Rings – ringing the changes for how we think about rings
These are the rings I am wearing right now.
I didn’t used to wear shiny rings but actually, I’m 50, if not now then when?
These rings tell a stories, as all rings do.
The three gold bands are made out of the gold of my marriage, which ended in divorce.
I re-created them as family rings, one for each boy and one for me and I wear them all. When the boys are big enough for the rings to fit, they will get their rings and so we will all be connected through the rings. These rings carry the stories of our family.
The diamond ring came from my great aunt to my mum. This ring carries the story of strong women. My aunt looked after my mum during the wartime evacuation and my mum brought us up as a single parent at a time where divorce felt shameful and single-parenting was even more lonely and difficult than it is today.
You might think that rings can’t tell stories and yet once I handed a ring to a woman I had not met before who told me things she could not have known about my life. She said the ring told her. Who knows what is true.
The garnet ring used to have seed pearls in it, but they fell out so I replaced them with cubic zircon. One of the garnets is missing. This was the ring my dad brought my mum as an eternity ring. They divorced after 11 years. Not so eternal. This ring carries the stories of their marriage and my childhood.
I won’t marry again.
The legal process of divorce focuses on the financial situation. ‘Marriage’, said my barrister when I asked her what she tells her children about marriage when she worked with divorce, ‘is a purely financial contract. Never go into marriage with someone you wouldn’t go into business with’. I wouldn’t have gone into business with him.
Wedding rings and eternity rings are aspirations. We marry hoping for the happy ever after and we hope it will last for all eternity.
But then, eternity is such a long time.
Maybe far better to buy rings in celebration of what has been. Retrospective ringing and celebration of what has been overcome, shared, grown and created.
Maybe if we spent more time appreciating what we have and what has been shared there would be fewer divorces. Who knows.
When my partner and I met we made a commitment right at the start; within the first few days of meeting. We committed to being faithful and to telling the truth. It is all we have ever committed to and yet it is enough. I can’t commit to a future with him as I don’t know what the future holds, and he feels the same way.
Does that make it a failure? A doomed relationship? No more so than any other I would argue, maybe just honest.
Yet there is much to appreciate and celebrate from our time together. Much that has grown and is flourishing with the four of us.
In this time where divorce rates are high, maybe the ring story needs to change.
Maybe rings need to be bought to celebrate what has been. Retrospective ringing; kind of long service awards for lives lived together, with all their ups and downs.
Maybe we need to teach our youngsters the importance of appreciation and reflection. Maybe the focus needs to be less on the wedding day and more on the anniversary. Sometimes we spend too much time wanting what we hope and long for that we don’t notice what we have.
Maybe our rings need to tell a different story of gratitude and shared history rather than promises and dreams.