When we agreed that it was time to get married, we initially decided against wearing wedding rings. For one thing, neither of us is accustomed to wearing jewelry, not to mention that I have lost every single ring that I have ever owned! Rings are a potential safety hazard in Joel's line of work, and sometimes are just inconvenient for us. Joel is frequently playing around in the dirt, planting things, weeding, and gardening; and I just don't like having things on my hands when typing (which I do too much) or playing the piano (which I don't do nearly often enough). So we thought we'd skip the rings. After all, why do people wear them to begin with? What tradition, what symbolism, would we be perpetuating? How would these be relevant to us?
For a brief time, when we couldn't let go of the thought of rings, we entertained (half-heartedly) the idea of tattooing bands on our ring fingers. Now there's a sign of permanence and commitment! However, our insincere enthusiasm for that prospect fizzled rather quickly. I never wanted a tattoo anyway! What to do?
In the end, we decided to go ahead and buy rings. What an interesting experience. All of the places we went put their energies into marketing towards brides — in fact, the selections of men's rings we saw were very minimal compared to the broad range of women's band that are available. In some ways, this made our task harder, but in many ways it was much easier. We ended up at a sales counter looking over a selection that appealed to us, and got help from a sales associate to size our fingers and try on different rings. Apparently, one hand (perhaps it's the dominant one?) is about half a size larger than the other...I had no idea! As we had considered wearing ours on our right hands instead of the left, we tried rings on both. Once we selected two that we were happy with, the associate remarked that we'd chosen beautiful rings, but that they didn't match! Joel quickly replied, "Neither do we, so it's fine!", which made me laugh out loud. He's so cute. So we bought the rings.
The funny thing about this whole situation — well, two funny things — is that no one really, until now, knew that we'd seriously considered dispensing with the whole ring thing altogether. I'm not sure how that scenario would have played itself out, and I guess I won't know now. The other thing that fascinates me is how many people want to know why we wear them on our right hands — everybody knows that wedding bands are worn on the left hand! I mean, if you don't follow convention, what's the point, right? What does one communicate, or not communicate, by choosing not to wear a band on the left hand? [Insert shrug here].
While there isn't really a single reason for our choice, here are a few things to consider, in no particular order:
- We are both left-handed and left-hand dominant. Theoretically, wearing our rings on our right hands would be less "inconvenient".
- Wearing bands on the left hand is not a universal tradition. Many cultures wear them on the right ring finger, some on a different finger altogether, and some probably don't wear rings at all!
- Some gay couples purposively wear their rings on the hand opposite that which the predominant culture would choose, signifying that their union is similar to but different than a heterosexual marriage.
- In many ways, my husband Joel and I are very conventional. We might occasionally like to think of ourselves as counter-cultural, cutting-edge, trend-setting, even radical...but when it comes to most things, we can be downright boring we're so normal.