Sunday, August 5, 2007

Evolution Example: Where Is Your Wedding Ring These Days?

To this day I think the proudest moment of my life was expressing my wedding vows. I remember the pride and power I felt; almost like a mountain. On that day, I knew my purpose, my reason for breathing, and had this cool confidence that grounded me. Everything seemed to move a bit slower; and while things around me were a little crazy, I never felt consumed or impacted by it. For me, saying my vows culminated the day and made the marriage real for me. Take the ceremony away, forget the reception, and erase the honeymoon. What made the event concretely real for me were the two minutes we used to exchange the vows we wrote for each other. In all my life, I do not think that I have said anything else with so much passion and honesty; and when we were done, it was my wedding ring that for years would server as a reminder of the person I was that day. Of the person I had pledged to be.

Well, my how things change over the years.

So I do not wear my wedding ring any more. To be honest, I do not even know where it is. I stopped wearing it minutes after I told my wife I wanted a divorce and sincerely meant it. Now, one thing about my wedding ring is that it honestly was among my most prized possessions. I took it off maybe five times in all of the years we were together. What it symbolized for me was tangible as well. The ring had an interesting design; there was an inner band to my wedding band that allowed me to "twirl" it with my thumb. I would do this when I was nervous, thinking hard, looking for inspiration, or grounding. When I spun the ring, I could faintly smell the perfume my wife wore on our wedding day (it was powdery, with a touch of flowers). The ring was not expensive, but it represented the resolve and commitment I had regarding out marriage. Thus, it was only fitting that I remove it when my marriage had finally failed.

Hindsight being what it is, I removed my ring originally out of anger and spite. I took it off, and left it on my entertainment center for days. I wanted my wife to see it; I wanted her to understand that I was at the end of our relationship; that she had made a mistake treating me the way that she did. I wanted her to feel hurt when she saw my ring on our shelf, and eventually in my sock drawer. When I moved all my things out of the house, I left my ring on the kitchen table. I refused to take it with me. I wanted her to see that I had abandoned it; that I had abandoned the idea of our marriage. I now realize how wrong and petty I was with that. Divorce is such an ugly, painful process. We end up hurting or trying to hurt each other because of the pain we feel and cause.

So if you are curious when it is appropriate to remove your wedding ring, remember that this decision should not be trite or trivial. The ring represents something you vowed to own, an ideal that you chose to live up to. Removing the ring is a broken promise. It is a resounding "no", and (chances are) something that will at least initially hurt your spouse. It is a rejection. But rather than look at this act as the end of your relationship, chose to view it as the continuation or evolution of your life. Removing your ring is the start of something new; the announcement that in the face of no evidence you are will to change your life. Be empowered by this experience, and do not look upon it with guilt. Think about the following:

  • Your wedding ring is not an obligation; it is a pledge or oath of commitment. If you feel that, for whatever reason, you cannot live up to the ideals that embody your ring and marriage, then remove it. Don't live a lie; it will hurt you more than you will understand in the moment.
  • If you no longer honor or respect your spouse, remove it. You cannot have a relationship without these emotions and values; pretending that you can only perpetuates the painful.
  • If you look at your ring resentfully, remove it. Remember that the ring can be a symbol. Remember that your ring represents your relationship and spouse. If you look at your ring and feel overwhelming resentment then consider taking it off.
  • If the negative aspects of your marriage have begun to define how you feel about yourself, remove it. Over time, we sometimes define ourselves not by who we are, but rather by the circumstances around us. We convince ourselves that we are good people when things go well, and bad people when they do not. This is not reality; its conformity.
For me, my ring originally represented the ideals behind which I chose to marry. It was an iconographic representation of how I wanted to measure my relationship. Over time, though, that ideal changed to one of commitment, then responsibility, then obligation, and eventually debt. In a marriage, you should not feel obligated to your spouse. In life, we have “get to” opportunities; things that we do not have to do, but rather choose to do. Marriage, in my view, is not a “have to”; it’s a “get to”. Obligations indicate a lack of choice; well, marriage is a choice; commitment is a choice. When marriage becomes a “have to” is a sign that problems exist.Now, in divorce, we experience a n array of negative emotions typically associated with loss; anger, frustration, resentment to name a few. When we feel these emotions, we tend to react. Do not let your wedding ring removal be a reaction to something your spouse has done. Let it be a decision or choice that you have made which defines the direction you have chosen in life. Removing your ring should not be the end of your marriage; it should represent the beginning of your new life.

When I removed my ring, I was sad; but I knew it was right. When I look back on the experience and get through the anger I had, the hurt I felt, and the resentment that filled me, part of me immediately acknowledged that it was time. It was right. It was the first step in my evolution. Did I miss it? Yes, of course. Even today, I still find myself looking at my ring finger and seeing if there is a faint tan line / outline left (there isn't). But now, I recognize and understand that I missed the idea behind my relationship; not my spouse or the relationship we had. When I missed the ring, I missed the connected moments we had as equals and vulnerable, giving partners. Well, life moves on. You have to be willing to move with it, or it will leave you behind.


Anonymous said...

Wow. Great post. There was a girl on "So how do i Look" with this same problem. Only she would not take off the ring and everybody wanted her to.

The Constant Geographer said...

I agree, your post is really good. I am in the throes of a contested divorce myself. I vacillate between keeping my ring on as a reminder of what my commitment meant to me, as a reminder of what stupid things not to repeat, and then wanting to throw the thing into the sun, or drop it into a volcano, like "Precious" in Lord of the Rings.

I haven't decided when to remove mine; the divorce is not yet final. I have a lot of negative emotions attached to it, obviously, as 2/3rds of my reasons for keeping on are negative.

Removing it would signify failure to me, one, if not the, most significant failure of my life. Humiliating, depressing, embarrassing, all of those describe my feelings.

Thanks for going to the depth you have in your posts.

T said...

My wife and I are going through a separation right now. I feel everything the Constant Geographer felt and more. I feel angry, distrustful, shame, vindictive, deceived, and much more. I wanted to put my ring in front of the coffee pot so it would be the first thing she saw in the morning. But I will keep it on for now until this is resolved one way or the other.

Anonymous said...

Relationships are quite complicated one has to face when in trouble, but it's also not as bad as one would be led to believe in it.Just try to brush away all those misunderstandings and believe in the fact of making-up that relationship all you have to do is to start knowing what really went wrong and what made two humans who loved each other in depth to part their ways, is it because of money
mis-management or something else . You can always find the answer here.

Money and Marriage

Sai said...

My wedding ring would be exactly look like the one in the last.

Bijayendra said...

I find this article very interesting “Thank God for Affairs”

Let’s talk about “old-fashioned values.” My understanding of these “values” include couples remaining together until death-do-us–part. One of the difficulties that follow the “’til-death-do-us–part”
Keep Rising,

Read more @

Salt Lake City Divorce Attorney said...

Well, you are right. Our wedding ring represents our bond. Removing it means the bond is over. It's an interesting post.

Anonymous said...

My husband and I are going through the initial stages of divorce. He stopped wearing his ring a couple months ago when we were just separating. I did find that one day he left it on top of his hankie, for me to see. I wore mine until two days after I was certified divorce papers. I stare at my hand now and say to myself, "wow, I am giving up", because I took it off. I am trying to figure out, as he is trying to decide if he wants to work on this marriage or not, should I put the ring back on or not. Very tough decision that I wrestle with by the hour. I feel like a failure. Great post.

Anonymous said...

worked an absolute treat for me - satin dental floss and windowlene

feeling so much better - i kept my vows he was the unfaithful shit and now he wears his ring all the time...

Anonymous said...

My wife took of her wedding ring, it is clear to me that she is divorcing herself from the bond we had. Sad thing we did not even speak about divorce

Anonymous said...

Please talk to her - how can you really know anything if you have not spoken of these things.