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.

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