I am on my second wedding ring, and unless my husband's matching band shows up when we fold the laundry, he will soon be buying his fourth -- or is it his fifth? No, this is not a multiple-marriage kind of thing. He loses his wedding bands with about the same frequency he gets oil changes, and I replaced my ring after the original one kept irritating my finger.
I have no special attachment to my wedding band, which in itself is a source of horror for my 14-year-old daughter.
"Don't you want to be able to give me your wedding ring when I get married?" she asks incredulously.
"Don't you want to marry someone who can afford to buy you your own?" I counter. And besides, I point out, the ring she should be eyeing and fighting with her brother over is my three-carat diamond, not my simple gold band.
Maybe I'm just not a sentimentalist, but my marriage is more than just a gold ring. I felt the same way about my wedding ceremony many years ago. I really cared more about where we would go on vacation afterward than what flowers I carried. Ceremonies, rituals -- they have their place, but mostly I don't like to get caught up in the superficial and prefer to keep it real. Everyone knows that the important stuff in a marriage comes after the last wedding guest leaves the party and you have to figure out a way to spend the rest of your lives together. I don't need a ring to remind me that I married someone who I love to pieces, despite the fact that he can't keep a damn ring on his finger.
For the record, wedding rings certainly haven't stopped acts of infidelity, changed anyone's bad habits, or held a marriage together one day longer than the ring-wearing partners want it to be.
Yet these somewhat boring items of jewelry are empowered with great significance.
There was even a study back in 2006 that "proved" how parents who didn't wear wedding bands were inferior parents . According to the study, non-ring-wearers didn't watch their children as well as their ring-wearing counterparts. W. Andrew Harrell observed 862 caregiver-children pairs in 14 supermarkets in Edmonton, Canada. He measured neglect by how often the caregivers or their young charges wandered more than 10 feet apart -- a distance too great to prevent an accident, he said. Harrell found that females without rings lost sight of the kids 19 percent of the time and ringless men lost sight 25 percent of the time. Compare that to only 9 percent of ring-wearing women and 15 percent of ring-wearing men losing their kids.
"Past research suggests the absence of a wedding ring in North American culture is indicative of a lack of emotional commitment to marriage," said Harrell, noting his study suggests it might also indicate a lack of a commitment to one's family, including the children. A stretch? Mostly, I think, a wedding ring serves as a repellant to those who come sniffing around looking for a mate of their own.
By the way, Harrell is now a lawyer. He doesn't handle divorces, and yes, he wears a wedding ring. Actually, he wears two. His wife apparently really loves rings and keeps buying them.
About now, an astute reader might be wondering if I care so little about my wedding ring, why do I keep replacing my husband's lost ones? Let's just say, one should never underestimate the power of guilt. I may not care if he wears a wedding band, but as long as he thinks I do and he's feeling guilty, I can seize the moment of opportunity. Kauai -- the beach where he lost Ring #2 -- here we come.