That was no great problem for me really. I am somewhat abstemious by nature, and I was young and had no great expectation of wealth. I love fine things, but many of the things I consider fine are either not the same as what other people hold dear, or simply cost comparatively little. The problem was the diamond.
I will not explain here how much trouble it caused that I could not afford to by a “proper” diamond engagement ring. Certainly the so-called standard of a ring costing several months salary was out of reach. Even then I suspected that the whole diamond engagement ring thing was a scam. Yet it was hard for my fiancée to deal with people’s reactions when she told them she was engaged, and yet had no hardware to show for it. I eventually did purchase a ring (a sapphire flanked by two small diamonds), at some hardship. Suffice it to say that it was approaching the level of being a dealbreaker. I remember feeling put upon and trapped by some kind of worldwide conspiracy that had hoodwinked the world into thinking that a clear stone (undistinguishable from a piece of broken glass by most people) had been declared, arbitrarily, the sole indicator of honorable intent. The work, and sweat and struggle, I was putting in to earn the money so that we could actually be married counted for little or nothing. The abandonment of long held goals and the joyful and purposeful reordering of my life to align with the goal of marriage was not counted particularly important. The stone was the thing. It seemed that rather than marriage itself being the sacrament, the bauble had become the sacrament. It just seemed wrong.
Now 22 years later, I read an article in Atlantic that vindicates me. Read it here. The article was originally published in 1982. I dearly wish I had read it then. I might not have gotten into less trouble, but I would have had more to stand on than a sneaking suspicion that I was being flim-flammed.