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Don't Put a Ring On It This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine.


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Recently I was sitting shotgun in our family minivan, a position of power that comes with the added perk of being able to change the radio station. As I was contemplating my newfound power – we usually listen to ྌs hair metal, but now that my father is deployed, I'm looking to change this – my mother started in on another one of our stilted conversations about my future. Stilted, because I was only half listening when we got to the subject of marriage. Instead I was remembering something a friend had told me: that some people have wedding rings tattooed on their fingers. To me that's a shocking level of commitment. We have such short attention spans these days … but back to my mother's one-sided conversation.

“Your dad hasn't worn his wedding ring for a while,” she was saying. I hadn't noticed. I pointed out how in his line of work it's understandable to put his ring someplace safe. She waved me off. “He didn't wear it even before he was deployed. I used to remind him, but it happened so often, I just let it go,” my mother finished, sounding resigned. I asked if that bothered her. She replied with a resounding yes.

My father is not alone. You may remember that Prince William decided not to wear a wedding ring. That's not uncommon in royal marriages, but what about the rest of the world? Here's something to think about: it only became the custom for American men to wear wedding rings in the 20th century. It's not too much of a stretch to say it reflects a change in gender roles. The wedding ring was originally a down payment on the bride. As a symbol of a successfully sold bride, traditionally only the woman got a ring. A wedding ring also indicated that the man was the provider.

These symbolic meanings aren't quite as strong in our minds anymore. Now the wedding ring has become a symbol of forever, of unending devotion. Think about whether it would be more important to have a wedding dress or ring on your big day. The ring takes precedence.

So, in current society, choosing not to wear a wedding ring is choosing not to display an object that ­encompasses what it means to be married. Nevermind that it's a new tradition for men. Women choose not to wear wedding rings sometimes too. But why wouldn't everyone want to? Does it indicate a lack of desire to get married in the first place? If your spouse chooses not to wear a wedding ring, can you trust him or her to wander the aisles of the grocery store alone? It's easy to imagine this leading to heated discussions ­between spouses.

Let me be frank. The fact that a ring has become the most important symbol of commitment is the problem. The fact that we choose to rely on a ring as the biggest outward expression of our love is troubling. Think about another ritual associated with weddings
– the reading of vows. Couples stand up in front of witnesses – friends, family, clergy, boss, God, and so on – and declare their willingness to spend forever together. Just how important is a ring after that?

And so just as sitting shotgun won't get me anywhere with the radio – both my parents love the ྌs – wearing a wedding ring won't make your spouse love you any more than he or she already does, and it won't make him or her more faithful. Unless, of course, you manage to wrestle him/her into a tattoo parlor for matching rings. There's probably something to be said for that.

This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. This piece has been published in Teen Ink’s monthly print magazine.




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This article has 12 comments. Post your own!

TanazMasabaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Apr. 22 at 7:43 am:
Hahaha I come from a place where we don't have wedding rings or any other physical form represnting commitment...yeah sure nowadays people biy wedding rings nobody wears them cause its more of a wedding gift than anything else really. For us, its only vows that counts. That, and your signituare on the legal documents XD
 
TanazMasabaThis teenager is a 'regular' and has contributed a lot of work, comments and/or forum posts, and has received many votes and high ratings over a long period of time. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Apr. 22 at 7:44 am :
*buy* mistype
 
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beautifulspirit This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. said...
Mar. 6, 2012 at 8:29 pm:
Never thought of the history of wearing wedding rings...a down payment on a bride? Really? Hmmm... Well that aside, I found your article to be refreshing on an obscure topic. Though honestly, I don't know how I'd feel if my husband didn't wear his wedding ring. I know that when you promise everlasting and eternal love to that one and only person, a ring cannot compare to that. But I mean, today the meaning behind the ring has changed---it's a symbol that says to the rest of the world that you be... (more »)
 
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KelliB said...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 1:29 pm:
That is very true. How we are raised is important to what we believe and not believe. I was personally raised not necessarily believing that a ring is the most important part of a marriage but that it was a sign that u weren't single and fully committed to someone.
 
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KelliB said...
Jan. 23, 2012 at 12:15 pm:
I totally disagree. The ring is a symbol of that vow. Its a reminder of the covenants you made to the person you are married to. If you aren't wearing it and you don't have a good reason, then its obvious that that committment to your spouse doesn't exist. There is a definite lack of selflessness.
 
Luminescent replied...
Feb. 2, 2012 at 6:43 pm :
Not really. My Dad never wears his ring, but he is always doing things for my mom like buying flowers. To me a ring doesn't seem important. It's how you treat the other person that matters, not the jewelry.
 
KelliB replied...
Feb. 3, 2012 at 11:19 am :
I wasnt saying that your dad doesn't do things that are great. And I'm not meaning to criticize their relationship. That came across way more negative than I meant. I just would understand why the mother in this story would be upset because her husband wasn't wearing his ring because that is something that I would be upset over.
 
Luminescent replied...
Feb. 3, 2012 at 9:15 pm :
Don't worry, I didn't think that at all. :D Personally, I don't think a ring is that important, but only since I grew uP in a family with that belief. I can see why you would find it better to wear one. There are good points on both sides.
 
Kaley K. This work has been published in the Teen Ink monthly print magazine. replied...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 6:54 pm :
Hello! You know what I love about this? I've seen adults who can't debate two sides to an issue without resorting to name-calling. Thank you both very much for contributing your input, and for doing so respectfully and intelligently. Obviously, I chose to write about an issue which is a personal decision. I, personally, don't believe that the decision not to wear a ring indicates the lack of commitment in a relationship. However, I would not expect others to feel the way I do. Like Luminesce... (more »)
 
Luminescent replied...
Feb. 4, 2012 at 7:45 pm :
Thanks, that means a lot!
 
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Blaker said...
Nov. 10, 2011 at 8:27 am:
This is really great! I love your straight to the point tone.
 
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Katelew said...
Aug. 8, 2011 at 6:38 pm:
Great article!!
 
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