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The Ring – Part 1: Our fascination with weddings and rings

What is it about the fascination that most women have with weddings… and more to the point – because let’s be honest about the real agenda ladies – why the urgency around the engagement ring? Emerald, princess, pear or round, gold, white gold, rose gold, Tiffany, Cartier, Bulgari… it’s an industry that has men by their balls and has women falling veil first into the illusion and glamour of weddings.

I’m 28 now and have come full circle with this process: it’s been a journey, and on reflection I feel one worth sharing as I know I’m not alone in the hype and illusion of this land… and whether it is for my own healing or the healing of others, felt to share my story.

I remember being as young as 8 when I started to become interested in the phenomenon of weddings: one of my favourite movies for most of my childhood was My Best Friend’s Wedding, watching it on repeat over the weekend; at the time I had no idea of the seduction that was taking place. As I got older I recall my friends and I jokingly predicting who would be ‘the first’ and it was here that the setup began – a very mild pressure was placed upon each of us that in order to be complete as women we must be wed! By sixteen, weddings became a real thing and although nobody was getting hitched – far from it in fact – I still remember thinking that I would marry my first boyfriend. I was knee deep in pictures and fantasies of white flowing dresses, fluffy iced cakes and flowers galore and the dilemma of how many bridesmaids is too many bridesmaids: I was steeped in the illusion with no connection to what the true purpose of a wedding or meaning of marriage was.

“We are under the preconceived vision of the image we need because we have chosen to grow up to see it like that.”

Serge Benhayon Esoteric Teachings and Revelations Volume II, p 282
  • The bridal business has historically been a stable category for jewellers. Whether the U.S. was in a recession or a boom, jewellers could count on demand for bridal jewellery.[1]

  • Weddings are also a key driver of American demand for gold jewellery today. The US market for engagement rings and wedding bands is more than US$9.7 billion.[2]

By 22 I started to enter the phase where friends had been in long-term relationships and here the unspoken but very real tension began. It was becoming real, no more predictions; it was now a waiting game. Finally, the dam broke, the first marriage proposal was made – celebration, surprise, delight and then another. “Oh, more celebrations” as I looked at my then partner, one eyebrow raised, wondering if I would be next. By now the wedding fever was among us, a rampant condition among women in their twenties. Regularly I’ve seen the conversation over dinner or coffee quickly turn to “Guess who just got engaged?” or “Did you see pictures from so-and-so’s wedding?” The gathering is eroded through the subtle feelings of jealousy, competition, lack of self-worth and the superficial and yet somehow contagious dramas that stifle the true connection.

So before you box me for being anti-marriage, stop right there. I love a good wedding, getting dressed up and celebrating the union of two people with friends and family – count me in. What I’m wanting to highlight is the harming pressure women place on themselves and their relationships in order to fit a picture that isn’t even real! So let me stop beating around the bush and get to it.

I had been with my previous boyfriend for 3 years when I started hinting… jewellery magazines that came in the junk mail were a great way to introduce the topic while managing to also inform him of the style of ring I liked; of course invitations to friends and families’ weddings were also a great way to bring up the topic. I enjoyed talking about the details… who would be your best man, where would we have it. Thankfully by this time I had actually come to terms with the fact that I wanted a pretty simple wedding and the fantasies I had when I was 16 had levelled out and I wasn’t so fussed about a glamorous wedding. It was the ring: the only thing that mattered was getting the ring. When I look back at this I cringe at how this must have felt on the receiving end… and on behalf of women I sincerely apologise to the men and to my at the time partner for this behaviour that was manipulative and in some ways abusive.

I wanted the engagement ring because I imagined when receiving it I would feel more secure in myself, in the relationship and in society.

There was also the element of being the woman who was spoken about; finally it was my status update that everyone could see and possibly envy. I’m also aware that the ring allowed me to tick the boxes; it was a way to prove to society and perhaps to myself that I had ended the quest… that I had found my “someone”. This could somehow distract or convince me that everything that was founded on this ring was ok… in other words, I longed for the ring to distract me from the areas of my life and relationship that were not ok.

My then partner played dumb with me and rarely engaged with my attempts to lure him into conversations about rings. However, he had his own ideals at play and the lack of true communication led us to a very painful moment that eventually left me with a ring but no marriage proposal. To our credit we repaired our relationship as best we could and eventually separated with much love, which we still have for one another today.

I was so close to getting what I had worked so hard for but it wasn’t until I saw his face welled up with tears and felt his broken heart that I realised the harm I had caused.

The ring didn’t actually fit my engagement finger – somewhat metaphorical perhaps and as the separation was so harmonious (so much so that my ex-partner gave me the ring), I decided to wear the ring on my middle finger, convincing myself that it wasn’t weird at all by giving it depth and meaning around what I had just been through.

To my surprise but true delight I started dating my current partner only 3 months after I separated and it was here that my journey with the ring deepened.

Jess’s story continues in The Ring – Part 2: Ideals, profits and pressure.

References:

  • [1]

    http://www.idexonline.com/FullArticle?Id=38054

  • [2]

    Wedding Report, Inc., Engagement and Wedding Ring Report 2011 (Retrieved from http://www.gold.org/jewellery/us-market)

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  • Thumb small jess gamble

    By Jessica Gamble

    Jessica Gamble works as a body orientated psychotherapist working with a variety of presenting issues and with all ages. Jess also enjoys working as artist painting mixed media abstractions. Jess has a small but healthy obsession with her therapy dog Tea.

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    Illustration: Hemma Kearney