March 2, 2010...3:16 pm

Hey dude, put a ring on it

Ok, I love this:

I had an interview last week with a reporter from the Norwegian national newspaper, Dagens Naeringsliv. It was a really cool experience. I would love to read the article when it’s printed, but as it’s in Norwegian, I might have a hard time. Anyhow…

I noticed that the male journalist and the photographer had wedding bands (they both mentioned being married at different points during the interview), and their rings were on their right-hand ring fingers. I asked the significance of wearing their rings in that manner because I’m fascinated with different traditions of ‘marking’ a marriage. In Judaism, for instance, the ring is placed on the woman’s right index finger during the wedding ceremony, and then most brides switch it to their left ring finger. This (in common wisdom, at least) is a tradition that comes from the Talmud, where it was assumed that particular finger was a direct route to the heart. I wondered if the Norwegian ring-wearing had a similar connection to ancient tradition. But no. In fact, I learned that in Norway, rings are utilized in a much more progressive way.

During engagement, both men AND women wear a band (not – as the journalist called it – the “rock” that American women don – although this might be changing) on their left-hands, and after marriage they switch their jewelry to their opposite hand. I really appreciated learning of this tradition. I’ve always been bothered by the whole American engagement ring tradition because I feel it marks a woman as ‘owned’ while, to the naked eye, a man appears free until marriage. I think the more egalitarian use of rings is a GREAT idea.

Jim and I weren’t really planning on wearing wedding bands at all, but we quickly changed our minds when our dads offered their parents’ rings to us. I wear Jim’s late paternal grandma’s rings and he’s wearing my paternal grandfather’s band. The rings are very special to us because of their ties to our families. I love the history behind them and sometimes I’m filled with a combination of deep joy and melancholy, knowing that Jim is wearing my grandpa Ruben’s ring. I’m named after Ruben Okrant. He passed away before I was born, when my dad was only 19. I imagine how that gold ring was worn by my grandfather for many years: at his job making dentures, during my dad’s childhood, holding my grandma Ethyle’s hand. I’m truly grateful that Jim wears it. Of course, it would have been really cool had he worn it during our engagement as well. I’ll have to keep that in mind for my future engagements.

Joking, Jim. Just joking.

8 Comments

  • For me, rings were like pets – I didn’t realize how much they mattered until they were gone. When my cat was on the brink, I found myself up all night in tears and rocking it like a baby. When I lost my ring set, I was distraught for a long time. I still don’t like to speak of it. Ugh.

    As for my husband, I considered for a brief moment inscribing it with the words “Put you ring back on.” But alas, he wears it with pride.

    And don’t forget, for that second engagement – marry for money, not love like that first time around. :)

  • My husband and I bought eachother gold, pawn-shop bands when we got engaged. It seemed really weird to me that A. I would get something to mark the occasion and he wouldn’t and that B. I would walk around all “claimed” and he would walk around all “totally open for business.” The weird part was because it isn’t common, everyone assumed he was married.

    Later, his mother gave us her mother’s wedding and engagement rings. At the wedding his grandfather told me about how he saved up to buy them a few years into their marriage because he couldn’t afford anything when they first got engaged. Then he tapped his ring on mine and told be he had bought his (that he still wears, 15 years after her death) the same day. I felt so incredibly honored.

    • Amber – you know, as much as I’m politically in favor of men wearing engagement rings, too…I think I would have assumed that your hubby was married (pre-wedding) because of his band. I’m such a dinosaur.

      I love the story of your grandfather-in-law!

  • Thank you Robyn, a lovely post.

    I think the women’s lib of the 60′s made a mistake when they appeared to exclude married women. I’m from a generation where being married and raising fine human beings was a respected career choice and you didn’t need another career. A simple place in time.

    I do enjoy your blog, it’s very thought provoking.

    • Such a good point. I think feminism is all about having the right to make ANY choice you want, without feeling pressured to fulfill some sort of cultural expectation. But, maybe I’m in the minority.

  • Robyn,

    That is seriously sweet, both about the rings and your first name. I have noticed and admired your ring during yoga classes (it’s clearly antique) – it’s lovely.

    I have always thought I would take the diamonds in my paternal grandmother’s ring (I lived with her for six years, when she passed, dad presented me with her engagement ring, and my sister received the band) and make them into a setting for the future “Mr. Pierce” whoever he turns out to be – maybe just add them to a plain gold band? I love traditions like that!

    (And a very good friend of mine used to joke that whoever the guy is, he WILL be “Mr. Pierce” even if he keeps his name… but THAT is a story for another post!)

    Cheers!

    Ellen

    • LOL on Mr. Pierce. Jim had to call himself Mr Okrant today with Lowes (we were returning some hardware and the original order was under my name).

      Jim and I took my engagement ring to the jewelry store, thinking we’d have it reset, but I ended up falling in love with it just the way it is. I like its history, you know?

      xo


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