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I’m pouring myself a glass of water when I hear a friend question my husband, “Where is your wedding ring?” The tone of her voice is accusatory. Everyone stops their conversation to listen to his answer. I turn and watch as my husband shrugs his shoulders and gives the usual answer, “I don’t have one.”
Another friend leans towards him and says, “What does your wife think? Isn’t she worried that other women will hit on you?” Never humble, my husband laughs and says, “Of course women will hit on me. I mean have you seen this face? It’s irresistible to women!” He pauses and scans the room for me.
We make eye contact and I smile at him. Xylon turns back to the friend who asked the question and says, “Women might hit on me but a ring on my finger isn’t going to be the thing that determines how I handle temptation. A piece of metal doesn’t give me the willpower to make the right choices. Marriage isn’t a one-time choice, it’s a daily choice to do the right thing, to honor my wife, to walk away from relationships with others that could damage the one I have with Wendy.”
I decide it might be time to help my man out so I walk back to the group. Placing my glass of water down with my left hand I lift it up for the group to see. There is no wedding ring on my hand either. “I’ve seen people who wear wedding rings to do terribly hurtful things to their spouses, and I’ve known people with ringless fingers who have disrespected their vows.”
“I’ve also known people who wear rings to be examples of the kind of marriage I’d like to have. And I’ve witnessed people – like my parents – who wear no rings and make me want a marriage like theirs. So for me, a ring is just a reminder to keep vows, it’s not a magic charm that can keep hard times or bad choices from touching our marriage.”
The first friend asks my husband, “But how can Wendy trust you if you don’t have a ring?” I pause to think before I answer and ponder why it is that Xylon has never been asked if he can trust me even though I don’t wear a ring either. Surely, gender doesn’t make you more or less capable of breaking trust?
I take a sip of water and then answer, “I don’t trust Xylon less because he has no wedding ring on his finger. Like he said, marriage is a daily choice. So is trust. Trust between a husband and wife doesn’t magically exist because we wear rings, trust is developed over time. It’s weaved into our lives by our daily actions.”
I reach my unadorned hand out towards my husband and he clasps it in his. We have had this conversation often enough before to know that there will be more questions. For some reason our breach of this cultural norm is something that single and married people struggle with. We both find this strange since for us it’s not really a big deal.
Another friend jumps in, “But doesn’t a ring show that you are committed to each other? By not wearing a ring, aren’t you telling each other that this relationship isn’t that important?”
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I start speaking, “We chose not to wear rings because we decided long before we were married that a precious metal wasn’t going to define our relationship. It wasn’t like we had wedding rings and then one day just decided to stop wearing them because we didn’t feel like it anymore. I think if that happened in a relationship then it could be an indicator that something was wrong and the couple should talk about it. I guess some people might choose not to wear a ring because they have commitment issues, but we just chose not to because it wasn’t important to us.
“When we were planning our wedding, we decided that we wouldn’t do something just because it was culturally acceptable.” My husband has taken over the explanation now, “If the two of us didn’t know why we including something into our wedding, and marriage ceremony, we wouldn’t do it. Rings just don’t make sense to me. If you look at the cultural meaning of them they indicated that a woman was her husband’s property. Wendy isn’t my property, she is my partner.”
The conversation moves onto funny wedding traditions. And I think about a blog I once read by Los Whit about why he doesn’t wear a wedding ring. His reasons were different from ours; he kept losing his ring and her ring is missing diamonds, but he ended up saying something that I think is important whether or not you wear a metal band on your fourth finger:
“I’m not saying don’t wear a wedding ring. I’m saying don’t place value in a metal object. Instead fight well, heal well, kiss well, and live well.”
Wendy van Eyck is married to Xylon, who talks non-stop about cycling, and makes her laugh. She writes for anyone who has ever held a loved one’s hand through illness, ever believed in God despite hard circumstances or ever left on a spontaneous 2-week holiday through a foreign land with just a backpack. You can follow Wendy’s story and subscribe to receive her free ebook, “Life, life and more life” at ilovedevotionals.com. She would also love to connect with you on Facebook and Twitter.