What Does the Engagement Ring Look Like? Wrong Question.

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If I hear the question, “what does the ring look like? Can I see a picture?” one more time, I am going to puke. Often closely followed by “how much did it cost? Was it expensive? ”

Why is this the immediate question asked on someone announcing their engagement? And more important, why do we not pause to consider the nuances of what we are actually implying with such a question?

ere are several things that are very wrong with that question:

It puts a dollar amount (or attempts to) on the supposed level of commitment or depth of love between the couple. If the ring is “big” or expensive, or of multi carats, or a unique gemstone, we oooooh and ahhhh, as if this is somehow a signifier of how much this person must love their partner, how committed they must be, and how great their love most certainly is.

All of this, somehow gleaned from a piece of jewelry the size of a quarter.

This is a misguided means of attempting to gauge such. It’s also shallow and misses the mark entirely of what a marriage proposal and such a commitment symbolizes in the first place.

This question perpetuates consumerist culture. Buying into (pun intended) the attempt and idea of cultivating a certain image behind an object, or presenting a particular perception to others, an attempt at exuding an ideal or impression about your relationship to others. None of which of course, can be gleaned or is indicative by a piece of jewelry.

Further, this question of “what the ring looks like” invites shame and self-consciousness into the person who has just gotten engaged. On what should be a joyous, thrilling occasion, a celebration-to-come of what is a beautiful and awesome thing, instead, the focus is on how expensive, how “big,” and how “unique” a piece of jewelry is. What a misdirection of where our priorities should lie, in terms of inquiry, interest, or thoughts for the newly engaged couple.

Over focus on the ring distracts from, degrades, and belittles what is the only point and truly important thing behind an engagement, which is that two people love each other enough to commit to building a life together. That is it. What is a worthwhile and inspiring intent and goal. This is the only relevant aspect to an announcement of a new engagement.

The ring is utterly beside the point. And unless the bride-to-be offers up of her own accord, wanting to show it, it’s a question that need not be asked.

Over focus on the ring diminishes and ignores both the excitement and truth behind what an engagement is and should be.

The question “what does the ring look like?” is deflating and beside the (any) point.

Instead, why aren’t we asking things like: what did he/she say to you on proposing? What was the moment like?

Or, even bigger than that, since both the ring and the moment of engagement tell us little to nothing about the couple, how about asking things like: what is it about this person that makes you want to build a life with them? What about your relationship is such a wonderful match and fit? How does this person enrich your life? What are the things you love about them? What makes your relationship a healthy and great one?

These are just a few of the questions which are actually relevant. Even just, “oh my gosh, he/she proposed! How wonderful! Tell me all about it.” This is better than the immediate inquiry of the ring.

But because as a culture, we are consumerist and image focused, as well as have grown conditioned to jump to this as our go-to question or focal point of an engagement, we fail to consider that actually, it’s a silly, misguided, and even insulting question.

Just because something becomes widespread, culturally accepted, or “the norm” does not mean its kind, healthy, polite, or good.

Case(s) in point: tapping away on or continually glancing at one’s cell phone when seated across from a friend/partner/companion. Blasting music from our cellphone speakers because we want to hear it- thus, forcing it on those around us, whether they like it or not. Mansplaining. Lousy listeners. To name a few.

Thus, this focus on the ring has got to stop. It’s majorly missing the mark, and it’s offensive (whether we intend it to be or not). On more than one level, asking about the ring is the wrong question.

The ring tells us nothing of the nature of commitment, nor anything about the couples love and respect for one another, nor of the actual health of their relationship. On a couple getting engaged, let’s start asking different questions. The right questions.

Written by

Fervent writer. Ravenous reader. Impassioned with words. Relationship researcher. Social Scientist. Social Justice Advocate. Author. www.brookeenglish.com

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