Though they’re wonderful items, family heirlooms have a way of causing arguments that other sentimental items simply do not.
Especially when that item might be shared with a new member of the family, observed the “Am I the A**hole?” (AITA) subReddit.
Redditor throwawaycnon was torn by the idea of sharing a family heirloom in the event of marriage.
But when they heard their son’s arguments, the Original Poster (OP) was conflicted.
She asked the sub:
“AITA for not letting my son use the family ring to propose with?”
The OP didn’t agree with their son’s plan to propose.
“My son (26 [Male]) wants to use my mom’s ring to propose to his girlfriend (24 [Female]).”
“He apparently told her he would propose with it without telling me, assuming I would let him.”
“I told him I won’t let him use the ring for the engagement, only the wedding, and only after she signs a legal agreement saying the ring is to be returned to the family in the event of a divorce.”
The OP was worried about the family heirloom staying with the family.
“He is furious, because he says having that agreement makes it look like I think they are going to divorce.”
“I admit I think there’s a good chance of that. They broke up in 2019 and got back together again after 7 months, and they get into a massive fight at least once a month.”
“If he wants to marry her, that’s fine, but I don’t want my mom’s ring, which she got from her great aunt, leaving the family.”
The son was resistant to having the conversation.
“He doesn’t want to tell her, because it will make it look like he’s worried that their marriage won’t be long-term and wants to use the ring to demonstrate that he’s serious.”
“But I don’t want him to give her the ring until the wedding, so she doesn’t run off with it if things go bad.”
“I’m not sure of the value of the ring but it’s got a 5-carat ruby and multiple diamonds, so I assume it’s over 10k value.”
The OP tried to negotiate more details.
“I’ve told my son his children, or his wife if he has no children, can have the ring upon my death as an heirloom.”
“He hasn’t told his fiancé about the ring having conditions yet, so telling her that it’s my property and I just won’t allow it, won’t change things for her.”
“The truth is, he doesn’t remember much of grandma. She died with dementia when he was 8, and so he doesn’t really care about the ring.”
“He just sees it as a convenient, pretty thing to propose with and a way to show his girlfriend he’s serious since their relationship is so rocky.”
Fellow Redditors weighed in:
- NTA: Not the A**hole
- YTA: You’re the A**hole
- ESH: Everybody Sucks Here
- NAH: No A**holes Here
Some suggested what the OP should include in a legal agreement.
“NTA for protecting what’s yours. The ring can be ‘borrowed’ by your son’s wife for the interim of their marriage. May it last forever. And definitely make sure the document she signs, should they agree, be done 100% by the law.” – Beezle-Mom
“I would add the OP really needs to get the ring appraised. A high-quality ruby can be worth 10,000 a carat. That ring needs an insurance policy.” – ray_of_f_sunshine
“That would also make sense for any legal agreement. Like, if the ring is damaged or lost, the girlfriend/fiancée/wife is liable for the cost of repair or replacement, and having a current valuation would be helpful towards that. You know, just putting the material value of the ring out there.” – Haeronalda
“Why draft an agreement that it will be returned? Why not just say, ‘No, it is my ring and I never told you that you could have it’?” – justMeinD
Others advised postponing the gifting of the ring.
“I think using it as an anniversary gift (maybe 10th?) is a great idea! If there’s pushback from her, then it’s obvious what her priorities are.” – KathrynTheGreat
“The ruby wedding anniversary is 40 years married. Just tell her it’s all hers then, if they make it that far.” – gemmadilemma
“NTA. I got engaged to my now-husband after dating for about 4 months. We were both in our late 20’s and just clicked.”
“We flew out so I could meet his mom. While there, he asked for the family ring (this was just before we got engaged, but we’re already talking about it).”
“She refused to give him the ring. I honestly understood why she refused. We had only been dating for a little while, she didn’t know me or my character.”
“We bought a ring from a jewelry store and I was happy with that, especially since it was one I helped pick out and loved.”
“Just before our 10th anniversary, my mother-in-law visited us and gifted the family ring to me. I thanked her and laughed later with my husband that I guess she figured I was sticking around by then.”
“The ring will get passed down eventually to one of our kids, probably my son, as my mother-in-law gave me an heirloom necklace for my daughter. But, we’ll be careful of when the ring is given also when the time comes.” – sjs1244
Some said the son could show his love in another way.
“NTA. If your son is so bent on demonstrating HIS commitment, then he can spend HIS cash on a ring. Not the d**n family heirloom.”
“Holy s**t OP, if that’s a pigeon’s blood ruby at 5 carats, there better be a legal agreement to go with it.”
“No offense, but your son sounds naive at best. You better protect that ring, or it will end up in the wrong hands.” – LemonCitron1513
“I mean, even if (big if) the relationship is viable long-term doesn’t mean she automatically gets the ring.”
“I’ve been with my hubs since we were in high school, and we’re mid-30’s now. By far the longest relationship of our generation in hub’s family. I still didn’t get the family heirloom ring as an engagement or wedding ring, by virtue of my MIL (mother-in-law) just not liking me – and that’s totally and utterly valid.”
“She’s even admitted that she knows hubs and I are in it for the long haul, we’ve even discussed that I would have been honored to get the heirloom ring, but I respect that it’s her family’s ring, and she gets to decide where it goes. I’m fairly certain that my eldest BIL (brother-in-law) is going to get it for his wedding to soon-to-be SIL (sister-in-law), and I’m stoked for it (she’s a really sweet person and madly in love with BIL).”
“However, I got a ring from the love of my life – the person that actually matters. It’s not the most expensive (literally costume jewelry because he proposed when we were broke college students), it’s not steeped in family history, but it’s deeply personal to me (hubs ate ramen for an entire month just to afford this ring) and that’s what’s important as far as I’m concerned.” – Thraell
“NTA. Why won’t the son throw the OP under the bus?”
“He just has to say, ‘I’m really disappointed and sorry for getting your hopes up, but sadly my parent isn’t ready to let the ring go now, it’s too sentimental. You can wear it for the wedding as something borrowed and maybe have it for our xth wedding anniversary, but it won’t be the ring I propose with. So drop hints, darling, or do you want to shop together?'”
“If she reacts angrily, especially if she directs anger at him rather than you, then it’s not much of a relationship…” – Cardabella
Though the OP had reservations about offering the family ring to their son for his proposal to his girlfriend, the subReddit totally confirmed the OP’s suspicions.
With a relationship deemed unstable and what appears to be a pretty quick proposal, expressing some reluctance to letting the heirloom go is likely the most reasonable response.