A few months ago, my girlfriend turned into my fiancee. Over those months, we’ve told the story of our engagement and shown her ring to dozens of friends and family members. My fiancee, like many before her, loves having the ring. It represents a committed love from someone she cherishes and values. But the whole experience got me thinking of one question:
Why don’t men wear engagement rings?
The engagement ring has roots in ancient Rome. When a man found a woman he wanted to marry, he would place a ring on her ring finger (it was believed to have a vein that ran from the finger to the heart). The ring was a ‘tag/marker’, similar to a brand for cattle. The ring told the world that the woman belonged to someone, and was “off the market”. The woman was ‘owned’ by her fiance, who, it turns out, was not marked as being in a committed relationship. He was still his own master. No one could claim him.
He owned his fiancee; heart and all. She, meanwhile, had no such equitable claim on him.
Now, I know that our culture doesn’t use the same overt tones of ‘ownership’ when we talk about being engaged or married. But those tones are still there in very subtle ways. Much of that same imagery remains. So here are a few reasons why I have started (occasionally) wearing my wedding band, even though we’re “only” engaged:
Equally yoked: My fiancee and I are both equally committed to the relationship. It’s not like she’s all in, and I’m only considering getting married. She’s committed to marry me, and I have committed to marry her.
Same message: Stereotypically in our culture, women love engagement rings because they represent commitment, while men loathe them because they represent a loss of freedom. I’m quite happy being engaged to my fiancee, thank you.
Mutual Ownership: I didn’t purchase my fiancee. I don’t own her anymore than she owns me. The ancient symbolism of one sided ownership is out dated. If she’s “off the market”, so am I.
I confess that I don’t wear my ring all the time. It confuses people to tell them “we’re engaged” while showing them we’re married, and I’m not always able to spend five minutes explaining why. Some people have been confused and thrown off by the gesture, and so in the name of speeding up some conversations, I don’t always wear it. I do try to be intentional about wearing it to ‘social watering holes’ (restaurants, bars, etc) where people typically go to “find someone”. As previously stated, if she’s off the market, so am I.
Maybe I’ve over thought this. Maybe I’m an unromantic intellectual who takes the fun away from everything. Or maybe you like this idea of equal imagery.
Let me know in the comments below.
And remember, I love y’all and there’s nothing you can do about it.