Thursday, February 2, 2012

What to do if your fiancee rejects the ring you offer.

The Last Psychiatrist has an interesting pair of posts covering the question of what to do if your fiancee rejects the ring you offer as not being good enough. He writes it twice, once from the perspective of the man, once from the perspective of the woman.

The standard male answer (to the question as posed in the abstract) seems to be 'dump the gold-digging b*tch'. In terms of the conclusion, if not the implicit reasoning, breaking up does seem likely to be beneficial. Things probably won't work out. But as The Last Psychiatrist notes, there's a conditioning that's being ignored here - the woman didn't turn into a 'gold-digging b*tch' overnight. To the extent that her response comes as a surprise, it seems likely that you weren't paying enough attention before. Most the time, men's response to the question in the abstract is about signalling that they're the type of man that wouldn't put up with gold-digging, goddamit.

Which is fine, as far as in goes. But remember, in the hypothetical you've gotten to the point of actually proposing. The question only makes sense if you assume that you actually love the woman in question. Which is a fair assumption if you've gotten to the point of proposing.

In which case, you want to think of this as a giant $#!7-test, as Citizen Renegade likes to put it.

So how do you respond then?

Firstly, the bad options.

Number one is to lamely respond, 'Okay, I guess I'll I'll buy you a bigger one then.' You just failed the test. Be sure to retrieve your balls from her handbag in time for the divorce.

The problem with this response (in addition to its lack of spine) is that it misunderstands what this is likely all about. Maybe she really likes big, shiny objects. That's probably part of it. But is the likelihood higher that it's about the ring per se or the ring as a symbol of the size of your commitment to her, and your ability to understand that she really wanted a big ring, both of which she's doubting?

Bet on the latter. And that ship has sailed - buying a bigger ring won't fix it. If you just agree, you're likely making yourself look very beta, which will make her resent you more.

What about getting angry? Not great either. I'm betting someone with the nerve to reject a ring is likely to be a) quite stubborn and b) a total princess. I imagine that if you angrily refuse, you're just going to get into a huge brawl over it, and she'll likely convince herself that this is in fact a huge deal, and the straw that broke the camel's back etc. etc. Which, if you want to break up, is fine. If you don't, then it seems poorly thought out.

So what's left? My vote would be to grin and respond 'Well, stiff $#!7. This is the one on offer.'

The grin is important, because you don't want to appear butthurt. You're treating the request as ridiculous and a self-evidence joke, while still hoping is to still defuse the situation.

Her likely response would be something along the lines of 'No, I'm serious.'

To which I would reply, with a slight and fading smirk, and in a tone indicating that the matter seems at an end,  'So am I.'

If she continues to push, it seems strained to keep trying to brush it off. Eventually, if you needed to back it up with a serious reason, my guess would be the following:

'The ring is not important. Marriage is important. The ring is my promise and offer to marry you. If you don't want it *pause and shrug*, don't take it.'

This reframes the issue, and with an implicit firmness saying (correctly) that her rejecting it won't be treated as a small deal.

Personally, I wouldn't want to marry her anyway. Not necessarily because she's a gold-digger, although it's a bad sign about being selfish. The Last Psychiatrist is right that this is likely about the ring as a symbol of your commitment, more than her wanting your money itself. Real gold-diggers are usually far too mercenary to do something as stupid as rejecting a ring. This jeopardises the chances of you guys getting married, and once the marriage happens, she's got half your money anyway. Including the extra money that you didn't spend on the ring. No, rejecting a ring is the sign of a princess, and an insecure princess as well. It's also a sign that you didn't understand this part of her well enough to know that you had to buy an expensive ring. That's also a bad sign for the marriage.

The problem for me is that I can't imagine a marriage with me would work for someone who was so concerned about symbolism. The substance of the issue, to me, is the marriage, not the ring. It's the same as the problem with being too excited about the wedding versus the marriage. Even if the ring is too small, a willingness to jeoparise the marriage for the sake of the ring shows a set of priorities that seems unlikely to work with mine in the long run. And if I ever got that response, it would mean that I'd failed to understand this earlier, in which case so much the worse for me.

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