Getting engaged should be one of the most joyful moments of your entire life. So when your partner - who you love, adore, value and trust - proposes and your first thought is “I hate my engagement ring,” what do you do? As psychotherapist Edie Stark, MSc, LCSW warns, more women than you think are disappointed by the gem their spouses selected. “There are a lot of scenarios in which the proposer may opt for the ‘surprise’ ring,” she shares. Though you may be tempted to express your disgust out of pure reaction, Stark says it’s better to approach the conversation with care. While you don’t want to be stuck sporting a left-handed diamond or stone that you despise, it’s more important to preserve your relationship and have an honest discussion about how you feel.
So if you can’t stop thinking, “I hate my engagement ring,” here’s how to handle it—while keeping your relationship intact.
Be considerate in the moment.
Your future spouse is the person you wished for on stars, birthday candles, wells, eyelashes and dandelions—and the fact that you’re getting engaged is pretty darn amazing. In this moment, you feel so overwhelmed, you might not notice the ring right away, but when you do a few seconds later, psychotherapist and author Tina B. Tessina, PhD, says to hold back your instant reaction. “If your partner has surprised you with a ring, and it’s not the style you want, keep in mind what a big risk he took, and be kind. If you’re saying yes, say an enthusiastic ‘yes!’, put the ring on, and give him a big kiss. Wait until later to talk about whether you like thering or not. Don’t ruin the moment with selfishness,” she recommends.
Talk in private and be upfront.
Once the champagne has been popped, the intimate celebration has commence and the fanfare of the initial proposal has died down, and you’re alone together, it’s time to have a candid conversation. Stark says expressing that you’re unhappy with your engagement ring is excellent practice for the countless uncomfortable chats you’ll navigate in your marriage, giving you the firsthand opportunity to practice assertive, non-confrontational speech. “When we are assertive, stating our wants and needs, while also taking into consideration our partners wants and needs, conflict is often times avoided or minimized,” she says.
Not sure how to begin? Stark recommends saying something along the lines of, “I am so excited to be marrying you. I love you and our partnership. I am feeling anxious to talk to you about this but I know if I don’t I will feel upset and maybe angry. I will always love our engagement story because [fill in specific details]. I want to make sure I love the symbol from that day just as much, and I realize this style doesn’t fit.’ From here, you can explain specifically what you would like to be different and continue the discussion. Be sensitive, and avoid blunt terms like “I hate my engagement ring.”
Allow your partner to be hurt.
Even if you are considerate, caring and sweet, Stark reiterates there is no way to control your partner’s feelings if you share that you hate your engagement ring. What you can do is allow your partner to express how he/she feels in a way that is conducive to your relationship, by being sensitive and compassionate. It’s also important to be mindful of financial barriers that prevent your partner from purchasing your fantasy ring, which could bring up other feelings of inadequacy, shame or anger. “Even if you may be disappointed in not getting your dream ring, if can allow for kindness, and understanding, towards your partner that is worth its weight in gold,” she says.
If you avoid the talk completely because you don’t want to see your partner upset and spend a year or two hating on the engagement ring you wear daily? This practice isn’t healthy either, and in addition to being a bummer for you, it could create a rift in your relationship. As Stark explains, “Holding on to secrets is toxic to any relationship, and it’s not how you want to start your new marriage. Finding gratitude in things we struggle with can be a healing tool to find peace in conflict.”
Be flexible and gracious with the exchange.
Once you’ve reached level ground and you’re both ready to move forward and figure out the best way to find a new ring, Tessina says to be flexible with your hunt. You can begin by heading to the jeweler to see how they can assist in the situation, since it’s likely they’ve dealt with this scenario before. “Most jewelers will be happy to exchange the ring for something in a similar price range that you like better. When you are at the jewelers, point out some rings that are more your style, but be sure you’re not going over budget. If you do this sweetly and gently, your partner will probably be happy to get you an engagement ring you’re happy with,” she says.