How to Have the Engagement Ring Conversation

A young couple getting engaged.

Plenty of couples get to a certain point in their relationships we can all recognize: comfortable, caring, discussing the long-term what-ifs. However, there are always a few weeks or months in there that both people feel are just a game of “chicken.” Who will mention engagement or marriage first? Obviously, if marriage isn’t a priority for one or both of you, this might not be the case, but a lot of couples who stick together for a while start to consider whether this person could be “the one” to commit to publicly.

Even though it can be scary to be the first one to bring it up, talking about what kind of engagement you want— and what kind of ring you want—is a good move toward strong communication. In fact, that is just one of the reasons why you should really have the engagement ring conversation before you’ve settled into your comfortable, caring, long-term relationship for too long. Here are few other reasons why you shouldn’t be afraid to discuss engagement rings sooner rather than later.

Engagement Rings Are Big Purchases

While most engagements themselves don’t cost an excessive amount of money, a lot of couples end up investing substantial cash in an engagement ring. If it weren’t for that fact, it might be a more valid idea to just “not talk about it” and let the ring’s design and detail be a surprise. However, at the bare minimum it is a good idea to talk about price ranges with your soon-to-be spouse. After all, even if you don’t combine finances, your financial choices affect each other. How sad for a groom if he discovers that the wife he loved enough for a five-figure ring was actually set on a three-figure price!

You Can Talk Without Ruining Surprises

A young couple shopping for an engagement ring at a jeweler.

Many people assume that the engagement ring conversation would make it impossible to be truly dazzled when you actually see the ring for the first time. This doesn’t have to be true at all. One of the most fun ways to have the engagement ring conversation is to go to a jewelry shop that’s in some way not right for you: too expensive, too far away to be a practical place to buy from—something like that. Window shop together and tell each other which rings jump out at you, paying special attention to anything that catches both of your eyes. Ask the jewelers about how those things are described in jewelry terms (things like a particular cut or a particular stone or metal), so that your spouse-to-be has an easy time finding a different jeweler that can do something similar, but which will still surprise and delight you when you get engaged.

You Can Talk Without Making Demands

A young couple looking at engagement rings through a shop window.

A lot of women resist bringing up the engagement ring talk because it may come across as too demanding when that’s not really their intention. A discussion about rings may come across as a request for engagement to happen soon, or for the ring to be a certain type, etc. However, if you can deliberately check your goals and plans at the door, it is possible to have this conversation by offering your own ideas without assuming they are shared. Share your thoughts on a timeline, and casually suggest that you window shop for rings together, making sure to ask what their thoughts are on the subject. Just make sure you’re open to the idea that your spouse-to-be isn’t there yet.

Discussing the Future Can Bring You Closer Together

If you work hard to keep your expectations flexible and leave room for spontaneity, you’ll see that thinking about the future together can be exciting. You don’t have to figure it all out in a single conversation, but it doesn’t hurt to end a conversation like this with a talk about what will be positive and fun about the wedding planning process or about being together long-term. It can help a lot if either of you are nervous about the intensity of commitment, especially when you remember you are committing to someone you deeply care for. The engagement ring conversation can be a practical start to a conversation that will eventually give you openings to talk about your deeper dreams for life together. Don’t insist on a 30-year plan, but be open to a little daydreaming.

There is an often unnecessary level of romanticism about the surprise engagement, accompanied by a ring that the bride-to-be might never have chosen. If this is your goal, you can certainly drop that hint and never talk about it again, waiting to be surprised with full confidence in your partner. However, many couples will benefit from ditching the mystery briefly and having some kind of conversation about the engagement ring before they spend a lot of money on an item that you may or may not want to wear for the rest of your marriage. You might get some great communication out of the deal as well.

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