Engagement Rings, Body Image, and Values

I love my ring, but more than anything, I love what it represents, the man who gave it to me, and the fact that it stands for the next exciting chapter of my life.
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A young Indian couple's engagement hands on a sunny day outdoors.
A young Indian couple's engagement hands on a sunny day outdoors.

It has now been about two and a half months since my now fiancée, then boyfriend popped the question. I've run into many avid readers of my newspaper column who have all asked, "When are you going to write about him; are we going to get any details?" I plan to keep the full bio and love story to myself for now, but there is one aspect of this engagement that I felt important to put to paper.

I met my fiancé on a brisk Friday night in February at the home of one of my best friends. Our relationship began on a slow note -- I had just come out of a difficult break up -- and we decided to ease into things while also keeping a third eye in the back of our heads on subjects related to timelines.

July was the first time we had a serious conversation regarding the possibility of a serious future. We were both overjoyed to discuss our hopes together and he told me then that he wanted me to start thinking about what style of engagement rings I liked. I am someone who wholeheartedly resists rushing into things and so while our dating timeline was shorter than I had expected, I knew that I had fallen for him and that I wanted to start a rollercoaster of a life with this fella.

My heart fluttered at the mention of an engagement and with a mind full of thoughts and a stomach full of butterflies, I began to truly think about my future with him. The next step, practically, was to actually look at rings. I've known for a few years now that I love the oval diamond cut. There is something classy and timeless about it and I knew right away that if it were up to me -- that would be my choice. I began to research rings, settings, bands -- the works. My Google search history from that time is a plethora of gemstones, wedding blogs, and "Create Your Own Ring" websites. I finally settled on the idea of an oval stone with pave diamonds -- pave being a word I hadn't heard before my ring search.

My mother and sister accompanied me on an outing to a few different jewelry stores so that I could try on styles and witness my blubbery tear session -- just thinking about the fact that some version of that ring would be on my finger in the near future brought on the waterworks.

I instructed my guy and my sister to communicate regarding the ring and my preferences. He expressed to me that he wanted to get something he knew I'd like and so he had many questions regarding cut, clarity, size, etc. He called my sister numerous times and even resorted to asking me openly about various options.

When the day of the proposal arrived I was floored by the beauty of the ring. But I was floored by so much more. This is where the spark for this article was born.

When my fiancé told me he wanted me to pick out a ring I was immediately excited to pick out this glamorous piece of jewelry that I will forever wear. I was meticulous and researched and tried on my friends' and coworkers' rings. I sent photo attachments of my "perfect" ring to him on an almost daily basis -- it became a joke between us.

I had gotten gifts in the past when I had dated but this seemed so binding and, well, huge, that I allowed myself to be consumed by the ring and obsessed about it. I forgot what the ring truly was: a symbol. It was to represent our commitment to one another and to the life we hoped to lead together. It symbolized so many different emotions and ideas and over all the beauty of our relationship: the joy, the fears, the fights that end in fits of laughter, the fights that didn't end so well, and the times that we helped each other by just being there. But a part of me forgot all this, forgot the importance of what the ring meant: that we would soon be planning our futures together.

This is akin, in many ways, to preoccupation with body image. Body image, or how one feels about his/her body, can often feel consuming. Many people experience some sort of dissatisfaction with their bodies. We live in a day and age when we are influenced by culture and the "thin ideal." Body image can become a method of self-identity, consuming more time and energy than it should. We can want to look good in our bodies, to wear clothes that are flattering and to feel nice about how we look. But at the end of the day, the body is a vessel that houses our souls. The soul or true identity, is not, and should not, be about preoccupation with appearance or weight.

Wanting to have a nice ring is not a crime, nor is it irrational. Preoccupation with the ring, however, takes away from the wonderful things that the ring actually represents. As a recovered woman and eating disorder therapist I am not immune to wanting to look nice, or becoming somewhat of a "bridezilla" about an engagement ring. But I have learned to pause, process and reflect in a manner that allows me to truly take the time to appreciate the good in my life and to be grateful for the relationships, not their symbols, and for who I am rather than the dwelling on the shell that guards and contains my soul.

I love my ring, but more than anything, I love what it represents, the man who gave it to me, and the fact that it stands for the next exciting chapter of my life.

As adapted from original publication in JLBC, October 22, 2015