Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“Who Should Keep My Engagement Ring?”

Ring

My boyfriend, Rick, and I are having a disagreement about engagement rings that I hope you can help with. Rick’s ex-wife, since their divorce four years ago, has pawned her engagement ring because she “needed” the money, despite everything she got from their divorce settlement. Rick is very disappointed because he spent a lot of money on the ring and because he thought she would have given that ring to their oldest child and only daughter. Now he wants to get me a ring and get married, despite the fact that it is very early in our relationship, but we disagree on what to do with the ring after I die or if we break up.

Rick has asked if I would consider giving the ring to his daughter since her mother sold her ring. He said because he would be the one to give me the ring, this would be fair. I have three kids myself — one daughter and two sons — but Rick’s argument is that my daughter would probably get my ring that her Dad gave me. But that’s not necessarily true. Yes, she is my only daughter; however, she is the youngest and another tradition for many families is for the oldest boy to get the mother’s ring when he is ready to propose to his girl. Rick claims that my son’s girl is not going to want my ring, but I don’t think that’s necessarily true either. At any rate, I believe that a ring of mine would mean more to my son’s hypothetical fiancé than to Rick’s daughter, and Rick admitted that the ring would probably only be of interest to his daughter for monetary purposes.

Since this ring — that I don’t even have yet and may not want after all this — would be my ring, it would be of sentimental value to my kids, given that I probably would, in a marriage that went well, be wearing it up until the day I died. I’m having a hard time committing to leaving my ring to his kids, just because HE would have bought it for me, knowing upfront that it would be sold. My only comment right now has been to say that I don’t buy something for someone based on who’s going to get it when he or she dies. Also, Rick’s daughter’s not getting her mother’s ring because the mother sold it isn’t my problem.

Do you think it’s a fair and realistic expectation on Rick’s part that I agree to give my engagement ring to his daughter upon my death even though it would be of more sentimental value to my kids?

While we are on the topic of rings, Rick and I also had a discussion about who gets the ring if the marriage does not take place. I said that if I call off the engagement, he gets the ring back, and if he calls it off, I keep it. He says he should get it back no matter who calls it off. What is the proper ring etiquette in a break-up of an engagement?

Honestly, all of this talk about what happens to a ring I do not have yet sours the thought of a ring at all. Any advice or opinion you can give me is greatly appreciated. — Whose Ring Is It Anyway?

This letter especially caught my interest since my family is dealing with something similar and I appreciate how complicated and emotionally-charged an issue like this can potentially be. And the truth is, I’m not sure there is a totally “fair” solution; I almost think a ring ought to be buried with a woman to avoid future conflict and hurt feelings. But that’s not always the right answer either. So, what IS the right answer? Well, for one thing, I think deciding now whom you want the ring to go to rather than let your heirs fight over it after your death is a step in the right direction. And in an effort to avoid hurt feelings or showing favor for one kid (or one person’s kids) over another, it would be most fair to say the ring is available for the first person who has use for it and wants it (i.e. whoever is ready to get married and wants to get engaged with the ring — man or woman, your kid or your future husband’s kid).

One thing I disagree with is arguing that the ring may have more sentimental value to some offspring than to others or that sentimental value trumps monetary value. You have no idea what connection any of the kids in question might have one day to this ring that doesn’t exist. And you don’t know who may or may not want it. There’s a good chance all the kids between you and your boyfriend will already be married (and maybe married and divorced) by the time you die. They may have kids of their own by then. So, who gets the ring then, and how is sentimental value determined? If it’s saved for the next generation — your future grandkids — do you think they’re going to feel as connected to the ring as as your own kids would? Maybe. Maybe not. My point is, you can’t predict what future people who don’t exist are going to feel about a hypothetical ring that doesn’t exist. Best to outline in the will that the ring is available for the first person who wants it and is ready to propose/ get engaged. And if there are multiple people who want it, make a stipulation that the ring be appraised and, if everyone agrees, the ring can be bought from the estate by the highest bidder. If everyone doesn’t agree, then the ring remains in the estate for the next generation with the same stipulation that it’s available for the first person who is ready to get married and wants to use it to propose/get engaged.

As for who gets the hypothetical engagement ring if the hypothetical engagement ends before marriage, I — and just about any other etiquette expert — agree that the person who does the breaking up relinquishes the ring. If you do the dumping, you return the ring and if your boyfriend does the dumping, you keep it.

All that said, it’s been six months. Why don’t you put talks of rings and marriage on hold for another six months and see how you feel about the issue, and each other, in the spring?

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy@dearwendy.com.

98 comments… add one
  • avatar

    MoeP November 23, 2015, 9:17 am

    I get a sense from your letter that he is more interested in fixing his own hurt feelings over the expensive ring he bought, and in a larger sense, of his divorce, than he is about the ring as a symbol of the unyielding love you both have for each other and a commitment to stick it out together.

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  • avatar

    joanna November 23, 2015, 9:18 am

    FWIW, styles are always changing through out the years. My mother offered me her ring that my father gave to her. I saw it and laughed at the hideousness of it. Had I even wanted it, I definitely would never have worn it.
    .
    However, they divorced when I was young. So to me it was a symbol of a broken marriage.
    .
    If you 2 are thinking about getting married, the ring is not the hill for him to die on.

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  • avatar

    artsygirl November 23, 2015, 9:27 am

    Would it be possible for your BF to purchase the pawned ring and save it for his daughter? It seems like you are not ready to get engaged at this point yet and therefore it is not like he would be paying off two rings. I would also suggest maybe saving up and buying similar loose stones for each child that they each use for either engagement rings or in a personal setting when they are adults.

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  • Raccoon eyes

    Raccoon eyes November 23, 2015, 9:36 am

    WWS
    *
    LW, Rick is a controlling jerkwad. Either that, or he is immature. Ok, at the least, he is not fully over the breakup of his marriage and that is manifesting itself as all this junk. I cannot even fathom that you have warm I’d-Like-To-Marry-You feelings about this guy at this point.
    *
    My humble opinion, as a 3rd party totally unknown to you, Rick, or your relationship, is that you need to be worried about his controlling tendencies more than whatever this hypothetical ring-estate stuff is. Bleh. And all this around the holidays? Even worse. Sounds to me like his next step is going to be a power play- that he is only going to propose if you agree to his stipulations about its inevitable demise.

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  • avatar

    Essie November 23, 2015, 9:39 am

    I’d be offended that he was using our relationship to work out his wounded pride over his ex pawning that stupid ring. And probably break up with him.
    .
    Sorry, but a seemingly-out-of the blue proposal, six months into the relationship, that comes with strings about what I’d do with the ring in a bunch of hypothetical situations? No.

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  • avatar

    Essie November 23, 2015, 9:41 am

    Hah, Raccoon Eyes beat me to it. And said it better. 🙂

    Yep, controlling jerkwad.

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    • Raccoon eyes

      Raccoon eyes November 23, 2015, 10:24 am

      Essie, my Dear, Ive always thought you astute and self-aware. Now even more so. 😉

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      • avatar

        Essie November 23, 2015, 5:33 pm

        LOL..and thanks. 😉

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  • avatar

    laurahope November 23, 2015, 9:43 am

    Having been in the middle of a 2nd marriage whose kids get more war, I couldn’t help reading this and thinking, geez, they’re not even married yet and it’s already starting to get territorial. My advice? When the time comes, sell the ring and split the money evenly amongst all the children. It’s time to start a new tradition.

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    • avatar

      ktfran November 23, 2015, 10:18 am

      This. I couldn’t help but feel bad for this guy’s child.

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  • Lianne

    Lianne November 23, 2015, 9:44 am

    This letter rubbed me the wrong way. It’s a RING. If it were me, I would tell Rick I don’t want a ring if there is going to be this much drama attached to it. Jesus.

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    • avatar

      Hannanas November 23, 2015, 10:12 am

      THIS

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    • kmtthat

      kmentothat November 23, 2015, 10:36 am

      It won’t be just the ring. Next it will be the house…or anything else. He doesn’t want to act like a team, he just wants to cover his ass. Selfish people aren’t great people to marry.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom November 23, 2015, 10:47 am

        I think he learned the hard way to not make assumptions and he is feeling hurt for his daughter. His daughter might or might not be bothered by her mom selling the ring but either way it is gone and this second ring can’t be a replacement for the first because it is a symbol of a different wedding, a different union. He’s trying to be more shrewd and careful but he will sabotage this new relationship with his demands. He needs more time to get over the hurt from his failed marriage and maybe needs to talk to someone about what is realistic in marriage.

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    • Nookie

      Nookie November 23, 2015, 10:39 am

      Yeah, me too. I get that later down the road, this is a conversation to have. But six months in, and the level of vitriol over this hypothetical situation makes me uncomfortable.

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  • avatar

    judge sheryl November 23, 2015, 9:54 am

    In the unlikely event that you get married and live happily ever after until you die, the ring should be sold and split among all the kids. If someone really wants it for sentimental reasons, then they can buy the others out.

    I would hope it could be split evenly between the kids, but I also wouldn’t be completely against a 50/50 split per family, since he has only 1 kid and she has 3.. I think.

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  • avatar

    RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 9:55 am

    If it were me, I’d be at the point of suggesting that we don’t bother with a ring. Either we get each other engagement gifts of similar value, or we have nothing. Because he’s basically trying to attach a rider to a gift that says he gets it back at the end. Either it goes to his kids, or directly to him. That’s messed up. Once he gives it to you, it’s yours. I do agree that if you break up with him before the marriage, then you should give it back. But in any other case, where you’ve fulfilled the promise that the ring represents, it’s yours to do with as you please. It’s really weird that he’s upset that his wife did what she wanted with her own property. Unless the ring was given to him in the divorce settlement, it’s none of his business. I assume the settlement covered all their assets, which the ring was part of, so the value of it has already been accounted for in their settlement. Now he seems to think he should have had rights to the ring too? If he’d wanted that, he should have fought for it as part of the settlement. He didn’t, so too bad.
    .
    If you do decide to accept a ring from him at some point, I agree mostly with Wendy except that I don’t think it’s right to give one child an expensive gift and not the others. Especially one that hinges on a life choice that some of them may not want to or may not be able to make. So I would suggest to do what Wendy said, but also put a stipulation in the will that whoever takes the ring, gets that much less out of the estate when it’s split among the kids upon your deaths. Then it’ll come out even.

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  • avatar

    csp November 23, 2015, 10:09 am

    LW – So I think you need to re-frame the conversation with any large purchase. If you bought a large TV, it is the same as a ring. The difference is that jewelry more or less retains its value over years where most other assets depreciate over time (cars, furniture, tvs). With all of this being said, I think it depends on the value of the ring. So if you get a ring that is the value of a midsized car, it is different than what you would pay for a raymore and flanigan bedroom set.

    I actually think it is good that you guys are talking about expectations. prenups and assets are pretty standard in second marriages with children from previous relationships. I find that with men, if you equate it to other valuable stuff, you can have a more reasonable conversation.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 10:29 am

      “jewelry more or less retains its value over years”
      .
      Be careful with that statement. It’s true that it won’t depreciate much after the initial purchase, but the price you pay is way above the value you’re going to be able to sell it for. Try to buy a ring and then go back and return it the next month when it’s out of the return window. You’re looking at a hit of at least 25%, probably much more.
      .
      Diamonds are luxury items, you’re paying a luxury price. You’re paying way above the wholesale price, and wholesale is all you’ll be able to get when you try to sell, unless you’re lucky and find someone on Craigslist who wants a ring with no warranty, no service, no guarantees, no returns, etc. And they certainly won’t be paying you what you paid.
      .
      I really wish people would stop thinking of diamonds as investments, because if what you want is an investment, then you’re much better off actually investing your money. Think of a diamond as a luxury item that you’re pretty much guaranteed to lose money on. Enjoy it for what it is, not for some kind of imaginary investment scheme. Then you won’t end up with a nasty surprise down the road if you ever need that money back.

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      • avatar

        csp November 23, 2015, 12:47 pm

        You are right about markup. But compared to other standard purchases, it does retain value. If you got a $1000 ring and a $1000 TV on the same day, which one would have value in 15 years? 30 years? You would have to pay to recycle the TV and the ring would be close to that value. That is why after a break up, people fight over the ring. With a few exceptions, everything else you own is relatively worthless. I am not saying that you should take money out of a 401k and buy things at Tiffany’s, but if you have the choice of a boyfriend buying you fine jewelry or a purse, the shrewder investment is the jewelry.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 12:51 pm

        Sure, if you’re comparing it to a consumer good, it will hold its value, mainly because it doesn’t wear out. But you’re still going to lose on it in the long run (and the short run), so in no way is it an investment. In the same way that a purse or a TV or a car are not investments. Investments need to at least have a shot at making money, not be guaranteed to lose money.

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      • avatar

        csp November 23, 2015, 2:59 pm

        Right. But I didn’t call it an investment. It is an asset that doesn’t depreciate.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 3:50 pm

        I agreed with that. I added the investment part because so many people talk about how their engagement ring is an “investment”, and they use that to rationalize spending more than they can really afford. In reality they’re going to lose money that they can’t afford to lose. It’s a really bad trend. I was just pointing it out, not saying that you support it.
        .
        But also, in reality the ring is useless whereas your TV, car, and furniture are extremely useful. So that’s something to consider when sinking money into a ring as well. It should only be “extra” money, that you don’t need for anything else.

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    • avatar

      SpaceySteph November 23, 2015, 1:21 pm

      ditto what RedRover said about jewelry depreciation, but also I think there’s another reason why this is not just like a TV. Engagement rings usually have sentimental value, and it’s obviously that sentimental value that makes the bf upset about his ex-wife selling it rather than saving to give to the daughter. It’s not just worth its equivalent in cash.
      The bf is, for some reason, stuck on having an heirloom to give his daughter, so maybe look for another heirloom to reserve for her.

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      • avatar

        csp November 23, 2015, 3:09 pm

        I see where you are coming from but I don’t know if I agree. I think the maintained value sticks with people. Like, once you buy a TV, it slowly becomes tired and out of date. You don’t feel the money you put into it when you eventually throw it out. It feels silly saying, ” but I spent 1000 dollars 15 years ago for that. With a ring, you still feel the value and that it could be reset later down the road. The same way you feel it in a house and people always feel like their house is worth more than it is. You feel the money you put into it more acutely.

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  • Kate B.

    Kate B. November 23, 2015, 10:24 am

    An engagement ring is not an ordinary piece of jewelry. It is a gift given in consideration of marriage. If the marriage does not take place, then what Wendy outlined above is the most fair. (I don’t know if it’s an actual law, but I believe some judges have used that standard when the ring is in dispute.) However, once the marriage does take place, the promise has been fulfilled and the ring is yours to do with as you please. Frankly, if the ring is causing this much drama, I’d sell it and add the money to my estate or have it buried with me. But, I agree with those who say this discussion is a symptom of something else. Sounds like your BF has some issues to work out and I wouldn’t accept a marriage proposal from him at this time.

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  • avatar

    K November 23, 2015, 10:25 am

    The fact that you’re talking about who would get the ring if the marriage doesn’t take place is the most concerning part to me. I would not be having that conversation with my boyfriend if we got engaged. Sure, things happen, but it sounds as if you would almost expect the marriage to be called off. Please take more time before deciding to get engaged.

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  • Diablo

    Diablo November 23, 2015, 10:27 am

    When you give someone a gift, even a really expensive gift, it becomes theirs. Period. You no longer have any say in what happens to it, ever. If you don’t like that someone did not honour your gift, maybe you shouldn’t give them another, and maybe you should have considered more carefully whether you should have given it in the first place, but that’s on you. If someone puts conditions on a gift (like, if you die or leave i get it back), then it is not a gift. i suggest getting any arrangement like that in writing, clearly mapping out responsibilities and liabilities, and making sure you get what you need out of the contract. If someone is looking past you to the day you die or leave before they even get you this non-gift, how do you think they really view your relationship? Are they relationship material? Think about this.

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  • kmtthat

    kmentothat November 23, 2015, 10:34 am

    This guy is a piece of work. Unless he is planning to propose with a 100k ring, I’m not sure why he is so concerned with the ring going to his daughter and the monetary value (hint: engagement rings lose value like crazy after they are purchased anyways). It’s not about the ring, it’s about him wanting to recoup costs, and save face and have control.

    To everyone: YOU DON’T GET TO DICTATE HOW OTHER PEOPLE USE YOUR GIFTS. AN ENGAGEMENT RING IS A GIFT. Depending on what state you live in, that ring is legally yours free and clear regardless of who breaks up with who. But I think your suggestion is really fair.

    I would highly suggest meeting with a financial planner or lawyer together, as I guarantee this won’t be the last time how you divide up or deal with money is a big issue (e.g. if you buy a house together, who gets it when you die? Or does it get sold off?) I think talking to a outside party to help mediate and make decisions together will help you both get on the same page about money. EH seems to think what he wants financially trumps you, which doesn’t sound like a great way to lead into marriage.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom November 23, 2015, 10:38 am

    There is no way that either of you can know or predict which child will be more sentimentally attached to your ring. It could go from all of them to none of them. Neither set of children will come from the marriage although they will all be a part of it. Also, what if your son was getting engaged and married while you were still married and wearing the ring? What if his daughter gets an expensive engagement ring from her future fiance? I think that you will hurt the feelings of all of the children who aren’t picked if you choose one to get the ring. You need to state specific conditions that don’t favor any one child. I think that getting the ring should count as a share of the estate and the child would receive that much less from the estate. Let the children determine who wants it and if at the point that it is available if more than one wants it they could draw straws or flip a coin if it is two of them. If no one wants it enough that they are willing to get that much less from the estate then it should be sold. Whatever you do, don’t favor one child over the rest unless you want a war in the family.
    .
    The fact that the two of you are focused on this and not on whether you are ready for marriage or what marriage means to your children or how you will keep from repeating the mistakes of your first marriages says neither of you are ready for marriage. Put off an engagement for now and focus on your children. But when you talk about this in a hypothetical way make sure that all of the kids are equal. Birth order and gender don’t make one child more special or deserving than another.

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie November 23, 2015, 10:42 am

    As always – a considered response from Wendy and so much agreement with many here.

    If this ring is going to cause a rift – between the two of you, between your kids, between either of you and your kids – then don’t get a ring. Take that money and invest it in something that could actually benefit the two of you or your kids. I have no idea what diamonds cost or how much you’re planning to spend but if you were to invest some money in an IRA that would be worth a hell of a lot more than a ring in 30 years. If you divorce, split it down the middle. If you die, you can give your half to your kids in your will. Sure, his one kid gets more than your three kids but it’s still more fair than giving one ring to one person.

    Seriously reconsider whether you want to be with someone that would give you a gift then demand what you do with the gift. Or gives you a gift but essentially says he’ll want it back, even if he’s at fault. Damn girl. If I lose weight and give my clothes away, it’s not on the condition they be returned if gain the weight back.

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  • bittergaymark

    Bittergaymark November 23, 2015, 10:58 am

    Wait — who on earth would actually WANT the ring from their father’s (or mother’s) SECOND failed attempt at marriage? God, people out there in the world sure do worry about some awfully silly things… Talk about vapid.

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    • Miss MJ

      Miss MJ November 23, 2015, 11:02 am

      Ha! You beat me to it!

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 11:02 am

      That was my thought too… I could see the mother’s own kids wanting it, since it’s a ring that their mother will have worn for (presumably) the majority of her life. Like, I would like my mom’s nursing ring because she wore it every day. It has meaning to me because of its closeness to her. But why would a kid want their dad’s second wife’s ring??? That’s just crazy. If it’s only for the money, then this dude is in essence just giving the ring money to his kid, with the LW hanging onto it for a little while in between. Yeah. I wouldn’t accept that deal.

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      • othy

        othy November 23, 2015, 11:04 am

        I agree with all of this!

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie November 23, 2015, 1:04 pm

      Eh I have a necklace that was made with the diamond from my divorced parent’s engagement. It’s a rock. A valuable rock. Sentiment, schmentiment.

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      • redessa

        redessa November 23, 2015, 2:44 pm

        But it’s still from your 2 parents. You may not, but even after a divorce there’s probably a lot of people would still feel a sentimental attachment to a ring from the time when their parents were happy together. Far fewer will have any kind of emotions about a ring their dad gave his next wife (or mom got from her next husband).

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  • Miss MJ

    Miss MJ November 23, 2015, 11:01 am

    Does the engagement ring your father gave your mother even still have “sentimental” value once your parents are divorced? My parents are divorced and I have no idea what happened to my mother’s engagement ring, but I wouldn’t attach any sentimental value to a symbol of a failed relationship. So what we’re really talking about is money.
    .
    Rick is pissed that his ex sold a valuable gift that he wanted to go to his daughter and kept the money for herself. Tough luck Rick. If Rick wants to give his daughter a valuable gift when she’s older, then he is free to do so. If Rick wanted to get the ring back from his ex because the money he spent on it was his to do with what he wanted and he doesn’t understand the concept of a gift, then that’s who he should have gotten it back from. Attaching restrictions to a hypothetical ring in the event of the LW’s hypothetical death or their hypothetical (at least for now) break up is just bizarre and creating drama for drama’s sake. I’d consider this a big old red flag with respect to Rick, LW.
    .
    Honestly, at the end of the day, even if it is a valuable ring, it’s still just a thing. It’s not worth fighting over.

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  • avatar

    SasLinna November 23, 2015, 11:02 am

    Oh gosh, this made me think of Lord of the Rings. “A ring to rule them all…”
    LW, in this situation I’d probably prefer to buy my own ring, or not have one at all. Your boyfriend sounds kind of obsessed with this ring business. Why can’t he just buy a ring for his daughter if he absolutely wants to leave a ring to her?

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 11:05 am

      It doesn’t sound like it’s the ring he’s concerned about, it’s the money. Essentially he wants to make sure that whatever happens, HIS family ends up with the money. Which is pretty messed up. If you don’t want to give an expensive gift, don’t give an expensive gift. The end. To expect her to give it back even after her death is unbelievable.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 23, 2015, 11:08 am

        Yeah, I agree. Sounds like he wants a guarantee that the ring will go back either to him or his daughter, rather than being motivated by the idea that his wife will have a lovely ring. If that’s how he feels, he probably shouldn’t buy his future wife a ring at all.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 11:10 am

        Yep.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 23, 2015, 11:11 am

        Also, the whole thing suggests that he hasn’t adequately dealt with his previous divorce, and it’s influencing this new relationship.

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      • avatar

        Stillrunning November 23, 2015, 12:10 pm

        He probably shouldn’t have a future wife.

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      • avatar

        Miss Lady November 23, 2015, 11:44 am

        “Essentially he wants to make sure that whatever happens, HIS family ends up with the money.”
        .
        I second this, and I think it says a lot about Rick. I don’t think there is anything wrong with discussions about what happens in the event of divorce or death. My husband and I have had these discussions, but the difference in our discussions is that we want to make sure the other is taken care of, *even if our marriage fails*, because we love each other.
        .
        I heard a piece of advice once, which was that you should marry someone who would be kind to you if you divorced. Rick is already telling you that he is going to be looking out for himself and not you or your children. I think you should keep that in mind, regardless of what conclusion you come to about a ring.

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 11:52 am

        Totally agree, it’s important to discuss. Unfortunately for LW, they are not discussing. He’s stipulating requirements, and she’s expected to accept them. When my husband and I discuss our assets, it’s always under the assumption that our marriage is going to succeed. We don’t plan for the dissolution of our marriage. Planning your divorce is step one on the path to your divorce, in my opinion.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 23, 2015, 3:41 pm

        We don’t plan for the dissolution of our marriage on the regular, but I’m glad we went through the process of a prenup. It classified things and got us into discussions of what each of us wanted financially in various situations. I assume we’ll do similarly when we do our wills, likely even the same conversations, but you can’t really do or redo your wills before you get married.
        .
        I’m also in the camp of getting as many expectations and assumptions as possible out beforehand. With existing children and assets in the picture, like for the LW, that would be even more important.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 23, 2015, 3:46 pm

        I’m someone who needs a contingency plan, so I’d definitely have a prenup, too – and it has nothing to do with being open to a divorce. I think a prenup makes sense partially BECAUSE I’d be so invested in the relationship. It’s unlikely that I’d anticipate the contingencies that would lead to us getting a divorce, so I’d rather just have a plan to cover that possibility.

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      • Portia

        Portia November 23, 2015, 4:02 pm

        Haha, I’m a contingency plan type person too. And I learned a lot about his thinking too during the process, because it ended up being less about the exact terms we agreed to (very little different than the law in the end, and we were more generous with each other than the law in a lot of cases) but the conversations we had about it. Now I know about his dedication to his nieces and nephews’ future and he knows more of my big picture financial worries.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy November 23, 2015, 11:12 am

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    • avatar

      SasLinna November 23, 2015, 11:18 am

      I would probably always give the ring back, regardless of the circumstances. However, the problem starts with the tradition that the guy needs to buy the ring, and that only women have engagement rings: If couples purchased the ring or rings together, it would be pretty obvious that, if the engagement is broken, the ring should be sold and the money shared between both individuals.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 11:29 am

      I had a fiance when I was much younger, and I broke up with him. I gave the ring back and I’m glad I did. But if I’d wanted to marry him and he dumped me, I would have kept the ring and sold it. After all, it is a gift, albeit one with a promise. But if I was willing to keep the promise, I would feel it was my right to keep the ring.

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      • avatar

        SasLinna November 23, 2015, 11:57 am

        To me, it depends on what everyone’s (unspoken) expectations were. If a guy is giving his fiancée a ring with the implicit understanding that she’d keep it if he broke up with her, then it’s fine for her to keep it if he actually ends the engagement. Of course, it gets murky if the party who ends the engagement also feels like they weren’t at fault for the end of the relationship.
        I’ll never have an engagement thing, so I luckily don’t have to worry about this.

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        RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 12:01 pm

        Problem is the two people might have completely opposite expectations, and since they’re unspoken neither of them will know till the breakup happens. The man might think he should get it back regardless because he paid for it, and the woman might think she should keep it regardless because it was a gift. That’s why it’s nice to have the etiquette rule to fall back on, it minimizes misunderstandings.

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        SasLinna November 23, 2015, 12:06 pm

        Yep – I was thinking of expectations that are based on etiquette. Of course the latter still leaves plenty of room for interpretation.

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  • avatar

    wobster109 November 23, 2015, 11:15 am

    Can we please put an end to the oldest child inheriting stuff? We’re civilized now. We don’t play favorites anymore, or at least we’re not supposed to. Ditto for the only child of X gender thing.

    LW, you and Rick are not ready to be married. You each have children, and neither of you sees the other’s children as your own.

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    • othy

      othy November 23, 2015, 12:24 pm

      I completely agree. I ended up with my great grandmother’s opal engagement ring because opal is my birthstone. My older female cousin ended up with an equally valuable set of earrings.

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  • avatar

    PumkinSpice November 23, 2015, 11:17 am

    I have had a some what similar issue. My husband’s grandmother basically raised him. She left the ringtone her daughter (my husband’s mother). My husband wanted to give the ring to me, and I loved the idea. Well his mother was against this. Instead, she passed the rings for money. We have her the money to pay to get the ring back, and she used the money for other reasons. She never told us this. We found out when the place sold the rings and sent us a letter. Needless to say, there was a huge fight between mother and son. She didn’t even care. She just didn’t want me to have the rings before she died. Which we were fine with. Because a discussion had happened about this. So some other couple she doesn’t even know have the rings, and my husband is extremely upset and angry over this. It was the last thing he had of his grandmother’s. Point being, you should decide what happens to your ring in the event of your death, or an engagement in the family. But don’t do something spiteful just because you don’t agree with each other.

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  • avatar

    Rel422 November 23, 2015, 11:24 am

    I personally have zero emotional connection to my stepmom’s ring and definitely don’t feel entitled to it (or the monetary value of it). My step sister is more than welcome to have it… But I doubt she even cares that much. Our parents actually split the cost of my stepmom’s ring. If he feels the need to stipulate that “his” money goes to “his” kids he’s definitely going about it the wrong way by focusing in on the ring topic. My engagement ring was my Mom’s but I honestly think if she hadn’t passed away, thus creating a deep emotional connection for me to the ring, I would have just wanted my own new ring. At the end of the day it’s just a rock that our society has given monetary value.

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  • muchachaenlaventana

    muchachaenlaventana November 23, 2015, 11:26 am

    Everyone has this covered, but I just am going to add I hate the tradition of the oldest males in the family inheriting rings. My brother’s wife has my grandmother’s diamond from her engagement ring, which if they get divorced is likely out of our family forever. I think it would have made more sense a) for my grandma to be buried in it or b) the ring to go to one of her daughter’s, or be split up between them. IDK, it just seems like such a stupid tradition, even if the ring had gone to the oldest grand-child, which would have been my sister, I would have been happy because then it is always in the family and she would have appreciated it beyond, oh this is a big diamond.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 11:39 am

      Totally agree that if it’s being passed as an heirloom, and not merely for the monetary value, then it should never be passed to a non-blood relative, because then it could pass out of the family which is the complete opposite of the intent. It should never have gone to your brother’s wife who isn’t blood.

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      • avatar

        ktfran November 23, 2015, 12:53 pm

        I agree with this sentiment as well, unless of course, it was passed on with the understanding that their oldest get it, etc. I would totally put stipulations on that shit if it were an heirloom.

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      artsygirl November 23, 2015, 2:36 pm

      When my sister married her second husband, he proposed with his grandmother’s diamond in a new setting. My sister explicitly stated that if the marriage was to end, she would pass the ring back to her husband’s family (or one of her daughters) due to the history of the piece.

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    • TaraMonster

      TaraMonster November 23, 2015, 2:50 pm

      I recently was given my maternal grandmother’s ring so that my boyfriend can propose with it (which should happen within the next year 🙂 ). We do not have a set tradition around the ring except that it stays in the family. I was very close with my grandmother and wearing her ring will really mean a lot to me. There was a very minor discussion over giving it to my brother who was contemplating proposing to his long term girlfriend. I nearly had a heart attack over this. They have a very tumultuous and rocky relationship. Giving her the ring would be like walking up to a deep lake and chucking it in for the fish to eat. Anyway, he seemed to realize this (although no one was tactless enough to say it). And thank god because he just called me a half hour ago and they’re on a break. Again. (Sidenote: I love them both, but I wish they would stop drawing this out and hurting each other. Sigh.)

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  • Monkeysmommy

    Monkeysmommy November 23, 2015, 11:38 am

    I would make it easy on Rick, and tell him to skip the engagement to you, and go straight to his daughter with it. I mean, really? Once the ring is gifted to you, it’s YOURS to do as you please with. I do agree with you that if he calls it off, the ring is yours and if you call it off, it’s his to take back. Beyond that, he needs to back off. With that being said, I find the whole ring tradition weird anyway.

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  • avatar

    SLS November 23, 2015, 12:04 pm

    I still can’t wrap my head around the idea that y’all are arguing over all of these hypothetical situations over an engagement ring. The creepiest being where the ring will go when you die – seems a little morbid. :/ I can see having the discussion when establishing a will, once married, but I find it concerning that the gifting of the ring really could dictate the future of this relationship (which I think is a red flag).

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  • avatar

    dinoceros November 23, 2015, 12:17 pm

    My impression is that engagement rings as heirlooms are only really valued (more so than other heirlooms) when it’s a child of the couple. As in, that marriage produced them. When it’s your parent’s ring from or two a stepparent, it loses some of the value. I mean, I have no interest in my stepmother’s engagement ring from my father. And honestly, since my parents are divorced, I have no interest in my mother’s engagement ring either. I think that you could easily plan to give your children another heirloom that would be more special to them, whether it’s something passed down from your parents or a (non-engagement) ring they knew you loved, or whatever. My stepmom and her sister had their mother’s favorite ear rings turned into a necklace for each of them.
    .
    The fact that you two are this divided over this is a little concerning. It’s a ring. If you break up before the wedding, then give it back. If not, then do what you want with it. I’m sure your kids don’t care that much about it.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous November 23, 2015, 12:41 pm

    I lurk all the time but never comment, but I thought I’d contribute what my mother did with my grandmother’s engagement ring, which I think was a smart option (probably not for this LW, but for other people in similar circumstances). She put the center stone in a necklace for herself, that she wears nearly every day, and used the gold (both from the ring and from another piece of jewelry I think) and the smaller diamonds to make matching rings for me and my younger sisters. Everyone got a piece, and it’s something we all wear every day.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna November 23, 2015, 12:56 pm

      This is a great idea!

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    • avatar

      ktfran November 23, 2015, 4:19 pm

      I love it! What a great idea.

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    • Portia

      Portia November 23, 2015, 4:28 pm

      I love this. My mom and sister came to an understanding for their mother’s engagement ring that was similar, but maintained the ring. Basically my aunt got the bigger stones, which were probably worth more money, and my mom kept the ring with a couple of smaller stones and eventually found some new stones for it. That way she kept the sentimental portion intact but found a way to fairly divide it. I may try to do something similar with my sister and my grandma’s necklace, which I wore for my wedding.

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    • avatar

      Ange November 23, 2015, 4:41 pm

      We did something kind of similar. My mum inherited a rather hideous but valuable dress ring from her aunt that she had remade into a solitaire for herself. When talk of marriage started between me and my now husband she offered the ring to me and we had it remade again into an engagement ring. All the materials in it (except for the extra chips I added) are at least 80 years old but look new, I always thought that was pretty cool. I have no idea who to give the thing to though, I would like to keep it in the family but I’m childfree and my nieces and nephews have their own mothers obviously.

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  • BlueKate

    BlueKate November 23, 2015, 12:53 pm

    As others have pointed out, it’s really controlling of him to require that she pass the ring to his daughter. Also, it’s manipulative and the only person who will feel good about this is him. Depending on what state you’re in, an engagement ring is technically a gift and a promise. Once the promise has been fulfilled (two people get married), then the ring now fully belongs to the person who received it. Hence, if she marries this guy, she can decided to pawn the ring, gift it, melt it, keep it, throw it in a river, etc. He has no say.

    I’m pretty happy that in my culture you don’t even want the engagement/wedding band. It’s considered bad luck to wear someone else’s engagement or wedding ring. If you do inherit it, it’s expected that you either melt it down and create another ring or piece of jewelry, or keep it forever in a box.

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  • avatar

    Ron November 23, 2015, 12:53 pm

    Time for the LW to MOA. Several big red flags here:
    1. This guy clearly isn’t over his divorce and until he is, he shouldn’t be in a serious relationship
    2. You don’t propose to somebody and give them an engagement ring to spite your ex. LW is being used as a vehicle to spite ex. It doesn’t seem like this engagement is related so much to LW as to the ex.
    3. This guy is extremely controlling. He has been through a divorce and division of property under legal supervision. His ex got the ring. He somehow thinks she just received temporary custody of ring, while he retains control of its ultimate disposition. That’s very weird. He has no legal interest in this ring.
    4. LW and controlling bastard haven’t even married and it’s already his kids versus her kids in his mind. That is a horrible basis for a second marriage and I guarantee that this ring will be the least of the disputes to arise over this rivalry. It will be incessant on everything from helping kids in health or financial trouble, to which family they spend holidays with, to which kids’ input is to be valued.

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    • bittergaymark

      Bittergaymark November 23, 2015, 1:20 pm

      For all those giving the guy a hard time here — HELLO! the LW’s very own arguments/reasoning rather suggests that SHE would have brought all this nonsense up if she hadn’t. Her own thinking here is JUST as selfish — really, when one steps back and examines it… Honestly? They sound like a good match as they both wanna be petty over what is sure to be a paltry sum. Talk about TWO wrongs…

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      • avatar

        RedRoverRedRover November 23, 2015, 1:49 pm

        I don’t think so… she seems pissed that he’s bringing up all these scenarios. She said now the idea of the ring has been soured by all this. Sure, she’s got arguments against the terms he’s dictating – but his terms are all f’d up. I’d react the same way if I were her. Also I’d dump him, but I guess that remains to be seen here.

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      ktfran November 23, 2015, 1:42 pm

      Honestly, to me, it sounds like her kids vs. his.

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    • avatar

      Essie November 23, 2015, 5:32 pm

      Bravo, Ron. Yes.
      .
      What’s really eating at me is that his proposal seems to have been initiated by this nonsense with his ex-wife and the ring. He’s stewing over the fact that ex sold the ring, and now he’s going to spite her, or show her up, by arranging for another ring to go to his daughter.
      .
      Would he even have proposed to LW this early in the relationship if he hadn’t heard about ex selling the ring? Would he have proposed at all?
      .
      It’s telling that she didn’t even describe it as a proposal. She said “now he wants to get me a ring”. It’s not about her, and his love for her, it’s about the stupid ring.

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  • avatar

    Lynnlynn November 23, 2015, 1:31 pm

    This is crazy for an imaginary ring. I am not sure how old any of the kids are but maybe suggest he buys his daughter a special ring now, something she can enjoy at the moment. I agree with Wendy, my grandmother had her ring till she died in her 80’s. My brothers both wanted me to have it. My husband and I actually had a disagreement on my ring, I wanted my grandmothers and he wanted to buy my ring. Ultimately we used my Grandmothers ring and he paid to have it cleaned up and sized. But who knows if any of the daughters will want the ring. This is such a bigger issue than a ring though. You guys should be thinking of “our daughters” not his/mine. What if you have kids together? Do they get special treatment? Please don’t make the relationship hard a the kids. Nothing bothers me more than adults making kids pawns in relationships.

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  • avatar

    SpaceySteph November 23, 2015, 1:34 pm

    It’s really weird for me that people would live their whole lives planning to make things heirlooms when they die. Like… heirlooms become heirlooms because they 1) appreciate in value and 2) collect sentimental value over time. Neither of these things can be assumed at the time of purchase. To buy an engagement ring with the express purpose of it becoming an heirloom many years from now defies the point of heirlooms.
    Your engagement ring should be a gift to you from him. I agree with giving the ring back if you call off the engagement, but once you’re married it should be divided with the other marital property in a divorce and I think nobody has a greater claim to it. It’s presumptuous to expect that either daughter or the LW’s son will want to be proposed to/propose with the ring, and/or want the ring when the LW dies or gets divorced. They’re both unreasonably focused about what happens to the ring some-odd years from now under god knows what circumstances.
    If the daughter has expressed interest in a family heirloom and is maybe disappointed that her mother sold the ring, then perhaps her parents (not the LW who is her not-even-stepmother-yet) can find another heirloom to save for her– china, silver, some other jewelry.
    But regardless of all that, you think its too early to talk marriage… so it is! Wait awhile and revisit.

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  • findingtheearth

    findingtheearth November 23, 2015, 2:27 pm

    My mother got her mother’s rings, her stepfather gave his first wife’s jewerly to his children. My mother’s brother used the latter when he got married. I will get the ring from my grandmother’s first marriage, as I have requested it as my engagement ring.
    .
    Do what you want to do. In my opinion, it’s a ring. It’s a material symbol.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse November 23, 2015, 2:37 pm

    He doesn’t see you as a equal partner, or your kids as “his.” And he’s telling you that because of what happened with his ex wife, you have to do what he wants. It’s ridiculous. A ring is a gift. I agree with Wendy about where it goes if you split up before marriage, but FFS.
    He could have found out where the ring was pawned and bought it back if it meant so much to him. His reasoning is financially motivated only. In the divorce, it was counted as a material item, his ex wife saw it as material, and he sees it as sentimental. That should tell you all you need to know, right there.
    You say this has soured the discussion. I would be soured against him for all this stipulations he’s putting on you if: the marriage never comes, or you die. What the what? It sounds like he’s seriously not over the ex and the divorce and has no romance or love left in his body. I dated a man once who kept like a running tally of who spent what and when and where. He practically gave me an invoice when we broke up. That’s not a good sign.

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  • Lady_Red

    Lady_Red November 23, 2015, 2:55 pm

    If he’s so worried about losing his money on an expensive ring, DON’T SPEND SO MUCH DAMN MONEY ON A RING! It’s totally possible to get a nice ring without even spending half a paycheck.

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    • Portia

      Portia November 23, 2015, 3:11 pm

      Haha, so much this. The value of a diamond ring would go down so much anyway.

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  • bagge72

    bagge72 November 23, 2015, 3:02 pm

    So you plan on breaking up or dying before your gets kid married?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 23, 2015, 3:18 pm

      I thought the same thing. These kids are partly grown and they are arguing over which child will get to have the ring for an engagement. If they get married they don’t expect the marriage to last or they think the kids won’t get married until well beyond middle age or they expect the LW to drop dead in about ten years.

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  • avatar

    Jane63 November 23, 2015, 3:04 pm

    I sold my ring after my divorce without even a thought about saving it for my daughter. It was my ring. I did what I wanted with it.

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    • avatar

      Simonthegrey November 23, 2015, 11:52 pm

      I can’t imagine, as the child of divorce, that I would want a ring that reminded me of that.

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  • CurlyQue

    CurlyQue November 23, 2015, 3:42 pm

    I agree with everybody in that there are a lot of red flags in this relationship.
    *
    My only suggestion is since Rick stated that his only real reason for making sure his daughter gets the (doesn’t exist yet) engagement ring is for monetary purposes, then he could put the value of the pawned ring into a savings account for his daughter and let it accrue interest.
    *
    I also think he could just buy back the pawned ring and hold it for his daughter if what he care’s about is the (supposed) sentimental value of the ring to his daughter. I think he won’t though because i think to him it is about control and being upset that the wife did something with the ring without his consent (since he feels part or full ownership of the ring).

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 23, 2015, 4:02 pm

      He may only have found that the ring was pawned well after it was gone and had no chance to buy it back.

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  • Crochet.Ninja

    Crochet.Ninja November 23, 2015, 5:24 pm

    It’s a gift – she’s allowed to do whatever she wants with it. I get that he’s ass-hurt over an expensive gift, but it was a gift. and they broke up. it’s not his anymore.

    if you died, different story, then it would make sense to take back and give to his daughter.

    if he’s this weirded out by it, honestly, why don’t you both go pick out something inexpensive? a ring is only a symbol, and a symbol only has the value you place on it.

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  • FireStar

    Firestar November 23, 2015, 10:11 pm

    Just chiming in to say in many jurisdictions an engagement ring is a gift in contemplation of marriage. If the marriage doesn’t happen – no matter who did the breaking up – the ring goes back to who purchased it. Etiquette is nice but there is a lot of law on this subject. So the answer to that question I’d it depends where you live.
    As for who gets the ring… Either specify in the will leaving other items of similar value to the other kids or allow one kid to purchase it from the estate so the others are compensated. If more than one kid wants it – let arbitration decide.
    I think it’s odd to have this discussion now. What if a couple married and had multiple children? Who gets that ring? Why decide before? And why decide at all 6 months into dating? You got bigger fish to fry that mythical rings and a hypothetical bequeath.

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  • Dear Wendy

    Dear Wendy November 24, 2015, 8:49 am

    From the LW:

    Thanks Wendy. I have asked him not to get me a ring at all and save all money he intended to spend on a ring and give it to his kids. No risk to “his investment”. I have suggested living together as an alternative but he is the one bent on getting a ring.

    I forgot to add that I am a widow of almost 4 yrs and have a lot more at risk (than the cost of a ring) if I remarry…I forfeit ALL of my 1st husband’s SS at retirement age, if I remarry. If it doesn’t work out and we divorce before 10 yrs, I get nothing, not my first husband’s SS or my “new husbands” SS, only my own SS, which is nothing in comparison since I stayed home for 20 yrs and raised my kids. This is all so complicated and depressing….I may be better off alone.

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    • avatar

      RedRoverRedRover November 24, 2015, 9:00 am

      Don’t be depressed. Honestly if this is the way this guy thinks about money, you really are better off not marrying him, especially with your SS situation. Because clearly he sees his money as “his”, not as both of yours. Which means you’ve got to make sure you’re taken care of on your own, which seems to mean keeping your first husband’s SS.
      .
      And if you do want to get married someday, you still can. Just not to this guy. The right guy will either not care that you’re not legally married and will call you his wife anyway (you can have a commitment ceremony or something along those lines), or you’ll be lucky enough that he has enough to take care of you both into old age. Either way it will work out. Just make sure that if you’re with a guy who only looks out for himself financially, that you do the same.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom November 24, 2015, 9:08 pm

      If marriage will financially harm you then you shouldn’t get married. You would be better off living together if you intend to stay together.

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    • avatar

      SasLinna November 25, 2015, 2:44 am

      Given your situation, it makes no sense to get married. Don’t risk your retirement money. Especially not for a guy who is no intent on not running any financial risk himself.

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  • avatar

    S November 24, 2015, 8:28 pm

    This question is kind of hilarious.

    I agree with Wendy, that if an engagement is broken before the wedding, whoever breaks off the engagement or was at fault for the break-up gives us rights to the ring (ie, if one person cheats, the cheated-upon may initiate the breakup but the cheater is at fault). Unless the ring is a family heirloom, then it goes back to the original family no matter what.

    After the marriage, the woman owning the ring gets to decide who gets it after her (be it death or divorce). So his ex did nothing wrong by pawning her ring, it was her property to with as she pleased. If you’re drafting a will together you can certainly discuss which kid would get the ring first, but I’d still say that the woman wearing the ring gets the final call in who gets it because, again, it’s HER property.

    However, the entire way the boyfriend is framing this discussion really sets off my creep alert. This guy is seriously still stewing over his ex, which is not healthy, and trying to impose random limits on the LW, which is also not healthy.

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  • avatar

    Adrienne December 3, 2015, 1:55 pm

    TLDNR

    A gift is a gift is a gift. The engagement ring is a gift, especially so after the vows have been said. It’s he’s to do with as she pleases.

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