[Engagement Ring]

It’s time to put a very old myth to rest. Today’s woman does not necessarily spend half her life fantasizing about her wedding day.

Incidentally, today’s man does not necessarily propose to his girlfriend out of a sense of duty. Men and women are equally capable of love.

Furthermore, love does not need to be substantiated by legal documents. Wouldn’t I still be my parents’ child even if I didn’t have a birth certificate to prove it? 

I am a newlywed and I am at war. There are two separate factions hurling invisible missiles at me, and they don’t even know it.

Faction number one is the group of men who seem to see marriage as a power trip. They believe that my husband has acquired a responsibility. A petty, nagging ball and chain.  To them, my ring is a whip that I can crack over my poor long-suffering husband…  Guess what guys – he wanted to get married just as much as I did! Don’t judge him for wanting something you don’t! Some other members of this faction don’t see it this way. These men will sense the aura of my husband’s dominance over me and automatically give me a wide berth. There’s a special kind of respect that they will give to me (or rather, to my husband) once they spot my ring. When they look at my left hand, they see a victory that someone has won over someone else.

Faction number two is the group of women who are still shackled by society’s insistence that they are worth nothing if they are single, or if their significant other hasn’t proposed. They think if they haven’t been ‘wifed-up’ something is wrong with them. Some other members of this faction are actually married women, who now see me as part of an elite new caste of society. When they look at my left hand, they see a symbol of success.

It’s time for me to hurl some of my own missiles back at them.

My ring is NOT:

1. A sign that I have entered into adulthood

I was a grown-up without it. That hasn’t changed. I wasn’t planning to become a mother before age 30. That hasn’t changed. I had some… unusual… career ambitions. That hasn’t changed. I was headstrong, quirky, opinionated, fun-loving and sometimes just plain goofy. That hasn’t changed. I made inappropriate comments, I was socially awkward sometimes. That hasn’t changed. I appreciate being treated like a responsible adult now – but I don’t see why a woman needs to have a) a husband or b) children to earn that kind of respect.

2. A symbol of my master’s chains

My husband (let’s call him ‘K’) doesn’t own me. He gave me this ring to honour me and remind me of our commitment. My ring is a symbol of my best friend’s love for me. I understand why some people choose not to wear a ring. There are so many perfectly valid reasons. I choose to wear it because, although K may be a nine-hour transatlantic flight away, I look at my left hand and I remember that he is always with me. I think of our future grandson, who will (hopefully) gift this ring to the woman who steals his heart. I remember the promises I made… and know that even when the going gets rough, I have to keep my word. If there are any chains involved, they are the ties of love and duty which I have placed upon myself because I believe that the man I love deserves it.

3. A bodyguard –

As much as I may be grateful if my ring wards off unwanted advances, I should be able to do this on my own.

I shouldn’t command more respect with it than without it. Respect is due to the wearer, not to the inanimate piece of jewellery.

In all honesty, K probably doesn’t mind if you buy me that drink… or if you offer me your seat. Why would he? What he wouldn’t like is if you make any proposition which would make me uncomfortable. Take your cues from ME… not from him… and certainly not from my jewellery.

4. A symbol of wealth –

It’s not about the size or the price. It’s about the promise behind it. It’s a promise of forever. Forever… in sickness and in health, for richer or for poorer. I am grateful for the beautiful ring that K chose (the man has good taste!), but I would have been happy for his promise if it had come in the form of a single rose, or a poem scribbled on notebook paper… and I would have treasured it as much. (I’m serious – K is awesome, but he is no notebook-scribbling poet lol). In a world where we watch celebrities don increasingly garish and over-sized rocks with each consecutive marriage, I fear that we forget that a flashy ring and an over-the-top expensive wedding do not a happy marriage make. I actually have a friend who initially refused the ring offered to her by her then boyfriend… she wanted something more elaborate. She got it. I would love to tell you that their marriage worked out just fine… but I’m no liar.

5. Proof that my mission in life has been fulfilled

In the 21st century, if we measure success in this way, we should be downright ashamed of ourselves. Marriage is not the completion of a mission. Marriage is a mission. Getting hitched was never my biggest dream and in fact, in this day and age, staying married is much more significant.

bouquetPeople congratulated me when I got engaged. I hope it’s because they know it took me twenty-seven years on this planet to find the man I want to grow old with. In an incredible stroke of good fortune, K decided that he wouldn’t mind me being around to grow old with him either. I want to be that woman to trim his nose hairs in forty years when his hands are shaking too much. He’ll be the man to change my diapers and save me from embarrassing myself after the belly-laughs I know we’ll still be having when I’m seventy-five. If there’s anything in the world worth celebrating, it’s that…

But that’s not all I want out of life.

I still want a fulfilling career. I’ve always wanted children… I figured out pretty early in life that you don’t need a husband to have them.

I want to give back to my parents one day; they’ve worked too hard for too long and I’d like to see them kick back and relax for once, without worrying about the future.

All these dreams will take much more work than ‘finding a husband’ – which, for me, was more about luck than anything else. So… if you see me in ten years and I’ve accomplished even one more thing on my list of goals, feel free to congratulate me just as heartily on that.

In the mean time, if you spot a band of gold on my finger, know that the only message it sends is that I now have a dearly beloved family member who means everything to me but isn’t related to me by blood. 😉

xo

J.

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