- 5 years ago
Going anon because I’m so embarrassed that this petty issue is taking up space in my brain. I know this is the most insanely “first world problem” problem ever (hence my username), but I just have to get it off my chest, and I don’t think ANY of my friends or family would be supportive. So, please, try not to judge.
Basically, here’s the deal:
I come from a very wealthy, “old money” family. I won’t beat around the bush. It’s true. I don’t think I’m special because of it. I didn’t do anything but get born into it, and really, neither did my parents. To give you an idea: I went to an Ivy League school and there is a building named after my grandparents because they are major donors. My parents have never really had to have a job, and neither do I, though we have tended to work anyway. I am an attorney and work for a children’s advocacy organization.
We are not, however, fashy people. My parent wear 30 year old handmade Scottish wool sweaters and drive a beat-up old Volvo station wagon. My mother has diamonds, but she’d never wear them unless she were going to the opera or another black tie event.
The one thing I don’t like about my family is that they can be out of touch snobs. Neither my parents nor my sisters watch any TV. They are completely out of touch with popular culture. They think anyone buys into mainstream consumerist culture is an idiot.. or just “Not our sort.” I am definitely the rebel in this sense! While I like high culture, I also love TV, music, and am a lot more in touch with the world.
I met my fiance in law school. He comes from a totally different background than I do. He is of a different ethnicity and a working class family. There’s been some rough water at times because of our differences, but ulimately, my family loves him and I think his family loves me. I still have anxiety, though, mostly because sometimes he acts insecure, like he needs to prove something to my family, and that usually means not acting like his own true, wonderful self.
Recently, we got engaged. We’d discussed it, set a date, and began planning before he bought the ring. He assumed we’d find it together, but I wanted to be surprised, so he picked out the ring on his own… And boy, was I surprised. He went with a very nice Tiffany solitaire. I was surprised because he spent a lot more than I expected him to spend.. and for something that really isn’t my style. I woudn’t say I’m disappointed, but I am concerned because I think he went with Tiffany’s from a place of insecurity, as an attempt to be “good enough” for my family, rather than going for something that’s more expressive of our relationship, tastes and lifestyle.
Ironically, Tiffany’s will NOT impress my family. I have actually heard my mother and sister make fun of Tiffany’s on more than one occasion. They think it used to be a quality jeweler, but is now just a “brand.” They very much think of it as something for middle class or “new money” people who live above their means, aspire to be seen as “classy” (which, in their minds, is the first sign of not in fact being very “classy”), and don’t know how to manage money. Like I said, they are not flashy people. My mother and my sisters either have antique heirlooms or high-end artisan pieces for their engagement rings. All are on the expensive side, but are usually not even worn except on special occasions. I was raised to believe that things aren’t valuable unless they are unique. There is only one Mona Lisa, for example, and mass-produced tote bags don’t count. For them, Tiffany’s is like mass-produced textured print “painting” you can get at Ikea. They buy art from Chelsea galleries or at auction. I know this is really snobby, but that is what they are like.
The fact that Fiance doesn’t have a “family ring” to give me will probably be surprising to them because they honestly live in a bubble in which they don’t really realize how most people live. The fact that he went to a mall store like Tiffany’s will probably make them feel awkward. I know it’s terrible, but I am a tiny bit embarrassed on his behalf. But really, more than that, I just feel incredibly awful that he felt the need to overspend.
We haven’t seen my family yet since getting the ring. Should we return the ring? I think what I really want to do– and I know this goes against what I told him– is just pick out a ring together at the antiques dealer that my family has known for years. I really want something that’d half the price, that feels like *us,* that I’ll never see on anyone else’s finger. An Edwardian sapphire would be perfect. Not to mention, I’d be embarrassed wearing such an ostentatious ring to work, as most of my clients are impoverished. I always want my family to think the best of my Fiance, and not have him accidentally stumble into the weird quirks of their snobbery.
Am I a horrible person? I feel so ungrateful, yet so incredibly uncomfortable. I guess this is what wedding planning is like… 🙁