A young man and friend who read my book, The Church Girl, asked me the other day – “What’s the significance of the ring?” He referred to the scene where Mary was returning Ifeanyi’s ring to him, and was wondering why women need or want a ring with a proposal. To him, it seemed like a materialistic tradition that women feel they need to receive such and men feel they must give it.
Ummm… Do you have any thoughts on the matter? If you do, or if you have insight into this tradition, please share it with us in the comment section. My friend also wanted to know if and why it is important to go down on his knees to propose to the woman he wants to marry. He thinks it’s a western culture being adopted by Africans.
Now, I am sure my response might offend a few Feminists and more than a few men, but I believe it is right. I have a traditional view on this issue, based of the relationship dynamics between the sexes and cultural norms. I also think there is a spiritual significance, not necessarily to the ring or the act of bowing the knee but, to the resistance and unwillingness to show such submissive love.
My friend said that giving a ring is no proof nor validation of one’s love, and I agree. The value of a ring is not necessarily equivalent to the quality of one’s love, especially when the size and quality of the stone is dependent on one’s buying power. I’m sure many poor people propose without having a ring. And many disabled people who propose wouldn’t be burdened to get down on their knees. But I think if they could, they would. And that was the issue I had with his questioning.
He said he was curious to know the why, but it seemed he had already determined in his mind that it was a cultural burden he wouldn’t succumb to, even for love. And it reminded me about all the things I said I didn’t need from a man, because they were simply cultural. But I know myself better now. I know women better now. I know that for the most part, we don’t really know why we want what we want…we just do.
I told him that the ring is a pledge, it communicates that we are wanted and valued. It is also a sign that will deter away other suitors, and let all know that we have been chosen by one and are committed to the same. It is also a beautiful and valuable jewelry, which every woman will appreciate and cherish. It’s an investment and a gift from his heart to hers. It is indeed true what Jesus said that “where your treasure is, there your heart will be also” (Matt 6:21).
So, when a man gives a woman a valuable ring to state his desire, intention and readiness to marry her, he is giving her a pledge. He is telling her that his heart is with her. He is also sending a sign to other men that THIS LADY is taken – off the market, if you don’t mind the expression. Sure, he could do so with an inexpensive ring. But a man with buying power who buys a cheap ring for his beloved is communicating to her how much she is valued!
A man in love, and with means, will not devalue this purchase. Not for greed. Not for pride. Not for custom.
When he gives with his heart, he will give generously. And so, for a woman, his willingness to give in this regard is paramount. Secondary to be considered is his ability. Third is his readiness for marriage and the investment of a worthy ring.
For me, a man who is not willing to give this gift of a ring is a cause for concern. What is the argument? Really? So what if it is just tradition? If she desires it and expects it from you, why should that be a fight or a hindrance before you are even married? If you will make an issue of this, what other things will you be saying you don’t need to do because you think they are “mindless tradition”?
It is an entirely different case if he is not able. It is also understandable if he is willing but not ready. There are many other things to consider when you are considering marrying a man with limited means.
But for a fact, you can tell how much you are valued by a man by how generous he is towards you. Again, where his treasure is, there his heart will be. Like they say, “talk is cheap!” Let him put his money where his mouth is! It isn’t either or, but both working together to show his devotion.
And when money is a rare currency, the alternative is time. Ladies, a man who gives you neither doesn’t love you! And if he gives you only money and not time, he needs you but doesn’t want you. Be weary of such, because ultimately they will leave you for the ones they want! And a man who gives time only could be dependent on you, stingy or greedy or lazy. We need to expect both, and know that we are worthy of both his time and his money!
And to the matter of getting down on his knees, or even just one knee, what is the hesitation? Yes, we have come to expect it. Is it so unreasonable? Are you too proud? To ask us, humbly? To let us know how so desperately you want us and are ready to serve us in marriage?
Do you know what YOU are asking of us when you ask us to marry you? Do you know how much we will and are even ready to sacrifice for you in marriage? Do you know how much we have given already, how much we have sacrificed for this relationship? And you want to make an issue of going down on your knee? And you still want to boast that you are romantic?!
Go down on your knees! Ask us! Beg us! Tell us how much you appreciate us! How much you need us! How much you love us! How ready you are to DIE for us…to die to self in marriage. Get down on your knees. Prostrate if you are not too proud!
We really wouldn’t ask this of you. We are ready to marry you, if you only tell us how much you love us. But for the mere fact that you would buck at showing such humility, you are required to throw away that pride and realise that WE ARE WORTHY of such submission, and then, we will gladly receive you. And we will serve you as fiercely, even more fiercely than you serve us.
We are ready to submit to a man who is able to imitate Christ’s submission! He was not too proud to wash His disciples’ feet. In fact, He insisted on it! He was not too kingly to die on a Cross for us like a common slave. We will trust you and follow you, if you will go first and show yourself a leader; the kind that serves!
We will likewise humble ourselves and surrender our will. We will take your name. We will bear your children and give them your name. We will nurture them. We will keep ourselves beautiful for you, even though pregnancy changes us. We will work hard to add to the family income, or manage your single income if you would rather we serve at home, raising your children.
We will forgive you. For all the times you take us for granted. And all the times you fall, we will pick you up and stand by you. And if ever you make us doubt your love, we will look back and remember how you were not to proud to ask us, on your knees, with a ring that cost you so much, to be your wife.
PS: I just feel I should add that getting a ring and having your man propose on his knees is no guarantee of a happy marriage or even a wedding! Just as getting married is no guarantee that you will be happier than if you cohabited. However, just because there is no assurance doesn’t mean there is no wisdom nor value in doing things right.
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