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Right man – wrong ring. The moment your partner proposes is a joyous moment that you’ll always remember. But what do you do if the engagement ring he selects for you just doesn’t suit your style? Here are five tips for navigating this awkward situation without turning the love of your life into your arch enemy.

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When Robin (not her real name) was a girl, her imagination was captivated by the sweeping romance of her favorite fairy tales. She longed to dance until midnight in a sparkling dress and kiss the man of her dreams as magic confetti danced in the air. She longed for the day when her prince would kneel before her with adoration in his eyes and the perfect proposal on his lips. Oh, how she would gasp and cry as he presented her a beautiful diamond engagement ring and a promise.

As an adult, Robin held onto her dreams, although she was willing to admit that magic confetti was somewhat unrealistic. Thus, she was ready when her long-time boyfriend proposed. She gasped, just as she’d practiced so many times as a girl. And then she felt her eyes tearing up . . . not from joy, but from surprise and disappointment.

It was the ring.

Everything about the moment was perfect, except for the ring.

She tried to talk herself into loving it; after all it had been selected, probably after much careful deliberation, by the man she wanted to spend her life with. Surely the simple fact that he had put effort into choosing it for her should have been enough to make her heart beat faster when she looked at it.

Try as she might, though, she simply could not get rid of that heart-sinking feeling every time someone told her it was beautiful and her inner voice whispered, “but it’s all wrong.”

Many couples reach a point in their relationships when they acknowledge that future ring purchases are likely and go shopping together, removing any doubt as to which engagement and wedding rings are preferred.

However, some women, like Robin, prefer to be surprised. The romantic notion of the unexpected proposal appeals to them, and there’s no reason it shouldn’t. Unfortunately, a surprise proposal comes with the risk that the groom will fail to recognize the stylistic differences between the ring he’s chosen and the aesthetic preferences of his sweetheart.

If the engagement ring on your finger makes you cringe every time you look at it, you can’t just stew about it. Starting a marriage on a foundation of disappointment and resentment is a recipe for disaster. Here are a few suggestions for handling the situation diplomatically, getting the ring you truly want and starting your marriage on the right foot.

1. DON’T tell him during the proposal.

Remember, he’s been planning this proposal for a while, probably with a reasonable amount of anxiety, and he obviously thinks you’re going to love the ring he’s picked out for you. The last thing you want to do is ruin the mood and crush his confidence by telling him the ring’s all wrong.

Take at least a few days to celebrate your engagement and reassure him that you’re 100 percent over the moon about preparing to spend your life with him.

2. DO figure out why the ring isn’t right for you.

Just blurting out that you hate your engagement ring or telling him that it’s not the ring you wanted is an excellent way to hurt his feelings and possibly start a fight.

Instead, consider what you do and don’t like about the ring. Maybe the setting is beautiful, but rose gold doesn’t complement your skin color. Or perhaps the arrangement of the stones makes the ring impractical to wear on a daily basis.

The more specific you can be about what’s wrong with the ring, the more easily you can figure out what minor alterations can be made to turn it into a ring you’ll love.

3. DON’T tell him you want an entirely new ring.

If possible, the objective should be to create a compromise using the original ring as a foundation; replacing it with an entire new ring will feel like a much greater rejection to your beloved. Additionally, he has probably already spent a good chunk of his budget on the ring he selected; you don’t want to put him in a more awkward position, emotionally or financially, than necessary.

4. DO start the conversation with the elements you love.

When you broach the subject, start with what you love about the ring and how much you appreciate the thought he put into choosing it for you. If there are elements you know he selected because you’ve worn similar items before, give him credit for noticing. Bring up the alterations you’d like to make not as ways to correct a mistake, but as ways to enhance something that’s already good.

5. DON’T react defensively if his feelings are hurt.

While it’s understandable that you’d rather wear an engagement ring that complements your style, ultimately it’s not the ring you’re marrying.

If you gently suggest minor alterations to your ring, and he reacts with surprise and hurt feelings, don’t bring up the fact that you thought he knew you well enough to pick something you’d like and ask why he didn’t at least check with your best friend or your sister before making his purchase. Instead ask him what elements of the ring he likes and how he picked it out. Try to see the ring through his eyes. Maybe he chose it for a deeply personal reason that just hasn’t occurred to you.

 

If you’ve been presented an engagement ring that doesn’t suit you, the most important thing to remember is that your fiancé chose that specific style, design, stone, setting and band for a reason. He picked that ring because he thought you would love it, so it’s going to come as a surprise to him that he missed something.

Be as open to listening as you are to talking, and seek compromise. And if all else fails, make sure you shop for your wedding bands together, pick out the ring you want to wear every day for the rest of your life with him beside you and retire the engagement ring to a special keepsake box after the wedding.

 

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