The Engagement Ring

June 29, 2011 § 45 Comments

I am aware that I have a sexy existence over here. The American falling in love with the Spaniard. But there still the hard days and the lonely times. There is still culture clash and learning to understand the other person, where they come from and the culture that surrounds you.

I often write when I don’t know what else to do. When I am filled with thoughts and emotions and there is no one to listen. After all, I do try to respect the time difference and not wake my slumbering friends on the west side of the Atlantic.

Sarah and Thomas – Charleston, SC

In light of the recent engagement I thought this little tid bit would be interesting… not all cultures believe in the elusive engagement ring.

_____________________________

March 1, 2011

The Spaniard nearly fell out of his chair.

Spaniard: “How much? For a ring? Wouldn’t you rather travel to Australia?”

Simple answer: “No.”

It sounds all cute and funny. But being looked at like you are clinically insane is no fun.

In the Spanish culture when a man proposes to a girl he can give her anything he wants. A bracelet, a necklace, perhaps some earrings.

Excuse me?

The proposal can be as simple as the two sitting on the couch in the home that they have shared for years when the following ensues:

Her: I think we should get married this year.

Him: Ok, I agree.

Her: What about October sometime?

Him: Sounds good.

Her: I will call the church and <insert favorite reception venue here> and see what dates they have available.

Him: Great.

Done and Done! Yes. Seriously.

I ran this little scenario by the Spaniard he said, “yeah, kind of like that.”

Here’s the thing, I am still an America. I want the ring.

To say the Spaniard fully understands this is FAR from the truth. But he does love me, and I have faith that my dreams will one day come true.

But honestly, this is not the way I saw this happening. I never saw myself needing to convince my love that a ring is necessary. That it is important. That I am not crazy, and that millions of people do this.

But I also never saw myself moving to Spain, going on the adventure of my life, riding on a daily roller coaster, and falling madly in love with absolute 100% certainty.

I just hope he settles into the idea of that engagement ring. I mean, if he one day wants to engage me.

_____________________________

And as it always does… with a little faith… it all works out.

Tara and Aaron – Orlando, FL

Have you ever had to adjust your expectations in a relationship because your partner just didn’t understand where you were coming from? Culture, background, desires, dreams… ?

* And special thanks to my wonderful friends who let me post their nuptial pictures! Too beautiful and joyous not to share.

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§ 45 Responses to The Engagement Ring

  • anon says:

    but you said that there was a ring when he proposed to you in venice…?!

    • K says:

      Yes, there was a ring. Like I wrote… it all works out! 🙂

      In this post I am not trying to highlight the actual ring – just the conversations and things you go through when you begin to share a live with someone from a completely different culture. The word compromise has a whole new meaning!

      • anon says:

        oh i absolutely understand – i’m an asian girl living in europe for most of my life, there are many culture clashes to deal with even having been brought up here for such a long time. i wish you both so much happiness!

  • Cat says:

    I met my boyfriend’s ex about two years ago. She was showing off her new sparkly ring because she had studied in the UK and fallen in love with the idea. Novio later tells me he thinks it’s stupid to spend all of that money on a ring when he could take me on a trip, put money towards a bigger place, etc. I was barely concerned about marriage.

    Nine months later, we got “married.” I have been wearing a claddagh ring on my right ring finger since I was 16, so when it broke my first day teaching preschool, he offered to buy me a nicer one when I went to Ireland with my parents. It was a simple gesture, but to me, it now serves as the promise that one day he’ll follow through and get me something more significant. He made sure I’d still wear it on my right hand, as that’s Spanish tradition. A little of this, a little of that!

    • K says:

      Exactly Cat! Everyone in cross cultural relationships (and relationships in general) have to figure out their own give and take.

      I have an American friend who is married to a Spaniard. She has the traditional American ring as well as the Spanish gold band. The wears one or the other…but on the right hand. To each their ring and hand choosing own! 🙂

      p.s. I have a yellow and rose gold claddagh ring that I have had for years! I love it!

  • Silvia Lopez-Cobo Lopez says:

    Jajaja! I love this post! It made me SMILE! I wanted the very opposite when my time comes, so I better let my future other half wayyy before that I do not want an engagement ring but a wedding band on my right ring. I do, however would like an engagement party so that way everyone knows I’m engaged! I sooo look forward more posts of yours. 🙂 Besos!!!

    • K says:

      I love it Silvia! No ring in exchange for a huge party sounds like a great trade-off to me!

      Thank you so much for the comment, and thank you for reading! 🙂

  • I love that you shared this story with everyone! The cultural differences are always so interesting to me.

  • Elizabeth says:

    My boyfriend (now my husband) and I had been dating for 2 years when an ultimatum. If we didn’t get engaged than I was hitting the road. I did tell him that once we became engaged he had two years until we would get married. My friends told me I was crazy but I knew he needed the space.

    He finally told me “I’m not scared anymore.” So a couple of weeks went by and I asked him, “So when will we get engaged?” I don’t like waiting, plus he still had the 2 year countdown once we got engaged and I wanted to get this thing started! He said he needed to save for an engagement ring. I knew full well he had enough money. Luckily, I had my grandma’s engagement and wedding rings. I gave them to him and told him to have them reset. It worked perfectly!

    • K says:

      Hi Elizabeth!
      Thank you for sharing your story. I love the fact that you were confident enough in yourself and in what you needed to be truly honest… and I love the fact that your boyfriend (now husband) loved you and respected you enough realize this was really important to you. I believe if it hadn’t worked out this way you would have both known it wasn’t right. But I am so glad it was!! Congrats!

  • I totally understand this. I see both sides, too. My brother just proposed to his girlfriend and got her the biggest, prettiest ring. And it was pricy. That will never happen for me, for a few reasons: 1) I don’t want him to spend that much money on a RING, 2) He would never do it since it’s just not done in Spain…

    But then again, I DO want a ring. Something. And preferably diamond. I think he knows this, and when the time comes, we shall see.

    • K says:

      Hi Kaley,
      Yes, I am sure you can relate to this. It’s interesting almost seeing the other side, huh? Almost. 🙂 We had many discussions on this topic and in the end I know we were both really happy. Neither one of us gave in the point where we were uncomfortable, or giving up a dream and disappointed. It’s a fine balancing act. I am sure when the time comes it will all work out. Honestly is always the best policy 🙂

  • Carly says:

    Interesting. I’m glad it all worked out for you! I’m so interested to hear all the other things involved in a Spanish wedding!!

    Chris and I don’t think we will ever get married, which is fine by me. However if we change our minds, I will be making a compromise as my dream is to elope, and he is the last male in an Italian family. Eloping won’t be a choice!

    • K says:

      Oh Carly, you would definitely rock the family boat if you stole the last male and didn’t celebrate a huge family wedding!

      Hmm… compromise… The two of you secretly elope and don’t tell a single soul. Then let his side of the family plan whatever ceremony and party they want. I mean, if you decide to get married one day. 🙂

  • Kathy Roberts says:

    My husband was in the Navy when we became engaged. The day he came home from a long deployment I went to the pier with his family to greet him. That first kiss and embrace after so long was magical.I was over the moon in love with him. We had talked about getting married someday but not soon. Imagine my surprise when he presented me with a diamond ring later that day! No compromises here, he was always in the same book, just a page ahead.
    I’m sorry you are having a lonely day. Imagine how sad you might be if you were an ocean away from him.
    Warm hugs,
    Kathy

    • K says:

      Wow, Kathy, what a romantic you have! I love this story! A page ahead is always good 🙂 I saw this whole scenario in my mind just like a movie!

      I didn’t mean today is lonely…just lonely sometimes. I’m actually having a lovely day and I hope you are as well! 🙂

  • Kesley says:

    Hi,

    This is my first comment, yet I have been reading your blog for a month or two now and really enjoy it. I just got back from a 5 month trip in Europe and North Africa and spent a few weeks in Madrid. I love your stories because I felt the same way about tons of stuff- food, people, ect after such a short time.

    Anyway, I was in a multicultural relationship for over 4 years with a Moroccan man. I loved him and still do but just no the- I want to marry you love. We had many issues like yours and my mom gave me some good advise one time that seemed to help me work through them. We are all different and when you throw in a relationship with someone that is from another culture you add another layer of difficulty. The most important thing is to look at the issues or in your case- the whole engagement thing- and realize that he comes from a different perspective. So respect his idea and explain to him yours and make a compromise on how you would like to move forward. Once you do this, both agree that you will not look back or hold feelings inside. Make a compromise and move forward. Of course easier said than done but I find that women especially are easy to say – ok this will work- then not move on and let it cause continue to cause issues….

    A lot of rambling but I hope this makes senses.

    Love reading your blog and good luck!

    • K says:

      Hi Kesley!
      Thank you so much for reading and for commenting!

      Your European/African adventure sounds amazing! 5 months is serious. I am sure it’s good to be home.

      I believe my mom gave me the same “extra layer of difficulty” talk as well! Truer words have never been spoken. Your advice makes perfect sense. I think the most important thing is to respect where the other person comes from. If both people feel respected it is a lot easier to come to a compromise no matter what the topic is.

      I have no doubt you can teach me a lot about being in a multicultural relationship. Please chime in wherever you see fit!

  • Amanda says:

    I love hearing about how other cultures celebrate engagements. On one hand it’s nice to see that the focus of an engagemnt isn’t on the ring,( I have known quite a few brides to be who seem more into the ring than the actual future groom). But I have never owned any nice jewelry before my engagment ring so I really love it.

    I’m you gurs were able to compromise. I can’t wait to hear about other wedding plans! Good luck!

    • K says:

      I agree Amanda! The ring should be a symbol of love and commitment – a shiny beautiful symbol 🙂 – but not the main focus. Without the groom and husband the ring really means nothing.

      Wedding plans to come! 🙂

  • Hayley says:

    Love the blog!

    I’m in cahoots with a Spaniard as well (aren’t we all?) and the ring issue has been one of those stumbling blocks for us. About 2 years ago we were in Antwerp, a diamond capitol, and I happened to mention my one-day-dream of an engagement with a ring and he reacted like a typical Spaniard: all that money, what about houses and vacations and what if it breaks, etc. I that point I was still convinced that the ring was what I wanted but here I am now, 3 months away from our wedding day and my fingers are bare! I guess I got over it (even though it still feels weird to call myself engaged and not have a ring to bling). We’ve decided on a compromise – I’m getting a ring with a yellow sapphire (we made a no diamond deal) on the wedding day and that’ll be it.

    It’s crazy how we never realize how attached to these cultural norms we are until we’re faced with a whole new perspective. I’m super excited about getting married but I’m not gonna lie, I’m a little bit sad I don’t have that “movie moment” to share with all my American girlfriends. Oh well, I have siestas!

    • K says:

      Wow Haley! I love every bit of this comment. I can relate in every way. I think all of us who are in cahoots (love that!) with a Spaniard have had this conversation. Neither point of view is right or wrong… we just come from different places. There are definitely things we give up along the way… those cultural ideals that we have grown up with… but I think we gain so much! At least that is the goal right!? 🙂 I also think there is nothing wrong with holding on to the things that are the most important to us!

      Congratulations on your upcoming nuptials! I am sure you have plenty of advice to pass along to me. We should sit around with a bottle of wine and watch My Best Friends Wedding together… and then take a siesta! You might not have the American wedding movie moment… but I assure you you’re making your own movie that most American Brides would envy! Congratulations again!

      • Hayley says:

        Congrats to YOU!! And looking forward to reading more about your plans 🙂

      • Thank you for mentioning the lack of “movie moment.” I too feel that. And then I feel like a ridiculous girl for feeling that.

      • K says:

        I think there is a part of all of us that still wants what we dreamed about as little girls. No matter what that is. I too want the movie moment. We can’t all be ridiculous! 🙂

  • Imwaytoobusy says:

    Kristen, I just love the honesty of your posts! I has no clue that the engagement ring was an american pastime. He must be a great guy for accomodating your “American expectations” 😉

    • K says:

      Who knew huh? The engagement ring is becoming more mainstream… even in non-traditional countries… but it’s still not totally “American” over here 🙂 p.s. My guy is great!

  • TB says:

    Glad you got your ROCK! We have to make sure he knows about the pre-wedding exchange, of at least cards! Then….wait to he hears about the Push Present….LOL, nah – we dont really believe in that one, but I think it would blow his mind! 🙂

    • K says:

      Oh Tara, there are so may thing I have yet to explain to the Spaniard for fear that he will denounce our country all together! 🙂 It’s so interesting seeing the extravagance of our lifestyles through an outsiders eyes. Great perspective!

  • Kathy Roberts says:

    After reading the last few posts it occurred to me we are missing the point. Relationships are suppose to be a 50/50 give and take. However, there are times the percentages have to be flexible so that each person has the opportunity to have something really important, if only to themselves. So if a women’s heart aches for an engagement ring she should have it. It’s a once in a lifetime request, better than any vacation,etc. The cost may have to be negotiated and that’s fine. Maybe it’s not a deal breaker but it does make one wonder how important they are in the eyes of the person they love. Sorry girls, it’s just the way I see it.
    Kathy

    • K says:

      Kathy – I couldn’t agree more with the give and take in a relationship and the idea of 50/50. One thing I have learned in this relationship and working through so many cultural differences (not just talking weddings and rings) is that more times than not it’s 60/40 on one topic and 30/70 on the next. For me it really boils down to respecting the other person and honoring their wishes and beliefs while still being true to your own. If we both approach everything this way then it all works out. I know we are just at the beginning… so far so good! 🙂

  • Allison says:

    My fiance is German, and like everyone else who has posted, the ring talk was a very interesting conversation. While the idea of an engagement ring is catching on in Germany, majority of people don’t bother. I told my German that I didn’t think it was that important, I didn’t need a ring in order to prove to people that we were going to get married. Yet, when he finally popped the question, he did it American style, down on one knee with a ring. I was so flattered that it mattered to him that he asked me the way someone in my country would. The ring surprised me the most though! It’s very modest, but he wanted to give me something to show family and friends at home. It’s perfect for us, and I’m so lucky to have a guy that embraces my customs, even if they don’t make that much sense to him 😀

    • K says:

      Hi Allison!
      I love this! This is the perfect example of cross culture compromise. You were willing to give up the idea of the ring if your German really couldn’t get on board… but he loved you and recognized it’s importance to you enough to make it happen! I have no doubt that you were beyond thrilled… but I know it probably brought him more joy to truly give you what you wanted, even though as you say “it didn’t make much sense to him.” At least once a day The Spaniard and I are discussing something that “doesn’t make sense” to the other. Gotta love, love! 🙂 Congrats to you and your engagement! (even if it was years ago) 🙂

  • Chaaron says:

    I would have been right there with you. An engagement ring just feels like tradition. I’m glad that everything worked out – another cross-cultural compromise! My best friend from back home is the daughter of jeweler, so my poor hubs didn’t have a choice. He was to talk to Lindsey and do what she said. Luckily the two of them have beautiful taste and I love my sparkler, I still look at it every day even though I’ve had it for seven years!

    • K says:

      Oh Chaaron, your husband didn’t have a chance! 🙂 I agree, the ring was something that seemed too traditional to me to give up. There are other “traditions” that I’m not as stuck on. I just happen to be a jewelry girl anyway… and the engagement ring is the ultimate piece! Happy 7 years to you! 🙂

  • That’s very interesting at how different the experience is depending on your culture! But I’m with you, I would want a ring too! Glad to hear you got one and not a pair of earrings 🙂

  • Colleen says:

    Even though we only grew up one state away from each other, some times it’s like MacGyver and I grew up on different continents – or planets.

    He’s been ok with the whole ethical eating thing, but it’s taken a WHOLE lot of time to get him to begin to understand it.

    And the search for my wedding ring was MADDENING. For MacGyver. I’m 1) Picky, 2) Indecisive. Not the best combination . . .

  • Colleen says:

    Wow, how shallow am I? That whole comment was about me! Ha.

    I find your predicament humorous even though I would feel exactly the same way as you. He seems like a great guy, I’m sure he’ll come around on the ring thing.

    • K says:

      Hi Colleen!
      What is it about men? They just don’t understand jewelry 🙂 Just as your MacGyver got on board, so did the Spaniard. When he proposed in Venice he gave me a beautiful ring. And as it always does… it all works out. (Sorry if the post wasn’t clear.)

      And 95% of the time I think we live on different planets in the same house… and just visit each other 🙂

  • Julia says:

    I’m American and my parents didn’t have a ring, nor does my sister who just got engaged so it’s not necessarily an inherently American thing! I definitely want one though :). Many congrats on the engagement!

    • K says:

      Great point Julia! What I love about the whole thing is that it’s really “to each their own!” Congrats to your sister! 🙂

  • Yvonne says:

    Another Irish friend who has lived in Spain and gone out with tall, dark and handsome Spaniards, told me about this blog and I agree, it’s great – congratulations!

    Unlike Mary (my friend) I married my boyfriend in Spain. We were in a bar and he gave me the ring off the lid of his can of beer. It was the green kind of Mahou. Anyway it was the most romantic thing that has ever happened to me. I don’t wear it all the time as it’s not very comfortable but it’s the only ring I’ve ever wanted. No bright expensive jewel could ever have the symbolism of that piece of tin. So we did a 50/50 thing too – I got the ring but he got to use the money for a down payment on our flat – something we could BOTH enjoy!

    His name is Miguel by the way? What’s your Spaniard called?

    • K says:

      Hi Yvonne!
      Thank you so much for reading! And congrats on your marriage with your Spaniard! 🙂

      I LOVE that he gave you the top of a Mahou can! It’s those sweet stories that are the best! What I love about our situations is making up our own rules. Doing what feels right to each individual and each couple.

      Say hello to Mary also! And tell her thanks for passing me along! 🙂

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