up my significant other, I decided to play by the marriage rules.
My plan was to buy an affordable ring that had a rock other than a diamond (to avoid all the sticky moral questions regarding diamond mining) but still looked showy enough that no one would question my ability to afford rent. I’d only worry about wearing it to work events and parties, the two places where I’d need to explain myself most often.
So I did it. I bought a conformity ring.
And I ended up wearing it every day. I’m not going to lie; the first few weeks were tough. I kept yanking it off and leaving it in the strangest places (the medicine cabinet, in a used shampoo bottle, under my pillow) and more often than not I left it at home.
The problem was that without making it habit, I forgot to wear the ring to the same events I’d specifically bought it for and instead of explaining why I didn’t have a ring at all I had to explain that, no, I wasn’t looking to have an affair with the burly bearded man in the corner, I just forgot my ring at home. Silly me.
By an extreme combination of self-discipline and effort, I forced myself to make a habit of it.
Day after day, my fiancé would chase me down after I showered, waving my ring in the air. Between the two of us, I was able to make it to work with a ring on my finger more days than not.
And months after that, I’m about to do what I hate everyone else for doing: posting a faceless photo of my engagement ring for the world to see.
Now for a big, complicated sigh of relief over the fact that I have the proof everyone insisted on. My fiancé and my engagement exist. We’re taking this marriage thing seriously.
The whole issue leaves me wondering if I should feel contempt for our society for placing such a high value on a little piece of metal or if I should chalk it up as just another slightly annoying but entirely harmless inconvenience in my daily life. After all, the Greeks forced petty criminals to fight lions for entertainment and the Spanish had their Inquisition. If the worst our culture forces me into is buying an engagement ring, I guess the world doesn’t look too horrible.
I’ve joined the hordes of in-your-face ring posters, so it seems that, in the end, conformity won my left hand.
But I’ll forever own the rest of me and marriage will never change that.