Opinion: Your Worth Is Not In Your Relationship Status
I distinctly remember the first time I heard the term “ring by spring.” I was sitting among a sea of other freshman during our college orientation when university leaders started cracking jokes as they detailed the ins and outs of Liberty culture.
At the mention of ring by spring, the whole room erupted in laughter. I simply sat there, dumbfounded and confused. What was this weird term everyone seemed to know about but me? As an international student, this term was one of many in the English language that I knew nothing about when I first came to the U.S. as a college freshman.
Born and raised in the Dominican Republic, I had never heard this concept. Ring by spring, the idea of needing an engagement by the spring semester of your senior year of college, had never even crossed my mind. Granted, I had always desired to get married young, but it mostly stemmed from a personal desire for children not societal pressure.
My first semester of college wasn’t even over before I had heard all sides of the story. Ring by spring was loved and hated by many at the same time. Although I still had a strong desire for marriage, I quickly grew to reject the “ring by spring” culture, because I saw so many of its potential pitfalls. I heard of and knew many couples rushing into marriage simply because they were graduating.
In a study conducted by Stacy Keogh George, a professor in Christian higher education, many women in Christian colleges measure their success, not only by achieving a college degree, but also by reaching an engagement by the time they graduated.
George also noted, that “while students and faculty may joke about the marriage-obsessed ring by spring culture, it dispenses a social psychological burden that follows students, particularly women, throughout their undergraduate experience.”
When not being married becomes a social stigma and is used to define an individual’s value or accomplishments, then it ceases to be marriage altogether. Marriage should not be a status booster or an identity creator, but instead a good gift from God meant to be enjoyed when he places the person in your life you’re meant to share it with. It doesn’t matter if that’s during college, after college or after grad school.
However, this does not mean that getting engaged by the end of your senior year is necessarily “ring by spring” culture.
After completely bashing the trend, I am now a senior ready to hold a diploma on graduation day, while simultaneously wearing a beautiful engagement ring on my left hand. So, did I succumb to the grip of ring by spring culture?
My answer to that question would be, “No.”
Although you could very well make a case for it, just because I got engaged during my final spring semester does not equal falling for the trap of ring by spring culture.
Within the Christian understanding of marriage, most date to marry. This is a good thing. A biblical thing. A godly thing. For some, this “dating to marry” process can take several years, while for others it might take months. Every timeline is different, and the Lord orchestrates each one uniquely. Which is why, if you know you’ve taken your time to know your significant other, it shouldn’t be a problem if you’re engaged by the spring.
To put it simply, the issue is not with the season itself. There are many who enjoy every second of being engaged during their last college semester. The issue, however, is in placing one’s worth on the engagement.
Single, engaged or married stages of life are all worth celebrating, not because of our current relationship status, but because each is a good gift from God.
Rosa Elias is a Social Media Manager. Follow her on Twitter at @rosaeliasnajri.