Love Letters

She doesn’t want a fancy ring

Q. My longtime boyfriend rocks. We’re a great team and we have a loving, supportive, fulfilling relationship.

I would prefer to be married before we start a family (we’re 27). I know he has something expensive in mind for his future proposal, but he doesn’t make much money and I don’t need a ring or anything extravagant. We could wake up tomorrow and simply declare ourselves engaged, and I would be thrilled — just being with him is what makes me happy.

We’ve discussed all of this and agree that we’re ready, but he still wants to propose the “right” way . . . the way he says I deserve. He shouldn’t have to do anything crazy just to pay for it, though, like change careers. He enjoys his work, and I am content with being the breadwinner — and I know he wouldn’t want me to propose to him.


I appreciate how much he cares and am super curious about this grand gesture, but I would love it if we could take the next step sooner rather than later. However, I also know it’s not all about what I want. Is there anything I can do to help him overcome his own high standards/idealism? Or should I be patient and trust he has it figured out?

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A. Be patient about the time frame and the logistics of the proposal — at least for now — but talk to him about the cost. As we learned from author J. Courtney Sullivan at a recent Love Letters event, the whole “two months’ salary” ring thing is arbitrary. Tell him that you love the romance, but the expense? Not so much.

It’ll be good practice to talk about his budget — because you need to be comfortable discussing money issues, even when it zaps some of the romance from the relationship. You guys are partners. You can’t pretend that he has some weird extra bank account that he uses to lavish you with gifts.

It’s his proposal, but the gift part of it is for you. If you’re going to spend your time looking at a fancy ring and resenting its price tag, let your boyfriend know. Talk about your priorities.




Don’t rush him, let him do things when he’s ready. As you said, this isn’t just about you. Having said all that, I assume you’ve told him you don’t need an extravagant ring, right?


What is the rush? I mean, if “just being with him” makes you happy, then why do you need to get married sooner rather than later? I agree with Meredith that you need to discuss your priorities.


You can simply say “babe . . . c’mon. I just want to be with you. I don’t care about this grand gesture you have planned” and see what he says or you can just sit tight and learn a little patience. Deep breaths, letter writer.


Column and comments are edited and reprinted from Meredith Goldstein can be reached at