DEAR NATALIE: I recently got engaged after waiting a long time for my boyfriend to propose. We went to look at rings the other day and I found one that I really liked. It was a bit out of his price range. I told him I wanted that specific ring. He turned to me and said, “If you want that ring, you need to buy it yourself.” It turned into a big argument in the store. I was mortified that he would say that to me. I should not have to buy my own ring, and he never should have said that to me. What should I do? He has shown me options of what he can afford and I don’t want them. So now what? —BRING ME THE BLING
DEAR BRING ME THE BLING: It is concerning that there seems to be a disconnect for you between the ring and the future marriage. This isn’t about the size of a gemstone. This is about a promise made between two people to stand by each other through thick and through thin. The ring is a symbol of that promise. If you’re already starting out with conditions on the ring, then it follows that there will be conditions on that promise, as well. I would take a step back and look at the bigger picture here. Do you want to start your marriage with this level of financial stress? Recognize that starting a new phase of a relationship where someone may be in debt may set you up for unrealistic expectations moving forward. He may also feel resentful, as well. Instead, I would suggest that you approach this collaboratively. If there is a ring that you want that is out of his price range, offer to chip in to make up the difference. If you aren’t willing or able to do that, then you may need to decide what is more important: This specific ring or your relationship. If you can’t find a way to compromise now, how do you expect to do so when life throws you real curveballs? And spoiler alert: It will.
DEAR NATALIE: Because of the pandemic, my husband and I experienced some major financial turmoil this year. We are both now working multiple jobs to make ends meet -- and some months they still don’t -- which leaves us very little time to see each other. There is just one day a week where we do find a little time together, but the household chores pile up. We just need a break and there isn’t one. What can we do to connect with one another? This is really taking a toll on our relationship. —PANDEMIC SPIRAL
DEAR PANDEMIC SPIRAL: I appreciate you reaching out to me and being so honest and candid about your experience during the pandemic. Many of our friends and neighbors continue to struggle to put food on the table during this challenging time with little to no support. Stagnating wages have also contributed to systemic issues including poverty that could be remedied but haven’t been to this point. I say all of this because so often people are told to “pick themselves up by their bootstraps” or to “work harder.” It is not always so easy or so simple. I see you and acknowledge your struggle. Having to work multiple jobs is exhausting and then to not see your partner on top of that would be depressing. As for the household chores — let them pile up. If it is a choice between dishes in this sink or taking a few hours to unwind and watch a movie together, choose that instead. Any moment you can cherish, take it. I would also try to sit down and look at your schedules together. Is there a chance that you could get someone to change shifts with you so that you can open up a window of time to rest or be together? If you think someone at work might be able to, it could be worth asking. Also, while so many jobs are paid hourly and therefore don’t include vacation, personal or sick days, if there is an opportunity to take a paid day off, see if you can coordinate it with your partner. If you can’t afford to take a day off or that isn’t an option, then look for those pockets of time where you can be together until you can figure out your next steps.
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