What is your wedding ring to you? Is it simply a symbol of your marital status? Do you feel like it binds you? does it comfort you or is a source of discomfort to you? What memories or emotions does it evoke?
Since everyone will have completely different answers to all those questions (feel free to expound in the comments section), I am going to shortcut things by explaining what I have come to understand about this rather ancient symbol of marital union. Historically they were only given to the women and the tradition is documented all the way back to early Rome – and crosses almost all cultures in various forms (such as the Hindu use of Bichhiya or toe rings for an inestimable period of time) to represent that a woman was joined to a man. However, as our society has grown and evolved it has become a generally accepted tradition in much of the world to exchange rings in recognition that both husband and wife have claim on the other. In the Catholic Church, the priest blesses the rings themselves making the sacramental objects – ordained by the Holy Church, through the power of God, to bless and defend the marriage. This action takes the rings from the realms of symbolism and moves them to a very special place in our lives, our marriages, and our hearts.
I find my ring to be a great comfort, even when I was in the military and wearing it on my finger was a serious hazard to myself shipboard – it was moved to my “Dog Tags” where it was close to my heart and still on my person at all times. It serves as a reminder not only that I belong to someone, but that they belong to me and believe in me and value me enough to entrust their heart and future to my care. My ring has come to remind me of the joyful responsibility I undertook on my wedding day, and of the one person in this world who loves me more than anything or anyone else except God.
When one partner or the other removes their rings from their person, they are separating themselves from that sacred covenant. Distancing themselves from their commitment and promises, and in doing so turning away from the God who witnessed those vows. After all, if we cannot keep promises to each other – then how can we expect God to think we can keep our promises to him? If life were an ass-kicking contest then removing our wedding band is like competing after cutting off one of your legs – you have no support and both parties end up hurt and prostrate on the ground.
Did you ever think about the symbolism, each ring is free from the other yet inextricably bound – they are linked by love – a sort of quantum entanglement on a macro level (much like Einstein’s “Spooky Action at a distance”). The perfect circle symbolizing Eternity, the precious metal symbolizing the value of the bond, and the obvious placement a sign to all others that both you and your spouse are bound to each other and therefore off limits. It reminds me of the last words before we were pronounced husband and wife, “What God as joined together, let NO MAN put asunder”. It wasn’t until much later in my life that I realized that “No Man” included myself. My ring shines as a reminder to me not just of the commitment I have made, but of the commitment my wife also keeps. It reminds me that I am an integral part of another persons heart and soul, of their very existence, and that anything I do to damage that bond inevitably hurts myself, while anything I do to build or enrich it also has the same effect on me.
In the end, my wedding band is not a symbol. It is a physical manifestation of a joyful symbiotic relationship that transcends the limits of human understanding or reason. God created us for each other, not to be independent of each other. One is incomplete without the other, unstable – like a rudderless ship in heavy seas. My ring is that rudder, something I can touch to feel that connection in a physical way even when we are apart – and a reminder of the joy, contentment, and fulfillment that we continue to exchange every moment of every day – because whether in each others presence or separated by unimaginable distance, we are always together.
Please send Suggestion, reflections, questions, or comments to email@example.com. I especially am interested in how other people view the rings on their fingers.