I pawned my wedding ring and it felt good
I believe that symbols can be very powerful; I think they can accompany beautiful traditions and important moments in our lives. However, sometimes symbols can distract us from the thing they are supposed to represent. I think this can be true of wedding rings. The first time I took my wedding ring off after I got married, Adam and I happened to get into a fight. It didn’t occur to me that disagreements are par for the course the first year of marriage; instead I was convinced it was because I didn’t have my ring on and that in some cosmic way we were disconnected. I held this belief for several years, and tried to keep my ring on even though I find rings exceptionally uncomfortable. I would take my rings off any time I could: a shower, bedtime, painting. Adam on the other hand has not removed his since we were married. I felt guilty that I wasn’t connected to my wedding ring. I thought somehow that my lack of connection to them indicated a lack of connection to my marriage. Logically I can see that the two are separate, but emotionally I couldn’t. I finally got the courage to admit to Adam that I couldn’t stand wearing rings. He responded compassionately and said he already knew that. I was finally free to not wear my ring.
Our rings have been a large point of discussion in our swinger lifestyle. In a way, we think it is awkward to hit on someone when we have a wedding ring on. On the other hand, our partners always know that we are married, so seeing the ring upfront could be a good weeding out system for us for potential partners.
For many years, we discussed having our wedding bands tattooed on our fingers. The main deterrent for that plan was pain-I have tattoos, but I am convinced tattoos on fingers and toes hurt the most. Now, I am glad I didn’t get the tattoo. I am not sure what I think of wedding rings anymore. I think it is great if people have wedding rings and like them- I am speaking strictly in terms of myself. For me, I am not sure what a wedding ring tells me, or other people, that I don’t already carry in my being. I understand the symbol and I understand the social custom that a ring tells people if you are available (though our marriage proves that isn’t always true).
When we got engaged Adam took a ring I already had (a promise ring) and stole it when I set it down. He proposed to me with it on a futon in my mom’s house, and I eloquently responded “are you shittin me?” followed by “oh, yes!” I was bummed for a longtime that we couldn’t afford a nice ring, and that there wasn’t an elaborate proposal. But now, like many other experiences we’ve had, I prefer our quirky story. I actually lost my wedding band the night before our wedding. We had to by a stand in ring at Wal-Mart the night before the ceremony. We found my ring two days after the ceremony. So for a while, I had two bands and an engagement ring. My wedding rings and I have had quite the journey.
In the last year and a half, I have been really looking at my concept of marriage, and redefining it for myself. After my rings sat for several months in a cup labeled “espresso,” I realized that my revamped concept of marriage didn’t have to include my wedding rings. So, two days ago, I pawned my wedding rings.
Given my job loss, my family really needed the money, so the timing of it made sense to me. I mean they weren’t real, so they weren’t worth a ton, but at this point anything helps. I thought for a while if I should save my rings for Aimee someday, but I think there are other treasures that more represent her father and I. Our rings have seen a lot of painful years and experiences, and I wouldn’t want to pass that to my daughter. Maybe someday we will renew our vows and exchange something meaningful to us, that she can one day inherit. But for now, I needed the release of saying goodbye to those difficult years, and hello to a clean slate.
There was a sense of relief that came with pawning the rings. I felt, oddly, more connected to Adam. I don’t suggest it is for everyone, but for me, it was a great fit. I was keeping my wedding rings because I thought I was “supposed to.”
I have been really examining the “supposed tos” in my life. I have come to learn that while some of them work for me, many of them are the voices of other people or social customs in my head, instead of my own voice. So, my voice says there is a freedom and newness in releasing my rings. There is a refreshing feeling that I am in charge of my life.
Not having a ring, reflects for me, the free flowing marriage we have, not just in terms of partners, but in terms of the freedoms we now allow each other to evolve into our best selves. My ring began to weigh me down- I carried with it all the ideas I had gathered over the years about what marriage was supposed to be. I wondered, if every time people saw Adam and I walking hand in hand with our rings on, they assumed we were a married heterosexual couple. Wearing or not wearing a ring, does not change the internal state of a marriage, I am not any less married, any less committed, than I was when I wore my ring, but I am a more free wife, a wife who feels a little more like her authentic self, and that is worth more than any ring.