I was never the kind of girl who scoured magazines, planning her dream wedding with the perfect dress and the perfect ring.
Thank goodness because my first run-through of marriage was far from magazine perfect.
While I sat, strapped within an inch of my life to a carnival ride called Sky Shot, the man I’ll call First Husband got down on one knee, asked me to marry him, and then gave me a yellow gold ring that was already soldered together that his mother found under a mattress in a hotel.
That was the beginning. The ending wasn’t much better.
I married First Husband when I was twenty years old. When I was twenty-one, I divorced him.
He told me he had pretended to be someone else because he knew I would never marry who he really was.
He was right.
It’s amazing the damage that only nine months of being married to someone can do.
He gave me a ring his mom found, made of a color of gold I do not like, and expected that once we were married, I’d have to accept the real him because I didn’t believe in divorce. He just had to get me through the ceremony, and he was home free.
The care with which he picked out my wedding ring was on par with the care with which he treated me during those nine months. He found out just enough about what I liked and didn’t like to pretend his way into my life.
After our divorce was final, he called me late one night to let me know that he hadn’t been drinking and was playing video games less frequently.
I will never be treated the way you treated me ever again. Not by you or anyone else.
That was our last conversation.
I swore I would never get married again. Never trust another man. How could I? First Husband had assured me that all men were like him and that if any man said otherwise, he was lying.
This from the man who later admitted to pretending to be someone else ….
I never left the house without applying copious amounts of anti-boy spray. I made it clear that my heart was off-limits.
I’m not interested.
Two years after my divorce, I graduated college and moved from Oklahoma to Georgia to work as a performer at a theme park — Wild Adventures Theme Park.
I was immediately thrust into a cast of twenty-plus people. No one knew me. No one knew I’d been married. And divorced. No one knew that I was deeply wounded and did not trust men.
Within two weeks, three guys proposed to me.
Sure, you could say they were done with a playful spirit. But, it doesn’t feel cute or playful when your heart’s been trampled in the name of love, and it all started with an innocent little proposal.
Fast forward two years, lots of healing, and stories for another day, and I found myself living in NYC while my boyfriend, Judah, the third of the three guys who’d proposed to me at the theme park, was finishing college in Georgia.
We had plans to go on a cruise with our families. We’d talked about getting married. He’d asked questions about my taste in rings.
“What do you like?”
NOT YELLOW GOLD.
He would send me drawings of rings he was designing. Matching options for both of us. Ones that would fit together, symbolizing our love, commitment, and connection.
He proposed to me on the cruise and slipped a white gold band with a round diamond onto my ring finger.
Just one ring. The engagement ring. The one that represents the commitment to work together, in relationship, toward marriage.
And it fit.
It was for me. Just for me. Chosen, sized, and purchased with me in mind.
It was perfect.
And it was the biggest diamond I had ever seen. Let alone worn!
The diamond would catch on my pants as I put my hand in my pocket. Light reflecting off the diamond would catch my eye, and I would move my ring around to watch it sparkle.
When I got back to NYC, I was so self-conscious. My overactive imagination would spin tales of someone stealing my ring off my finger. Or kidnapping me and cutting my finger off to get the ring. Whenever I rode public transportation, I would turn my ring so the diamond faced my palm and keep my hand closed tight.
Just like our relationship, the ring was new and sparkly and delicate. It needed to be cared for and protected.
Over the course of our seven-month engagement, we visited the diamond district in NYC to pick out our wedding bands. Because of my experience with First Husband, I didn’t want to solder my rings together. It didn’t matter if the engagement ring and wedding band fit perfectly together or not. I didn’t plan to fuse them.
We found matching bands and a jeweler who could engrave the outside of our bands
I am my beloved’s - his ring
His desire is for me - mine
The words came from the Song of Solomon in the Bible. They were chosen to represent our hearts toward one another. “His desire is for me” was a great reminder because First Husband seemed to have a desire for everything but me.
Judah and I got married in December of 2004.
I may not have dreamed of a wedding ceremony, dress, or ring, but I did plan to wear my wedding rings every day of my life. I know some people take their rings off to wash the dishes or color their hair.
I wear mine all day, every day. Rain or shine.
In addition to being afraid I might lose them, I also like the visual reminder of my marriage and commitment to Judah.
Five years into our marriage, I got cast to perform in a tour that would travel across the country for ten-and-a-half months.
Okay, maybe I wouldn’t wear my rings all the time.
I couldn’t wear my rings onstage and didn’t feel comfortable taking them off and putting them back on on a near-daily basis. I was afraid they would get lost or stolen.
When I left home to start rehearsals in August of 2009, I left my rings behind.
But, I took with me the indention in my finger where my rings had been so I still saw Judah whenever I looked at my left hand.
Too quickly, the indention disappeared. As the months went by, and I felt the physical distance between us, I missed the daily visual reminder.
When I came home for the Christmas layoff, Judah and I decided to get tattoos on our ring fingers.
I am my beloved’s - his
His desire is for me - mine
We had the text tattooed in Hebrew. Now, whenever I am on a contract and don’t have my rings, I still see Judah when I look at my hand.
As the years go by, I notice my rings less and less. They have become part of my hand.
In the winter, my hands shrink. Because my rings are not soldered together, my engagement ring will twist around, and I have to manipulate my fingers to push the diamond back onto the top of my finger. This calls some attention to my hand. To the rings.
Throughout my entire marriage, I have adjusted and readjusted my wedding band to center the word “is” in “His desire is for me” in the middle of my ring finger.
This means that multiple times a day, across years of marriage, my eyes see “His desire is for me.”
I recently found myself marveling at my rings. Noticing the cut of the diamond. The meaning of the inscription. The love behind the thought and choice of the cut, the type of gold used.
I was moving my diamond around so the light could cast prisms. As I looked closer, I could see the impurity in the middle of the diamond. There is a black fleck right in the center. I know I’ve seen it before but don’t really look at it often.
As I maneuvered the diamond around, noting the imperfection, I thought, “how perfect that in the middle of this beautiful, love-inspired, precious stone, there is a blemish. An imperfection. It’s not hidden.”
Looking into my diamond, I saw myself reflected back. I am formed and molded. I have been cut in some places. I sparkle and shine in others. I am flat. I am rounded. I am imperfect and blemished.
My imperfections are not hidden. They are seen in the midst of the beauty that is me. If you get close enough, if you look deep enough, you will see the black spots within me.
If I am the engagement ring and Judah is the wedding band, we swivel and swirl around my finger. Sometimes aligning perfectly. Sometimes narrowly missing one another. Sometimes on opposite sides of the world. Always needing some adjusting.
We aren’t firmly fixed in place, soldered and immovable. We ebb and flow. And underneath it all, the tattoo, is the permanent, life-long commitment.
Wedding rings are used in a marriage ceremony to symbolize eternal love and commitment, an unbreakable bond.