Dear Carolyn: I’m clumsy. About two months ago, a car cut me off, causing me to wreck my scooter. The result: a broken hip and two broken legs. A month in the hospital and a month out of work too.
In the wake of my accident, family and friends came together to support me not only emotionally, but also financially. To the tune of about $3,500. The generosity was amazing, except for the predicament it’s put me in.
Six months before my accident, I started saving for a ring to propose to my amazing, beautiful girlfriend of six years.
The pre-accident ring savings temporarily became my safety net if my medical expenses demanded it. (They didn’t.) I also just got back a security deposit after being forced to move into a wheelchair-accessible apartment. Together, those put me in the ballpark of engagement-ring prices. Now that I’m working again, I could conceivably save my ideal amount in a couple of months.
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But let’s say I propose and she says yes. News will undoubtedly spread to that support network. My fear is some of those people will be under the impression they bought the ring. I certainly don’t want to do anything to hurt those who helped me; however, I can’t put off a proposal for much longer, for her needs and mine.
Do I just need to wait it out?
In a Clumsiness-Caused Conundrum
Why must a proposal wait for a ring?
Why must a ring you present to her now be the ring she wears ever after?
Why isn’t she in on this conversation, since it’s her life we’re talking about?
Maybe you know her well enough to know the symbolism of the X-carat proposal will mean more to her than your having a financial cushion at an edgy stage of your life — but for your sake and hers, I sure hope that isn’t true.
Normally in these situations I can speak only for myself. It just so happens, though, that over the years I’ve heard from a steady stream of women who reject not only the tyranny of the engagement ring, but also the whole notion of waiting around for a proposal, period, much less for a reason unspoken to them by their prospective mates.
At this point you’re already looking at proposing 10 months after deciding to propose. Wow.
Waiting till you’ve saved your desired amount gives the jewelry more agency than it does the woman. Would she want that? Would you want to marry someone who’d want that? Presumably not if you intend to remain a wobbly scooter among cars, literally and figuratively speaking.
Besides — when two people want to marry each other, that’s pretty darn romantic without sparkly hardware. Certainly gems are a lovely gesture; if not exploitively mined, I have no objection to them. The “tyranny” I refer to is letting them control the timeline of joining two lives.
So just propose already. If the ring is important to you, present her with a pretty, non-engagement ring that you promise to replace when your medical bills are just an unpleasant memory — and when you both agree a financial cushion is a necessity, and not just an imminent license to shop.
Email Carolyn at firstname.lastname@example.org, follow her on Facebook at facebook.com/carolyn.hax or chat with her online at noon Eastern time each Friday at washingtonpost.com.