The money or the box (with a ring in it)?

It’s on every social network, a picture of your ring finger sporting an almighty rock. You receive enough likes to last a lifetime. You’re in love, and he’s in debt.

In a spot survey of twenty women in their twenties and thirties, married and unmarried, the results were not surprising.

The question was:

If your boyfriend proposed and you were given the choice between an engagement ring or the equivalent in money, what would you choose?

Survey of 20 women about getting an engagement ring

Sixteen chose the ring, the other four women chose the money.

Romantic symbolism, aesthetics and the longevity of a ring as opposed to the fluidity of money were the predominant reasons. Those in favour of the money were women who didn’t wear jewellery or were convinced they’d lose the ring.

Is an engagement ring defined by price or by what it represents? Andre and his wife wanted to spend their money on a beautiful honeymoon. So his ring cost R100 and her ring R300.

When asked if he was attached to his ring he was surprised by the question, “But of course it’s my wedding ring, I love it, I never take it off.”

At a popular jewellery chain store, diamond and gold engagement rings can start from R6 000 and go up to R100 000. However the trend is turning and lots of young people are buying silver rings with a cubic zirconia starting at R700.

A boutique jeweller in Johannesburg says the average price for a ring is between R15 000 and R20 000.

Whether your ring costs R100, or it’s a bling just like Kim ring, we know that neither carry a happily ever after guarantee.

Part of being engaged is showing your family the ring. It would be so embarrassing if there was no ring.

Justine - survey respondent

We asked clinical psychologist Joanne Becker about the most common problems that newlyweds face. She said there are lots of factors that add stress to the new couple

  • The newlywed’s expectation of marriage
  • Interfering extended family
  • If the couple have children
  • Financial pressure.

If you don’t choose the ring route, you could invest the money in your Ring Fund. The proviso is that all money spent is towards the well-being of your relationship.

This is how you use it:

  • Expectations are not met: You’d agreed on alternate nights to cook, but somehow this plan has gone egg shape, much like the unsuccessful quiche you made the night before. Instead of having an argument, you both agree to dip into the ‘expectations are not met jar’. Pizza is ordered and harmony restored.
  • Interfering extended family: A retired city gyneacologist said amongst his patients the number one cause of divorce was in-laws. R20 000 isn’t enough to whisk them away, but it can offer some immunity. It’s amazing how a little cash can give you the confidence to set boundaries. You politely refuse your mother-in-law’s brown floral curtains and say you are buying your own. Here’s the clinch you have the money saved.
  • Children: The first year of parenthood while joyous brings its own stresses. Neither of you are the focus of each other’s attention. A crying, hungry, tired baby takes centre stage. Here are a few sanity savers: A babysitter, an aromatherapy massage for you both and a meal out of the house! This is money well spent!
  • Financial pressure: Money problems can create huge feelings of insecurity. When you are feeling at your poorest, how lovely for the two of you to indulge in something decadent. Go to a concert, make a chocolate mousse with the best chocolate and buy flowers for each other! Give money to charity.

Adrian Perkel, Clinical Psychologist specializing in couple’s therapy says,

In the beginning of marriage the positive elements are in ascendance. The world is seen through rose coloured glasses. Everything is idealised. All is good. Broadly what starts to happen is idealization gives way to reality. It can be disillusioning and disappointing. People feel cheated. They thought they had bought a Porsche but feel they have ended up with a sedan

Adrian Perkel, Clinical Psychologist

Which takes us back to the question of the ring or the money? A marriage isn’t about either. It’s about love, respect and a commitment to making it work.

So whatever the choice you make, it’s the right one as long as you’re both in agreement. Like, love.


This article first appeared on 702 : The money or the box (with a ring in it)?


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