The day my boyfriend asked me to marry him was one of the happiest days of my life. He went all out: perfect location, meaningful words, and down on one knee with a lovely ring. At the time, I wouldn’t have changed a thing. But now, just a few months before the wedding, my ring has become a source of stress. I’d honestly like something bigger, with a bit more style. My fiancé says we don’t have that kind of money, but he doesn’t seem to have a problem buying fancy accessories for his car. I’m worried that his lack of “splurging” on my ring means that he just doesn’t prioritize what matters to me – which means he doesn’t prioritize me. What do I do with that? I’m willing to forego eating out or whatever we need to do to upgrade my ring, but he’s not budging on the budget.
Bummed over Bling
It sounds like you need a news flash way more than you need flashier bling: People can and usually do have different spending priorities without it meaning anything about their feelings toward each other.
You are looking at what he spends on car accessories – instead of your ring –as evidence that he doesn’t “prioritize you.” And sure, okay, maybe your fiancé is just a jerk who doesn’t care enough about you. In which case you need to call off the wedding, flick the small diamond ring back in his face, and forget every meaningful word he said when he asked you to marry him.
But maybe he’s not a jerk who doesn’t care. Maybe he loves you deeply. And maybe he loves you deeply and has a reason why he bought those car accessories. Perhaps he’d been saving for them for two years but bought you that diamond ring instead, and promised himself that when he saved another $1000 he would upgrade the car a bit. Maybe every single day for the last two years, driving the non-upgraded car, he would daydream about the day he had asked you to marry him. That glorious day that demonstrated you loved him, too.
Until, of course, you started demonstrating the opposite by questioning whether a lack of bling meant a lack of love.
I strongly suggest that you shake off the visions of more sparkly diamonds and get your head straight before you get married. You have to decide whether you are going to believe the best of your man – or the worst. Because I promise you: marriage will give you plenty of opportunities to wonder, to question, to wrestle with hurt feelings. And when those questions and hurt feelings come, you’d better be prepared to tell yourself one very, very important fact: I know he loves me, and this doesn’t mean otherwise.
When I was researching the happiest couples, I found that this one action set them apart – and changed their relationships from so-so to sensational. When these spouses are legitimately hurt, they refuse to believe that their mates intended to hurt them, and they look for the most generous explanation instead. They give their mate the benefit of the doubt. They have disagreements, bad days, grumpy periods, and selfish episodes like anyone else. Which means there are times they can be callous and insensitive to each other. But they don’t let those things define what they know to be true about the other person’s care for them.
I suggest you take a page from that book. It doesn’t mean you can’t discuss saving for an upgraded ring, or trying to help him see how much it matters to you. By all means, do that. Talk to him about it. Work toward a solution that works for both of you. But do it in a way that believes he cares. And no matter what, before you get married, decide that you will choose to always believe in and keep your eyes on the real prize: his great love for you.
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Shaunti Feldhahn is the best-selling author of eye-opening, research-based books about men, women and relationships, including For Women Only, For Men Only, the groundbreaking The Good News About Marriage, and her newest book, Through A Man’s Eyes. A Harvard-trained social researcher and popular speaker, her ﬁndings are regularly featured in media as diverse as The Today Show, Focus on the Family, and the New York Times. Visit www.shaunti.com for more.