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Ring by spring, or desperation by graduation?

Although Valentine’s Day has come and gone, Cupid has been hard at work here at MVNU. The evidence is all over social media in the form of Facebook relationship changes, Instagram posts of sparkling fourth fingers and tweets of heart and ring emojis.

Overachieving couples used the romance of the holiday season to get engaged on Christmas or New Year’s Eve, then came the traditional Valentine’s Day engagements. But it’s not over yet; now a new romantic season is upon us — ring by spring.

For the uninformed, “ring by spring” is just what it sounds like — receiving an engagement ring by graduation. The phrase is so well known that the Hallmark channel made a film entitled “Ring By Spring.”

This phenomenon, while popular at MVNU, is not limited to our campus community and is shared by many of our fellow Christian universities. Along with the dreaded and derogatory “Mrs.” degree, ring by spring is one of the more embarrassing Christian school stereotypes.

While ring by spring is truly a season of celebration for young engaged couples, the problem with this phenomenon lies with the mindset it evokes.

This mindset suggests that if you aren’t engaged before graduation, you aren’t in a serious relationship, and that somehow, your college years have been wasted.

The ring by spring mentality also implies that there is pressure or a deadline to get engaged and/or married. Let’s set the record straight by saying that there is no hurry. In fact, the U.S. Census reported that the median age of marriage for men is 29 and for women it’s 27.

Why are people waiting to get married? Financial restraints and career goals are two factors. In the evangelical Christian community, couples often get married at 22 or 23 (right after graduation), or even earlier. That means Christian college grads are typically focused on career, marriage and building a family simultaneously, while secular college grads focus primarily on career building or continued education — since after all, college is the beginning of your professional career.

The balancing act of work and family is a lifelong struggle, but for young Christian couples, that juggling act begins at a very early age.

Finances are another monumental stress point for marriages. While all grads must be ready to step into the adult world of bills and student loan debt, young families have an additional stress of mortgages and budgets.

Guys, before you put a ring on it, remember — it’s okay to wait until after graduation. Ladies, before you cause an uprising, remember — your ring doesn’t define the relationship. It’s simply the next step in your journey with your significant other.

If there’s any mold that all relationships fit, it’s the mold of individuality. Each relationship is distinct and unique, and your relationship’s timeline is the same.

A marriage should not begin under pressure or deadlines, so if you don’t feel ready to take the next step before graduation, don’t buy into the ring by spring mentality. (But for you procrastinators out there who want to stick with tradition, there’s only 28 days until spring officially begins, so get going.)

For singles, engagement season can drudge up the green-eyed monster of jealousy, or even worse, feelings of insecurity and unworthiness.

While couples might feel pressured by the ring by spring mentality, singles feel the pressure of being alone. Ring by spring can serve as a source of negativity for those who haven’t found the “one” yet.

Let me take a moment to clear some things up for any singles out there: Your relationship status does not define you or your worth. And singles, be encouraged — MVNU is not the only community of Christians in the world, so don’t worry about losing your chances at a Christian dating pool.

Further, if you’re prone to bitterness, here’s a pro tip: You can always take a social media break for a while if it’s annoying for you to see all the engagement postings.

Just like any other cultural phenomenon, just because it exists doesn’t mean that you have to engage it (no pun intended). Don’t let the deadline of spring or graduation get in the way of careful consideration of your individual relationship or your self-worth.

If ring by spring seems like a form of spring hay fever to singles, remember that seasons come and go — and this phenomenon is no different.

Within our campus community, we all have the capability to shape and define the campus culture — including the ability to do away with the ring by spring mindset and perhaps make way for a more economically-minded mindset: occupation by graduation.

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