2: The Gold Ring Club

2: The Gold Ring Club

From Chicken Soup for the Soul: Married Life!

The Gold Ring Club

Two souls, one heart.

~French saying used on poesy rings

Lately, I’ve been showing off my wedding ring. No, it isn’t new and not particularly clean — I gave up trying to keep lotion and meatloaf out of the diamonds sometime after the rigors of motherhood had snuffed most of the youth out of me. Sort of without warning though, my gold wedding set has become a national treasure. It’s like a fossil found unexpectedly during an annual fishing trip, brought home and displayed for neighbors, who stand around marveling, “Well, would you look at THAT!” as they inspect something so primeval and antique.

People ask to see my fossil.

My children are getting to the age now where they are attending weddings with interest and they know people who are engaged to be married. Each bride’s flashy platinum wedding set must instantly invoke images for my kids of their mom’s ancient gold ring — the ring they have seen most often because it is connected to the hand that wipes the counter, their noses, and tears from their face. When my children ask to see the ring, it is no passing glance; they examine it closely and with the fascination of seeing a trinket that has washed ashore from the Titanic.

“So, this is the ring Dad bought you?” said my son, fully grown now and having thoughts of a future with his girlfriend.

“Yes, this is it,” I answered as we stared at the ring. It’s a good size with plenty of diamonds — I liked it then and I like it now.

“Gold, huh?”

There it was. He was smiling and looking at me with amusement in the way I must have looked at my grandma when we discussed her platinum wedding band. When I was a little girl, only old people had silver on their fingers. Naturally, when I got married, the only option for me was the very hip and contemporary gold wedding set of the 1980s.

I’m not sure when having a gold wedding ring went out of style, mostly because I was busy starting a marriage and having babies and was more worried about finding the elusive green Power Ranger toy than I was ensuring that my original wedding ring was still fashionable.

But, it happened. At some point, gold wedding rings became as dated as avocado colored appliances and leisure suits. I am now wearing the equivalent of a Studebaker on my finger.

I’m old because I wear a gold wedding ring, but more to the point — I have an old marriage. I want to start a club where the only requirement is that you must be wearing a gold wedding ring to join. I know a few people in my generation of friends and family who are already in the club, and we have a lot in common.

We have been married over twenty years. We’ve climbed the thorny hills and fallen into the barren valleys associated with a long-term marriage. We’ve loved, hated, became apathetic, and then loved again in regular intervals. We’ve felt like giving up, giving in, and not just throwing in the towel — but burning the towel and everything else with it, too. We’ve stayed together. We’ve lost jobs, vision, hair, or athletic prowess, but we’ve gained patience, understanding, respect, and the ability to communicate without words. When couples we knew were breaking up, in search of the more improved platinum version of marriage, we barricaded ourselves with stubborn commitment, grudgingly finding a way through the sludge to make our gold-banded marriages work, sure that there had to be something better if we could survive another battle.

A gold wedding ring means that the wearer’s relationship stood a twenty-year test of time, children, and inevitable problems. It isn’t a sign of romance or perfection, because you can’t get this far sharing life with another person without making an occasional mess. It means that we’ve collaborated with our partners for a cause greater than “self.” If we removed that gold ring, for example, we would be performing minor surgery on our children, too — lacerating their childhoods and creating deep craters where pleasant memories should have been. At some point, we all decided that our kids were more important than leaving and starting anew. Our children may have been the occasional impetus for staying married, but ultimately, they were the steel spike strips that simply prevented us from going the wrong direction in the first place.

The nice thing about wearing my original wedding set is that, unlike any other precious metal, the gold wedding ring is a symbol of triumph, a trophy — if you will — for someone who has tamed the wild beast of a long marriage within a generation where most marriages have dissolved. Right now, gold is the only color of wedding band that says, “I got this ring before cell phones.”

For me, I’ll stick to the gold wedding band and cherish its symbol of triumph over adversity, good decisions over bad, and for love conquering all. And to the man and my lifelong partner who gave it to me twenty-two years ago, thank you for a constant reminder of what we have accomplished. I am a proud member of the Gold Ring Club.

 

~Dana Martin

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