I recently unearthed five rolls of unprocessed films in one of our cabinets, which I readily took to a photo processing shop to be developed. I had the pictures copied to a disk, and while I was viewing them on my computer, I saw one that really caught my attention. It has my left hand wearing my long-lost white gold wedding band. I couldn’t remember why I had that picture taken, although I suspect that it must be because of the tattoo at the back of my hand that one of my daughters must have drawn using their gel tattoo pens. Nevertheless, I am happy to have this picture now, especially that it’s the only reminder I have of the wedding rings that my husband and I used to have.
It has been three years now since my husband and I lost our wedding rings. I have felt more than once the silent scorn, the doubtful thoughts of other people around me, especially women, as they stare at my bare hands, wondering if I were truly and legally married. After all, I have children but their father only comes home to us once or twice a year, not to mention he only stays for three to fourteen days when he does come home. Moreover, my children and I live away from our relatives and most of our friends, apart from the fact that we usually keep to ourselves.
I remember sitting with a group of fellow moms once, who started looking at their wedding rings for some reason and soon began sharing stories about them. After they each had said something about their seemingly expensive wedding bands, I felt compelled to explain why I wasn’t wearing mine. I gave them the lame excuse that my wedding band no longer fit my ring finger. Although that was partly true, that wasn’t the real reason I no longer wear my wedding ring. This small group of women became my friends later on, by the way, but I never bothered to tell them nor anyone the truth.
To put it simply, as much as my husband and I would like to wear our rings again, they’re no longer ours. They had ceased to become our most treasured possessions, they had long since left our hands and our home. They now belong to people we do not even know, although I tried to find out who they were in the hope of recovering the said articles.
When my marriage hit the rocks in the first quarter of 2009, the same time that our family’s finances were at its poorest state, I had chosen to pawn my wedding ring instead of borrowing money from someone. I easily got my husband’s permission to pawn my ring, since he himself had long since regarded both our wedding bands and our marriage with contempt. On my part, although I had second thoughts about it, it was not really that difficult for me to part with my ring despite the fact that I used to admire it, even held on to it as if it was the only thing that could save my marriage, a symbol of my husband’s unceasing love and loyalty. I finally admitted that the ring had plainly become a symbol of suffering to me that I actually felt somewhat vindicated after pawning it. The need to survive had been a good excuse as well as my husband’s apathy. Besides, I did not need another reminder of my parents-in-law then, who gave those rings to us as wedding gifts. (At that time, my relationship with my in-laws, especially with my husband’s mother, had already turned sour.) A few weeks after I had pawned my own ring, we still needed money and my husband readily gave me his ring to have it pawned too, instead of giving me some cash.
I had missed that ring. I felt bare when it was gone from my hand. The mark that it left on my left ring finger stayed for weeks, probably even months. The mark evoked various emotions: longing, pain, and yes, freedom. There were also days when I chastised myself for pawning it. After all, I could have easily borrowed money from my parents any time. Plus, it would avoid having someone maliciously think that my children were born out of wedlock if I were wearing one, right? However, I had also learned to dismiss those thoughts easily as nonsense, even justifying to myself that not wearing a wedding band didn’t matter to my husband, so it should not bother me either. In time, I had learned to live without it, even forgot about it.
It was only when my husband exerted a sincere effort to win me back that same year that I remembered my wedding band and confronted the fact that having it on my left ring finger meant so much to me. However, since my children and I had left my husband and moved far away from him, plus I had become so busy trying to earn a living at the same time taking care of my children and my late mother, who was battling with cancer then, I couldn’t visit the pawn shop and redeem the rings. By the time I had the time to do so, I realized, however, that it was already too late; the pawn shop had already sold them to strangers. Although they were able to tell me which of their branches the rings were auctioned off and when, there was simply no way for us to recover them since they keep no record of the persons who bought jewelry from them. I had cried so much upon realizing that we would never see those wedding bands again, which we used to proudly wear during the first few years of our marriage.
My husband tried to console me and promised to get us new wedding bands. At least this time, it would be he himself who’d be paying for them, choosing them for us. Since he started working in Singapore, he’s been telling me of the number of rings he had already seen, taking note of the perfect ones for us, but not buying them yet as he intends to get them for our 10th wedding anniversary.
If there’s something I have learned from the experience, however, it’s not about not pawning your wedding rings. Sometimes, it just happens. I know it does because there’s another couple I knew who had pawned their wedding bands to be able to pay the hospital bills when their only child got sick and they had no one else to turn (to). Like us, they weren’t able to recover their rings, too.
I learned, however, that it’s not the wedding ring that a couple wears on their left ring fingers that would tell the world how stable their marriage is or how faithful and loving they are to each other. It takes so much more than that. A radiant face, a happy home, a secured countenance no matter what difficulties a couple might be facing… these are just some of the indicators, symbols, that are so much more than a wedding ring could represent.
God willing, next year, my husband and I shall be celebrating both our 10th civil wedding anniversary on March 21st and our church wedding anniversary on June 28th. I am excited at the thought that I’d be wearing a new ring that my husband himself would be picking for me, for us. More than that, however, I look forward to that day (March 21, 2013) because we’ll be renewing our marriage vows, we’ll be celebrating a decade long of God’s love and faithfulness to our life as a married couple as well as to our whole family, and finally, we’ll be doing it in front of our children who always feel bad when looking at our wedding pictures because they weren’t present in any of them.