When my ex-husband told me after we’d been dating almost a year that I could start looking at engagement rings, I spent hours and hours perusing jewelry websites. What kind of settings did I like? What size diamond? Gold or platinum?
We went to three separate jewelry stores together. At each one, I slipped dazzling rings onto my ring finger and listened to the sales people rail off clarity and cut and shape.
I finally picked a small little number: a pavé halo with a 2/3 carat center diamond that cost $1350. My ex-husband had a job working front desk at a hotel making maybe $10–12 an hour. I wanted to marry him, so while I could have gone by the “an engagement ring should cost two months’ salary,” or what some of my friends called “if it’s going to be forever, it has to look like forever” ring, I went with what made the most sense for me, and for us.
I spent a lot of time caring about the ring and then the wedding. I liked the idea of those things, and I honestly spent more time focusing on that ring and being engaged and then planning our wedding than what focusing on should have actually mattered: if I was marrying the right man, if we were building the right kind of relationship.
Fast-forward over six years later, and I was filing for divorce from that guy. He could have been the right guy, but there was no way of telling when he was so wrapped up in his own drug addiction and I in my own codependency and denial. By the time he got straight, it was too late. Much much too late.
The right kind of relationship should have been built on honesty, communication, trust, and respect, but those had all been damaged irreparably, piece by piece, and I was as much to blame in that as he was. I put his needs — or what I imagined were his needs — above my own. I was constantly dishonest about how I felt and what I was feeling, and I allowed acceptable behavior. Again and again and again. On top of that, he’d been hiding his drug addiction for over eight years andembezzled from his employer. Talk about a Marriage TKO.
My current partner and I are getting married. We were going to get engaged last month but I asked that we put it off for a hot minute.
When I knew our engagement was coming up, I found myself getting insanely obsessed with lots of ridiculous details: how will I get on his cell phone plan? Will it be a big deal to change my health insurance over to his once we get married? Am I going to keep my last name or take his or hyphenate my ex’s last name with his last name so I’ll still have the same last name of my kids? And my panic and anxiety skyrocketed.
After being in a bad marriage, the fear of a second bad marriage can be overwhelming, and those little details I was obsessing over had absolutely nothing to do with my partner. I heard recently, if we don’t recover from our past, we are doomed to repeat it. And I am still very much recovering from mine.
But I’ve come a long way.
And I need to honor that and give myself some credit for that:
I am not the same 26 year old never-married, childless Tara that married my ex-husband. I am 34 year old divorced Tara with toddler twins and a wholleeee new set of life experience behind her, and she’s got this.
My partner and I had originally planned for a sweet elopement in September, but we may opt just to go in t-shirts and jeans to City Hall.
Either way, we are in engagement ring talks. We’ve already looked at some rings. I’ve sent him ones I like, but I’ve found myself simply not caring. I’ve even told him that I’d be fine if we just wore wedding bands, but he’d prefer I have two rings.
Either way, I’m not perusing jewelry websites for hours. I’m not fantasizing about what my friends will think when they see this ring on my finger. I’m not caring much either about the wedding or the dress or the flowers or the venue. I am caring about the marriage.
There’s no magic formula for a marriage. I tried reading all of the books and doing all of the therapy and following all of the popular advice with my first marriage and that still sunk like the Titanic.
Today, with this second marriage, I‘m focusing on what’s really important: if I’ve chosen a partner who’s willing to work as much as I am and how I will continue to show up for myself no matter what. All of that is so much more important than what kind of ring I’m going to have on my finger.