Adapted from a recent online discussion.
Question: Ten months ago I broke up with my fiancee of three years. Blending a family proved too difficult for us. Within a month of our breakup she was "in love" with her shoulder to cry on, and within three months she had moved in with him despite owning her own house.
I asked for the ring back the other day, and she was visibly upset/angry and walked away.
Should I feel guilty for asking for it? I thought at this point she would offer it back.
Answer: You ended the engagement, a tidbit I almost misplaced as I absorbed the saga of her speedy new love.
The issue of who gets the ring is for lawyers, but - would the sporting thing have been for her to give it back? Yes. Would it have been sporting of you to say, "I dumped her, so she can keep the ring," which is presumably not an heirloom? Yes.
So I think you're both entitled, in your own ways, to be upset at the other's stance.
If it was Grandma's ring, then the ring returns to its family of origin, duh. Again, this is me talking, not a lawyer.
Finally: Is it possible her affections had already turned to this other person, and you were manipulated into thinking it was your idea to break the engagement, because she knew that if you broke up with her then she'd have a better argument for keeping the ring? Maybe, but if so, then I suggest seeing this not as "Boo, ring" but instead "Yay, freedom."
Reader comment: Never in my life will I understand why a woman (for what it's worth, I'm male) would want to keep a ring symbolizing a relationship that's over, setting aside pawnshop values. Why would that be a keepsake?
Answer: Hm. One tweak: "Over" could mean a long relationship that had a lot of happy times before it unraveled, and I can see keeping a symbol of that. In that case, too, returning it could be a terrible slap in the face.
If instead the relationship failed to launch, a la the broken engagement, then I'm with you on returning it.
Though pawnshop values can't be set aside. Even if the ring is never cashed in, its material value can be seen as compensation for one's poor treatment. Meager compensation, but, there it is.
Question: I too feel a fundamental disappointment in my relationship (wapo.st/1tnxi9b), and I feel like a failure and a pariah because I don't want to keep trying to fix something that's so broken.
I'm just tired and want to be done. We have no children, aren't legally married (we do own a house together). Isn't it OK to just say, you know what, we suck at this, let's just call it a day?
Answer: I have an opinion, but instead of sharing it I'll be a complete jerk and ask you: Why would you think it isn't OK to leave?
Chat with Carolyn Hax online at noon Fridays at www.washingtonpost.com.