The wedding ring, a band of gold, placed on our hands the day we exchanged those vows. Vows to love each other, to cherish one another and to commit to each other always.
I wore my ring through sickness, through laughter, through tears, through sleepy Saturday mornings, through our big adventures and our difficult trials. It was an extension of me, it symbolised so much. Ultimately, it represented the most important promise I would ever make.
In the months after my husband left me for another woman and told me he wanted a divorce, I still wore my wedding ring. I would hold onto it as I prayed, like it had some sacred power within it to help heal and restore my marriage. I believed that God’s blessing over our marriage, that was given on our wedding day, still remained.
In all honesty, I couldn’t bare the thought of taking it off, of never putting it back on again. Every time I saw my husband after D Day, I was wearing it. He took his ring off within weeks but not me. I wore it as an act of defiance against the forces that were ripping our marriage apart at it’s seams.
I hoped that he would see it on me and know that I wasn’t giving up on us, on the promises we had made to each other and that it would jolt him into remembering what I had meant to him, of the journey that we had shared. I didn’t know how long I would keep my ring on but then and there, it felt right to keep on wearing it. I felt that there was still time for our marriage to be saved and in keeping my ring on I was keeping hope alive.
I look back now and see how surreal that time was, walking around wearing a wedding ring when your husband had transferred his care and affection to another. I was holding on to the promises we had made to each other, symbolically clinging onto them through the tangible presence of that polished ring upon my finger. He was gone, breaking every one of those promises. It makes me feel so sad now, to think of the blind hope that was alive in my heart.
After many months, there would be occasions when I took the ring off for a couple of days, but then I would quickly place it back on my finger with any glint of potential hope for my marriage I experienced.
As time went on, I continued to absorb my husband’s spite and hatred. I took the hurt, took the pain, took the shock. He layered it on me, like I was a cold, plastic doll with no heart, no feelings and no life. He dehumanised me to such a degree, that he eventually started to squeeze that long held, deep rooted and far reaching love within me, pushing me to a point of defeat. Defeat in terms of my efforts to save the marriage.
Sometimes, someone can hurt you so much and cause such pain that we will never be able to look at that person again in the same way. They can force us to realise that they can no longer healthily be apart of our lives.
On one ordinary morning, I woke up, looked at my ring and rather than placing it on my finger the way I had each and every morning over the years, I instead gently kissed it. I took it to my mum and asked her to keep hold of it. I didn’t want to see it anymore. I know this is going to sound odd but I think I felt that, if she stored it in the place that she leaves her wedding rings at night, the sacredness and committed nature of my parent’s marriage would expel the sordid, fickle and hateful nature that mine had ended in.
I haven’t looked at the ring again and have no desire to see it anymore. I am considering what to do with it long term. I have had lots of suggestions given to me by others, in terms of what they did with theirs when they went through a divorce. It is a deeply personal thing and I am going to deal with that part when I am in a stronger head space.
The tan line remained on my finger for many weeks after I took it off. It was just another cruel echo of the loss of my marriage. All these months on, I still have a moment of panic when I realise the ring is not on my finger. For a moment I forget myself and think I’ve lost it. Then I remember in an instant what has happened to me and the fact that I won’t be wearing it again. It’s like a red hot poker to my heart.
I have come to understand that when I wore my ring, I wore it with pure love, with honesty and loyalty. When my husband wore his ring, he was able to carry out so much betrayal, hurt and callousness. The concepts of commitment and love clearly meant two very different things to both of us.
The memories of love shared, a love that felt like a lifetime to me, do not end with the removal of a ring. It is merely an act of acknowledgement that the marriage is over. It is something I still struggle with everyday. Removing the ring was the first outward act where I acknowledged to myself and to my husband, that this is over.
A ring. An endless circle of love and a promise to endure. The sad reality is that it is endless, only until someone ends it. And promises endure, only for as long as they are kept.