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Janine didn't have a vision of what her engagement ring would be like. But when her fiancé slipped one on her finger, she knew — she just knew — that it just wasn't quite right. Yellow gold (not white). A round-brilliant cut diamond (bigger than she was comfortable with). Perched high above the setting (snagging her sweaters). "There's nothing objectively horrible about the ring," said Janine. "It's just too big, too much."
Her fiancé, though, was beyond proud of his purchase, and proud of the hoops he'd jumped through to make it: Saving up for months. Conducting extensive research (now he's the go-to guy when his buddies propose). Making multiple trips to the diamond district to hand-selected the stone. Holding secret, off-the-Google-calendar meetings with the jewelry designer. Waiting for the perfect moment to present the ring.
What's a bride to do in this situation? Tell the man she loves his masterpiece is crap?
Absolutely not, at least for Janine. "He'd invested so much of himself in this ring," she said. "He was really proud. He really, really loved it. So I decided that his feelings were what was most important. I'm not willing to crush him over the ring. I live with it, because it's kind of like getting married; it's not only my show anymore. There are two of us in every decision. The engagement ring's just another one of those decisions."
We're not advocating wearing a ring that you hate for the rest of your life. If your guy winged it at Tiffany's, or felt flummoxed when trying to figure out what you'd like, he may be more open (and less offended) if you want to exchange it for another. But if your guy's super attached to your ring — if he had many top-secret meetings with the jewelry designer — think twice. Or maybe three times before asking for a new ring.
Janine was clear that the engagement was a gift of love. Keeping that perspective top of mind helps keep her happy about the ring. She's also developed some work-arounds, such as slipping the rock to the underside of her hand when she goes to a job interview or volunteers at the soup kitchen. She admits that she's lucky, too: her fiancé, she reports, "has great taste."
If unlike Janine, you can't live with toting a rock you don't really love, tell him you love what the ring represents, but you'd really go nuts for, say, a princess-cut stone. Then, ask if you can pick out a new one together — within his price range.
Allison Moir-Smith, MA, is the author of Emotionally Engaged: A Bride's Guide to Surviving the '"Happiest" Time of Her Life and has been helping brides feel happier, calmer and better prepared for marriage since 2002. She is a bridal counselor, an expert in engagement anxiety and cold feet, and the founder of Emotionally Engaged Counseling for Brides.