The marriage proposal is a highlight of many relationships. It’s a strong declaration of love and commitment to spend the rest of their lives together. However, sometimes “forever” is cut tragically short. One woman took to Reddit with a heartbreaking story. After dating for five years, her boyfriend proposed. But this dream ended when he became sick and passed away. Still hurting deeply, the woman was approached by her not-to-be mother and sister-in-law. They wanted the engagement ring, and she refused.
AITA for not returning an engagement ring?
The woman started her Reddit post explaining that her fiance proposed on their fifth anniversary with a very special ring. She added that engagement rings “are not a major thing” where she comes from. However, after watching American movies and TV shows where the man proposes with a ring, “I always had that same idea in my head.” And her fiance made her dream a reality.
“He had a goldsmith craft a wedding ring especially for me. He knew I don’t like fancy and flashy jewels, I’m a very discreet person, so he had a ring made for me that was exactly what I’d like. And I did. I absolutely adore it.“
But their romance ended far too soon. “Sadly, a couple of months ago, my fiancé fell ill and passed away. I’m not going to go into details about it because just writing this out makes me sob. I’m still very much not over it.”
After a few weeks, her fiancé’s sister and mother called, asking for the engagement ring. “I never reeeally got along with neither the sister nor the mom, but we were friendly towards each other,” the woman explained. “They said that, since we never got married (our wedding was scheduled for early 2022) and never will, I should give the ring to the real family since it represented a promise that will never be fulfilled.“
The woman refused to give up her engagement ring. She added in her post that she’d immediately return an heirloom or family jewel. But he had made this ring especially for her and he gave it on their anniversary.
Getting Others Involved
But the mother and sister were unhappy with her refusal. They claimed that the fiance was keeping property she had no right to. Although her parents were on her side, the community was divided. “Some say the ring is rightfully mine; some say that it was a symbol of a contract that fell through due to sad circumstances, and that I should give it back, that I’m keeping one of their son’s property and that it should stay with his sister to pass along to her future children.”
The pressure grew until the woman second-guessed herself. But Reddit wasn’t having any of it. Comments on her post encouraged her to stand her ground, saying the engagement ring was hers. The family had no claim on it. Afterward, the woman updated her post, thanking everyone for their empathy and kindness, which she deserves after such a tragedy.
“First of all, I’m so sorry for your loss,” one Reddit user said. “Second, the ring is yours. Your late fiancé’s family doesn’t have some kind of ownership over it. He made it for you, and the fact he sadly passed doesn’t change that. You’re the rightful owner.”
Additionally, this comment’s phrasing is just heartbreaking. “The promise was to spend the rest of his life with him. A promise you fulfilled and the ring is a symbol of that.” This comment is just heartbreaking.
However, many comments agreed that a family heirloom would be a different story. “Unless it was a family heirloom, it is your ring. He made it for you because he loved you and he wanted you to have something special.“
“Don’t bow to their pressure, OP. They are being greedy and selfish,” said one comment among many criticizing the sister and mother.
One comment was particularly sharp and cut through the sister and mother’s claims. “Do they also expect you to hand over every gift he’s ever given you because he’s no longer alive? They probably know the worth of the ring and are being greedy. Tell them to kick rocks.”
Added another, “They need to respect his wishes and leave you with something he put great effort into getting for you.”
According to the Law
While many people agreed that the engagement ring belongs to the fiance, what does the law say about these cases?
A similar case occurred, where the man died before he could marry his fiance, leaving a $265,000 Harry Winston diamond engagement ring in the balance. However, the judge ruled that the fiance should keep it because the man clearly intended to keep the ring whether or not they married.
Furthermore, an engagement ring is seen as a conditional gift — the condition of marriage. In the case of a breakup, this condition is broken, and the ring should be returned to the man. This is the claim the family has in the above Reddit story. However, in the case of a death, this condition was not broken — it was made impossible. Meaning the fiance didn’t break her promise and should keep the ring. However, it won’t hurt that if someone wants his fiance to keep the ring in the event of a tragedy, he should make those intentions clear, just in case. 
Additionally, if the ring is given on a holiday, or perhaps an anniversary, the ring is often treated like a gift that doesn’t need to be returned. Keep in mind, however, that there is no one-size-fits-all ruling, and these matters are judged case by case. These are just examples of past judgments. For instance, in Montana, an engagement ring is considered an unconditional gift whether or not the wedding takes place.
Keeping the Engagement Ring
However, it seems in this case, the ring still belongs to the fiance. Keep in mind that because this story is from Reddit, we are not privy to all of the details and the ones presented may not be true. There’s no way to confirm this story, but as it’s presented, many agree the woman should keep her engagement ring.
- “Death Before ‘I Do’: Does Grieving Fiancée Have to Relinquish Engagement Ring?” New Jersey Law Journal. Janie Byalik. November 11, 2020
- “Broken Engagements, Divorce, Death and Engagement Rings – Who Gets the Ring?” Home Town Law, P.A. Sabina Tomhinsky. January 20, 2016
- “Valentine’s Day: Planning to pop the question? If it doesn’t work out, who keeps the ring?” USA Today. David Carrig. February 7, 2018
- “AITA for not returning an engagement ring that my fiancé who passed away had crafted specially for me?” Reddit.
Attention: While many of these stories are interesting, and we would love to take their word for it, the content in this article was taken from an unverifiable source (i.e., a Reddit forum). As such, we cannot guarantee that these events truly happened in the way that they are described in the original source.