When do you take off a wedding ring?

The blog post will reveal an unfortunate addiction of mine: the Hello Magazine website. In my defence, it’s much cheaper than buying the magazine and does make me a useful contributor in a pub quiz ‘celebrity trivia’ round. Anyway – protestations aside, yesterday I read this article about Karen Clifton’s wedding ring. Now initially you may not think that sounds all that interesting, but what caught my attention was that despite announcing they have separated, she was still choosing to wear her wedding ring.

When you separate, there are decisions to make about the wedding related jewellery you have the option to wear. The wedding ring is a symbol of your marriage, and a very visible one at that. Choosing whether to wear it or take it off is a difficult decision, especially if you’re not really sure what’s going to happen next with your marriage. The visibility of your ring, or its absence, is a sign to others around you, even though you might not want it to be.

A good place to begin is to consider what you believe the wearing of your wedding ring to mean. Does wearing it show a commitment to the vows you made or your marriage? Does taking it off mean something different, or is it a reflection of the current situation rather than your own commitment or desires? My own attitude to wearing my engagement and wedding ring was fluid. If I was around people who knew our marriage wasn’t in a good way, I would remove my rings and pop them in my pocket. It felt a more authentic way to show how life was.

In many situations, I simply didn’t want to have to answer questions, so contrary to my decision of what the ring symbolised when I wore it, I wore it regardless. Knowing that I would be questioned about the state of my marriage through the absence of the symbol of it and the absence of my spouse wasn’t a good prospect; I simply couldn’t talk about it. Because of this, I decided to be kind to myself and alleviate those questions by wearing my ring in public. It was that or tug my sleeves down over my hands for several months.

Karen’s reason for still wearing her wedding ring is that they’re ‘not divorced yet’. The wedding ring is a symbol of legal status. She is still married legally, and until divorced perhaps she would like to indicate this. It’s one way to approach the choice of whether or not to remove your wedding ring.

What does your wedding ring mean to you? Considering what you feel you are ‘saying’ by removing it may help you to decide whether to wear it or not. In my experience, those who wear their wedding rings have often been signifying a commitment to their marriage, regardless of its state, whereas those who remove their ring are stating that the symbol doesn’t signify the state of their marriage any longer. This may be because they don’t want to show they are married, or because they feel the vows aren’t being fulfilled, either by themselves or their spouse. But these observations aren’t the sum total of the story. It is interesting to consider too, how we may feel seeing our spouse without their ring, what do we feel they are saying about our marriage by wearing, or not wearing it? 

Taking it off, leaving it on, keeping it, selling it on – these are all options that could be taken – there is no right or wrong approach to wearing your wedding jewellery. And it might look different according to situation. For Karen, perhaps it stops questions about whether they are ‘actually divorced’ yet; once she takes it off, they will be. Whatever we do is an individual choice – our rings symbolise things to each of us that even our spouse may not realise we are signifying. Taking time to make this choice helps, give different things a try and see what feels comfortable and appropriate for the time. This said, perhaps don’t sell it till you’ve actually decided!

What helped you decide what to do about wearing your wedding ring?

*Photograph taken from the Hello Magazine article linked to above. 

Surviving Separation and Divorce

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