A young man we know showed us pictures this morning of the ring he just bought his girlfriend. It is beautiful. He shared the story of how she wanted a particular style, but he couldn’t find it anywhere. He even looked when he was in another state visiting a friend.

One day while shoe shopping they stopped in yet another jewelry store. They didn’t find the style she’s dreamed of, but they found one she fell in love with. He upgraded it and is about to explode with excitement. He can’t wait to propose and give it to her. In the meantime, they’ve continued looking, but she always says that none of the rings compare to “her ring.” As far as she’s concerned she already found the ring she wants.

She had certain criteria for the ring that would don her finger for the rest of her life. The style had to be just so. It required a certain carat weight. It couldn’t snag on things. He innocently asked me if I had been like that with my ring because all of the new brides he knows have been.

No, I wasn’t. Neither of my husbands shopped like that for me. It wasn’t important to either one of them that I be happy, that they please me, that they see delight on my face. I would have been afraid to be that demanding. I’d have been afraid of losing them had I insisted upon anything, let alone an expensive bauble.

My first husband and I did shop for rings.  He was so obnoxious and argued so badly about what he wanted that the jeweler at the last store took me aside at one point and said, “Don’t let him do this.  Most men don’t even end up wearing their rings.  You’ll wear this the rest of your life.  You choose what you want.”  He ended up buying me a $20 ring from KMart.

My second husband and I shopped one time.  We went.  We looked.  I purchased on my credit card.  My ring looked like his mother’s ring.  Just as my furniture ten years later would look like his mother’s furniture.  He stated that he felt funny about the ring going on my credit card but that it didn’t really matter because he’d be paying the bill for it.  He never paid the bill.  In fact, once we were married I paid several of his premarital bills and provided all of our daily necessities of living.

My daughter was like our friend’s girlfriend when she got engaged. I actually felt sorry for my future son-in-law. I thought my daughter was acting like a Bridezilla just for stating her preferences and her desires. She had dreamed of her engagement and her wedding her entire life though, and she knew what every detail would look like. As does our friend’s girlfriend.  Their dreams were coming true, and these young men were excited to be making that happen for them.

What does that feel like?  What must it do to a woman’s heart and sense of self-worth to have a man value her that highly?

My daughter is now in her first trimester, and my son-in-law, who hates cats and was unhappy that my cat lady daughter took in yet another stray and paid its vet bills, is now demanding that he change the litter boxes.  He will not allow my daughter to touch the dirty cat litter or lift anything heavy.  He is worried about her and their baby.  He treats my daughter like she’s made of glass, and he’s fearful that any strain may cause her to break.

They’ve been married three-and-a-half years, and she has blossomed as his wife.  She throws extravagant parties with games for the kids and adults and serves cakes she decorates herself.  Her menus are carefully planned to match the theme.  Everyone has a blast when she throws a shindig.  She’s completed her Bachelors and is working on her Masters.  She has done volunteer work.  She worked a job she hated briefly but quickly acquired a job she loves where she is valued and appreciated.

Though my daughter cooks and bakes for her large parties, she doesn’t on a daily basis.  She usually calls her order in to her husband, and he picks up dinner on his way home.  That always shocks me.  Meals were my responsibility even when I was working and R was not.  I can’t hardly believe that my son-in-law takes her order when he’s tired at the end of the day and then asks thoughtful questions about what she’d like to go with it or on it.  I’m flabbergasted.

And, it all started with a beautiful ring.  An expensive bauble meant to please her and express her value to him.

My first wedding ring cost $20 and was from Kmart.  It was cheap, something you could easily throw away.  Just like my first marriage.  J placed absolutely no value on our vows or our relationship, and he quickly and easily threw it away.

I paid for my own ring the second time around, although he chose it.  He promised to pay for it but didn’t.  Here I sit now, paying for his debt and the belongings he chose and will receive once he finally signs the divorce papers.  He made promises to me but has broken them all, just like he broke that very first one.

Those baubles are more than just something to brag about and show social status.  They express value.  They are a little like the old fashioned notion of a bride price.  They are a tangible promise that he will please her, that her dreams and desires are important to him.  The thought he puts into his purchase represents something much greater than just a beautiful ring.