Tuesday, June 5, 2012

All that Glitters – Part 2


I normally don’t do two part posts, but after yesterday’s, I came up with a little more that I wanted to say. While I’m sure that most of you didn’t run out and buy your wife a piece of jewelry last night, I’m also sure that at least some of you thought about it. I took my own advice and did.

I find it interesting that the mating ritual of the human being includes jewelry. In our modern society, it’s customary for a man to give a ring to his intended, when he asks her to marry him. Thinking about this, I realized that there was a practical aspect to this, in addition to the normal collection of symbolic ones that we talk about.

First, the symbolic; the ring is a sign of commitment, of affection and a as a circle shows the unbroken cycle of life and love. That’s all great and actually rather important; but there’s an even more important symbolism in the ring. In Old Testament times, the ring was actually cut into the couple’s flesh, forming a scar, a ring that couldn’t be removed.

The concept of cutting the ring into the flesh comes from covenant ceremony. In pretty much any covenant ceremony, the two parties cut their hands or arms, clasping their two cuts together and mixing their blood. The idea is, “Your blood now flows in my veins and my blood flows in yours, we are one.”

We’ve replaced the idea of cutting with a band of gold or other precious metal. But, we’ve also replaced something else with that ring as well; that is, the idea of dowry. While many people hold the idea that paying a dowry was “buying” the bride from her father; that was never the case. If so, it would make for very poor business, as the cost of raising a girl to marriageable age was much more than any dowry ever paid. No, the dowry was intended to show that the young man had the wherewithal to support his new wife.

A diamond engagement ring fulfills this practical aspect as well. As these rings are rather expensive, being able to buy one for her is a way of showing that one is ready to marry; at least in a financial senses. A young man who can’t afford to buy a ring, probably can’t afford to support a wife, either.

In our time, more and more couples are getting married, without there ever being an engagement ring. Oh, they have wedding rings, but not an engagement ring. The wedding ring still carries the symbolic meaning of commitment and the unbroken circle of life and love, but not the significance of dowry. As wedding bands are much cheaper than engagement rings, that proof of being able to support her is missing.

Did you buy your wife an engagement ring? I must confess that I never did. At the time we got married, we were struggling to make ends meet. We jointly decided that there were more important things to spend our money on. Had my wife had the understanding of the ring’s practical value as a demonstration of my ability to support her, we may never have gotten married. Nevertheless, she overlooked that, just as I did, and we married.

We’ve been married 25 years and a few months now. Yesterday, my wife had her birthday. I celebrated it by paying off a 26 year old debt to her. She finally got her diamond. It was something I’d wanted to do for years, and this year, I was finally able to do so.

If you’ve never bought your wife a diamond engagement ring, I’d like to propose the idea to you that you owe it to her. Maybe you can’t do it this year, but there’s no reason you can’t start squirreling away a few dollars here and there as your diamond fund. When you get enough, buy her that ring. I’d say that you owe it to her.

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