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The culture of “ring by spring”

If you are a student or recent alumni of Oklahoma Christian University, you have likely heard the term “ring by spring” tossed casually around campus, with its usage picking up often towards the end of the semester. This term is used to describe Oklahoma Christian’s “engagement season,” when couples get engaged before leaving college, often at the close of fall or spring semester, and are married within the next months. The elite “ring by spring” couples meet during the fall semester and are engaged by spring or summer, like Cade Diester and Madison Hamm. Meeting at Take Flight and getting to know each other through shared classes and friends, it was clear to both of them the connection was there from the beginning.

“We both went into the beginning of the relationship with the mindset of, ‘This could be it,’” Diester said. “I thought I was going to graduate and be a bachelor. But then we started connecting and we both realized, ‘I’m very committed to you, you’re very committed to me and that is apparent so this is something we should pursue.’ The engagement came very naturally to the two of us.”

Understanding the relationship has moved at a  fast pace, the couple states nothing about it has been rushed and they have been thoughtful and serious through every step of their relationship.

“I think I take the idea of marrying someone so seriously that I wouldn’t have even bothered dating Cade if I didn’t know that I wanted to marry him,” Hamm said. “At that point I wasn’t even interested in giving anyone the time of day. But Cade was so kind and also I felt like I had known him from somewhere before. I just wanted to keep knowing Cade and now I get to.”

Though they may be held up as a pinnacle of the “ring by spring” culture at Oklahoma Christian, the couple has no strong opinions on this phenomena and states it has not affected them or their relationship.

“Neither of us came into last year with the expectation that we were going to graduate married, but it ended up being that way,” Diester said. “I know Madison told me one time, ‘I had transferred here swearing off finding a husband at a Christian university.’ But we essentially were a ‘ring by spring’ couple. We started dating in the fall semester and we got engaged in the summer. I think we’re both of the opinion that you can make that commitment [engagement] in any time frame. My grandparents got engaged within three weeks of knowing each other and that was something where I was like, ‘I don’t need to wait around if I already know this is what I want for myself and for us.’ I do think that ring by spring is kind of funny as a cynical commentary on that reality. The fact of the matter is that people find love in their own time.”

Dean of Spiritual Life Jeff McMillon teaches Christian Family here at Oklahoma Christian and dedicates a large portion of the class to discussing the relationship cycle, including dating, engagement and marriage. He is no stranger to the notion of “ring by spring” and sees it as just part of the culture.

“I think it’s a little bit true and a little bit of fake news,” McMillon said. “There are always young people that find each other early in their college careers at OC. That’s not a bad thing, inherently. So much of relationships working is timing. Some couples simply find each other earlier than others. When you are in a place like OC, you are necessarily more likely to find someone who holds similar values to yours and that’s the atmosphere where relationships blossom, when you have proximity to like-minded, similar-aged peers.”

McMillon advocates that engaged or soon-to-be-engaged students should be established spiritually, emotionally, socially and financially before making that commitment.

“Take your time,” McMillon said. “If you want to get married someday, remember that you are essentially ‘in a relationship’ all the time. That means even when you aren’t dating someone, that you are still responsible to yourself (and the person you will one day have as a spouse) for becoming the most spiritually and emotionally healthy person possible. And with those goals in mind, that means there is no need to rush the process of finding the right person. God is so good to all of us. He will not forget about us. As we learn to lean on Him and trust His timing we can enjoy all of our days on earth, regardless of our relational status.”

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