I’m going to start by saying I LOOOOOVE shiny, beautiful, sparkly, new things. My little voice says, “Live modestly,” while my bigger voice (the one that controls the money) shouts, “Big! Pretty! Want! Need!” My favorite things to wear are giant hoop earrings, and my favorite days at work are the ones where I get to wear a new dress. But, this is not an article about modesty, or the fact that I might love to spoil myself.
I used to be married, and I remember driving around town when we first got engaged, my left hand out the window so my diamond solitaire could catch the gleam of the sun. I almost got into an accident once because I was looking at my ring instead of the car in front of me! (Sad, but true.) It was the first time in my life that someone had professed their love for me, and it was the finest piece of jewelry I had ever owned. And yet, after the novelty of beautiful and shiny wore away, I was left with something that felt more like ownership. My soon-to-be husband had staked his claim to the world when he put that ring on my finger. I had waited around anxiously for him to propose, as if my life’s happiness depended on being married. But once the excitement wore off, I wanted to chuck that thing across the room. It felt like a weight; it felt like handcuffs.
“My soon-to-be husband had staked his claim to the world... I had waited around anxiously for him to propose, as if my life’s happiness depended on being married.”
I was never one of those girls who dreamt of getting married and having kids. I was happiest when I was alone, and strove for other, creative goals in my life. But when you fall in love, all that flies out the window, and I suddenly wanted to be with this one person forever. So I waited… and waited… and pestered him to ask… and waited… and finally my live-in boyfriend popped the question. It was beautiful, he kneeled on the dock of a lake in Minnesota and was so nervous, he put the ring on the wrong finger. I was thrilled to say yes. But since that day, and especially since our divorce, I’ve wondered: Why is it the girl who has to wait for the man to pop the question? Why is it the woman who has to wear a ring throughout the engagement to let everyone know she is off the market ― and the man doesn’t have to do the same?
My engagement ring felt like a weight, like a brand on a cow, because that’s exactly what it was. We thankfully live in a society where equality among the sexes is now expected, and this tradition of waiting around for a man, then flaunting his ring around like he owns you, is simply not for me.
My boyfriend may be disappointed. Or thrilled.