Many, if not MOST of my single clients come to me thinking that an engagement ring and marriage is what they really, really want.
And it’s a sacred cow among love, dating and relationship coaches to act as though marriage is the holy grail of relationship success.
They post pictures of their client’s engagement rings as proof that their clients get the love they want and deserve and they SUCCEEDED at coaching this person to ultimate success and happiness at relationships.
Which is all well and good… until the exact mindset that made them want marriage blows up the whole thing.
On some level, polite society has tried to make relationships about achievement– since it isn’t very romantic to admit that marriage began as a property agreement.
Where women were “the property” in question.
And this mindset causes women to work and strive as though there is a trophy they can get at some imagined end moment– where they will have finally arrived.
And so… they strive for “The Ring.”
But then… wanting “The Ring” turns into wanting “The Wedding.”
The wedding comes and goes and suddenly… there’s nothing to strive for. Nothing to achieve.
So… on to the next stop– babies.
Plus, everyone they know practically scheduled their baby shower for them during the wedding– so if they somehow missed the “tradition” around what they were expected to do now– they can expect a gazillion daily reminders of what exactly they should be striving for now.
Because “he made an honest woman out of her” like everyone expected him to do by getting down on one knee and promising her a bright, shiny new life together.
And… I happen to like jewelry enough to have been a diamond grader in my former corporate life.
But we have to look at what our symbols are actually meant to symbolize.
Both of my engagement rings were truly gorgeous.
But both times while I wore them– I was secretly miserable and hoping that if I finally got to the marriage after getting “The Ring,” it would make that sick, nagging, fearful feeling that something was deeply missing… finally go away.
what I really wanted was CERTAINTY.
Certainty he (whoever he happened to be at the time) would love me forever and ever.
Certainty our relationship would go the distance.
Something to heal and protect against the threat of annihilation. The threat of being cast out, of actually being told what I had always feared– that I was in fact, UNWORTHY of his love– or anyone else’s.
Wanting the ring was actually a flimsy cry for security and faith and safety in my relationships with imperfect men who… come to find out, respond to certain things.
And those certain things have absolutely nothing to do with ownership of a shiny trinket that is supposed to symbolize “forever.”
The paradox is that the behavior which caused men to fall in love with me and propose was EXACTLY what would have helped me keep their undying love– but as soon as unlocking the next life achievement became my priority, that sexy, playful, connected version of me totally disappeared.
What I did in the beginning of my relationships was almost never what I did when I was in the middle of them, which, in turn, became The End.
But the mindset of ownership which brought me to wanting the ring in the first place was exactly what was getting in the way of actually creating that feeling of safety and security for myself– once and for all.
And this shift is exactly what gets in the way of women’s true happiness constantly.
Fast forward to my first year and a half of marriage where acting out this deep feeling of unworthiness brought me to my ex husband announcing he didn’t want to be married anymore which led to my first meeting with my marriage counselor who told me in my first session that I would never be truly happy if I didn’t file for divorce.
“I want you to file for divorce right now” he said in our first session.
This was not theoretical. He meant right now.
As I choked back tears, I asked him to explain more about why he said that. After all, I thought I was speaking with him to save my marriage, definitely not to burn it to the ground.
“If all things were equal, would you rather be blissfully happy and legally divorced or unhappy and legally married?” he asked.
“As you’ve noticed, the legal marriage contract didn’t save you from this situation. And you’ll trash the relationship forever if you keep telling your ex husband he is wrong about wanting to leave you. So take his direction and file.”
Trying to nail down forever with symbols had brought me to the breaking point I found myself in. And that’s how I learned the real truth which I’ve drilled into my own psyche every day after that.
Duty and obligation kill romantic love.
I had been trying to own what could not be owned– and it was time to pay the price.
So if you’re hoping for the fairy tale that marriage has come to represent– remember that symbols are just faint evidence of the life you REALLY want… someone delicious who you wake up excited to be with and whose face lights up in your presence.
This is true irresistibility.