We got a good deal on my wedding ring. It cost us $75 at Sam’s Club, and that was a lot of money to us back then. It’s a simple, gold wedding band. I forget how many karats.
I never dreamt about what my wedding ring would be like. Apart from the fact that I’m not big on jewelry (except for earrings!), the sort of ring I would wear just never seemed terribly important to me. What mattered to me was to have a solid marriage, no matter what kind of ring I wore.
When we got it, I remember thinking to myself, ‘I bet this will fade in a year or so.’ Although $75 was nothing for us to sneeze at back then, I knew that there were much more expensive, sophisticated, beautiful rings. ‘If it ever fades in the years to come, we can always buy a better one,’ I thought.
We bought matching rings at the same time, for the same price.
For twelve years, I had this habit of playing with my ring: pulling it off from its tight spot, where it had left a slight mark on my skin, and rotating it around and around on my finger. I enjoyed doing that for some reason. Once in a while, I would pull it off for a split second – just to see if it was possible – and then quickly put it back on again, petrified of the idea of losing it.
It didn’t cost a lot, but it meant a lot. It represented the hopes and dreams of two young people with their whole lives ahead of them. It was a symbol of our partnership, our covenant.
My then husband, despite his propensity for misplacing things, kept his ring firmly in place without a problem for the first three years of marriage. By the end of the third year, his business ventures began to take him to another country. When he got back from one of his trips – either late that year, or early the next – he arrived without his wedding ring. He lost it, he explained, when I pointed it out.
How do you lose your wedding ring? I wondered.
But he bought another one soon enough for me to think nothing more about it.
When he returned from his next trip, he arrived yet again without his wedding ring.
‘How do you lose your wedding ring?’ I asked (out loud, this time).
‘I miss you when I’m gone,’ he explained. ‘And so, when I go to bed, I take off my ring and put it on the pillow by my side. It makes me feel like you’re there with me.’
Weird, I thought.
But I bought it.
He purchased yet another ring. This one was bigger with a bold design. A bit too gaudy for my liking.
The next time he got back, his wedding ring finger was bare, as usual.
I never asked about his ring again.
I honestly don’t know why.
Perhaps I had just resigned myself to the fact that my spouse was careless and lost things all the time. Perhaps I was just too weary taking care of a small child to want to bother with an adult. Perhaps I just stopped caring – about the rings, about the tedious relationship – long before I even realized it myself. Who knows?
I finally took my wedding ring off in December 2010 – a little over a year before my divorce. As I considered the various events that had unfolded over time, wearing it just seemed like a farce. There was no longer a covenant to speak of, and so wearing a wedding ring no longer seemed to hold any purpose. I put it in my jewelry box, where my earrings and necklaces have kept it company ever since.
My wedding ring never faded. My seventy-five dollar wedding ring from Sam’s Club.
After 14 years, it remains intact and almost as good as new. When I open my jewelry box to look for a pair of earrings, it shines back at me, brilliantly, knowingly, mockingly, from its new home.
Despite its arrogance, I still keep it. I would say I treasure it, actually. I respect it. It has stood the test of time, and there’s something to be said for longevity, consistency, and constancy.
Nena Ndioma is the pen name of the writer behind Remembering my Journey, a blog detailing thoughts on being African, Christian and Divorced.