Why I don’t want an engagement ring

Like most little girls, I dreamed of meeting my prince charming, getting a perfectly romantic proposal, and throwing an extravagant wedding where I would look fabulous and have all the attention.

I dreamed of the venue and the cake and the princess cut. How huge the dress would be, how many bridesmaids I would have and what I’d make them all wear and do.

I guess I assumed the rest would just sort itself out (ie the actual marriage and life with somebody) because I never gave those things much thought.

Now that I’m an adult and look at the world on much more realistic terms, I’m a bit flabbergasted by how many women still look at things the way I did as a six year old.

With so much emphasis put on the material and so little put on the permanent — the marriage itself — only about half do end up being permanent (which should be a staggering statistic but we’re all quite used to it by now).

I wonder, if 90% of the attention was placed on making sure both partners were actually compatible, and then a measly 10% was spent on the party: would a lot of marriages-to-be get cancelled before the big day?

Research shows the more couples spend on an engagement ring and wedding, the higher and quicker chance of divorce. (tweet that)

Yet there is still so much value placed on the fancy jewelry and the expensive bridal showers, bachelorette parties, and weddings. At one time I might have wanted a 200 person guest list but that was before I realized money doesn’t just appear in my father’s wallet without him actually working for it.

When I was a child living in a cluttered home with the freedom to buy things as I pleased, I never imagined that one day I would find minimalism and renounce my attachment to materialism. Everything about my lifestyle and world view is different now, and no longer can I enjoy even the fantasy of a ring and a big wedding. It’s just not my style anymore and in fact it couldn’t be farther from what I want for myself.

I was talking with a friend about this the other day, as we noted how some friends have had their childhood dreams of marriage come true, whereas we have not. But I explained to her that this is because our dreams have changed. I no longer wish for my childhood dreams to come true!

I have new dreams. Dreams of a partner with whom I’m compatible in a real way, in terms of our lifestyle and our goals and desires for the future. I dream of a simple life where I am happy and have everything I need and nothing more.

I dream of a long-lasting relationship based on solid shared values, that we both actively work on to maintain. I dream of something that maybe only he and I can truly see, with nothing to show off to the outside world.

This is what I want so much more than a ring.

But couldn’t I have both? Isn’t it possible to have the ring and big wedding, and a long-lasting relationship?

Sure it is. But I still don’t want the ring.

I have a list of reasons specific to me personally, ranging from a lack of wearing jewelry in general; to disliking when jewelry snags on clothing or my hair; to preferring to put that money towards a honeymoon, home, or savings; to the morally questionable expectation that a man should spend 3 months’ salary (25% of his annual earnings!) on a ring; to the fact it could easily get lost or stolen; and of course the ethical reasons for avoiding diamonds.

And yet I understand that to some women, an engagement ring brings joy. One of my closest friends absolutely adores her ring and its reminder of her loving husband and marriage every time she looks at it. For her an engagement ring was indeed a good choice!

Everyone is different and even those within the minimalist community have different priorities and different ideas of what they want and don’t want, need and don’t need.

If you’re wondering if I want to have a wedding, I’m not sure yet. Do I want an official marriage? I think so, yes. But when the right person and I decide to commit ourselves to each other, that in itself is the big, exciting moment. I don’t need a party to emphasize it. I could definitely see a small gathering — maybe a backyard reception for close friends and family — being a really fun and lovely way to celebrate. Something simple.

An engagement lasts a few months, a wedding lasts a day, and a marriage lasts, hopefully, forever. However you chose to celebrate and document these occasions is a personal choice. I hope this post encourages readers to find what feels right for you, despite what traditions may exist.

Whatever they are, I hope your current dreams come true.

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.

The least you could do — A minimalist guide to relationships

I had a difficult week awhile back. My boyfriend and I had just set out on our first big trip together (literally, we just got there) when he became sick with the flu. We were in a completely new place, and my understanding of the local language was still quite rough. I was tired and stressed and now had to embark to the store all by myself to get food and medicine — and quickly.

I cleaned, I prepared meals, I sorted out travel details. On top of doing everything for the both of us, I spent most of my downtime by myself, because my boyfriend was mostly just sleeping. Usually when you do a lot for someone, you also get the joy of spending time bonding with them, which refuels you a little. But this week, I was giving him 100% and getting hardly anything in return. It was hard.

In my struggle, I thought about what type of girlfriend I wanted to be. What characteristics did I want to bring to this relationship?

Here’s what I came up with. I listed them so they spell “least”, so they are easy to remember. I told myself, In times of trial, maintaining these characteristics is the least I can do.

  • Loving
  • Encouraging
  • Affectionate
  • Selfless
  • Thoughtful / Tolerant

Now these are intentionally pretty vague, so you can form them to what you feel is important. I’ll share mine with you to give you some ideas.

Loving

I might feel tired or angry, but I will respond with a loving tone instead of a harsh one. If I feel that I’m carrying more weight in the relationship, I will choose to act towards him with love regardless of the “score”.

Encouraging

Even when I’m barely holding my own life together, that doesn’t mean I wont still encourage my partner. Everyone needs encouragement, and what I’m dealing with doesn’t take away whatever he’s dealing with.

Affectionate

If you’ve read The 5 Love Languages (I can’t recommend this book highly enough!) then you know that Affection is one of the 5. For me, it’s the most important, and it’s also one that’s pretty easy to return. When someone gives you a hug, it doesn’t take much to hug them back. But what’s more challenging is initiating affection, especially if it’s an aspect of your relationship that has gone lost or that never was a big part to begin with. To me, affection goes along with encouragement, in that a simple hug or hand on the arm can instill a little bit of life back into someone who’s having a down day. And while I think affection can require more vulnerability than some of the other qualities, the benefits outweigh the risks.

Selfless

This one was especially important to me while I played nurse the week my partner was ill. I was running around catering to his needs (any parent can relate to this feeling I’m sure!) and making his comfort a priority over my own. In moments when I felt it was getting to be too much, I reminded myself that being selfless is a quality I would like to bring to this relationship, and therefore what I was doing was right.

Thoughtful / Tolerant

I started using thoughtful for “T” but later realized tolerant is just as important. Being thoughtful to me means being aware of what my partner might need, and offering it. Examples when he was sick included another glass of water or a foot massage. Day to day examples can include picking up his favorite food at the grocery store or setting out a bottle of sunscreen next to his backpack before a day out with his friends.

Tolerance in my view is patience combined with being loving. It’s not losing my temper on insignificant things and it’s understanding that he might do some things differently than I do — and accepting that that’s perfectly okay. I like to be tolerant of both the situation and, more generally, of who my partner is as a person.

Easier said than done

I want to be clear that while this simple list is the “least” I can do, it’s also a lot to ask! It’s hard to be loving when you’re angry, or to put someone else’s needs ahead of your own. But I use this list as a list of goals or mantras, more than a list of strict requirements. It’s a list that I customized to fit who I want to be in a relationship — who I try to be, whether or not I always succeed.

I invite you to customize the list to make it fit who YOU want to be in a relationship. It wont be intimidating if you customize it to feel right for you.

These characteristics can also apply to non-romantic relationships. You can customize the list again to fit how you’d like to act with your parent or your friend. Or for that matter, yourself!

<3

Decluttering my life has brought me peace of mind and relief from the world around me. There’s nothing like walking into the space you created and knowing you have nothing more than what you need. I write articles to help others create that same feeling for themselves.