Why has “Ring By Spring” Become so Common?

Whether you attend Concordia University or not, I’m sure the majority of us are familiar with the phenomenon “Ring by Spring.” This term refers to the stigma on couples to become engaged by the spring semester before they graduate.

The fact that Concordia is a Lutheran school might play a large role in the negativity with many people regard this phrase. Many young Christian couples decide to tie the knot before they graduate, but before there are any assumptions on why they decide to chose this path, I have spoken with a handful a couples who may give some insight into this phenomenon.

Senior Emily Longman and her fiancé have been engaged for eight months. Both of them are in church work programs here at Concordia. They had been dating ten months prior to getting engaged. Longman acknowledges that tying the knot at such a young age is common amongst church workers because of the field that they are entering:

“I know a lot of pre-seminary guys are anxious to find a wife now because it can be difficult for pastors to meet new people and date once they are ordained and installed without crossing lines. I think that is the mindset that is held by a lot of people who are preparing for church leadership positions.”

This statement can extend to all young guys that are involved in church work; it may be perceived as inappropriate for them to date around later in their career because of their leadership role in the church. Longman and her fiancé are aware of the stigma that reigns over their engagement, but that will not stop them from enjoying each other and having faith that their relationship will last.

The common stigma that is tied to Christian schools is that these church workers and pre-seminary students are here for the sole purpose of finding a spouse. Our campus pastor, Pastor Jeff, shared his thoughts on why he believes many young students decide to get engaged so quickly; he believes that many young Christians misinterpret what the Bible is saying. He gives a specific passage that he feels influences our young minds.

“To the unmarried and the widows I say that it is good for them to remain single as I am. But if they cannot exercise self-control, they should marry. For it is better to marry than to be aflame with passion.” (1 Corinthians 7:8-9).

It seems awfully easy to read this passage and think that you should marry to avoid falling into temptation, but that is not the way that this passage was intended to be interpreted.

There are times when a young love is pure and there are times when it is not. He fears that young Christians might only come to school to find a partner and in turn that partner becomes the sole purpose of their being. He then prompted me with a question to ask these young lovers, “If the engagement doesn’t work out, would you still trust God with the plan he has for your life?” The answer to this question would imply whether they put their faith in God or their partner.

Longman provided me with a graceful answer to this question: “I think we would both take a lot of lessons away from it and see that as a way that God was providing for us and shaping us to do the work he has prepared for us as members of his body of believers, even if it may be painful at the time.” This answer reassured both her and I that her intentions with her fiancé are true, regardless of the fact that they may falling into the pattern of “Ring by Spring.”

Longman verified that she has spoken with a handful of students that decided to come to college with the sole hope of finding a spouse. This quickly eliminates the thought that this “ring by spring” phenomenon is solely occurs at Christian schools or among those involved in the church.

Many young students are lucky enough to find their spouse at such a young age, so the common belief is that college is a great place to go out and meet new people while “accidentally” finding a partner. It is just as common for non church workers to get engaged and receive their “ring by spring” as it is for church workers.

Concordia alum Loribeth Anderson shares that she met her partner, Roy Anderson, at Concordia through classes and mutual friends:

“We met through mutual friends, but we also had a class together. He was a sophomore while I was a senior, so things moved quickly since I was planning on graduating that winter.”

Anderson and her fiancé actually took the non-conventional route during their relationship. They were blessed with a baby before Roy’s graduation here at Concordia. They give thanks to Concordia for allowing them to find each other and bless their lives (and mine) with a beautiful son (and nephew to me).

Many schools take part in this unofficial practice of Ring by Spring and it has nothing to do with whether the school is Christian based or not. Young students wanting to get married often deal with the commonality of friends or family members getting married at young age or the college romances depicted in movies. It’s extremely common for the students here at Concordia to get engaged before they graduate, but it is just as common for the non-Christian students to do so as well.

If there is one thing that we may all take away from this, it is one thing that Pastor Jeff suggests to any student who walks into his office: “When in doubt, work on a Christian friendship.”