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Ex-Rings and Other Stuff
May 19th, 2009 by Christina

I’m taking a short break from the dating chronicles (can you stand the suspense?) in order to address a couple of housekeeping matters–those little changes that come with everyday life here in Splitsville that may seem incidental, but are in fact huge, pervasive and defining (see soy milk incident.)

The first of these dilemmas is: how should I refer to R now? We’re not officially divorced yet, so “ex-husband” doesn’t seem legit. Plus, I’ve always bristled at the term “ex,” which strikes me as pejorative. R is technically still my husband, but then again, not so much, so that title doesn’t fly anymore. Identifying him as “the girls’ father” or explaining that “they’re with their dad” works, even though it makes me feel kind of like a farm animal used for breeding purposes.

In her book The Good Divorce, Constance Ahrons, Ph.D., bemoans the fact that in this day and age there is no better word to describe someone with whom you may have had children and/or a long, meaningful relationship. She chooses to drop the hyphen as a way to make the “ex” component less rejecting, but I’m not sure I get the point of that. Isn’t exhusband pronounced exactly like “ex-husband?”

There’s also “wasband,” which is clever, and “hasbeend,” which is trying too hard. For now, I’m just calling him R.

Dilemma number two: What do I with my rings and other marriage memorabilia? At the moment, the rings are safely tucked in the cute gray suede boxes from whence they came (good thing I saved those, huh?).

With divorce so common these days, a cottage industry has even sprung up to deal with the cast-off rings. Some jewelers cut a chunk out of wedding bands to represent the fractured marriage, and I’ve heard of divorce rituals where people smash their rings with a sledgehammer and then have the resulting precious-metal blob fashioned into a new piece of jewelry. I’m too sentimental to go that route–plus, I doubt I could hit such a precise target with a sledgehammer.

It was hard parting with the rings, not only because of what they symbolized, but because I grew attached to them; they were my constant mani-companions. Sometimes they snuggled together on my ring finger and sometimes I let them each have their own hand. We had a history, the three of us.

The wedding ring I can live without, but I love my engagement ring–a simple oval sapphire set on a modern, braided gold band. I’m not sure what the etiquette is, but I plan to wear that ring again, dammit.

Then there’s the intricate cross-stitch sampler my aunt painstakingly wove and presented to us on our wedding day. Predictably, it hung over our marital bed for years. It seems wrong to banish it to the basement, but what other option is there?

And my wedding dress, which has been in R’s parents’ (also known as my former in-laws?) attic for years, creepily stuffed and preserved in a coffin-like box from the cleaners. Would my girls consider wearing it if/when they get married, or is that forever tainted too?

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8 Responses  
Kristin writes:
May 19th, 2009 at 10:01 am

Ha! I too bemoaned the loss of my engagement ring. I just went ahead and wore it – switching hands b/c it does look very marital, but then Bill freaked out when he learned what it was and insisted I take it off. Nash doesn’t care & so sometimes I wear it now but somehow over the years it has acquired MORE associations, not less.

Rachel Prince writes:
May 19th, 2009 at 12:05 pm

You mentioned former in-laws… how does former husband sound? Or first husband ;) And WEAR the sapphire (or give it to me,) i lost my great grandmother’s sapphire (which i wore ever day, tho’ it was loose on my finger )on a Coney Island outing, and felt that empty finger with the fidgeting habit i used to do playing with it idly for months afterwards…

You could ask the girls about the dress?

Love reading this, btw.

L1za Lauber writes:
May 19th, 2009 at 10:03 pm

I have that same dress, in that same hermetically sealed box and had those same thoughts. It has a large plastic window for viewing, the breast area and sleeves and bodice stuffed with tissue paper making it look like it has a body in it. My head wreath lays on top like the fairy virgin’s halo. I rescued it from my mother’s basement flood, shipped it across the country and it sits on top of a cabinet in the “back house. It is creepy to hold on to it, yet I can’t seem to let it go. Maybe it’s because I haven’t let the rest go yet. Maybe because my mom saved hers while I was still into dress up. I remember trying it on at my grandma’s house. I had the wedding book and the dress, testaments that I did have a father once. Maybe we should save those dresses. Maybe instead of imagining our daughters wearing them at their weddings, ( AS IF) They can be appreciated as historical family references to the time period from which we came, and a peek into the experience of love and romance that actually once existed between their parents.

Shauntelle@Abeautifulabode.com writes:
May 20th, 2009 at 1:04 pm

Save the rings for the kids. Even though I sold the gold things from my previous marriage, I did save the wedding ring for my daughter. She’s sentimental and I think it’s nice for her to know that I didn’t try to forget my marriage to her father ever happened… I also saved the photo album. Right now that stuff might not be important to your kid(s) but it may be later. No matter how you feel right this minute (and I’m sure, if you’re anything like me, that changes hour by hour), it’s good for your children to know that there was LOVE there… they didn’t come from something meaningless. Anyway, that was my take on it… (Hugs)

Jackie Dishner writes:
May 21st, 2009 at 2:42 pm

Christina,

First of all, you’re not even fully divorced yet. So why worry about all of this stuff? My advice: Don’t. Not yet. Wait till you’re ready to deal with that stuff. That’s all it is.

I was officially divorced in 2004. Four years later, I got rid of the dress. My daughter and her husband had been living with me for a short time (in between houses), and when they moved out, they packed up a bunch of my old stuff to get rid of, just as they were getting rid of some old stuff of theirs. They took it all to Goodwill, including my old wedding dress. I did ask my daughter if she wanted it before she’d gotten married. But, no, she didn’t. So I let them have it that afternoon, and they shoved it in the back of their SUV. The next time I saw it, it was hanging in the Goodwill store window. That was funny. It had been stuffed in that sealed box for so long, but it was still white as new. Hope it got some good use. I don’t miss it. Wasn’t sad to see it go. It was time.

As for my ring, I used the services of one of my networking mates here in Phoenix–a jeweler–to remake my ring last year as well. I had a diamond in a GOLD band. She put the diamond in a white gold band and enlarged it so it would fit my middle finger. Symbolic any way you might think. But when I picked it up and put it on, I said, “Well, how do you like that? I just married myself!” Made me smile. Truth is, I very rarely wear the ring. But I like knowing that it’s now associated with a more pleasant meaning.

So, if I were you, I’d wait to figure out what to do with all this symbolic stuff. Some day, you might arrive at the answer when you aren’t even looking.

By the way, you might want to connect with my blog. Mine focuses on my BIKE philosophy and how to turn obstacles (like divorce) into an opportunity.

All my best,
Jackie

pam kruger writes:
May 22nd, 2009 at 11:39 am

christina, love your blog! i agree with the last poster–wait, and one day an answer of what to do with the artifacts of your marriage will come to you.

Anne writes:
May 25th, 2009 at 10:35 pm

I took the easy way out: left my rings on the kitchen counter the day I moved out of our martial home. He wanted to give them back to me “to give (oldest daughter)”. I flat out said, “If you want them to go to (oldeest daughter), you keep them, becuase I’ll just hock ‘em.” I feel they’re cursed rings and want nothing to do with them.

I left my wedding dress and anything associated with that day at the house too. Begone, you evil memories! You’re not following me on to my new life!

Nah, there’s no resentment towards the cheating &%$#$%*…none at all…. ;-)

Anne

AndrewBoldman writes:
June 4th, 2009 at 11:24 am

Hi, cool post. I have been wondering about this topic,so thanks for writing.

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