I don't care where it's been...
January 13, 2010 10:46 AM   Subscribe

Engagement is in the air... How can I tactfully let my future fiance know that I would be honored to receive his great- great grandmother's ring? -The catch? He was married very briefly (3months- she had an affair & left him) and gave it to his first wife as her engagement ring.

The way I see it is that it has been in his family far longer than it was on her finger. It is part of his family history that I would find wonderful to be a part of. I know he thinks the ring is tainted. He had planned to return it to his mother but was afraid she wouldn't wear it because of it's history with his ex. I don't have an issue with it & can't even begin to justify him buying a new one. It seems so silly to spend money on something you already have.
I can not think of a tactful way to say hey you can give me that ring when you plan to propose if you want, I love the ring and love the family history behind it.

Any thoughts?
posted by MayNicholas to Human Relations (37 answers total)
 
Can you compromise and pop out and reset the stones in a different setting, if he doesn't want to look at the ring on your finger as-is?
posted by availablelight at 10:47 AM on January 13, 2010


Take him, sit him down in your computer chair, and point him to this post.
posted by royalsong at 10:48 AM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


Tell someone else to tell him.
posted by valkyryn at 10:49 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


He was married very briefly (3months- she had an affair & left him) and gave it to his first wife as her engagement ring.

It's his ring and he gave it to his ex. I don't think you can do much about it frankly. It's up to him.

when you plan to propose
If he hasn't proposed yet, it's really not any of your business yet who has the ring.
posted by anniecat at 10:50 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


I'm hoping this isn't supposed to be a surprise, which will make everything much, much easier.

You: 'So, I'm really excited about getting engaged to you, and, about the ring, you know I really love your family and its history and I love, love, love your great great grandmother's ring. How would you feel about us giving it a much better future?'

If it's supposed to be a surprise, and you are on good terms with mother/sister/best friend, you could suggest to them that you would love to have the ring.

I think you should definitely bring it up with him, but, likewise, if he really couldn't stand the associations with the ring, the kindest thing you could do for him is save it for the next generation's propositioning.
posted by brambory at 10:58 AM on January 13, 2010 [4 favorites]


I was worried when I read the teaser than the ring was still in the ex's possession, which would make things much more difficult. It seems that's not the case, though.

If you are ever out-and-about together in places that lead you walk past a jewelry store--well, the customary thing would be to oooh and ahhh to drop hints as to what you like. But instead you could comment about how much more special it would be to have a piece that has a lot of history to it. Without outright saying "if you were ever to propose" or naming the ring in question (though of course the conversation may turn in that direction).

If your excursions don't lead you to such places, you might be able to use the jewelry sales fliers in the Sunday paper to similar effect.

Plus, if his g-g-g'ma's marriage was OK, then his fluke of a first marriage was obviously not the RING's fault, eh?
posted by drlith at 10:59 AM on January 13, 2010


"I know he thinks the ring is tainted."

Here's the thing, if he feels the ring is tainted, regardless of how okay with it you are, it's probably not a good idea. it sounds like he has negative associations with that particular ring, and I could see why he wouldn't want to introduce any of that into his current wonderful relationship.

Unless he brings this up, I don't think you should make a point of saying anything. Bringing it up doesn't mean he has to specifically mention this ring. If he mentions saving for a ring, any particulars about the ring he is thinking about, or anything ring-related, by all means, you should express your opinion. If he's already concluded he is not comfortable with it, however, then I think you should let it go.
posted by katemcd at 10:59 AM on January 13, 2010 [5 favorites]


Why don't you propose to him? Get him a ring. Jump the gun.

Once it's done, say "Hey, could I have that ring?"
posted by handee at 11:00 AM on January 13, 2010 [2 favorites]


Response by poster: If he really doesn't want to give it to me that is fine. I just want him to know that I have no problem if he wants to give it to me. That is the point I want to make. I am sure that there are people who would think it not think it appropriate to receive a ring given to a previous wife.
posted by MayNicholas at 11:01 AM on January 13, 2010


Response by poster: Handee- I would propose to him, but he is very traditional and would hate that (I already brought that up).
posted by MayNicholas at 11:04 AM on January 13, 2010


I would be surprised if (once he finds out you don't feel the ring is tainted or less special for the ex's having worn it) he gives his ex the power over his family history. Or its future.

I would just tell him. My guess is that he will look at the ring and see your happiness in having it. He won't look at the ring on your finger and think of his ex. I don't look at my daughter and think of my ex, even though I see them both every day.

That said, if he truly hates that ring, it would be kinda crappy if you just wanted that particular ring to the extent that you were willing to trump his distaste for it. The ring is a symbol. Just make sure it ends up symbolizing the right thing.
posted by nickjadlowe at 11:07 AM on January 13, 2010


Response by poster: Nick- He loves the ring. He made a point to show it to me a while back because he knows how much I love family heirloom jewelry.
posted by MayNicholas at 11:11 AM on January 13, 2010


It's not your ring. Let it go.
posted by roomthreeseventeen at 11:12 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Can you tell his family? Parents, siblings, whoever he's close to that might discuss it with him? Doesn't even have to be "gosh, that ring is cool" but more along the lines of how interested you are in their family history and heirlooms generally, and how that shared family history is something you like about their family and would be proud to be a part of.

For good or ill, though, the ex-wife is part of the history of the ring, so the downside is the family may not like the idea either.
posted by immlass at 11:13 AM on January 13, 2010


Well, a fairly simple situation (telling him your honest feelings about the ring) is running up against the theater of proposal (which I totally respect, but it is theater).

If you are on good terms with his mother it seems like that would be a good angle... I suspect if you communicated the essentials of the situation to her she would get the message across to him. If the topic comes up again it would seem to me perfectly reasonable to just say something to the effect that you love the ring, you think it would be a shame for it to go out of use because of a short period of history. He'll get the point if he wants to.
posted by nanojath at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2010


Response by poster: I am not obsessed with the ring, I just don't want him to feel the need to buy a new one.
posted by MayNicholas at 11:18 AM on January 13, 2010


He knows how much you love family heirloom jewelry, there you go. Just flat out tell him at a convenient point in conversation some time. And let it go.
posted by lizbunny at 11:21 AM on January 13, 2010


I agree with brambory's general approach, assuming that you have already discussed engagement and you know a proposal is forthcoming. I might spin it slightly to say, "I hope you don't feel the need to buy me a new ring -- I absolutely love your g-g-grandmother's ring, and I would be really touched and honored to wear it."

You don't have to mention the ex at all, I don't think -- if he brings it up as an objection, you can tell him that it doesn't matter to you.
posted by cider at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2010


If he made a point to show it to you, then he may have been wondering what you thought. Assuming you have always thought that the attachment to his family was beautiful and the association with his ex-wife was unimportant, then he was asking you how you felt when he showed it to you, and you told him. Do you need to tell him again? I would assume not. On the other hand, if you remember the day he showed it to you as a day he was feeling down about his ex-wife, and you think you were being sympathetically negative and harsh on her, maybe you should find a way (such as talking to his mom, especially if she currently has the ring?) to make sure he doesn't think that's your final opinion.

Basically, make sure people around you know how you feel. You love the idea of a connection to his family through heirlooms. Some women prefer antique jewelry to new-purchased because of the diamond industry. They spout their views whenever reasonable, and the man in their lives hears that message loud and clear.
posted by aimedwander at 11:26 AM on January 13, 2010


Do you have a friend who is engaged, or about to be? You could stage a phone conversation with her so he can overhear you, where you mention how YOU think she and her partner should go with an heirloom ring because YOU would love that. Dunno if it would be too obvious.

Of course you probably shouldn't use that sort of thing outside a Friends episode, but I thought I'd mention the possibility.
posted by Salvor Hardin at 11:27 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


"Hey sweetie, if we ever decide to get married I'd really love that beautiful old ring to be my engagement ring."
posted by mareli at 11:28 AM on January 13, 2010 [7 favorites]


ME: I was previously, disastrously married for a year or so a ways back. The ex had my heirloom ring. I asked for it back after she left me; after a bit of back-and-forth ("You gave it to me!" "They're from my family, and you don't want to be a part of that any more."), she gave it back.

My wife of now seven years happily wears it. When I proposed, I said, "It's, uh, a little used."

It doesn't have to be a thing. Just tell him.
posted by Skot at 11:29 AM on January 13, 2010 [1 favorite]


Hi MayNicholas,

You should communicate to your husband-to-be exactly what you told us in your posts. The manner in which you described the situation seems honest, direct, and takes into account your husband's concerns. That's great! Such forms of communication really are the most tactful way to handle delicate conversations.

Congrats on your (soon to be) engagement!
posted by HabeasCorpus at 11:33 AM on January 13, 2010


I think you should have a nice talk with the mom...and say "I know this is kind of odd but..."

And tell her your intentions to get married to her son...that'll soften her up.

Then ask her whether she'd have the ring...or whether you should get it.

And say ...either way its YOUR decision.

You'll get it.

Good luck.
posted by hal_c_on at 11:40 AM on January 13, 2010


Yup - tell his mom - moms love this kind of thing. She'll make sure he knows.
posted by The Light Fantastic at 11:47 AM on January 13, 2010 [3 favorites]


Write him a note, letter, or e-mail, and tell him what you've said here. Make it clear that you don't need to have a discussion about it, it's his choice, and aren't expecting anything. Then forget about it.
posted by peanut butter milkshake at 11:48 AM on January 13, 2010


Say this, from your OP: "I love the ring and love the family history behind it."

Don't make it about the ex-wife. Emphasize how much you'd like to be a part of this family tradition.
posted by Meg_Murry at 11:49 AM on January 13, 2010


I would ask to see it again. Then a week later again. Keep on ohhing and ahhing. IF it comes up tell him outright. Tell him if he is insistent on spending money on a new ring to wait for the wedding band.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 12:00 PM on January 13, 2010


I wouldn't use any rigamarole about "loving heirloom" jewelry - it would be clear that the ring was the object of the conversation and it could seem disingenuous to cloak it in generic language. Just wait until you see some pictures of rings (in an advertisement, for example), of the sort which would normally and naturally lead to a discussion of your engagement ring, and at that point simply say, "these new rings are nice and all but I really love your family ring and all the history it carries, it's so much nicer."

for those who have never been engaged or discussed engagement, yes, it really is quite normal for any glimpse of a ring to lead to engagement-ring-styles conversation.
posted by Billegible at 12:27 PM on January 13, 2010


I wouldn't mention the ring at all. This is something he should feel absolutely free to decide about. I think if he's seriously considering giving it to you, he'll find a way of making sure you are comfortable with it.

What if he's already made other plans for it (maybe one day pass it on to a son/daughter)? If you mention the ring now, he might feel pressured into giving it to you instead doing something else with it.
posted by juva at 12:28 PM on January 13, 2010



Do you have a friend who is engaged, or about to be? You could stage a phone conversation with her so he can overhear you, where you mention how YOU think she and her partner should go with an heirloom ring because YOU would love that. Dunno if it would be too obvious.


Do people ever do this sort of thing outside of movies? Seriously not trying to be snarky, just curious.
posted by threeants at 12:36 PM on January 13, 2010


Disclosure: biscotti's engagement ring had been in my family for a while, and The Dreaded Ex had it first. We talked about it.

I wouldn't mention the ring at all. This is something he should feel absolutely free to decide about.

Disagreement.

This is about a couple taking the first steps of their joint life together, and the ring isn't unimportant.

On the one hand, keeping the ring or giving it back to mother implies getting a new ring, which is a nontrivial amount of money. The kind of nontrivial amount of money where, if there's any way to do so, the couple should talk about together and decide together before spending. It wouldn't be crazy for a fiancee to have an old ring and the other things that would be foregone if a ring were purchased, and if they differ about these things it isn't just up to Mr. Man to do whatever he likes best damn the torpedoes and fuck what my fiancee wants.

Likewise, family attachments matter to people. It wouldn't be clinically insane to prefer to receive a family ring over a new purchase, especially if The Dreaded Ex had received a/the family ring -- what, I'm not good enough to be in the family the same way the Dreaded Ex was? And again, if the couple disagrees about this, that doesn't mean that The Man gets to do whatever he pleases and The Woman has to just shut up and deal with it.

Assuming you know that a proposal is forthcoming, you can tactfully let your future fiance know about this by telling him that you'd prefer to receive the ring from his family, and to start your life together on a noticeably better financial future (or have a bigger better wedding or a bigger better honeymoon), and that if he feels strongly about buying a new ring that you should discuss the issue together. Or, if it's still sort of up in the air, just couch the same discussion in conditional terms.
posted by ROU_Xenophobe at 1:00 PM on January 13, 2010


Response by poster: Thank you for all your replies! I will let you know what happens!

I am always cleaning the vintage rings I have, so maybe next time we are out I will pick up some jewelry cleaner and casually mention that I could clean his g-grandmother's ring while I'm at it. It does need to be cleaned- I noticed last time I looked at it. I think the conversation could easily flow as I clean it.
posted by MayNicholas at 1:18 PM on January 13, 2010


good lord... just be honest... tell him that you love the ring and the history, you would be honored to have it on your hand..

Then it's up to him... be prepared to be thrilled either way... 'cuz the decision he will make will be based on his love for you...
posted by HuronBob at 3:18 PM on January 13, 2010


It sounds like he's already broached the subject with you, and is hoping or at least wondering if you'd be okay with having the ring given the ex- part of the history. Just tell him you love the ring, love that it's been in his family so long, and would be honored to accept it if you two decided to get married someday. I think he just needs a forthright answer (don't leave awkward or ambiguous hints); then let the subject go. Best of luck (either way) and et us know what happens!
posted by JenMarie at 7:17 PM on January 13, 2010


Response by poster: Here is a little follow up: We were talking about going to visit his parents and jokingly he said "Hey I should let you wear the ring when we go down there. My mother would be sure to notice. She would pull me aside when you went the the bathroom or something and ask 'does she know?'." That was my in and I took it. I said exactly what I said here: that I loved that it is part of his family history on would be honored to have it if that he the ring he wanted to give me. He started talking about how beautiful he finds that ring. That is all. Now it is out of my hands.
posted by MayNicholas at 5:18 AM on January 15, 2010


Excellent! Hope he gives it to you.
posted by JohnnyGunn at 8:59 AM on January 15, 2010


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