Why we're both wearing engagement rings


Last Friday I ordered Josh's engagement ring. Men traditionally only wear a wedding band and many of the online articles I read whilst writing this post stated something along the lines of this - 'If a man does choose to wear this type of jewelry, be aware that that family members may assume it means the wedding has already taken place. The couple should be prepared to explain their preferences'. This statement and others like it have an underlying judgmental tone which seems to suggest that a man wearing an engagement ring is simply outrageous. For us, it isn't and in all honesty, I would love to see more couples opting to do the same! But why? Why have we decided that this is right for us?

Well, let's look at the reason that the engagement ring exists in the first place...

Anthropologists believe the tradition to have originated from a Roman custom in which women wore rings that were attached to small keys, this ring indicated their husband's ownership over them. Others point to the tradition beginning in the 2nd century BC. Records from Pliny the Elder, who lived at this time, note how the groom would give the bride first a gold ring to wear during the wedding ceremony and to special events, and secondly an iron ring to wear at home which signified (yep, you guessed it) her binding legal agreement to his ownership of her. Now, this may have made sense in the past when marriage was mainly viewed as a means to economic ends, or as one Jezabel article puts it 'marriage was but the economic chess move of a lady from her Father to Some Other Dude'. However, things have changed.

Today, marriages are seen to be more equal than ever with nearly 80% of young women under the age of 30 supporting a dual-income marriage model with shared responsibilities between partners. Josh and I regard ourselves as equals within our relationship and he definitely does not feel that he has any kind of ownership over me. For us, and for many in today's society, our rings do not denote ownership but instead equality, love, and commitment that we both wish to publically acknowledge. Along with the history of the tradition no longer being applicable (I ain't no man's property), there are a few other reasons we've opted to both wear an engagement ring.

More men are open to wearing engagement rings
recent study conducted by a jeweler showed that around 67% of men are open to the idea of wearing an engagement ring. However, due to male engagement rings not being a cultural staple of our society they aren't discussed or considered by many couples. We did discuss this option and Josh expressed that he would like an engagement ring and I was more than happy to pay for one.

The tradition is retrograde
I myself have experienced outcries of 'do men wear those now?!' when mentioning me and Josh's choice. Our society and culture has embedded within it that the engagement ring is a sign of femininity. This can be seen from the attempts in 1926 to popularize the male engagement ring (which alas, failed) through giving many of the rings created hypermasculine names such as, 'the Master', 'the Pilot' and 'the Stag'. This concept that engagement rings are only for women leads many to perceive a man as feminine if he chooses to wear one and for many men today that is one of the worst things they can be. We all witness this from a young age, men are constantly reminded that to show any sign of femininity is weak, just think of these common phrases that can be heard on a daily basis - 'big boys don't cry', 'man up', 'you're a pussy', 'grow a pair', etc. We need to move away from rigid gender roles and structures that determine what is acceptable for both women and men, be who you are and do what you want.

We're having a long engagement
Now when I say long, I mean long. We are prioritizing saving money to travel over getting married asap and that means looking at maybe 5 or so years till we become Mr & Ms. Flynnwood (more about that in another post). That's a long time and we wanted to be able to show an equal public commitment prior to that; both wearing engagement rings seemed like the perfect solution.

This was something we had discussed previously and decided was right for us. We spent some time last week choosing a ring that Josh liked and I'll be sure to post pictures of Josh's reaction when the beauty arrives with more information about my own ring and the woman who designed them both (a quick heads up, she's mint).

Something to end on. I asked Josh to try and sum up in a few sentences why it's is important for him to wear a ring and this is what he told me -
'When you first suggested a ring for me I was taken aback, I had never thought about it. My initial reaction was that I did not want or need a ring and that it was a waste of money. But, as I thought about it more and you suggested it again, it dawned on me that it was a societal expectation that had led my first response. I thought about what the ring represented to me - declaring my love for someone else and a constant physical representation of an eternal bond. I thought why would I not want that? I am proud of our relationship and I want to be able to show that.'

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