One Ring to Rule Them All

Joel and my sister, Emily, are on the far right.

What, you think this post is going to be about Lord of the Rings? Get your mind out of the gutter. This is about engagement rings.

My sister got engaged on Monday. I could not be happier for her and her fiance, Joel. I’m incredibly proud that my sister held out to say “yes” to the man that she knows with all her heart is the man she wants to spend the rest of her life with. And although it’s not my place to judge the man she chose, I’ve met Joel a few times, and I can tell that he is a very, very good man.

My sister knew that Joel was going to propose to her. They had talked about getting married, and they had even gone to pick out the ring two weeks ago. So she knew it was coming, she just didn’t know exactly when.

Now, everyone has their ideal proposal (or at least some guidelines) in their head about how they’d like to propose or be proposed to. I’d love to hear your thoughts (retroactively if you’ve already taken that leap) in the comments. Given this monumental occasion, I thought I’d share some of mine.

  • When I think about proposing, I think about this line from When Harry Met Sally: “When you realize you want to spend the rest of your life with somebody, you want the rest of your life to begin as soon as possible.” Unless the woman is adamant about a certain type of proposal, I would like to propose when I want the rest of my life with her to begin as soon as possible. It could be any place or any time. I may not have a ring picked out or on hand. In my mind, the ring is just a symbol. That can be figured out later.
  • I like the idea that the ring–or part of the ring–is passed on from generation to generation. I think it should have the weight of history on it. So I’d love to incorporate part of my mother’s engagement ring in the ring I someday give to a woman. I mentioned this to my mother a few years ago, and she didn’t quite know what to think of the idea.
  • I’m not going to propose to someone unless I know they’ll say yes. Although I want the proposal to be spontaneous, that doesn’t mean that I want it to be a surprise or create an awkward situation. I don’t think this necessarily entails a specific discussion about engagement, but moreso an ongoing conversation about marriage and commitment with the woman I’m dating. Also, I would want to ask her parents’ permission to marry her. I’m not quite sure what I’d do if they said no–I think guys ask the parents out of respect more than anything–but I like that tradition.
  • I’m a bit disillusioned with the one-sided nature of the engagement and the wedding. So much fuss is made about the bride that the idea that weddings are about the unity of two people is lost in the shuffle. Don’t get me wrong–I want to propose to a woman someday. But I think it would be nicely progressive if she extended a token of her love to me as well. Not necessarily a gift, as gifts don’t do much for me. Just some gesture that says, “I want to spend the rest of my life with you too.”
  • Oh, and one final thing: The type of woman I want to be with is not the type of woman who obsesses about the size of ring to the point where she won’t even accept a ring under X amount of dollars. That’s a sign of status and materialism that does not appeal to me at all.
Some fun facts about close encounters with engagement:
  • Why, Amy Adams, why?!

    I came startling close to getting engaged to two women (not at the same time). One of them asked for it frequently. The other probably doesn’t know how close I came. However, not getting engaged to those women was the right choice for me, and based on the men they’re with now, also the right choice for them.

  • One of those women did not care about the ring at all and claimed repeatedly that she’d rather have an “engagement sandwich.” I thought that was awesome.
  • A running joke between me and the other woman was that I would pretend to propose to her so many times that when the real thing happened, she wouldn’t see it coming. So I took to one knee in front of her many a time before proceeding to tie my shoelaces.
  • One of the women I dated was ready to get engaged after dating for only a couple of months. I was far from ready and saw no need to rush in, but to show her my commitment towards buying a ring, I started an automatic savings account with ING that pulls a certain amount of money from my bank account every month. Needless to say, that relationship didn’t work out (women, please don’t pressure your men to get engaged), but I kept the automatic savings plan. That way when I finally need to buy a ring someday, it won’t cause a dent in what I perceive to be my living expenses.
What do you think about engagement rings, and engagements in general? Do you have any good stories or close calls to share?