Four months after I met John I proposed marriage to him. 

He said, “No. Thank you.” 

I was twenty-nine when we met. He was the life partner I had been waiting for. He loved me but he didn’t believe in marriage. OK, I thought, I’ll give him a year. 

Contemplating My Reasons for Marriage

During the months that followed, we fell more deeply in love. I contemplated my own reasons for valuing marriage over just living together for the rest of our lives. It made me a little sad that he thought marriage was a sham but who he was made me so happy. I would like to get married, to have friends and family around us, recognizing what we were to each other, giving us presents! But I wasn’t willing to lose him over it.

By the time Christmas came around, eight months later, I had all but forgotten about the marriage issue. At midnight on Christmas Eve, we were alone and he handed me this robin’s egg blue box. We were both broke graduate students. What could it possibly be?

The Ring Was Perfect

The ring inside was perfect. A ruby held by two sparkly diamonds. I looked at him. He smiled back. We both said nothing, but I knew he had just proposed. Later I asked him what changed his mind about marriage? He said, “I still don’t believe in marriage. I believe in us.”

The ring is, for me, the best and most meaningful gift because of all the countless gifts that it represents. I look at it every day, sometimes without thinking much of anything. Sometimes seeing over thirty years of shared lives, children, heartbreak, joy, and love.