Archive for June, 2015

Getting Engaged In A Way That Fits Us

Corinne and Luke: Engaged

As probably many of you have noticed, we just got engaged! And by “we” I mean Corinne, the writer of this blog and Luke, the guy she’s been with for like forever.  Something people may have also noticed is that we did this in a somewhat non-traditional manner. We figured that some people might have a few questions as to why we decided to take a different route when it came to kicking off our engagement so we figured we’d use this space to lay it all out. Keep in mind that we aren’t judging anyone else for doing it the traditional way, everyone is different and we believe that things like this are up to individual couples to decide what works best for them and for everyone else to respect that. When it came down to getting engaged for us we felt that the traditional “Man buys Woman a ring and asks her THE question” format didn’t fit well with our ideals and didn’t reflect the fact that this was a really important life changing decision that we were making together.

Environmental and Social Responsibility

We have always been people who care about the environment and the welfare of people around the world. It is important to us to involve those values in any important decisions we make and, as it turns out, when diamonds get involved it can get a little tricky. Diamond mining companies have a long and messy history of mistreatment of both people and the planet. This includes a wide variety of human rights violations and other shady practices including child labor,  using profits from the diamond trade to fund violent conflicts and a serious lack of concern with  environmental impact. While there are ways to find responsibly sourced diamonds, we weren’t really sold on the idea that we needed one anyway since especially true since, historically speaking, it’s a relatively new requirement.

A Diamond is… Forever?

Many people assume that the tradition of giving a diamond ring as a necessary part of the engagement process goes back forever but actually it only dates back to the 1930’s. While diamond rings were sometimes given as part of a proposal before then, it wasn’t that popular and certainly not considered a requirement until a very successful marketing campaign changed everything. In 1938 De Beers Consolidated Mines, Ltd., which essentially controlled all of the world’s diamond trade, had a problem. They had too many diamonds and not enough people willing to spend money to buy them. So they set out to manufacture the demand and hired N.W. Ayer, a New York ad agency to boost sales. The campaign worked. Through ads, school assemblies and carefully placed “fashion experts” talking about the new trend in diamonds, they were able to convince young adults and if they liked it they needed to put a ring on it. The concept of “a diamond is forever” was invented as a marketing slogan and boy did it stick. For us though, this marketing concept seemed rather unromantic and, combined with the ethical issues, convinced us to skip the ring.

SHE Said Yes

As feminists we felt weird about the fact that in the traditional engagement process a man spends a large amount of money to buy a pretty ring and then surprises the woman with a romantic gesture of popping the question. This means that the man has time to think about marriage and what he wants and when the right time might be and the woman just has to wait until she gets put on the spot and has to very suddenly make a very big decision. We feel that a marriage should be an equal partnership and that includes every part of it, even the very beginning, which means that this was a decision we felt we should make together.

The Importance of Partnership

We feel that this is something that needs to be discussed in depth and over time to continually make sure everyone is on the same page and that is exactly what we did. We spent many hours over the course of our relationship talking. We talked about the future, about where we wanted the relationship to go, about where we wanted to live, about how and if we might raise a family and a variety of other topics we felt would probably come up in a marriage. We wanted to make sure that this was the right choice for us and that came through a LOT of communication. This was a decision that we made together as a team which is how we want to do everything. That’s why we wanted to get married in the first place, we make a fantastic team.

So What’s the Alternative?

Once we decided we weren’t going the traditional route we had to decide what we were going to do instead. We decided that instead if Luke surprising Corinne with a question we would create a cute infographic about our relationship together and share it with our friends and family as a fun announcement. We still got the fun of a big surprise but in this case we both got to be a part of it. It was really enjoyable getting to share something we worked on together and watch everyone’s reactions to our happy news.