Ask Audrey: 'My fiancé and I broke up but I'm keeping the $10K ring'

Audrey Griffen

Audrey is a mother to a 15-year-old and a newborn baby. She probably should have taken into account who she was marrying (Osher Günsberg) much earlier, as she’s far more comfortable behind the camera as a freelance hair and makeup artist, than a TV host’s wife who doesn’t know how to work her angles for any on-camera duties.

Audrey loves to cook, decorate cakes, gardening, DIY and is very handy with a flat-pack, few of which you would pay her to do for you, but she’d happily give it a shot for free.

Audrey Griffen. Photo: Supplied

Dear Audrey,

My fiancé Jack and I recently made the mutual decision to break off our engagement. We realised we were moving in two separate directions and wanted different things in the future. We were together for four years before getting engaged a year ago.

Now we're at an impasse regarding who gets to keep the engagement ring. It's not wildly expensive at $10,000 but has huge sentimental value to both of us as we picked it out together while on holiday in Melbourne a few weeks after he proposed.

I think I should get the ring because it was a gift from Jack to me and it just doesn't feel right to give back a gift. You don't return xmas presents to the giver, do you? It's become such a part of me and my life having worn the ring for the past 12 months and when I look at it on my hand I think back on all our happy memories.

Jack says he should have the ring primarily because he paid for it and may want to use it to propose to a partner in the future. While this might upset others, the thought of Jack moving on with someone new isn't that devastating for me as we both decided to call off the engagement. I hope to move on myself one day and hope both Jack and myself find happiness in love but just with other people.

Still, I can't bring myself to return the ring. We chose it for me, and if he wants to propose to someone else he should buy a new ring.

So, who do you think should have it?

What happens to the engagement ring when a couple breaks up? Photo: Getty Images

Dear Miss Moving-On,

It’s so lovely to hear that you and your ex, Jack, were able to amicably end your engagement to one another, and it’s wonderful that you are both hoping the other finds love and happiness in the future.

To help you maintain this good will towards one another, the way you handle the issue of the engagement ring and what to do with it is very important. While it’s a symbol of the love that you once had for each other, you both seem to value it for different reasons.

I’d encourage each of you to consider, realistically, what it would be like to have new partners and the presence of this ring in their lives. How would your ex, for example, feel if the new woman in his life still kept her previous engagement ring as a reminder of the happy times even though she was now with him? Would he be able to accept it as just that, or would it raise questions as to whether his partner still had feelings for another man?

And on your part, how would you feel if your new partner proposed to you using a ring that he had chosen for someone else? Would you feel like you were being given someone else’s rejected ring? Would you be worried that there are still some feelings attached to the woman who the ring was originally intended for?

I’ve only been engaged once, but knowing that Osher put the time, effort and love (let alone the money) into choosing that ring for me gives it far more significance.

If I was in your position, I couldn’t continue wearing the ring, and looking at it would only remind me of what was, and not where I am at in the present. On the other hand, to view the situation from Jack’s future partner’s perspective, I’d feel like the spectre of his previous engagement would be with us forever. Also I’d be furious that I didn’t have the opportunity to share the same experience of choosing the symbol of our love and commitment together like you had with Jack.

To keep the peace, and to truly make a break and get closure from that relationship, it would make the most sense to sell the ring and split the proceeds between the two of you.

It’s a ring that was purchased to reflect how you felt about each other at the time, and selling it and dividing the proceeds is a reflection of the conclusion of your relationship. Of course, it would be a very different story if the ring was a family heirloom, and in that instance it would definitely need to be returned to your ex-fiancé and his family.

There’s always going to be some emotion attached to the ring, regardless of who is in possession of it, and it makes sense to let that go. Your memories of happier times together exist without the ring as a prompt, and your ex can have a fresh start with his new partner and choose a ring that shows his love for her, not one that was chosen to show his love for you.

The way that you and Jack have decided to part ways and end your engagement is so impressive. I hope that you can see that the engagement ring and splitting the funds will ultimately give you closure. In situations like these, that is priceless.

Wishing you both love and happiness as you go your separate ways.

Audrey x

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