By: Briana Almengor, For Every Mom Contributor
“Where is your wedding ring?” my friend, Melanie asked.
I seemed to consistently have a reason to take my wedding ring off.
Hot showers. At night before I went to sleep. Scorching summer days when my fingers would swell. The occasion that vexed my husband the most was when I would not wear my wedding ring at our local gym.
I wasn’t trying to give the impression that I was available. My fingers would swell, making my ring tight, causing it to rub against my skin. It was unpleasant to wear during workouts.
With all the occasions to take it off, I wore my wedding ring less than I didn’t wear it.
Such was the case when my long time friend from college, Melanie noticed I didn’t have mine on and inquired about it.
After I explained all the reasons I found for removing it, Melanie smirked, reminding me of the conversation we just concluded about how my children are “comfort kids” (my words) and didn’t want to do anything that caused them pain or discomfort.
“How about you provide an example for your children by enduring a little pain and discomfort yourself and keep your wedding ring on? Keep it on through your showers, your sleep, your sweating and swelling. Slowly but surely, your skin will adjust, toughen up, soften, or a bit of both, and you’ll wear that ring without even noticing it anymore. It will become a part of you, one with you.”
I took my friend up on her wedding ring challenge.
At the time I was twelve years into a difficult marriage. My husband and I were wild about each other when we first married. But as with many couples, the stressors of everyday life, raising children, and a load of our own sinful baggage made for a disillusioning, and at times, despair-filled union.
We fought hard for our own way, to be heard, understood, and loved.
But we also fought hard to get it right–to love each other well, to understand, trust and forgive.
Twelve years in, God brought about a number of significant changes in our life that inaugurated a new season of hope for our marriage.
One big change was that my husband and I started seeing a paid, professional biblical counselor. The time and money we invested there have proven both profitable and priceless.
Here’s What my Wedding Ring Taught Me About the Pain of Permanence and the Joy of Unreserved Commitment
What I thought was an insignificant decision to keep my wedding ring on my finger ended up not being such a small gesture.
I hadn’t realized what a profound metaphor it was displaying about my commitment to my marriage. Through counseling I was able to be honest about my lack of trust–not just in my husband, but in God as well. My lack of trust provoked a number of self protecting behaviors — one of them being to take my wedding ring off.
Taking my wedding ring off was an outward demonstration of an inward reality: I was not up for the potential pain of permanence. I wanted an “out.”
Take my wedding ring off to shower — Daydream about various past boyfriends I had and what my life might look like had things turned out differently with one of them.
Take my wedding ring off to workout at the gym — Pretend God grants me the “out” by becoming a widow and think about how I would navigate dating with three young kids.
Take my wedding ring off to go to sleep at night — Dream about making love with someone other than my husband.
Did I ever cheat on my husband?
No, not technically…whatever that means.
But, had I been completely faithful, committed to the vows I made to him at the start of our now-sixteen-year marriage?
Infidelity begins not in a bed, but in a mind.
Four years ago, that all changed.
By God’s grace, I saw what I was doing, if only in my thought life.
In day dreaming about a potential out, I never allowed myself to be fully in.
I had to refuse to take it off–my ring and my commitment to my husband. I had to sit with the pain of it, letting it swell, sweat, chafe and even bleed. I had to trust I would come to the other side of pain and adjustment — the ring becoming one with my finger.
In a similar way, I had to refuse to entertain ways of escape from the hardships of my marriage.
I had to sit in the painful moments of becoming one, trusting that my full, unreserved commitment to my husband would not leave me injured and empty but rather healed and full.
Only after I gave myself unreservedly to the permanence of that ring did my skin indeed begin to adjust and eventually heal, creating a well in my finger in which that ring now sits comfortably.
Only after I gave myself unreservedly to the permanence of my marriage did I begin to see greater vulnerability from my husband, greater trust developing between the two of us, healing and progress in the process of becoming one.
Thank you, Melanie, for encouraging me, albeit it indirectly, to stop entertaining thoughts of escape and instead endure the pain of permanence in order to experience the joys of unreserved commitment.