A few days ago, I found my wedding ring after mislaying it for a couple of weeks. I was surprised at how bereft I realised I had felt while it was gone.
When Mr Penguin and I decided to get married (we both hated the word engaged) I refused categorically to get an engagement ring. I was pretty staunchly feminist, and the engagement ring was just too strong a symbol of the man’s ownership of the woman, for me (Mr Penguin didn’t feel as strongly, but was quite willing to buy into my logic). Instead, we bought an “engagement painting” – a Lloyd Rees print that we both had been admiring in our local gallery for some time. It’s hanging behind me as I type this. More than 15 years later, I still think we chose pretty well.
But we did decide to get wedding rings; since we both got one, it seemed much less of an ownership statement, and more of a commitment statement. And I was inspired by the example of my great-great-great grandmother’s wedding ring, given to me on my 21st birthday – you only get that kind of historical object if you create it first. We still both wear them when we get dressed up; the difference is that I get dressed up every weekday for work, but he only gets dressed up at very formal parties.
Over time, it’s become a habit – when I get dressed for work, I put the ring on, as part of putting on my corporate face. But I realised, when it was gone, how it has become a talisman for me – reminding me if I’m in danger of getting sucked too much into the world of work that there is far more to my life. My ring has gradually become a part of me, and my relationship; gone from being a slightly discordant political statement to being an eloquent symbol of our world together.
I’m glad it’s back.