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What I Didn't Expect When I Stopped Wearing My Wedding Ring

Photograph by Twenty20

I love my wedding ring (engagement ring included). It's a custom design my husband and I scored from his friends' jewelry business back in 2008 when we decided to make things official after about a year of dating. I designed the style (I even drew pictures for him to take to the jeweler like a freak).

Every time I put my rings on, I think of our journey as a couple, that fabulous trip to Italy (where he proposed) and the irreplaceable memory of going to his friend's house to finish the designs of each our wedding bands after I said yes. Priceless memories. Priceless moments. Priceless rings with all the sentiment attached.

Except my husband doesn't wear his ring—never has, probably never will.

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(I take that back. My husband has worn his wedding band once: at our ceremony, when the priest instructed us to slip our rings on each other's fingers in front of our 301 guests in 2009. Since the day of our wedding, his ring has been sitting in my jewelry box with an occasional spree on my thumb as an added funky accessory. Yes, even on anniversaries.)

From the get-go, he's maintained he "doesn't like wearing rings" because they get in the way of his job as a surgeon. I get it. I never questioned his motives because I knew they were innocent and authentic—the guy loves me, he's committed to our marriage and family but he just doesn't like to wear jewelry. Fine by me.

Until I started feeling extra cranky in the name of overextended motherhood.

I thought: Not wearing my rings would make me feel free! Not wearing my rings would make me feel younger!

Looking at my rings lately started prompting me to think about the lives of men vs. women, being a dad vs. being a mom and the unchanging career and freedom a man usually has vs. unloading the dishwasher and folding piles of laundry between work deadlines that the woman commonly has. Was it envy? Resentment? Was it just me needing more time at the gym? Whatever it was, I didn't like the thoughts my feelings were making me think.

My husband's anti-ring habits suddenly turned symbolic in the midst of our busy lives. After kids, he still pretty much does whatever he wants and I don't. I'm the initiator, scheduler, implementer and coordinator for all things family and household related (aren't we all). Like the majority of moms I know, I'm the default parent who handles everything across the spectrum unless I make a point to special-request extra backup (what he does always step up for). Being the default parent can feel constricting.

So I decided to ditch wearing my wedding rings for a week, to test if I'd magically start feeling "unchanged" after having kids. "My husband doesn't wear his ring, so why should I wear mine?" I thought. Not wearing my rings would make me feel free! Not wearing my rings would make me feel younger! Not wearing my rings would make me feel independent and unchanged by the demands of all things household and children! Not wearing my rings would make me feel ... just like him.

I'm disappointed to report that not wearing my rings didn't make me feel anything, except non-sparkly. Sure, I washed my hands without looking at my countertop in a panic, convinced I'd just accidentally knocked my priceless jewelry into the sink. And not one hot guy hit on me in the produce section (although that's not what I was going for in the first place, but I'd have giggled if it'd happened). I'm not even sure my husband noticed I ditched wearing them for a week, which is no fun at all. How are you supposed to start a debate about wanting more me-time in the family schedule if your spouse doesn't recognize your immature passive aggressive behavior?

Not wearing my rings made me feel unconnected to myself. I also found myself feeling paranoid that friends would notice and wonder if something serious was happening with my marriage. I missed the sparkle of it all—on the outside and the inside. I guess some of us ladies can't quite pull off what many men do in the name of feeling independent. I couldn't. I felt stupid for trying.

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As women, we work our butts off in the name of being stable and dependable coordinators, organizers, shuttlers to-and-from activities and classes and emotional support providers who pull off the impossible for the good of our families. The value and impact of fulfilling that role is absolutely priceless, even if we have to sacrifice bits of ourselves. So I will check my whining at the door and wear my priceless, sparkly ring and own it like only a mother can. Because, in the end, I do love everything it represents, non-independence sometimes included.

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