Entertainment & Life

The engagement ring has nothing to do with a life of happiness

DEAR CAROLYN: My boyfriend and I have been dating for five years now, and it’s been really great. We’ve spent part of college together, overcome the transition of moving to a new city, landed happy career paths, and moved into our first apartment together last year. The past five years have been amazing, and we’ve really been able to grow up together, overcome challenges, and positively push each other to be better people.

It really seems like the natural progression to get engaged, and I am 100 percent ready for the commitment. I believe he is too based on hints from friends and family as well as our long-term conversations.

As a natural planner, I’ve already started looking at rings I would like, and I know exactly what I want – style, price, etc. I’ve even figured out when stores are having diamond sales so he would get the best deal.

How do I make sure he knows exactly what ring I want without taking the romance out of it? I feel like ring shopping puts so much pressure on men and can take the spark out of the actual proposal. But what do I know?

Ready for the Altar

DEAR ALTAR: Do you know whether you’d spend as much money on him to show how committed you are to his happiness? Do you know whether you’d marry him without a ring at all?

Do you know what you’d do if your life – with him or without – took a radically different turn from what your natural-planner self had in mind?

Do you know for sure you want your life to include him for the sake of him, even if that meant stripping away the exciting city, happy career path and “spark”? Or is it possible some of what is “really great” about these five years is the way they fit your expectations?

If your definition of “romance” requires that certain details not be discussed in advance, do you know for sure romance – and your investment in preserving it – isn’t blocking your view of important ways you two don’t agree?

Do you know how little a ring has to do with the rest of your life?

Call me a buzzkill or b-something-else, but you’re talking jewelry and third-party hints when these have nothing to do with actual intimacy.

Plus, if familiarity kills romance, what will happen over decades of shared daily life?

Think about the “do you know” questions I threw out at you, and add a bunch of your own. Ask him a bunch too. When you know you haven’t held anything back, and when you have reason to believe he’s been as forthright with you, and if you still feel certain you want to build the rest of your life with the two of you at the foundation, then: Tell him you want to get married.

Email Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com, follow her on Facebook at www.facebook.com/carolyn.