DEAR MISS MANNERS: When my mother passed away, I inherited her lovely diamond engagement ring. As I already have a beautiful diamond ring, the only value to me is sentimental. I would like it to remain in the family; but, if possible, I would like to see the ring worn, as opposed to simply locked up in a safe deposit box.
Since my daughter is already married and also possesses a lovely diamond ring, I have informed my son that I would like to give my mother's ring to him to give to the woman he might decide to marry one day.
As far as I know, my son is not dating anyone seriously at this time but, if the time should come when he would like to propose, is there a proper manner in which he could give a family ring with the explicit understanding that if the engagement did not result in marriage, the ring would be returned to my son?
Further, if there were to be a later divorce, would the ring then belong to my son's ex-wife or be returned to him? Even if there were a divorce, if there were children from the marriage, I would have no problem with her keeping the ring to pass on to my grandchildren one day.
GENTLE READER: One way to ensure that this theoretical marriage does not take place is to persuade your son to offer a lady a ring with visible strings attached. Neither "My mother wants this back if things don't work out" nor "This ring stays in the family even if you don't" is likely to sweep her off her feet.
Anyway, there is an invisible string attached to any engagement ring. If a marriage does not take place, for whatever reason, the lady is supposed to return it. Miss Manners does not promise this might not be a struggle. She has heard of those from whose hands it had to be legally pried. And even that doesn't help after the marriage takes place, when it becomes hers.
Let this not discourage you from your plan. It is just that you, like your son should he marry, will have to take your chances.
DEAR MISS MANNERS: My pregnant wife of two and a half months just had a miscarriage. Most friends and family members knew of the pregnancy.
When we announced the miscarriage, most expressed their sorrow through religious overtones. Though my wife is religious, I am not. I found it offensive that the loss of our baby gave way to people's own religious opinions on why we lost the baby. I even had one relative tell me it was because I didn't believe enough that this happened.
Outside a church, what should be the proper way to express one's sorrow without getting on one's own religious soapbox and assuming everybody has your same beliefs?
GENTLE READER: Was this person aware that religion has something to say about compassion, kindness and humility?
Not that Miss Manners recommends telling him. Surely the less conversation you have with such people the better. All it was necessary to say to you was "I'm so sorry."