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Love Letters

Waiting for a ring

Q. I’ve been with my boyfriend for three years. I’m in my early 30s, he’s in his mid-30s. When we first started dating, we both knew this was it. We talked about marriage pretty early on and moved in together after six months of dating (it was a first for both of us). We both agreed that we don’t want to wait too long to get married because we both want children fairly soon, considering our ages. I know that a lot of people are fine with having children later in life, but we’re not.

Fast forward a few years later, and I’m still waiting for a ring. He claims it’s his finances — he’s been “saving for the ring.” But every time he seems to get larger sums of money (i.e. bonuses, tax returns), he spends it in other ways. Generally it’s going toward paying off any debts, so it’s not a bad thing. But he hardly has any debts (no student loans, car is paid off), so I don’t understand why he feels the need to pay off his credit card in its entirety instead of continuing monthly payments.

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The main thing that bothers me about this is I feel like he’s putting himself first instead of our relationship. Instead of planning for our future together, he’s taking care of himself. I just so happen to be coming into a large inheritance and it’s already been decided that I would like to put it toward a down payment on our first house (which I will not do unless we’re married). But that goes to show how different we are. He gets money and it goes toward his debts, I get money and it goes toward our future.

Can you please give me some advice on either being more patient regarding getting engaged or tell me how I should present this argument to him so he doesn’t see me as being crazy? It’s starting to bother me more and more.

Boston

A. You could tell him that you don’t need a ring. I mean, if this whole argument revolves around a piece of jewelry, you might as well take it out of the equation. Would you be content with some small, inexpensive token to symbolize your commitment? Would you be open to starting with a simple ring that maybe gets replaced or reset over the years? If so, make that known.

You’re not crazy to want a timeline. You guys decided that you want to start a family soon, so yeah . . . it makes sense that you’re wondering when all of this will begin.

Have a talk and ask him when he really wants to start having kids. Then work backward and fill in the steps in between.

For the record, I’m not so sure that it’s selfish of him to pay off credit-card debt. Doesn’t that help you, too? When you have the talk, don’t accuse him of slighting you by paying his bills. Just focus on the timeline and work around the kids.

READERS RESPOND:

Why don’t you see his being debt free as being a positive for your future? Do you have to have some huge, pricey, ostentatious thing that costs a fortune as proof of how much he loves you?

Maybe he wants to be in a good place financially before he pops the question so he is paying down the debt as part of a plan. If you have no other reason to doubt his commitment, be patient or . . . insert drum roll . . . TALK TO HIM!

Why are you insisting he propose? What are you waiting for him to buy a ring, drop down to one knee, and pop the question? Why don’t you ask him to marry you? I think this whole hung-up-on-finances approach is you insisting on him having a ring in hand when he pops the question.

Three years in, how large of a credit-card debt is/was he carrying that he still hasn’t paid it down? I dunno, Patiently, seems like he has real no interest in getting married to you. He IS interested in your inheritance though. Buy yourself a nice home. Do it for you.

I think taking the ring out of the equation as Meredith suggests is a good approach. You want the marriage together more than the trappings of engagement/wedding, right? If not, then there is a different discussion to be had. It’s also a good tactic. If there is something else going on with him, then eliminating the stated pretext for waiting may surface that.

Correct me if I’m wrong, but it would seem to me that paying off debt is contributing to your future. Stop worrying about the ring, he’s clearly there with you, enjoy it. Patience is a virtue.

I thought this was going to be a typical “ring watch!” letter, but it’s not. You two had already agreed to start a family early since you’re both in your 30s, plus you’ve been living together for most of the past years. . . . You made a point to say you both knew when you first met that this would be a forever thing, but how do you honestly feel today? That’s more important than meet cute beginning romance stories.

I wanted to get married, she wanted to get married, but one of her “things” was a bigger ring than I could afford at the time. She gave me the money to go buy the bigger ring because she knew the alternative was wait another year or so.

In fairness to the LW, it could be that he is the one insisting that they can’t get engaged until he can afford the ring, and he is using that excuse as a delaying tactic — or he has some antiquated/traditional notions about engagements. In which case, all the more reason to clear the air about what the hold up is.

The ring is not the issue, it’s the money. Money is one of the biggest issues that can destroy a relationship. You and your BF need to be on the same page about this. Get talking!! Oh, and a ring ain’t all it’s cracked up to be.

I wonder if he’s been telling her he’s been pay off credit cards when he’s really been socking away $20-30k for the layaway plan on a stunning princess-cut pave 2-carat diamond ring. Embarrassing. For everyone. Engagement over before it began.

Column and reader comments are edited and reprinted from www.boston.com/loveletters. Meredith Goldstein can be reached at mgoldstein@globe.
com
. She chats online on Wednesdays at 1 p.m.
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