Putting a ring on it

I learned something new from reading the New York Times: apparently, my beloved husband is actually unable to commit to me and seeks his freedom.  Crazy, right? I wouldn’t have believed it, but that’s how an actual psychotherapist sees Will’s lack of a wedding ring. It’s a symbol of “an inability to fully commit or a desire to be free.”

I’m going to admit that the only reason I clicked on the article was because I knew it would piss me off.  With a headline like Men Who Don’t Wear Wedding Bands – and Why, I suspected the ‘why’ answer wouldn’t be as simple as ‘he doesn’t like rings‘ or ‘he works in a field in which a ring could get his finger caught in a machine and rip the digit right off his hand‘ or ‘he has a metal allergy‘ (note: only the first of these things is true for Will). No, there had to be a deeper more dramatic reason.

The psychotherapist who was quoted in the article stated that not wearing a ring “…may unconsciously signal availability for adultery, either actually or in fantasy.” Really?  Maybe someone seeing my husband without a ring may make that person think that Will is available, but so what? What happens then? They hit on him? So? Quite honestly, if someone hits on my husband, he’s going to be oblivious to it (sorry sweetie, it’s true, you just don’t notice these things). That doesn’t mean he wants to cheat.  That doesn’t mean he’s available for adulterous liaisons.

The truth is, neither Will nor I regularly wear our wedding rings.  I wear mine when I want to feel dressed up or if I’m going to a professional event – it’s like armor that keeps older men from hitting on me. He wears his when we’re about to go out to celebrate our anniversary and I say something like “Hey, let’s put on our wedding rings!”

Neither of us like wearing rings, though we do like the actual physical rings.  They are titanium bands with a personally significant design made by an artist that Will befriended – Will bartered for them with some custom built LED lights, an old hobby of his.  They are our second set – I still have my original wedding ring; Will’s was destroyed six months into our marriage.  True story – he dropped a big stack of disk weights on his hand.  His ring, made from Tungsten Carbide, shattered, but was strong enough to save his hand – I’m pretty sure that if he had not been wearing the ring on that particular occasion, he would have ended up in emergency surgery and the doctors would have had one of those ‘we’re not sure if we can save your hand, where would you like the amputation‘ talks with him.

Sometimes Will talks about what his next wedding ring will look like.  He’s picked out some ridiculously expensive metal that he thinks looks cool.  For me, if we get new rings again, I want stainless steel. I like the look of it.  I once mentioned to my dad that my next wedding ring would probably be stainless steel and he got really angry with me, because apparently whatever ring you exchanged during your ceremony is your only wedding ring for all time and you can never change it out.  Jokes on you, Dad, thanks to a mistake in sizing, we didn’t even have Will’s real ring for our ceremony. It was a stand-in that looked nothing like it.

I once had someone (other than my father) get upset with me for not wearing a ring. I was talking to some guy outside of a bar study course, and we were chatting about the legal market and my unemployed status and he thought my outlook was very refreshing (because I wasn’t freaking out over not being employed yet).  He asked me a few more questions and was being rather complimentary, and then I said something about ‘well, my husband blah blah blah’ and the guy immediately got mad and asked – in an accusatory tone – where my wedding ring was.  I shrugged and said I didn’t know, probably on my keyboard at home because I hated wearing rings. The asshole started acting like I had been deliberately leading him on, and he walked away. I take full responsibility though – I had thought I was having an innocuous conversation with a colleague and did not realize that because I am a woman and he was a man, any such conversation should inevitably lead to sexual relations, if I am not wearing a ring to signal that I am closed for business.

Rings are nice, if you like wearing them.  But if you don’t, it doesn’t symbolize a deep dissatisfaction with your relationship.  In fact, maybe it means that you are so satisfied and secure in your relationship that the impressions others may have of your empty ring finger are irrelevant.  I don’t need a ring to know I’m married, and I don’t need Will to wear one to pledge that he’s mine.  We’re the ones who matter in this relationship.

Talking to children about marriage equality

I have been gratified to see my facebook news feed full of celebratory responses to today’s Supreme Court decision which finally granted marriage equality throughout all fifty states. With a few specific and expected exceptions, my friends and family are excited and proud of today’s decision. Perhaps I just hide in my little corner of the internet with like-minded people, but the only negative responses I’ve seen (other than my two fundamentalist relatives who I only keep on my newsfeed because their political conspiracy theories greatly amuse me) have cited the bible rather than the Constitution, and have only appeared in my view because I have friends arguing with the original posters.

In those few negative anti-equality postings, the concern that people keep repeating is ‘what about the children?’ and ‘now will schools have to teach about gay marriage?’ and the apparent fear that, if exposed to an openly gay person, the gay virus will spread and contaminate previously heterosexual children.  That last one, obviously, is too stupid to waste time addressing.

However, we do need to think about the children.  As parents right now, in this historic moment, we do have the responsibility to tell our children what is happening and what it means for them.  We are the only generation of parents who will have to do so – our children’s children will grow up in a world where marriage between two people who love each other regardless of their respective genitalia will be normal.  Our children’s children will look back on the marriage equality issue with the same ‘oh how quaint and outdated’ attitude that we look back on the ban on interracial marriage before Loving v. Virginia.

So we have this responsibility, and we need to take it seriously.  I’ve already had the talk with Wildling.  It went like this:

Me: So there was some big exciting news this morning.

Wildling: What? Is it something for me?

Me: No, news from the Supreme Court.  You know what the court is, right? [she’s been to the courthouse with me numerous times so she vaguely understands the concept] Well, there’s a really important court that decides the major issues for everyone in our country.  And they decided to allow marriage equality.  That means in all the states, if a boy wants to marry a boy, he can, and if a girl wants to marry a girl, she can, and if a boy and a girl want to marry each other, they can.

Wildling: That’s good. I’m probably going to marry Helena.

Me: I thought she hadn’t been being nice to you lately.  You can only marry her if she’s nice to you and is a good partner for you.

Wildling: Yeah, ok, I’m probably going to marry a boy instead.  I’m going to marry Cortez.

Me: You can only marry Cortez if he’s nice to you and is a good partner for you.

Wildling: I know! You already said that!

Me: Sorry.  But it’s good that everybody can marry the person they want, if that person is a good partner for them, right? So today is a good day.

Wildling: Everybody is going to be so happy today!

Me: Well, not everyone, but we’re not going to worry about those people.

Will’s Stones

Last night, I was planning on writing a post about the truth behind that saying “It takes a village to raise a child.” I’ve been feeling that a lot lately, because I’ve been dependent on others to help me with the kids, while I’ve been taking care of Will.  But then I got distracted and decided to do some de-cluttering while watching old episodes of Project Runway (clearly, we party hard here).  Meanwhile, Will decided that since the computer was available, he’d hijack my wordpress account.  I’m flattered and humbled that he thinks so well of me.

It’s been a rough couple of weeks for both of us.  First, there was the terrible plague that struck down the kids and me.  Will took care of us through that.  Then, last Thursday, it was Will’s turn to need help.  I was out with Mellow and saw I had two missed calls from him.  I did not check my voicemail, and I’m glad of that, because had I listened to his messages, I probably would have driven straight to a funeral parlor and asked them about their rates and availability.  Instead, I called him, and I have never, in the nearly fifteen years that I have known him, heard him in so much pain.  He was on his way to Urgent Care, and needed me to meet him there.

I made it soon after he did, and the receptionist, when I told her I was there for my husband, shook her head in sympathy and said “That poor man.  He’s in so much pain.”  And he was. When I went back to see him he was shaking and writhing and could barely talk.

This has changed my opinion on kidney stones.  I previously thought of them as something uncomfortable and irritating.  I never realized that they could reduce a grown adult into a quivering mass of jelly.  I have suffered from (TMI alert) incapacitating menstrual cycles, plus I was in labor for fifty-six (yes, I had to spell it out because that number is so big) long hours with Wildling.  But I have never known pain like Will was experiencing.

They sent him home with a prescription for Percoset and the hopes that he would pass the stone.  I then spent several hours driving around town like a junkie trying to fill that damn prescription.  Apparently, CVS, which is the company our insurance requires us to use, has a policy that does not allow pharmacists to give out information about controlled substances over the phone.  Therefore, when you go to one and they are out of percoset, they can’t tell you where to go and they can’t call anywhere to find out if there is any available.  The third CVS assured me they’d have some ‘some time next week,’ and couldn’t answer when I asked how that helped my husband’s kidney stone now.  The fourth CVS, the one 45 minutes from my house, did have percoset, and it took them an hour and a half to transfer fifteen pills into a bottle with Will’s name on it.  Not a good day for Will.

So that was Thursday.  Friday, Will was feeling pretty good, so we decided to have a horrible crying filled day at an art festival.  And that night things took a turn for the worse.  Will spent the weekend suffering and sometimes vomiting from the pain.  Monday morning, we called his mom, Kathy, and asked her to watch Mellow while we went to the emergency room.  We spent the day there, while they gave him morphine and a CT scan and determined that the pain was definitely from a kidney stone – specifically a 6mm monstrosity (the scan also revealed two time-bombs in his other kidney – those are going to be fun).

And that was our 8th wedding anniversary.  We celebrated eight years of marriage together in the emergency room, while Will suffered and I read books and talked to doctors and called people to let them know what was going on.  I did take the time to kindly remind him that we had written our own wedding vows, and the whole ‘in sickness and in health’ thing was not included, so technically, I was not obligated to sit there with him.

He overnighted in the hospital, and late Tuesday afternoon had a minor surgery to place a stent.  In two week, he goes back and they will break the stone up with a laser and get it out.  Fun, right? This is the kind of thing that people used to die of, back in the days before modern medicine and fancy lasers.

My poor Will.  At least the stent has taken the pain and most of the discomfort away.  And sometime next week, we’re going to get to go out and have a proper anniversary dinner that does not consist of hospital cafeteria food.

Finally, True Commitment

I think it’s happening. Will and I are finally ready to make a real commitment to each other. After 15 years of friendship, 10.5 years of a romantic relationship, 9 years of living together, and almost 8 years of marriage, we are finally ready to do it: we are going to stop having separate silverware.

It’s true. Real commitment is happening.

When we first moved in together, in 2005 (we’re getting old!), we each had our own set of silverware. Mine was a gift from my grandmother, when she cleared out all of her kitchen stuff to move in with my parents. A few minutes on Google tells me that the pattern, Oneida Twin Star, is considered vintage, so I guess that qualifies mine as fancy and elegant. Will’s silverware, the Oneida Jupiter Satin (thanks, Google and ten minutes of searching), is one that he bought himself when he first moved out of his parents’ house. He loves his. He thinks it’s the most beautiful silverware in the world.

Neither of us was willing to compromise, and we wouldn’t give up our silverware. Personally, I think he should have gotten rid of his, because mine is vintage and came from my grandmother (plus, it’s pretty). But according to him, the curved edge at the base of the forks and spoons digs into his delicate hands and hurts him, so he can’t eat with those – and he hasn’t, in the ten years he’s had access to them. I’ve used either set, because my hands are tougher than his, but I wasn’t going to give up a pattern I really liked for his kind of boring one.

So that’s the way it has been for the past ten years. We have a silverware drawer filled to overflowing. A couple of years ago I got a nice organizer for the drawer, but there are so many spoons that everything is just kind of jammed in and messy anyway.

Here’s what’s changed: I am decluttering. Stuff is gong away. Bags and bags of unnecessary crap have been taken out of our house and donated or disposed of. Today, I was working on the kitchen and I opened our ridiculously over-filled silverware drawer and I realized that we needed to do something to fix this situation (also, Will needs to fix the actual drawer, since it’s partially damaged).

It is time. We are committed to each other. We don’t need to hold on to our old silverware just in case we decide to break up. That ship has sailed. We aren’t going anywhere. And in honor of this commitment, we need to stop this ridiculous use of separate sets of silverware.

We are buying one set. We will go to a store and pick out a set together, and that will be our shared silverware. I think we’re finally ready.