If you’re serious about your relationship and you feel good about your partner’s disposition, you might start to wonder about the possibility of a proposal. In a traditional scenario, your partner would venture out to buy an engagement ring on their own, and pop the question in some romantic and thoughtful way.
But this leads to all sorts of problems. For starters, you and your partner might have budgetary concerns; the traditional (and now obsolete) advice was to spend three months’ salary on a ring, but what if you’re trying to live a frugal lifestyle? There are limitless options for a modern look, with the possibility of customizing your own engagement ring, but what if you’re looking for a vintage engagement ring with more history behind it?
Bringing up these topics can be awkward in some cases and may spoil the surprise in others, but it’s important to have these conversations early and openly if you’re going to be successful.
Talking About Engagement
Before you start talking about rings, you need to talk about the possibility of engagement. Younger generations are waiting longer to get married, and in many cases are less likely to want to get married in the first place. If you want to get married someday, no matter what, and your partner never wants to get married, that’s a more important topic to address than what kind of ring to buy.
If you’re comfortable in your relationship, this shouldn’t be a hard topic to discuss. If you haven’t yet, talk about your values as they relate to marriage, and ask your partner what kind of timeline they might consider. How long should a relationship be before a couple gets engaged? There isn’t a right or wrong answer to this question, but you should know each other’s personal answer if you’re going to move forward.
It may be more difficult to talk about the proposal process, but it’s still a topic worth covering. Take it upon yourself to address your wants and needs, and address them from a high-level perspective. For example, tell your partner if you want to be surprised or if you’d prefer to talk things over bluntly in advance. If they have different values or a different idea, that’s the perfect time to hammer those differences out.
Discussing the financial component of the engagement ring is where most couples get stuck. On some level, you probably don’t care what your fiancé-to-be spends on a ring, since their love is more important than a material gesture, but on another level, it would be nice to have something impressive to wear.
Again, the best approach here is to discuss your values high-level. Rather than entering a negotiation over the exact price point of your engagement ring, talk about what’s most important to you. For example, are you trying to live a life free of material possessions? If so, a ring may not even be appropriate. Do you think that engagement rings embody the love a couple shares between them? If so, you can say that.
Be sure you address the financial health of your relationship as well. Are you currently trying to achieve some major financial goal, like getting out of debt or saving for the down payment of a house? If so, taking out a loan to buy a ring isn’t a good idea. Are you flush with cash and focused on living in the moment? If so, splurging may be a more realistic option for you. If buying a ring puts financial strain on the relationship, it’s probably too expensive.
Choosing a Ring Together?
It’s common for modern couples to shop for an engagement ring together, so don’t write it off as an option. This is an especially important option if you have particular tastes in fashion, or if your partner doesn’t have a clue how to buy jewelry. This is a topic that’s best handled bluntly; if you’re interested in shopping for a ring together, tell your partner, and explain why you think it would be a good idea. If you’d rather be surprised and your partner is uncomfortable buying a ring on their own, give them some helpful hints to get them started.
Talking about engagement, and engagement rings in particular, can be a challenging topic to address, but it’s worth it for the long-term health of your relationship (and for the appropriateness of your eventual engagement ring). If you’re feeling anxious about bringing up the conversation, remember that your partner is probably feeling a similar level of anxiety, and both of you will be relieved when you talk about it. Err on the side of bluntness, and try to keep things high-level if you want to keep some element of surprise.