Q: My grandmother’s engagement ring is so lovely, and all throughout my childhood, I thought about how someday, I would be married with her beautiful ring.
The thing is, a couple years ago, I was with this person I thought I would marry. We had a conversation-proposal (“I had a dream we got married. Want to do that in a couple years?” “Sure!” Fast forward one year: “Hey, wanna announce it?” “Sure!”) and I asked my family for my grandmother’s ring. The day after I received it, she passed away in her Alzheimer’s care home, and I felt like receiving a token of her and my grandfather’s amazing, sixty-plus year love story somehow gave me this gift of love I can carry with all throughout my life. Unfortunately, I wore that beautiful ring for a year, that person and I never made a single wedding plan, and I ended up breaking up with him after realizing that I didn’t want to marry anyone who would just agree “sure” to any question I had about our future. That was generally his attitude about everything and we both realized that we weren’t very compatible at all. (When I left the relationship, my friends and family told me how happy they were that I didn’t marry him, and how—nice guy that he really was—they could tell it wasn’t going to work out. Thanks for telling me ahead of time, guys!) I went on a soul-searching quest for a couple years, found many things I did and did not like in others, realized what I wanted and absolutely did not want in a relationship, and BOOM. Met the love of my life. We’ve been living together in the most joyous, loving, sweetness for about six months, and we’ve been together just shy of a year.
Now, we’re planning on planning our wedding. My grandmother’s ring is still beautiful, an amazing heirloom, but my feelings about it have changed a lot. After I ended my relationship with my ex, I switched my ring to my right hand, as a symbol of my commitment to myself. Almost immediately into this relationship, I took it off, feeling silly wearing a giant rock on my hand two weeks into a pretty obviously long-run relationship.
As my sweetie and I look at rings, I feel myself gravitating toward bezel settings with alternative rose cut stones (moissanite, black diamonds, sapphires, etc.), and they’re beautiful. I also can’t justify to myself spending tons of money on a ring, so these $300–$600 pieces seem ideal.
I feel like I need that (inexpensive, but decent) physical investment that I can show the people around me, so they know this one isn’t some passive mistake like the last one. At the same time, I feel like I have this beautiful object that I hold so dear, why not use it? But it feels like it’s changed meaning to me. When I slip it on, I don’t feel magical and loved. I feel like I’m wearing my grandmother’s ring, and like it would be so nice to feel the way she did when she got that beautiful thing.
So, my question is… Am I being ridiculous? I know some people would kill for an heirloom like that, and I’m afraid I’m being petty, or wasteful, or that I might seem ungrateful. As much as I wish I felt romance when I put it on, but I just… Don’t.
A: Dear C,
If you don’t feel it, don’t wear it. Real-life, grown-up weddings rarely match what we imagine as little girls, and we’re usually better off for it (good god, the puffy sleeves I wanted). Talk to your partner and pick out a new ring for this new relationship.
But, please don’t get a ring for other people. Ugh, other people. The really nosy ones with nothing better to do will still gossip and mutter, “Hmph, wonder if this one will last!” But most folks won’t. Because you know what happens a lot? People break off relationships and find someone that fits them better. People learn things and change course and figure out what they actually need. Most grown ups know that. And your very closest loved ones—the ones who maybe could’ve warned you that the last guy wasn’t great—they can probably feel the difference for themselves. Don’t get a new ring to prove anything to anyone else because at best, you don’t need to, and at worst, you won’t be able to shut ’em up anyway.
But if you want a new ring for you and your relationship, go on, lady. Take that lovely old heirloom from grand mom, give it to your partner and ask him to keep it for awhile and then give it back to you when the time feels right. That old ring will have completely new connotations on your fortieth birthday or twenty-fifth anniversary, when you’re receiving it from the love of your life.
The trinkets around you will change meaning all the time. We’ve all experienced that—some really terrific music, maybe our favorite places, distorted by the past. But, you can step away for a bit, and come back later to make them new. Right now, maybe the significance of this ring has been dulled by recent past. But give it some time, and you can let it gain altogether new meaning, better than before.
Team Practical, when should you reuse relics from old relationships? When is it time to throw in the towel and get something new?
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If you would like to ask Team Practical a question please don’t be shy! You can email Liz at: askteampractical [at] apracticalwedding [dot] com. If you would prefer to not be named, anonymous questions are also accepted. Though it really makes our day when you come up with a clever sign-off!