When Robin (not her real name) was a girl, she was swept up by the sweeping romance of her favorite fairy tales. She longed to dance until midnight in a sparkling dress of blue and kiss the man of her dreams while bells rang and gentle breezes held confetti aloft but never touched her carefully styled hair. She imagined gasping and crying with joy as her prince knelt before her, presenting a diamond engagement ring and a promise.
As an adult, Robin was a great deal more practical, but she still gasped and felt her eyes tearing up when her long-time boyfriend proposed. Deep inside, however, she felt her heart sink. Not because her boyfriend was the wrong man – far from it – she had been hoping he’d propose for some time.
No, the problem wasn’t the proposal.
It was the ring.
While the ring was lovely, it simply did not match her style.
She tried to talk herself into loving it; after all it had been selected, probably after much careful deliberation, by the man she wanted to spend her life with. Surely the simple fact that he had put effort into choosing it for her should have been enough to make her heart beat faster when she looked at it. Try as she might, though, she simply could not get rid of that inner wince every time someone remarked upon it, and she held back her true feelings.
While many couples reach a point in their relationships when they acknowledge that future ring purchases are likely and go shopping together, removing any doubt as to which engagement and wedding rings are preferred, some women, like Robin, prefer to be surprised. The romantic notion of the unexpected proposal appeals to them, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t. With the surprise proposal, however, comes the risk that the groom in question will fail to recognize the stylistic differences between the ring he’s chosen and the overall aesthetic preferences of his sweetheart.
If the engagement ring on your finger makes you cringe every time you look at it, you can’t just stew about it. Starting a marriage on a foundation of disappointment and resentment is a recipe for disaster. Here are a few suggestions for handling the situation diplomatically, getting the ring you truly want, and starting your marriage on the right foot.
- DON’T tell him during the proposal.
Remember, he’s been planning this proposal for a while, probably with a reasonable amount of anxiety, and he obviously thinks you’re going to love the ring he’s picked out for you. The last thing you want to do is ruin the mood and crush his confidence by telling him the ring’s all wrong. Take at least a few days to celebrate your engagement and reassure him that you’re 100% over the moon about preparing to spend your life with him.
- DO figure out why the ring isn’t the right fit for you.
Just blurting out that you hate your engagement ring or telling him that it’s not the ring you wanted is an excellent way to hurt his feelings and possibly start a fight. Instead, consider what you do and don’t like about the ring. Maybe the setting is beautiful, but rose gold doesn’t complement your skin color. Or perhaps the arrangement of the stones makes the ring impractical to wear on a daily basis. The more specific you can be about what’s wrong with the ring, the more easily you can figure out what minor alterations can be made to turn it into a ring you’ll love.
- DON’T tell him you want an entirely new ring.
If possible, the objective should be to create a compromise using the original ring as a foundation; replacing it with an entire new ring will feel like a much greater rejection to your beloved. Additionally, he has probably already spent a good chunk of his budget on the ring he selected; you don’t want to put him in a more awkward position, emotionally or financially, than necessary.
- DO start the conversation with the elements you love.
When you broach the subject, start with what you love about the ring and how much you appreciate the thought he put into choosing it for you. If there are elements you know he selected because you’ve worn things like them before, give him credit for noticing. Bring up the alterations you’d like to make not as ways to correct a mistake, but as ways to enhance something that’s already good.
- DON’T react defensively if his feelings are hurt.
While it’s understandable that you’d rather wear an engagement ring that complements your style, ultimately it’s not the ring you’re marrying. If you gently suggest minor alterations to your ring, and he reacts with surprise and hurt feelings, don’t bring up the fact that you thought he knew you well enough to pick something you’d like and ask why he didn’t at least check with your best friend or your sister before making his purchase. Instead ask him what elements of the ring he likes and how he picked it out. Try to see the ring through his eyes. Maybe he chose it for a deeply personal reason that just hasn’t occurred to you.