I have a weird relationship with my wedding rings. Actually, my weirdness is just with one of them (there are two total). I have struggled, as many others have, with how my queerness and my queer marriage jives with the elements of traditional marriage like engagement and wedding rings.
We didn’t have an engagement, really. We decide to get married and then just did it nine days later. In those nine days, we bought rings for us to exchange at the wedding – two simple bands that didn’t match each other but that we picked because they suited us individually. We did have a conversation beforehand about whether or not we wanted rings, and decided that we did because it was a cultural symbol that we liked and we felt comfortable with what we knew to be the origins of the tradition – something about the circle being an unending thing, and the vein in the ring finger being a straight line to the heart (whether or not this is correct I can’t be 100% sure, but we like the idea). So we got wedding bands.
During this discussion, and while ring shopping, Bek asked if I wanted an “engagement type” ring also, or if I wanted my wedding band to be something more blingy (in the style of an engagement ring) or just altogether different or unique or fancy. I said no – I wanted my band to be plain… But that maybe later, I might like another ring or to “upgrade” the one we got. Which was kind of the plan for both of us anyway; because we were in a rush there wasn’t time to get any good quality gold or platinum rings sized before the wedding (and I have bizarrely thin fingers for a 6ft tall person, or any person for that matter, so they just don’t have rings in my size hanging around the store). So we decided to get cheap silver bands, and later when the time was right get something more substantial that would last longer.
For the record, I LOVE my wedding band. When I do get it replaced, I will get one made to look exactly like it but in better quality metal. It’s perfect, and I have no regrets about any decisions made about rings at that time. None whatsoever.
So I always said I wasn’t the engagement ring “type”. I always said that I wouldn’t need an engagement ring – money was better spent elsewhere, I didn’t need that sort of physical representation of love from someone, outdated hetero-patriarchical tradition that represented ownership of women, bah blah blah. But note that I said I didn’t NEED an engagement ring – I didn’t say I didn’t WANT one. I’d have liked to think I didn’t want one, and I may have even lied to myself and others once or twice by saying that I didn’t.
But here’s the thing – I’m kinda girly. It’s taken a while for me to discover, grow into, and now celebrate my femme identity. But now I’m fully onboard with my femme self, and am trying to not chastise myself everytime I like/want/appreciate something that is stereotypically feminine. And for whatever reason, a more flashy ring became a part of that. I still didn’t necessarily want diamonds, I would have happily gotten something fake or a cheaper stone. I just started to notice other people’s rings and start to think that maybe I would like something similar.
Truth be told, I think a part of it was insecurity about our quickie wedding with no one there, and that was only legal in one of our countries, that had me almost feeling like we weren’t really “Grown-Up Married”. I know it sounds silly, but I think some part of me felt like our wedding wasn’t taken seriously by others. And the engagement-style ring wasn’t a part of that necessarily – I very truly don’t think that a sparkly ring, or any ring or any THING, is required for people to commit themselves to one another for life - but the engagement-style ring just for me became a symbol of being a “Grown-Up Married” person. I still can’t entirely make sense of why that is, because it wasn’t about spending the money on it or anything. Maybe it was that it became a symbol of the marriage planning process, of someone declaring their desire to marry you.
And, honestly, I felt like a missed my opportunity to be a part of something that many other women participate it without question. ‘Cuz I mean, really, when else do you get an excuse like that? It definitely wasn’t the kind of thing I was going to go out and buy for myself. I felt like I was denying myself something that appealed to me for the sake of being “good queer feminist”. I was a little sad that I had started to dislike a part of myself so much. But it’s hard to make peace with the idea that accepting and loving a part of yourself is wrapped up in acquiring a piece of jewellery. You know?
Obviously, I over-thought the heck out of this particular issue.
Where I’m going with this (in Part Two) is the ensuing debacle, and eventual happy resolution, that is my second ring. But I’d REALLY love to hear what other people’s feelings are on this subject. Who has rings, and what kind? How did you decide what to do about them? What, if any, conflicting feelings did you encounter around rings and your queerness?