As young couples decide to live together before being married, a trend of splitting the cost of the engagement ring is gaining momentum. Known as “going Dutch“, deciding how much to spend on engagement ring and sharing the cost may seem like a modern thing to do, but it certainly takes away from the allure of the marriage proposal, which is still very much a desire for the majority of women in today’s culture. This post describes the pros and cons of sharing the cost of an engagement ring with your partner, so that you may decide if it is right for your relationship.
The High Cost of Diamond Engagement Rings
So you have decided to propose marriage to your girlfriend. Congratulations! But engagement rings are expensive, and the balance statement on your bank account looks like the year you were born with a period in the middle. A diamond engagement ring can easily cost more than $3,000. What is a broke guy in love to do? Why not approach your partner and say, “Honey, I’m ready to propose to you. Want to split the cost on this diamond ring?” I guarantee that your proposition will not be the romantic, sweep me off my feet proposal that your girlfriend has been dreaming of.
The above scenario is not the most likely one when couples consider splitting the cost of the engagement ring. It does, however, emphasize how splitting the cost of the ring, or at least how you approach it, can drain all of the romance from your marriage proposal. Don’t let that happen!
Why You Might Consider Splitting the Cost of an Engagement Ring
As you approach marriage, it is important to begin to blend your life with your partner’s life, and that includes finances, but the engagement ring is a gift from you to her. You wouldn’t ask her to pay for half of the birthday gifts you gave her, would you?
The idea of splitting the cost of the engagement ring comes from the evolution in our culture of young couples deciding to live together before marriage. There are many opinions and arguments for both sides about whether shacking up before marriage is a good thing or not, but I will leave that debate for another article (I will say that my wife and I lived together before becoming engaged, and it was a great way to get to know each other more and learn how to truly share a life together).
When a couple decides to move in together, they inevitably have to start sharing things (remote control, bathroom, refrigerator) and splitting the cost of common bills (rent, utilities, groceries). As large purchases such as a television or a couch are made for the happy couple’s communal space, decisions need to be made about who will pay for the item, or how the cost will be split. Often, each person will pay 50% of the purchase price. That makes sense, right? There will be two people enjoying that new 200″ flat screen television, so two people should pay for it. When my girlfriend (now wife) and I moved in together we split the cost of our couch. We picked it out together, agreed on the price, and both of our butts occupied it most nights of the week. No big deal.
If splitting with your partner the cost of a major purchase such as a television is acceptable, then why is an engagement ring any different? Because when you brought the television home you weren’t holding it up on bended knee presenting it to your girlfriend as a symbol of the love and trust she can depend on from you for the rest of her life. Yes, an engagement ring is extremely different from the television you have been playing Grand Theft Auto on for the better part of your 20s, or the couch that you allow Doritos to fall into. The engagement ring is a gift from you as a symbol of your undying love for your partner. View it with respect and admiration, not simply as a price tag that must be equally paid for in order to be politically correct.
I think you can probably guess where my feelings lie in the matter of sharing the engagement ring cost. I will explore it as an option, however, because there are some benefits for splitting how much to spend on an engagement ring. I just don’t feel that the benefits outweigh the downfalls.
The Positives of Splitting the Cost of an Engagement Ring
Let Her Choose the Ring: By deciding to split the cost of the ring, your partner becomes an active participant in engagement ring shopping. She will be able to choose the exact ring that she wants, size it correctly, and even design it herself if she chooses.
Buying a ring for your partner as a surprise gift for her can be very stressful. It is a major purchase, often with a large price tag, and disappointing her with a ring that she does not prefer can dampen the mood of your proposal. By choosing the ring together, you will eliminate this uncertainty.
Save Money: Obviously if your partner is paying any portion of the engagement ring cost, you will pay less than you would have without her contribution. While this can be viewed as a benefit in the short-term, it is actually a moot point. Because you are going to be getting married, what is yours becomes hers and what is hers becomes yours eventually anyways. You are choosing to share a life, and that includes finances (unless you enact the infamous pre-nuptial agreement).
Don’t view splitting the cost of the ring with your partner as a way to give her something that you cannot afford on your own. An engagement ring means more than the monetary value that it holds. Choose a ring that fits within your budget, and if you decide to split the cost, make it because of other reasons.
The Negatives of Splitting the Cost of an Engagement Ring
The Lack of Surprise: If your girlfriend already knows that you have an engagement ring, how do you surprise her with your proposal? If you are splitting the cost of the engagement ring, that means she must know that a proposal is coming. That takes all the fun out of the surprise factor! Don’t even think about surprising her with a proposal and an engagement ring, and then ask her to reimburse you for half the cost of the ring. That’s just asking for 15 carats of trouble.
The Breakup Scenario: If you split the engagement ring cost, what happens when the engagement gets called off? I wish for nobody to face the decision of ending their engagement, but it does happen. If you and your partner had split the cost of the ring, who keeps the ring? The most logical thing to do is to sell the ring and split the proceeds, but breakups are rarely logical. What’s more likely is that one person will end up with the ring, and the other person will end up with nothing but lots of anger.
Should You Split the Cost of an Engagement Ring?
In the end, only you can decide if you should split the cost of the engagement ring. Every proposal is different because every couple is different. What would never work for someone else may work perfectly for you. If you do decide to split the cost of the ring, be sure to discuss it with your partner before proposing. No woman wants to be given a diamond engagement ring and then stuck with the bill!
What do you think? Would you ever split the cost of an engagement ring? Let us know in the comments.
Read the Guys Guide to Proposing Marriage eBook for more information about how much to spend on an engagement ring.