The question was posed to me several weeks ago, and I didn’t have an answer. “Why don’t men wear engagement rings?”
Well, why don’t they? They wear wedding rings, after all. This is the 21st century, and we’re all equal and free to do as we please, no? A ring is a symbol of promise and commitment. It’s not like putting your name on your lunch in the office fridge, marking your ownership of that lunch. Or at least, not anymore. I think at one time, it may have been that way.
But, I’m not a lunch. I’m not owned, or marked. I am thrilled with my own engagement ring. It touches my heart every time I look at it, and reminds me of the very sweet, kind, thoughtful man I’m lucky enough to call my own. I chose it myself. I’m not a “look at my big sparkly diamond” kind of person. For many, many, reasons, it is the perfect ring for me. It is an ethically mined garnet – my mother’s birthstone. I love the rich, deep colour of garnets. The setting is reclaimed silver, which speaks to my love of reusing resources and making things over. It is hand-made, by a real person, and engraved with a sweet sentiment that is ours alone.
So, yesterday, when one of my “sistahs from another mistah” and I were out shopping, we hit a little Celtic new-agey store, mostly because of the half-price rack of pretty clothes out front. We were enticed inside – the shopkeeper was chatty and friendly.
My buddy was at the counter, considering a ring for herself to mark a personal milestone, and I spotted a silver claddagh. You know, the two hands cradling the crowned heart – friendship, love and loyalty. It’s an Irish thing, which I knew would appeal to my fiance and his roots. The clerk explained that to wear the claddagh with the point of heart facing away from you indicated engagement, and if the point is towards you, marriage.
It was a lovely ring. I sized it against one I was wearing that I knew fit him, and it was perfect. It didn’t have any protruding features that could catch on anything. It was quiet in design; inobtrusive; a handsome thing.
How would it go over, though, I wondered? A little non-traditional for a man to wear an engagement ring, perhaps. But then I thought – this is OUR life. We ARE a little non-traditional. It’s not anyone’s first rodeo, and we’re not bound by anyone’s rules. So I bought it. It just seemed right.
When I got home, I got down on my knee and put it on his finger. It felt good. It felt like something I always wanted to do, to present myself and my gift, laid emotionally bare and open, like a beating heart on a silver platter. And it WAS right. It’s not about marking your territory like a stray cat. It’s a gift, and a promise, and a reminder that you are loved.