Giving Back the Engagement Ring

A man gives a woman an engagement ring
© Vedrana / Adobe Stock
Breaking off the engagement is difficult, but if you have doubts about getting married, it's best to take things slowly and prayerfully.

Gennifer knew she should have turned down her boyfriend’s proposal, but she was caught up in the romance of the moment. Now, several months into the engagement, she realized how difficult it would be to spend a lifetime with a person who wasn’t right for her. As the couple began planning the wedding, Gennifer finally broke down and admitted that she didn’t want to get married. She returned her fiance’s heirloom engagement ring.

Today, they’re both happily married … to other people.

An engagement is an exciting time to declare your undying love for another person and make plans for spending the rest of your lives together in matrimonial bliss. But sometimes those engagements need to be broken.

As the old saying goes, “It’s better to end a relationship before you walk down the aisle than to end it in a divorce court.”

Here’s how to make the break and maintain everyone’s dignity.

Pick the right time

You’ve probably seen a break-up scene in a movie where the couple argues and then one of them yells, “That’s it. We’re through!” It also usually involves the woman pulling the ring from her finger and throwing it at her now ex-fiance. Let these scenes be examples of what not to do.

Breaking an engagement results in emotional upheaval, so, pick a time when you’re both cool, calm and collected. In other words, don’t break off the engagement in the middle of an argument. And make sure to do it in person. No breaking up via a text, an email, a phone call or a third party.

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Pick the right words

Blurting out the words, “I don’t love you anymore,” may feel good — and may be true — at the moment, but words have the power to hurt or heal. “Death and life are in the power of the tongue,” says Proverbs 18:21. Whatever your reason for breaking off an engagement — even if it’s because you caught your beloved in the arms of another person — choose words that will leave you with your dignity. Be honest and straightforward when presenting your side, but lace your words with maturity and kindness. Even in breaking off an engagement, the apostle Paul’s words stand true, “If possible, so far as it depends on you, live peaceably with all” (Romans 12:18).

Give the right impression

Let’s face it, no one breaks off an engagement in a bubble. Everyone is going to know — and if you’ve already sent out save-the-date notices or invitations — everyone needs to know.

If the breakup was because of something your fiance did that hurt you … as much as you want to get revenge by hurting them in return, know that your actions won’t give you the result you desired. You don’t need to spout off your feelings or try to prove you’re “winning” by announcing the reasons. A broken engagement is everyone’s business. The reason for it is not. Share honestly with those closest to you — parents, siblings and best friends, since they probably already have a sense of the issues surrounding the breakup. For everyone else, simply state that after much discussion and deliberation you’ve decided not to continue in the relationship. The good news is that the embarrassment you may feel will last only a little while — and then your breakup will be old news.

Breaking off an engagement is difficult, and you will undoubtedly grieve. But it’s important to remember that if you have doubts about getting married, it’s best to take things slowly and then prayerfully work through the doubts. If those doubts remain, breaking off an engagement, though tough, is not the end of the world.

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