I have continually seen this commercial by Forevermark lately on television. The narrator romantically shares, “A true promise can never be broken.” The man then slips a beautiful diamond ring on the woman’s finger. I have been thinking a lot about the meaning of a wedding ring.
I remember vividly the day after my ex proposed. We sat on the couch and looked at my ring. He showed me the paperwork which displayed the grade, color and cut of the diamond. He was so proud…so happy he could give me something so special. We were 20 years old and this was by far the most expensive thing he had ever purchased and the nicest thing someone other than my parents had given me. I would drive to work and stare at the ring on my finger at each stop sign and red light. I would put it up to the light and let the sparkles create tiny rainbows on the ceiling of my car. It meant something. It represented a dream for our future, for our lives together, for, well, forever.
After we (I) decided to split, he made a list of all of our property. My wedding ring was on the itemized list. In parenthesis, he had put “charity???” When I asked about it, he said “I thought we could give it to charity since it doesn’t mean anything.” This is what divorce does…it chips away at something that is beautiful and meaningful and important and turns it into something that is unrecognizable.
Over the years, he had a few wedding rings. He had the one I placed on his finger on our wedding day. He had the titanium one I bought him one year for Christmas. He had one that had “Love” engraved on one side and “Dad” on the other. All in all, there were many rings over the years. All in all, he never really committed to wearing any of them consistently. I don’t think he liked the way it felt. I don’t think he remembered. For a while, he worked outside and with his hands and couldn’t wear a ring because it would get ruined at work. At the end, I think he stopped wearing it because he was done. I don’t think he knew it, but I think it was the reality.
For me the physical ring was not was important. It was the promise that I made on that day to be his wife. During our marriage, whether I had my ring on my finger or not, I knew I was his wife. Even when I forgot to wear my ring at times, I never felt like I was not married. To me the commitments we made on our wedding day had defined me as “wife.” For many years, the ring on my finger symbolized an inward promise I had made. While others may have been able to see the physical ring on my finger, they could not see the promise in my heart. Now that I don’t have a ring on my finger, I am hyper-aware of my naked left ring finger.
It’s funny. A ring on someone’s finger was something I never noticed. Wearing my wedding ring was never an option for me. It was just who I was and what I did. In fact, it was something that I took for granted. Now, it’s the first thing that I notice when I look at others. Strangers in the store, the cashier at the grocery store, the other parents at my daughter’s soccer game – I look immediately at their ring finger. Are they wearing a ring? Do they still hold on to a promise that they once made?
When I see that commercial, I think about the promise of a ring. They aren’t selling engagement rings, they are selling a dream. And sometimes dreams turn into nightmares before you have a chance to wake up.