Question:

I have an odd issue for you. I am engaged, and my future in-laws are harassing their son (my fiance) regarding my engagement ring. I am not much of a jewelry-wearing person, and I told my fiance that I didn't want anything big and flashy. He chose a beautiful nontraditional ring with two rubies and several small diamonds, which I love. It suits my taste and personality - to me, it's perfect.

His parents hate it and keep making snide comments about it.

If they make comments within earshot, I always state how much I love my ring and how it is exactly what I wanted, but they keep insisting I'm just being polite. They have harped on this so much my fiance has started offering to switch it to something better. How do I get everyone to believe me that I love my ring and just want them to shut the bleep up?

Answer: Three things, in ascending order of importance:

(1) It is not your job to "get" people to "believe" anything. If they want to regard your ring as a Cracker Jack prize, then let 'em.

(2) It is your job to communicate clearly. Right now you're saying you love the ring and it's exactly what you wanted, which may be true, but it isn't the relevant truth anymore. That truth is the desperation you feel to get these hyenas off your back. Maybe: "When you insult this ring, you insult me, because it's exactly my taste. I don't like large diamonds. Can we please agree to talk about something else?"

(3) Don't have any illusions that "something else" will be any better. The problem isn't that your future in-laws are contemptuous of your ring; it's that you have boundary-challenged, status-conscious, snide-swiping future in-laws.

That means now is a fine time to brush up on your line-holding, starting with the ring. It's also time to make sure, before a vow is uttered, that your fiance has your back.

E-mail Carolyn at tellme@washpost.com.