I live near a Christian University and have met some students and graduates through different networking events. Many of them are 20, 21, or 22 years old. When we start talking about their career or other goals, they all have mentioned their engagements or marriages!
After one such local event, a guy with me who had gone to the Christian school laughed and told me they call it “ring by spring” and it’s a pretty common thing, not just locally, but at evangelical Christian (and Catholic and Mormon) universities and colleges across the country.
Ring By Spring Definition
On a basic level, the term ring by spring means that you get engaged in the spring of your senior year of university (i.e. the ring is an engagement ring). It’s a common phenomenon at Christian schools. Then, traditionally, the marriage takes place following graduation (the wedding ring comes then).
I’ve even seen the ring by spring thing happen before senior year. In this case, it’s where two students on the campus start dating, then get engaged and married in a within a ridiculously short period of time.
Ring By Spring Meaning
I want to explain a little bit about why the ring by spring phenomenon exists. If you aren’t religious (or not deeply so), you might think getting married so early and so quickly would be crazy! However, while you might be baffled, I want to explain the reasons it happens.
I’m not defending it. In fact, I think the pressure for two people to get engaged and married before they leave university is bad for both individuals and marriages. But, here are my guesses on the reasons.
Why Ring By Spring?
This section will explain why I think Christian universities promote getting married quickly and before leaving the school.
Traditional Christian values (evangelical Protestant, Mormon, and Catholic) have typically stayed close to a pre-modern ideal for marriages and relationships. In the medieval Christian world, people tended to marry young and the church and family played a big role in that.
So, it makes sense that young people would feel great pressure to find a fellow Christian at a Christian school and get the marriage finalized before they leave campus. It makes sure that both people continue in the faith before they get a chance to meet new and different people in the “real world.”
To Experience Normal Relationships
Christian universities can be very strict. If you picture student life there like most colleges, you’d be very wrong. Most of the stricter Christian schools have curfews and rules that would make Victorian England proud. Here is Brigham Young University’s Honor Code as an example.
For example, at many of these places, you’re not allowed to stay out too late and are never permitted to be with someone of the opposite sex in private. If you’re caught, the consequences can be severe (like getting thrown out of school).
The only way you can live together, hang out alone, and generally have a normal relationship? Get married!
To Have Sex
This is going to sound cynical, but I’m just being blunt here. Christianity regards premarital sex as sinful. And, many of these schools go out of their way to prohibit any possibility of sex taking place. In addition, they restrict internet access to adult websites.
So, if you’re a typically horny and experimental college student, but you’re forbidden from pursuing your biological urges, you have 3 options: break the rules and risk ostracism and expulsion, exercise extreme willpower to remain joyfully chaste, or get married, at which point it’s all nice and “legal.”
Finally, people tend to follow along with others in their chosen environments. So, if you’re in a place where traditional values rule, you are taught that sex is great, but only within marriage, and everyone else is getting engaged and married, the natural instinct is to follow along.
Instead of being that weird girl who isn’t engaged or the guy who watches his buddies go back to their wives while he sits and sneaks a peek at Instagram fitness accounts on 4G in the dark, most people go with the flow. They get into relationships that turn into engagement that become marriages.
Ring By Spring School Examples
Here is a list of some schools that promote the ring by spring philosophy (or have in the past). If you have more, please comment below and I’ll add them.
Brigham Young University
Notre Dame University
Problems With Ring By Spring Relationships
I’m not one to judge relationships. If two young Mormons or Catholics or fundamentalist Christians want to get married, I’m not going to argue with them or condemn them. However, I also feel it’s important to be honest about the downsides.
Being in the midst of a Christian university with all your friends getting married can suck people into something they don’t really want to do. That’s why I offer these words of caution.
It’s Not The Real World
I absolutely loved being a student. Attend class a few hours a day, study in coffeeshops in the off hours. Of course, you can throw in nearly unlimited social opportunities. And, most of it is covered by loans, scholarships, or money from parents.
The “real world” is fundamentally unlike that. Getting a job and building a life can be very stressful. Money is one of the biggest causes of divorce. A couple might want to test life in the “real world” a little first.
Marry For Wrong Reasons
Marry to fit in? Check
Marry so you can do “it?” Check
Pressure to marry by a deadline? Check
Have no idea if you’re sexually compatible? Check
Marry the only person you’ve seriously dated? Check
Marriage is a big commitment and divorce isn’t cheap or easy. You shouldn’t be pressured into it by family, friends, and a religious institution. There is already way too much pressure. And, couples who marry before 25 face higher rates of divorce than those who marry older.
So, if you or a friend feels pressured into getting married and get that “ring by spring” I hope this article provides you with a greater insight into the phenomenon. I also hope it has opened your eyes to the importance of patience.
Even if you’re craving that engagement ring more than anything, resist the urge to rush into such a big commitment based on an artificial timeline.