The Engagement Ring: It's Time to Let Go.
My engagement ring was absolutely gorgeous.
It was nothing I would wear now. Not only because when I called off my wedding I switched to silver, but because should I ever become engaged again, I don't want an engagement ring.
I think it's time for women to let the engagement ring go.
For me, specifically, it always felt a little creepy, the inequity of it all. I wasn't in the position where I was cajoling to get married - in fact, I was totally surprised by the proposal, so in my mind I justified the ring as completely his choice, his gift. So I could ignore any antiquated meanings, right?
Except, why didn't he wear one again? Why was my status suddenly projected to the world and not his? So much for "Ms."
And the ring came up in discussion after discussion about why I wasn't changing my last name - something that could hardly have been a surprise to him. But perhaps it was one of the many personality traits he thought I would "grow out of" when I "grew up."
I couldn't understand why I would change my last name. Most women still do, I know, but for me, my name is a major part of my identity. Plus, I knew for a fact that changing it was a major pain, and I knew for a fact that he wasn't changing his. "Why am I changing my name and you're not changing yours?"
"You have an engagement ring, and I don't."
"I didn't ask for this!"
It was pretty. It was shiny. Truth be told, I loved it. And I felt like I took my soul back when I slipped it off and returned it.
Sometimes, we lose good things when we choose bigger things that are best for us.
I was raised Christian, primarily Episcopalian. When I walked away from the church and embraced my true spiritual beliefs there is no doubt I lost the many truly valuable things a church offers. Community, social services, tradition, ceremony. When you walk away from the church, you have to find these things somewhere else, and that can be difficult, sometimes impossible. You have to make your own traditions and ceremonies. You have to count on your community for social services. Sometimes you have to face tough moral issues without a book to point to and an entire religion to back up your convictions. It's hard, and I'll be honest, I miss Christmas Eve mass. I miss singing in church. But I am not Christian, and so I gave up those things I loved in my heart for the truths I hold in my heart, soul and mind.
I bring this up not to challenge religion. I respect and would fight to defend everyone's freedom of religion. I bring this up to say you can't have your equality cake and wear your pretty ring, too.
When I think of two pairs of hands, each with a wedding band and neither with an overpriced, commercialized and antiquated purchase... well, in that pair of hands I see meaning, I see partnership, I see equality, I see love, I see strength.
I suspect most women aren't ready to give up the engagement ring. For one thing, we are far, far away from feminism's ultimate promise, and in this middle land, it is often true that the sacrifices for freedom and equality are still mostly made by women. Giving up that engagement ring surely feels like one more sacrifice, and your partner doing one load of laundry a month and being praised like a god just for showing up for one wedding meeting or one playdate probably doesn't seem like equality. The entire wedding industry expects you, the bride, to spend months and months of your life planning a wedding and then the whole world takes back what you were told for your first ten years of adulthood and expects you to pick up your wifely duties and work that job feminism fought so hard to get you. I bet that ring feels only fair. Something to cling to. One battle where you just want to take the shiny and close your eyes to what it really means.
Only you can't, really, can you?
Still not fair? You bet. Women still have to lead the way.
We have to let the engagement ring go.