This is our story- it is not meant to offend anyone or to… in any way… insult your story or the story you want to have.
I had someone ask me if one of my rings was my engagement ring. I replied, “No it sure isn’t.” She said, “Oh and you aren’t wearing it?” I replied, “No, I don’t have one. I will let John tell that story.” She seemed a little surprised, but looked to John inquisitively. John looked annoyed and in his mind was probably thinking- Oh here we go again the story of how I never gave her an engagement ring.
John and I have been together for 18 years it has been such a journey here. He’s absolutely fabulous and the fact that he didn’t get me a ring doesn’t mean he’s not committed or able to hold his own financially. In fact, it doesn’t say anything negative like many of the other reasons I’ve heard people say they wouldn’t marry someone without a ring. I would marry John dressed in palm leaves on an island all alone with a seashell wedding band. I would marry John living by a river and sleeping in tents while acting like hobos living off of baked beans. It doesn’t matter the wealth of the situation. No matter the promise in a hunk of a diamond it doesn’t classify his dedication or love for me.
It took me a long time to realize this and not only accept it, but embrace it as it was. Of course many young girls dream of getting a beautiful diamond and having their love get down on one knee and say beautiful and memorable things. John always saw this as somewhat greedy and many people I know would be offended the thought ever crossed his mind. The ring, to John, equals a dollar sign and a goal to reach some status and does not symbolize love, commitment, or any of those other reasons people have for giving or receiving such a ring. John didn’t save up for a ring and never felt compelled to do so. He was honest about this for our entire relationship and he never wavered about it. I questioned it and wanted to be the norm and have the norm. Nothing extravagant… just something that symbolized all of those reasons.
When we were seventeen or so… about 1997 we were very serious about our relationship at this point. We had survived a year of him living in another state- just barely, but we made it. We had struggled to reboot again and found a new balance this time around. So we took a trip to Hills- yes like the department store. John had purchased this awesome cubic zirconia ring from Hills department store. In the same parking lot and in his parents car- he put that ring on my finger. It was a promise ring and he asked, “I am so in love with you and someday will you marry me?” I of course said yes and for years rocked my cubic zirconia ring with pride. Now I wore the ring without saying much about it. We didn’t tell many people that it was a promise ring or why I wore it. Mostly, we just kept it to ourselves. I told my friends of course… what girl wouldn’t.
In the years that passed, while I wore my promise ring, we went through bumps in the road and moments where we questioned everything and moments where we felt like the whole relationship could be a bust. We stuck it out and found new ways to balance things. By the fall of our senior year of college, we had decided we were staying on the track and it was serious now. More serious than it had ever been before… this time we were talking wedding plans and getting the ball rolling.
No ring. No down on one knee. He was firm he didn’t believe in it. I was still dreaming. He had no money for it anyways, but a girl can dream right? Or maybe she just needs to get over it and see love right there in front of her and not pray he goes into debt trying to get her the ring she just absolutely wants. Honestly, I knew exactly what kind of ring I wanted. I knew exactly what I was hoping for, but we just went ahead with the wedding plans. In the back of my mind, I had hoped he would be secretly saving up for one and I had hoped he would “man” up on this and just make my part of the dream come true.
I was hurt by this concept that we so desperately disagreed upon. My dream of getting this beautiful ring was disappearing and I was saddened by it. I came to the decision that I was still marrying this man and trusting that all the naysayers of the ‘man who doesn’t buy a ring’ isn’t really in love with you were all wrong. Yes, people said these things to me… to my face. This societal expectation that a man should get a ring for the woman he loves is very vocal on this side of things. I’m not sure John caught as much crap for it as I did. Though anyone not knowing this story and actually knows John and I – Does it make you think any less of our relationship? Any less of our commitment? Any less of our wedding or marriage? It shouldn’t.
On our wedding day it poured rain. I mean buckets and buckets of rain about a half an hour or more before the ceremony. It was an outdoor wedding. Yes, I thought I might have a nervous breakdown. The power went out…. there was no music… there was no running water or flushing toilets… dear Lord. But really the Lord was listening… it was July it was unGodly hot and the downpour cooled things down just right and left things a little damp, but the power came back on and everything worked out just fine. About ten minutes before the ceremony John looked at his friend Joe and said, “Oh man, I forgot to propose… ” Joe said, “Um you’re kind of running out of time.”
Now many of you who think that John is just an on the whim kind of guy- let me tell you that is not always the case. He’s a thinker and a very intelligent man. He came running towards the lodge I was in and of course all of the wedding party tried to stop him from seeing me… everyone started saying “OH No… what has happened to the power now.” My heart sank. I instantly thought he’s not going through with this but he says, “Wait I’ve got blind folds!” (They matched the wedding colors… brilliant man.) So he gets blind folded and I get blind folded- yes it messed up my hair and yes you can see it in all the pictures but oh well.
They walked him to me and he held my hands and got down on one knee. He said, “Several years ago, I asked you to marry me some day, but I’m here now to ask you if you will marry me today?” Of course… I said yes… I was just thinking about how terribly wonderful he is and how my glasses were shoved into my eyeballs. He ran off to do the whole wedding thing. I finally started to cry once my glasses were dislodged from my eye sockets… One of the most beautiful moments of my life. More precious than the ceremony or the scripted vows were, because those words, his words, came from the heart.
There is another part to the story. Yes, I wear a diamond “engagement” ring on my left hand with my wedding band- for those of you who know you’ve seen one on my hand. It is not my engagement ring. It is something more wonderful than that ever would have been. In 2006, our son Alden was born. Alden was a wonderful baby and such a blessing to us both. For my first mother’s day, I received a bouquet of flowers, a dishwasher, and a diamond ring. John had decided that he would give me a ring with our first child’s birthstone in it. As luck would have it for me- Alden was born in April and his birthstone is a diamond.
Maggie’s birthstone is peridot. It is a green stone which just so happens to be my absolute favorite color. I haven’t gotten my Maggie gift yet. I’m still waiting and he knows it. I’m sure he’ll think ahead and surprise me with something amazing.
For all my naysayers that said I “shouldn’t” have married him- you were wrong. He is simply a man standing up for what he thought was right and sticking to his guns about it. I used to speak of this in disappointment and give him a hard time about it. I have moved away from disappointment to embracing his ability to stand his ground so firmly on something. Our story is unique and just because I didn’t have the traditional proposal and ring doesn’t mean he doesn’t love me or is any less of a man because of it.