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Ill Equipped: Who Isn't?

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

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?

Thanks,

Noreen

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!