What could my friend do to avoid being bullied by his fiancee's family?
May 24, 2004 1:25 PM   Subscribe

There's already been a question on AskMe about engagement ring advice, but I'm looking for something a little different. My buddy just spent $10,000 on an engagement ring because his fiance is feeling the pressure of being a brand new attorney in NYC and wanting to look the part. He didn't want to, but he did it anyway, cause her family was giving her the "If he loves you, he'd spend the money" spiel and it was really getting to her.

What could he have done at that point? She's a great girl, just a little prone to doing what her family wants her to do, so "RUN" isn't an appropriate response. Also, what is an appropriate price? $10,000 is about two months salary, but it seems extreme.

Google's not really any help....strangers who I've interacted with (ala MeFites) are significantly better than strangers I have not (ala some random webpage).
posted by taumeson to Human Relations (84 answers total)
Not very useful I know, but "RUN" seems an appropriate response to me. Her family insisting he spend a certain amount of $$ on a ring seems pretty inappropriate.
posted by rglasmann at 1:29 PM on May 24, 2004

Run. Seriously.
posted by majcher at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2004

his fiance is feeling the pressure of being a brand new attorney in NYC and wanting to look the part

ugh. "RUN"
posted by mookieproof at 1:33 PM on May 24, 2004


Then run some more.

It's nice that her family is concerned enough about her to take an interest in her life, but this seems wildly inappropriate.

If this is the way they're interacting now, how are they going to be after they get married? After they have kids?
posted by bshort at 2:20 PM on May 24, 2004

He could just tell her: "Sure! I'll work for two months to buy you an emblem of my affluence if you'll work out eight hours a day for two months to make your youth and fertility more apparent to my friends."

There's no rule requiring female attorneys in NYC to wear big diamonds. Your friend and his fiancée have been tiptoing around the ugly truth, but let's us be honest: the purpose of a $10K ring is to let her female friends and relations know that she's marrying a $60K/year kind of guy.

(And, right: if she can't admit that at least to him, are they really dealing with each other honestly enough to make a life-long commitment?)

I don't mean to impugn the fiancée - I'm sure she is indeed a great girl. So is my best friend's fiancée, whom I'll bet has much the same professional and social milieu here in NYC, and I've seen them go though exactly the same rigaramole as the peer pressure built on her.

As for practical advice: you might have him read her this Atlantic article about how the diamond industry created the engagement-ring two-months'-salary "tradition" with a massive marketing effort starting in 1938.
posted by nicwolff at 2:21 PM on May 24, 2004 [1 favorite]

There can be major cultural differences (or just the nature of her upbringing) behind her desire to please her family with her fiance's material obesience. While I would "RUN!" -- and would advise it because that level of materialism is way too scary to contemplate marrying -- he's obviously also made his choice: he loves her more than the money, and spending the money made her happy.

It's not a choice I would make, but I can respect it.

My answer is: Either run or suck it in and deal with it, with the knowledge that it sets a pretty bad precedent for the way the relationship is headed.
posted by majick at 2:25 PM on May 24, 2004

Run! Not because of this instance. But because there will be MANY more instances of vicious conspicuous consumption to swallow in the future.

Your buddy just set an ugly precedent. I hope he likes displays better then security, because he's going to have a marriage full of the former and not the latter.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:48 PM on May 24, 2004

I mean, what majick said in his last paragraph. Teach me to skim.
posted by Mayor Curley at 2:49 PM on May 24, 2004


Most modern women I have spoken to agree that a huge and fabulous rock would gladly be given up for a huge and fabulous honeymoon vacation. Spend that money making memories, not making the dimond cartels rich.
posted by falconred at 2:51 PM on May 24, 2004

Speaking as a twenty-first-century gal, that "two months salary" thing is such a major brainwash, not to mention the fact that diamonds are a strange fruit harvested by slave-labor. Count me out of that. I wouldn't say, run, but I would say stand your ground on the issue, if she is such a great girl, she will make the right decision.
posted by lilboo at 2:53 PM on May 24, 2004

is he unhappy with it, or you? when you say "he didn't want to", what are we talking about? didn't want to like i don't want to put my clothes away with as much urgency as pauli would like? that's not a problem. some people are messy with their clothes. some people are rich and clueless and buy engagement rings - that's life. but if it's didn't want to like he's seriously unhappy then they need to sort things out. it's not a case of having some trick that he should use next time to win the argument - it's about sitting down and talking about what's important and deciding on some common moral ground.
at least, that's the way i see it, but then from my point of view "us" is more important than either family. since that doesn't seem to be the case here, maybe my solution isn't the right one either. i dunno. maybe the revolution will come and save us from worrying about such people?
posted by andrew cooke at 2:53 PM on May 24, 2004

The only sense I find in "the two months salary" is a person will hopefully make more money in the future. Which will allow that person to spend more money on their love, outdoing their past gift. $10,000 for ring sounds plenty for a 50 year anniversary tho.

"Run!' Forrest run!'"; just because the fact he had to find justification in it all.
posted by thomcatspike at 2:59 PM on May 24, 2004

They do have "man made" diamonds today which are not zirconium and are cheaper, if size matters.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:02 PM on May 24, 2004

it was really getting to her
Here lies the main problem. Husband my parents think our marriage would do better if we... The NY attorney title is an excuse.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:05 PM on May 24, 2004

This is why I need to not be a lawyer anymore.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:06 PM on May 24, 2004

The fact that this person bought an inanimate object representing two months worth of work in order to impress his fiance and her family, shows you what kind of values they hold. And the fact that your friend caved and went with their idea is a hint to either his weakness or commonallity in values.

If she had her head on straight she'd tell her family to keep out of her relationship and to keep their ring-size opinions to themselves. If he doesn't run and if she doesn't tell her family to keep out of their business, then I guess they were made for each other.

Going on 7 years of marriage so I'm still a newbie, but if I were your friend, I'd run. This is only a foreshadow of things to come.
posted by Tacodog at 3:11 PM on May 24, 2004

I'll agree that the entire scenario is cause for some alarm, but let's assume these are grown up people making valid decisions, and 'RUN' is not an answer.

One thing I've found in my own and in others' experience is that playing a significant role in the design of the ring can make a much bigger difference than the carat size. A ring the giver helped design which expresses both parties aesthetic, and is very much suited to the individual, is generally going to get a better response than a generic but huge ring.

If this is *not* the case, definately RUN.
posted by freebird at 3:14 PM on May 24, 2004

Here's what you (sorry "he") should do:

1) take the ring back, buy a 1/2 month salary or so-one.
2) give to fiancee
3) if fiance wants out, allow her to leave
4) if fiance is content, keep 'er
5) profit?
posted by signal at 3:16 PM on May 24, 2004

not to mention the fact that diamonds are a strange fruit harvested by slave-labor. Count me out of that.

Since it hasn't been mentioned yet, it's worth repeating that the Canadian diamond industry is actually very progressive from both environemental and labor practice perspectives.

That doesn't mean the hunk of carbon they are selling you is really worth $10,000, but at least it's not covered in blood.
posted by malphigian at 3:20 PM on May 24, 2004

How about this - the two of them need a relationship counseling class. (for one example, see my previous post about PAIRS). She may or may not be "a great girl" but he needs to know if this is going to be a pattern in their relationship. And, if it is, whether or not he can handle it for the next N years (where N is a number >0). The class should help both of them work out this potentially HUGE problem, as well as many others.

Then, if he decides to run, he'll know exactly why (and that he's doing it for the right reasons).
posted by Irontom at 3:22 PM on May 24, 2004

"He didn't want to, but he did it anyway, cause her family was giving her the "If he loves you, he'd spend the money" spiel and it was really getting to her."

Your friend is in dire trouble. The bride, and her family, are being on their best behavior right now. It gets much worse later.

Here we have a controlling, manipulative brood who are all about money and appearances. She's not a great girl, she's a spoiled, superficial princess.

If she said flat out, "I've always wanted a bigass rock, and you knew that. Now you have to buy it. I'll buy you some stupidly expensive thing for your birthday.", that would be one thing. But the manipulative angle is a very nasty. And the manipulative family thing is guaranteed trouble. Not maybe. Guaranteed.

Your friend is in dire trouble. It's not too late. Walk away. All he's getting for his 10K is a big dose of denial.
posted by y6y6y6 at 3:26 PM on May 24, 2004

I agree strongly with y6y6y6.
posted by vacapinta at 3:35 PM on May 24, 2004

You're doomed.

It may be hard to see this now, but $10K is just a down payment on a lifetime of assuaging this woman's lack of self-esteem.
posted by _sirmissalot_ at 3:47 PM on May 24, 2004

He just became engaged to her family.
posted by thomcatspike at 3:52 PM on May 24, 2004

> let her female friends and relations know that she's marrying a $60K/year
> kind of guy.

$60K/year is impressive in NYC? Who woulda thought it?
posted by jfuller at 3:58 PM on May 24, 2004

> He just became engaged to her family.

Nothing unusual there. You are always marrying a family, unless your chosen hunk/babe is an orphan.
posted by jfuller at 4:00 PM on May 24, 2004

Is something else going on here? New attorneys in NY often make upwards of $130K, which is twice as much as he is making. Was she offering to help pay for it, or putting it all on him? Is he going to feel pressured throughout the marriage to live up to her pricier standards? Or is he doing this partly because he knows she'll be contributing more money to the marriage down the line and he feels like he has to do this to make things more even since he will benefit later? Either way they should be talking more, and to one another instead of to her parents. (And thinking about man made stones!)
posted by onlyconnect at 4:01 PM on May 24, 2004

I knew a woman who made the claim that she didn't want an engagement ring. She wan't an engagement Steinway, and would reciprocate for equivalent value (at the time she suggested an engagement sports car). I thought this a very fair and reciprocal approach.
posted by plinth at 4:05 PM on May 24, 2004

He (you) could have done a number of things :

Leave the girl option one: "If he loves you, he'd spend the money" spiel and it was really getting to her. If she falls for that she isn't taking in consideration that 10K is 2 months salary ; so unless you stole that money or work in marketing, you worked your ass for that. I'd drop the girl immediately, guilty (if she is) of being pressured by hideous parents that love=spending money. Asshole(s) !

Better investment under the guise of a present option two :He (you) could also spend the 10k in a much wiser or more pratical way ; your Bachelor of Science from Rowan University in Business Administration suggests the 10k diamong ring has a resell value of ..maybe 2k if you're lucky or 4k if you very very lucky, it's a useless piece of very nice stone.

I would have bought her a Smart Car ..but as far as I know it's not avaiable in U.S. It's too bad because its smalls size make for a perfect parking vehicle for parking challenged girls, who also like the car cuteness by the way that also smells a lot of success, given that it remains a luxury toy car. You U.S. guys are so friggin lucky Smart isn't avaiable.

In the jewelery field diamond is only one stone, but there are many much less expensive yet beautiful ..here is a list (french) with pictures. Buy a bucket of them.

Now is it sane to spend 10K on an engagement ring ? Imho, depends only on your pockets. Imho what's insane is spending 10K on a nice rock she'll wear twice in a year, show her friend who will think it is a zircon anyway out of well concealed envy (not for the diamond, but for the luck of fishing somebody who spends 10k on a diamond if you know what I mean).
posted by elpapacito at 4:22 PM on May 24, 2004

Oh I forgot: buying a roulotte from a gypsies is also a good idea !
posted by elpapacito at 4:30 PM on May 24, 2004

He should give her the "your parents are wrong, and you need to decide before we get married which one of us you're going to believe" spiel.

But, even if she accepts that her parents are wrong, the fact that she is so malleable on such important matters should cast into serious doubt whether she is marriage material for anyone with self-respect.
posted by bingo at 4:33 PM on May 24, 2004

What the guy really should do is put his foot down. He should buy a ring that he's comfortable with, and tell the inlaws that providing food for his family is more important than a slightly fatter rock on the girl's finger.

If he buys the 10k rock, he's setting a pattern of behavior that's going to haunt him the rest of his life.

If he runs, he's bailing on a supposedly great girl because of perceived pressure from in laws. That's just weak.

Principle, people! Whatever happened to principle!?
posted by oissubke at 4:37 PM on May 24, 2004

It's simple: if she wants the ring more than him, then RUN!
posted by MrAnonymous at 4:48 PM on May 24, 2004

This is why I need to not be a lawyer anymore.
posted by monju_bosatsu at 3:06 PM PST on May 24


as to the other issue: running is a ridiculous choice, if he's really happy with this woman.

i have friends who could easily spend two months salary on something frivolous/fun/symbolic like an engagement ring/vacation/antique without suffering any problems with the finances; and friends who most emphatically could not. if a guy in the former category is comfortable with the reasons why his finance wants the rock, if he'll be comfortable with having done it, then why not?

if he really can't spend two months salary without being unable to meet his bills, without jeopardizing some more important financial goal, or if he's uncomfortable with it on conspicuous consumption grounds, or because he thinks she wants it for stupid high pressure reasons (which are the reason i don't do corporate law, myself, i did once sit in a pre-trial conference being blinded by enormous diamonds, but i didn't care that mine didn't measure up), they need to have a very serious conversation. if she's setting up for that lifestyle, one of them (or both) is going to get very happy in relatively short order, and coming back from it is very hard.

they do need a very serious conversation though--about money, about her career, about how their families fit into their lives, about how this request and his acquiesence to it made him feel. it's quite likely that her side of this story sounds nothing at all like your post, but that's for them to work out.
posted by crush-onastick at 4:49 PM on May 24, 2004

$10,000 is about two months salary, but it seems extreme.

10 grand = 2 months of his or her salary?

$60k a year in NYC ain't peanuts, but it sure as hell isn't the "good life," either. Why not put the money into a down-payment on an apartment, if they're still renting? Why not put the money into a kick-ass honeymoon, if they like to travel? Why not put that money in the bank like a responsible person?

Better yet, take the $10k and use it for moving expenses -- if she can land a nice job in NYC, she can probably find something decent in another city... far away from her relatives.

I'd bet good money the relatives live either in Jersey or LI, though I'm leaning towards Jersey. North Jersey. Probably Bergen County. And I'll do one more bit of stereotype fortune telling -- I'll bet they're Italian or Jewish. Not because of the money-thing, but the intrusiveness into your friend and his fiance's lives (I have some personal experience in these matters).

Tell your friend to get his girl a $2k ring, which should be more than enough for anyone. If she really loved him, it wouldn't matter.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 4:51 PM on May 24, 2004

After receiving it, wonder if the she will have it appraised?
Which open many scenarios, even the one where the stone is switched behind her back.
posted by thomcatspike at 5:11 PM on May 24, 2004

Holy crap Civil, Oakland, Franklin Lakes or Mahwah? You're freaking me out now.

I'd try a ring from the cracker jack box, you're going to have to pay for the next ring too, don't forget.
posted by Derek at 5:14 PM on May 24, 2004

I suppose it's possible that this is OK. However, the fact that it ended up an issue suggests that it's probably not. I mean, it's not about how much she's worth or he's worth, it's about how much $10,000 is worth -- and to me, there are more interesting things to do with $10,000. I suspect this is generally the case to everyone except the extravagantly rich. People will ooh and aah over any engagement ring... but an engagement PowerBook, now you've got something.

Oh, and if any of ya want info on good synthetic diamonds, this has been recommended before.
posted by dagnyscott at 5:49 PM on May 24, 2004

Engagement rings aren't returnable, are they? The markup is huge, it supports a bloody monopoly, and bows to marketing pressure, but the guy's probably stuck paying for it. He could have looked for a jeweler who would make a beautiful ring that would be a work of art and not just a rock.

Now he's stuck with a crappy precedent. Tell him to come to ask.mefi 1st next time.
posted by theora55 at 6:03 PM on May 24, 2004

This is metafilter, so get ready for lot's of "diamonds are created from the blood of slaves" comments. (They wait in silence for the very word "diamond" to be spoken as the go ahead to start preaching)

I don't think that's what you were asking and in the world outside of metafilter buying a diamond is not regarded with such horror.

That said, I'd still run for the very real reasons that one, she wants it as a status symbol, and two, her family still has such control over her.

(and I'd pay no attention to money or the whole 2 month thing. I'd get what I wanted, what I liked, at whatever price it costs)
posted by justgary at 6:10 PM on May 24, 2004

> as to the other issue: running is a ridiculous choice, if he's really happy with this woman.

I'm glad somebody said so. Each to his own poison. I make 80K in a little Georgia college town and can't find the right girl (not surprising, since I want sailor mars) so let the guy and his self-defeating choices be. The best answers so far are the ones that suggested something equally guilt-inducing that he might say back:

> He should give her the "your parents are wrong, and you need to decide
> before we get married which one of us you're going to believe" spiel.

> If she really loved him, it wouldn't matter.

signed, dysfunctional families 'r' us,
posted by jfuller at 6:22 PM on May 24, 2004

I'm going to totally jump on the "run" bandwagon.

don't say we didn't warn you
posted by matteo at 6:23 PM on May 24, 2004

It occured to me as I was checking the comments in this post that my girlfriend has never asked about the monetary value of her engagement ring.

Thanks, Ask Metafilter, for making my day.
posted by Mayor Curley at 7:30 PM on May 24, 2004

threads like this remind me why I love metafilter. The general feel of the opinions here reflect my reaction as well - that I could never be happy in such a situation / with such a person, that everyone involved seemed to have fallen short of a standard... but at the same time, it's entirely possible that everyone involved is happy with the decisions they're making. Your friend might be telling you he's feeling pressure from her, but really he just wants to get her a big ring, so her friends will look at the ring, look at him, & act impressed. His fiancee might say she's feeling pressured from her parents, but maybe she just wants a big rock herself. Etc.

On the other hand, if any of the parties involved really are feeling uncomfortable and pressured and conflicted: they have to deal with it NOW.
posted by mdn at 7:34 PM on May 24, 2004 [1 favorite]

I haven't done a thorough tally, but it seems that this thread and it's chorus of "run" is rather light on responses from female MeFites. Much lighter than Mayor Curley's related thread, which seems like a good comparator. Are our women quietly dissenting?
posted by shinnin at 7:40 PM on May 24, 2004

Maybe not quietly dissenting, but not feeling like we have both sides of the story.

There's something more that makes her place such importance on the ring. Is it that she is unable to stand up to her family? Is she generally materialistic?

We seem to be getting a rather one-sided view of this woman, who must have some redeeming qualities.
posted by Coffeemate at 8:17 PM on May 24, 2004

"his fiance is feeling the pressure of being a brand new attorney in NYC and wanting to look the part"

Well, this is an extremely foreign concept to me. I would never in a million years imagine myself with someone who gave two shits about such things. Of course, it doesn't matter what I think, BUT - my personal prejudice brings something into pretty clear relief: If you *are* with someone who cares about such things, and you *don't* find that completely fucked, then I think you need to pony up the money and "look the part" of the finacee-of-new-nyc-lawyer-who-wants-to-look-the-part. Right? You're in or out. If you want to M-A-R-R-Y someone who's so concerned about looking the part, you'd better be prepared to look the part yourself. Actually, the fact that it even reached the 'debate' phase is a bad sign. He's marked for life as a cheapskate, no matter what he bought. You can't marry the person without marrying the appetites, the social mores, the perceptions, the irrational needs, etc.

In other words: if you love her, do whatever the hell she wants. Best friend thinks he's whipped? What else is new?
posted by scarabic at 8:18 PM on May 24, 2004

This particular female Mefite thinks much like coffeemate does. We are perhaps not hearing both (or all three) sides of the story. Did taumeson's friend ask him to post this question? Is taumeson perhaps more freaked about the $10K price tag than the groom-to-be is? How differently would this question be phrased if it were presented by the groom-to-be, or by the bride-to-be, or by her best friend?

Here's an anecdote: A guy proposed to his beloved with a small, high-priced, nearly-perfect diamond. The beloved accepted the proposal but insisted on exchanging the ring for a huge, but very-flawed, rock (price about the same; wow-factor differential huge). The marriage lasted less than three years. Doubtless there were many factors involved in its demise, but her dismissal of his choice, his misinterpretation of her taste, and their inability to communicate their differences were bad indicators from the start.

Family pressure can be a hard thing to grow away from. You are born with your relatives, and you have to learn how to be your own person, how to hold on to your own values, in spite of them. If this lady hasn't learned that yet, she isn't ready to get married. It's not hopeless, it's just hard. An honest conversation could turn the tide and make her see the world in new ways.

So tell your buddy not to put on his New Balances yet... but be aware of the possibility that backing out (temporarily? permanently? too soon to say, methinks) may turn out to be the best option. They need to have an honest conversation first, with professional help if that seems, well, helpful. But from what you have presented here it doesn't sound like either of these two people are mature enough to make - and keep - lifetime vows.
posted by Alylex at 8:51 PM on May 24, 2004

As part of the mefi female contingent, and would like to offer my insight: What exactly is so wrong with the woman's parents for wanting the best possible engagement ring for their daughter? They obviously raised her to believe that she legitimately deserves from a man whatever will make her happy. Therefore, if a 10K rock on her finger makes her happy, so be it. Clearly the woman is materialistic, but it is entirely apropos of the social circuits they are now part of. Women like that want mercenaries...rich social players to pay for their botox and upper east side dwellings. If he wants to marry a girl that doesn’t care about the cost of the ring, he is probably in the wrong occupation, and in the wrong city. So, I say brava to this woman for getting from him exactly what she believes she deserves…even if it is shallow and wasteful. Don’t hate the playa.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:21 PM on May 24, 2004

Your buddy shouldn't run.

You, on the other hand, had best prepare to lose a friendship when those two get married. His entire life is a major candidate for a hostile takeover. The diamond was only the warning shot. Next he'll have to start developing a better class of friend -- the type with the "right" connections -- and new interests and hobbies (again, the "right" type.) None of these will involve you.
posted by five fresh fish at 9:27 PM on May 24, 2004

They obviously raised her to believe that she legitimately deserves from a man whatever will make her happy. Therefore, if a 10K rock on her finger makes her happy, so be it.

No, it sounds like they dictated what should make her happy. Run, brother, run! There are any number or girls who will appreciate you for yourself and don't care about the finanacing that you can procure!

The best part is that in 10 years, there won't be an appreciable difference between the tits and stomach of the gold-digger versus then down-to-earth girl. Leverage depreciation to get a girl and an education for the squirts you make with her!

(the contradictions in the above are intentional. So frigging save it)
posted by Mayor Curley at 9:37 PM on May 24, 2004

There are any number or girls who will appreciate you for yourself and don't care about the finanacing that you can procure!

Yes, this is true. But the kind of girl you suggest he find will certainly not camouflage gracefully among his colleague’s wives.
posted by naxosaxur at 9:44 PM on May 24, 2004

Yes, this is true. But the kind of girl you suggest he find will certainly not camouflage gracefully among his colleague’s wives.

And that's terribly important. You don't want your wife to be distinctive. God forbid someone remember her for being engaging.

"Remember the guy who had a wife with opinions and a dress from Marshalls? Fire him."
posted by Mayor Curley at 10:00 PM on May 24, 2004

posted by alex_reno at 10:02 PM on May 24, 2004

The real problem is that they are not in-sync with each other, values-wise. Face it, if she is the type of girl who needs the 10K rock to be happy, she should be with the man who has no problems, nee, insists on giving that to her (not the one that balks at the price tag.) It's symptomatic of trouble down the road.

Of course if it really is her parents that are pushing for the big show, that is a little harder. She is going to have to choose a side.
posted by lilboo at 10:10 PM on May 24, 2004

naxosaxur: What exactly is so wrong with the woman's parents for wanting the best possible engagement ring for their daughter?

Nothing, except possibly that they see money as a guarantee of/warranty for happiness. But what would be wrong with the daughter for knowing what's really important to her (e.g. is she willing to risk losing her soul-mate over a material possession? or would she be happier in the long-term with a life-mate who knows and is content with what he wants from life)?

Anecdote: a guy I know proposed with an expensive, nearly flawless, small diamond ring. His beloved accepted the proposal; she then exchanged the ring for one similarly priced, but huge and of poor quality (big wow-factor; zero long-term value). The marriage did not last three years. No doubt there were many factors involved in its demise. Surely his misunderstanding of her values, her dismissal of his taste, and their lack of communication about primary values were key factors.

I think what's missing here (as the scenario is presented) is a full-strength dose of honest communication. Nothing more, nothing less.
posted by Alylex at 10:18 PM on May 24, 2004

Sounds like it's a little too late to run, says this girl MeFite. Instead, premarital counseling may be in order to see if there are big differences between his and her relationship expectations, and how to balance the relationship equation if there are. Then he will know if he should run! Next time, Ask MeFi first! (as someone up above suggested :)
posted by Lynsey at 10:21 PM on May 24, 2004

Don’t hate the playa.

God, how I hate today's youth.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:32 PM on May 24, 2004

Your friend has three choices:

1. Run away now. Run fast, run far and then run some more to make sure.
2. Crawl away in a few years time, with his tail between his legs and a lifetime of bills to pay for someone he hates.
3. Live a life of misery because, despite everything, he loves her too much to want to live without her.
posted by dg at 11:18 PM on May 24, 2004

Christ. I have an interview at a law firm in Stamford this week, and all I got to look the part was a $10 haircut. Yay for being a dude, I guess.

Here's a couple of observations:

1. Gigantic rocks of the $10,000 variety look weird on skinny people. I assume that she's skinny because she is "looking the part." Please lash me with a noodle if I'm wrong.
2. Please don't tell me he went to Tiffany's and bought a $3000 ring for $10,000.
3. The two months' salary rule is total, complete crap. A one-carat stone with near-perfect cut and color and platinum setting runs you $7K in the NYC diamond district. Does anyone need more than that?
4. For god sakes, a NYC law firm that cares about the size of your jewelery is going to enslave you. How shiny will the ring look when you're in the office at 2 AM each night, getting screamed at by a senior partner?
5. I'm the original engagement ring poster. I didn't run. She loves the ring. Based on all y'all's advice, I went to David S on 47th and bought Canadian. If you want to buy, do it now, because DeBeers is heavily investing in a Canadian mine that will open next year, so this is your only window to avoid lining their pockets.
6. Run. I don't know what's worse - the love=money concept, or the taking dictation from the parents. Either way, bad news.
posted by PrinceValium at 11:28 PM on May 24, 2004

Well, I have a $6 engagement ring, which I actually paid for (he had no cash that day). No, I don't really understand this woman's family. Not so much in a disaproving way so much as a baffled way. The main point is a symbol of your intentions - it's more about what finger you put it on than what it is.

I thought $6 was a very appropriate price, and am constantly telling people about it. It's a lovely silver band; he has the same. What more would you want to wear for only a short period? (I can't stand the idea of wearing an engagement ring for life - aside from the fact that you are no longer engaged, more than one ring is simply uncomfortable and too showy).

As for your friend - he should talk to her about it. It's not just about the ring - but about money and family. Money can be a very contentious issue in relationships, especially around the time of the wedding itself. The place of relatives in your relationship is worse. It can lead to screaming at each other, but better sceaming than not talking about it.
posted by jb at 11:39 PM on May 24, 2004

Oh, and the only really cool thing about a diamond is the thought of how useful it is in industry. And maybe trying to cut glass with it.
posted by jb at 11:41 PM on May 24, 2004

I don't understand your question. What is the appropriate price for your buddy? What is the appropriate price for an engagement ring? What is the appropriate portion of a person's salary?

It all depends on the person. The only rules that really exist were written by people trying to sell you something.

By the way, if $10,000 is two month's-take home pay, this guy probably makes closer to $90,000 than $60,000.

Two months of my pay would be about $2,000. Of my take-home pay: $1,500. Even that seems way pricey to me, but I don't like diamonds, I drive a used car, I have student loans and a social conscience. I certainly don't have $10,000 or $1,500 in the bank.

If I lived comfortably on a high salary and actually cared about rocks, I don't see why an expensive ring would be a problem.
posted by croutonsupafreak at 12:00 AM on May 25, 2004

croutonsupafreak, the price is not really the issue. It's this:

He didn't want to, but he did it anyway, cause her family was giving her the "If he loves you, he'd spend the money" spiel and it was really getting to her.

I think thats whats setting off alarm bells. If his friend had had no problem with it then there'd be no problem, agreed. But it seems he does.

And it also seems that she's not asking so much for what she wants as much as what she thinks she should want, as told to her by others. Again, alarm bells.
posted by vacapinta at 12:16 AM on May 25, 2004

There are few things that can bring anger into a marriage as effectively as family!

"Looking the part" is not equal to ACTING the part. One is window-dressing, and shows the world you are a gullible dumbass. Acting the part means getting a pleasant ring and nice honeymoon, and investing the rest away for any number of practical things (houses, kids, etc).

There are 3 kinds of people, on the materialistic spectrum (apart from poor). Those who flaunt wealth they don't have, those born rich, and those who become rich because they spend wisely/practically rather than being showy.
posted by Goofyy at 1:17 AM on May 25, 2004

There, there Civil_Disobedient! *pats his gray little head* Now eat all your creamed corn, or there'll be no Matlock for you tonight!
posted by naxosaxur at 8:03 AM on May 25, 2004

Well, while we're telling stories....

On one of our first dates, I bought a ring out of a gumball machine for my then-girlfriend. She wore it every day, even though it turned her finger green. A few months later, I swiped it, took it to a jeweler, had it cast in silver, and gave it back (total cost, around $80). Then a few months after that, I used the same ring as an engagement ring.

We got married a month ago. Our wedding rings cost a total of $65. My wife isn't a NY lawyer, though.
posted by MrMoonPie at 9:56 AM on May 25, 2004

"They obviously raised her to believe that she legitimately deserves from a man whatever will make her happy."

I can't think of a better way to ensure a lifetime of unhappiness.


I married someone like this. It was fun for a few months. Then it was very bad. if you marry someone like this be sure to start planning for the divorce way before you get there. Because at that point the women will expect the divorce to make her happy as well.

And she *will* leave you. Someone who needs to justify her spoiled superficial nature by coming up with the excuses in the post will have no trouble coming up with things she's not happy about, and then coming up with reasons why she should be with someone else.

You can't stay ahead of this type of manipulative behavior. The more you give, the more they expect. When image, and expectations of others, and insecurity are you motivators, fairy tales become your lif
posted by y6y6y6 at 10:20 AM on May 25, 2004 [1 favorite]

"I haven't done a thorough tally, but it seems that this thread and it's chorus of "run" is rather light on responses from female MeFites. Much lighter than Mayor Curley's related thread, which seems like a good comparator. Are our women quietly dissenting?"

Well, I'd been quiet because I have no idea what motivates someone to demand (or even request) a ring of a certain worth - doesn't sound like anyone I know (or would want to). The ring is a gift, a token of promise and love. Did these people go shop for it together or did she just send him out with an order? ("I don't care what it looks like but it has to cost $10K" or "it has to be over one carat and look expensive") It sounds so...cold. But it also isn't practical - aren't there any other things the two of them will need to spend money on in their life together? But then it sounds like they may be blowing a lot of funds on a marriage ceremony, if the ring is any indication of the spending ahead. Because of course if you have to have a ring of that price, you can't skimp on the ceremony - what would everyone think???

For me the problem was that I didn't want a diamond - try and find an engagement like ring with a single stone that's not a diamond. That's when you start to realize that the market really doesn't give you much choice. (I ended up having a friend who's a gem buyer put one together for me with a green sapphire. Much much less than the standard diamond of the same size. There are better things to spend money on - travel, computers, house, that sort of thing - that both of us can use and enjoy.)
posted by batgrlHG at 10:27 AM on May 25, 2004

> Of course if it really is her parents that are pushing for the big show, that is
> a little harder.

Of course, oh prospective parents-of-the-bride, I'll buy the biggest diamond engagement ring I can afford, using all my cash and credit. It's traditional! Of course it's also traditional that you, oh prospective parents-of-the-bride, pay for our hundred thousand dollar wedding.
posted by jfuller at 10:30 AM on May 25, 2004

Now eat all your creamed corn, or there'll be no Matlock for you tonight!

Heh. The funny thing is I'm not yet 30, so theoretically you can still trust me.
posted by Civil_Disobedient at 10:31 AM on May 25, 2004

as a female MeFite, and a recently engaged one at that, this scenario makes me feel uneasy and sad. there's a lot we don't know, obviously.

doesn't bode well for your buddy. if she and her family (!!) are trying to make him a puppet him now, they're going to be on his ass forever to present the appropriate imagine materially. eventually, she'll either bore of him, he won't be able to satisfy her spoiled nature or he'll resent her for it all... Outlook doesn't look good.

Your buddy seems like a well meaning guy. I hope he has happiness, whatever he decides to do.
posted by jerseygirl at 10:42 AM on May 25, 2004

Is the two month thing an American custom? I'm sure I heard one month's salary over here (UK).

Of course, if they were proper MeFites they would be eschewing a wedding as a straightjacket created by the establishment. Or haven't people here being going to enough liberal classes?*

*Gay weddings obviously excepted.
posted by biffa at 10:49 AM on May 25, 2004

It just struck me that wouldn't the cash be hers anyway come the wedding? Do they not have "worldly goods I thee endow" anymore? If your friend wants to flog himself to keep up with the Joneses everyday of the rest of his life this seems like an excellent way to start.
posted by biffa at 10:52 AM on May 25, 2004

Taumeson is asking a hypothetical question on behalf of a friend (who, incidentally, didn't ask him to). So we're being asked by a third party to judge a situation we know little about -- taumeson doesn't necessarily have all the facts, and is clearly biased toward the groom-to-be. We don't know what his friend does for a living (and therefore can't judge whether he needs a materialistic lawyer wife in order to fit in with his colleagues), and we don't know anything about this relationship other than the woman wanted an expensive ring and he didn't, and she used several excuses to get it.

I see it as this: She's manipulative and possibly a pushover to her family, he's a pushover for her. He reluctantly bought her the ring, the case is closed. There's probably no running, there's definitely no bartering, it's more than likely over. Taumeson, on the other hand, wants to give his friend a good talking-to for being such a pushover, and we've given him ammo.
posted by me3dia at 11:05 AM on May 25, 2004

I'm with me3dia on this one: This guy bought the rock, and he knows the drill. We all do.

As a female with a MeFi login, I can echo some other sentiments here, too: that this is an icky "tradition," that it's disgusting to act like some company's marketing campaign == a behavioral expectation for a couple, that a big rock is a waste of money, and so on. For one thing, I believe that gifts should be exchanged, not just bestowed, and I think people really tiptoe around the implications of this particular exchange.

While I personally would prefer to use that kind of money for a house (or, hell, accept a couple of months of support so I could take time off work and work out 8 hours a day to make my youth and fertility more apparent - that sounds fun!), this transaction is a perfectly logical one. It's an explicit display of wealth in this case -- "not only can my man afford this, but we can afford to detour money into this rather than saving it for useful stuff." Or maybe "This is how much my man was willing to pay for the last blowjob I'll ever give."
posted by caitlinb at 11:47 AM on May 25, 2004

Back when I was wearing my engagement ring, (ahem) I remember encountering some keeping-up-with-the Jonesmanship that even then I thought was really strange, but these were female law school classmates, so maybe it's a self-selecting thing. One of them asked me point blank how much my ring cost; I told her I didn't know (a lie- we bought it together on 47th street) the other one, wanting to know how my ring compared to the headlight she'd recently been given, grabbed my left hand, took her own ring off and placed it on my middle finger, so that the two rings were right next to each other. I didn't know quite what to make of that.

Sadly, I think that there is a weird competitive thing for some women, who tend to judge each other more harshly than men judge women, in lots of areas. I see it as using external sources for validation of her self-worth, which is troubling in the long run, but as lots of others have pointed out, all we know about this particular couple is hearsay.
posted by ambrosia at 12:16 PM on May 25, 2004

"This is how much my man was willing to pay for the last blowjob I'll ever give."

The mark of a woman I would never marry.
posted by Irontom at 12:30 PM on May 25, 2004

that's one hell of a bad deal. according to an article in the sunday paper the current rate for an "engagement ring" here is $9.40...
posted by andrew cooke at 1:11 PM on May 25, 2004

As I've read these posts, i started to feel that everyone was being a little bit dramatic about the future of the marriage. Perhaps she just got a fancy job, and is getting married, and she's excited about all of this happening at once, and wants an expensive, fancy present. I mean - I wouldn't get married, buy a diamond, etc. But I'm pretty untraditional. In America the whole 'diamonds are a girl's best friend' thing is pretty traditional. Christmas is silly to many of us nonreligious people, but how many of you who are shouting 'RUN!' buy silly presents?

She seems more typical than atypical. He sounds pretty typical too. The wise husband who wants to save money, but his frivilous wife just wants to buy herself fancy things.

The whole family thing doesn't sound as drastic as some fo you make it out to be, too. Maybe they're shallow jerks. It doesn't sound like 10k is going to break either of their banks. So it doesn't really seem like a big deal. I think he should get her whatever ring she wants, as long as it is within their budget which this ring seems to be.

(I can't believe I've just advocated spending 10k on a ring. I feel very dirty.)
posted by goneill at 2:10 PM on May 25, 2004

I agree with others that we may not have the full story here (are her parents paying for the wedding? did she offer to help with the cost of the ring?).

But I'd also like to stick up for lawyers everywhere and say that most female (or male, for that matter) attorneys I know couldn't care less about the size of a colleague's engagement ring. The size of your yearly billables is another matter.
posted by onlyconnect at 3:37 PM on May 25, 2004

There are better things to spend money on - travel, computers, house, that sort of thing - that both of us can use and enjoy.)

I don't understand statements like this. If she wants a diamond, if what brings her joy is a diamond, then there is nothing better to spend money on.

You buy her a computer, and she hates the computer. Now THATS wasted money. Maybe she doesn't like to travel, so a trip wouldn't be a wise investment.

She wants a ring, and the debate is over her insistence that it costs a certain amount of money.

Why must we try and assign our own value systems to other people?
posted by justgary at 5:56 PM on May 25, 2004

What exactly is so wrong with the woman's parents for wanting the best possible engagement ring for their daughter? They obviously raised her to believe that she legitimately deserves from a man whatever will make her happy.

With respect for an opinion which is different from mine, I'd like to respond to this.

First, they don't want the "best" ring. They want an expensive one. The story contains no information the suggests they have a preference of what kind, what cut, something rare, beautiful, whatever, nothing. They're just concerned that he pay a whole lotta money so she can have her little status symbol. This isn't "best," and it isn't about the ring itself.

Second, the ring isn't designed to make her happy. Read the post. She wants it so she can impress her professional associates. Mmm. And we're calling into doubt his love? Her happiness? Poor people.

Third, you just associated three words with this money-grubbing status-hunger that I don't think belong. Those three words are "deserve," "happy," and "man."

If they honestly believe that you can quantify one's personal worth in dollars, and equate some cash figure with "what she/he/I/you" deserve in life, then they have a cheap view of people, including their own family, apparently. Do I even need to quote the cliche that money can't buy happiness? "If that's what will make her happy..." It won't. It can't. She may want it, but it, whatever *it* is, ain't happiness, I'll tell you that much. Lastly, if the definition of "man" is just someone who spends a lot of money on command, then count me out. Yuck.

If the dude is in, he's in. I'm not going to judge anyone who's obviously so different from me, but the thought of being in his life gives me chills.
posted by scarabic at 12:17 AM on May 26, 2004

I think he should arrange a fiery accident for his in-laws, and have them made into a Life Gem.
posted by stonerose at 5:17 AM on May 26, 2004

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