I’m not talking about Christmas gifts although, ‘tis the season to give. So for all of my friends out there who plan on giving and receiving generously this year, I want to pass on some etiquette rules. Let me first lay out some definitions. A “gift” is the act of giving no matter what the item. You are “giving” something, a gift of money to a charity or a toy to a child, with no expectation of return. This is opposed to a marriage proposal. A marriage proposal usually comes with an engagement ring, it is a “proposal” centered on conditions being fulfilled. The first is permanent, the second is conditional.
It’s a Time to Give and A Time to Give Back
If you are considering a luxury item as a gift to your special partner (wife, girlfriend, boyfriend, dog . . .), like jewelry, a car, a new dog house, then this is permanent. It is a gift, and if you break up or the dog runs away, don’t expect the gift to be returned.
If you intend to ask that special one to marry you, you might consider separating this from any gifts. (I do hope the dog is not included on this one). An engagement ring is not permanent. It is a conditional gift. That is, it is conditioned upon acceptance, and ultimate marriage. If, for some strange reason, the conditions to the engagement are not met, i.e. no marriage takes place and you both break up, then the engagement ring should be returned. (Ladies, did you hear that??)
A recent story in the news over this exact issue caught my attention. Apparently there is a couple (or used to be a couple) in Connecticut who were engaged to each other. The man provided a $25,000 engagement ring to the woman. She accepted. Something went amiss and they broke up. Now, he is asking for his ring back and she is refusing to return it claiming it was a “gift.” Legal analysts claimed that he can now fight in court for the ring back. Unless he has done something hanious to cause the break up, (and the fact that they do not reside in Montana or Kansas), he should have no problem having a judge order that the ring be returned.
I’m sure at this very point in the article you are saying “that poor sap was taken by another greedy woman.” And, on many levels I would agree. I have seen it too many times. Why didn’t I follow this path? I could have, but call me stupid, I decided I didn’t want to make any exceptions in my life so I could wear a $25,000 diamond ring. And my dad showed up for my dance recitals.
Any way, the message here should be clear. Three things need to be considered during this holiday season.
1. A gift is a gift is a gift. It is permanent.
2. An engagement ring is part of a proposal set on conditions to be met.
3. Think long term not fantasy.
More silly Christmas ideas to come!