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Jennifer Lehr

Jennifer Lehr

Posted: December 6, 2006 04:43 PM

Ill Equipped: Who Isn't?

02.jpgJennifer Lehr answers your questions about sex, love, and relationships every week on Fearless Voices. To send her a question, email

Dear Jennifer,

My boyfriend and I just bought a house together. Well actually he made the down payment but put my name on the paperwork and we'll both be contributing to the mortgage. Actually I make more than him right now, but he has some savings and family money. To be honest, I like to shop so even though I make a very good living, I do have credit card debt.

Anyway, we plan on getting engaged--soon. But right now, what with the new major purchase, it isn't a good time because he can't afford the type of engagement ring that he knows I want. We've talked about it and he has agreed to buy me a beautiful diamond (maybe in the neighborhood of $30K) In the meantime, we've been talking about getting me a "promise ring" -- basically a nice ring in a modest price range (maybe $3,000) that says we'll be engaged soon. What do you think of this idea?



Dear Noreen,

My girlfriend Linsey has encouraged me to make sure my columns aren't too critical because I have a tendency to be very straightforward and can sometimes come off as insensitive. So I've been trying. And I think I've been succeeding. But in your case Noreen, to be honest, my first reaction is, "I want to kill myself."

Let me get this straight. You are not going to get engaged to the man you love and want to spend your life with through good times and bad, for richer or poorer because right now he's too poor to buy you a house and an outrageously expensive ring that will be worth 75% less of what you bought it for the minute you buy it?

You are in trouble. You don't love him for who he is, but for what you hope him to be: RICH! And he's in trouble because he's going to have to spend his entire life in a constant state of "Am I good enough for her?," feeling pressure to produce in order to make you happy.

My advice is to do something that it sounds like you're currently incapable of: Tell him you'd like the promise ring to be the engagement ring. That you don't need a big rock to show the world that your man wants to spend the rest of his life with you. That you love him and certainly $3,000 IS a lot of money.

Let me ask you this Noreen. What are you buying him? You're getting a house, a promise ring and an engagement ring and he's getting what? -- beyond the pressure to spend tons of money to make you happy.

I don't blame you entirely. He's definitely playing a big part in this recipe for a disastrous marriage. (The number one reason for divorce is money!) It seems he's afraid of losing you if he can't fulfill your warped fantasy of an engagement ring "should be." Poor guy, he doesn't have the confidence that you'll love him for who he is. And that's not your fault. However you should be aware that you are attracted to someone who is insecure and easily manipulated by your desires. You are not embarking on a partnership of equals.

Obviously it is very important for you to be seen by the world as someone who is marrying someone rich, even if you aren't. So you need to look at why that is so important. Have you asked yourself why you think the size of a piece of glass that probably some poor child in Africa had to risk his life to mine will make you happy?

My Grandma had a lot of diamonds. You'd be very envious. She also had a husband who had an affair with his secretary for twenty years. The secretary got the love, my Grandma the rocks. My mom's best friend is a diamond lover herself and whose husband, later in life, has been able to buy her some extraordinary jewels. She was mugged in front of her house in her fancy neighborhood because her canary diamond was so dazzling.

Be careful of what you wish for!