When the engagement is off, what do you do with the ring?

I’ve got this ring. It’s a gorgeous ring. I really, really like the ring. But what do you do with a ring that no longer has an engagement attached to it? Do you wear it on the right hand? Do you tuck it away in the back of a drawer and forget about it? Do you trade it in for a pair of earrings? Or just sell it outright with no reminder you ever had it?

You might be wondering why I didn’t give the ring back to Mack when we broke it off. I didn’t give it back to him because I paid for it. I paid for the ring because I wanted something more than his grandfather’s pinky ring, which is what he gave me when he proposed the first time. (I did return that ring.) His grandfather’s ring was the only ring Mack could give me because he’s broke and unemployed. Although I didn’t want to wear his grandfather’s pinky ring for the rest of my life, it was a very sweet gesture. Nevertheless, I wanted a real engagement ring. If I had to buy it, then I’d buy it. So Mack and I went to a local jeweler (buy local!) and picked out a ring. I bought it on credit (no interest) and paid it off in August. I was a little embarrassed when I filled out the credit application as Mack stood beside me with his hands in his pockets. At least we managed to stay together (mostly) until the ring was paid off.

If I had paid attention to my feelings as I filled out the credit application, I might have called the whole thing off then. I didn’t like paying for the ring. I didn’t like that he didn’t appear to be bothered by it. But I loved him and I thought I could rise above traditional gender roles. I thought I could be the breadwinner, and be okay with that. And I might have been okay with it, if I felt Mack was contributing to the relationship in other ways. But as time went on, I came to feel that Mack wasn’t contributing. As much as I tried to ignore that feeling, it only grew bigger over time. I wish I still felt how I felt in the beginning. I was so hopeful Mack and I would be happy. I was so hopeful we could make a cozy, loving life together. So I bought the ring.

When the ring was ready, Mack picked it up. He carried it around with him for several days, trying to decide on the right time to propose. Mack had never formally proposed to a woman, and I’d never been formally proposed to. We’d gone to a Christmas party that night, and afterward we went dancing. He proposed when we got home, underneath the Christmas tree lights. The tree we’d brought home and decorated together. This year, I’m not putting up a tree.

So I’ve got this lovely ring I’m not sure what to do with. I suppose it’s too soon to make a decision about it. I know I can’t let go of it yet. I don’t know if I’ll ever want to trade it in. But I also can’t wear it right now. Even on the right hand. I suppose as I work through things, I’ll figure out what to do with the ring. It surely would have been simpler if he’d bought the ring, and I’d just given it back. And then he’d have to figure out what to do with it. It sort of sums up how I saw my future with him, and why I felt I had to end it: I was responsible for figuring out the grown up things, while he was along for the fun of the ride.

So I’ve broken up with Mack. When will I be ready to break up with the ring? When will I be ready to accept the death of the dream?


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