When I was young I believed a wedding ring was forever. After you put one on, you never took it off. That same ring remained on your left ring finger till death do you part, or even beyond. It is a direct line to the heart and all that. But over the last 38 years I have learned that one ring doesn't necessarily fit all. Rings can change, just as the nature of a marriage can.
My first wedding ring, the ring the rabbi told me to place on Barb's finger as we said our vows, was a gold band. It had a groove in it, but was otherwise a pretty simple affair. Our lives were pretty simple too. We were 22. I was in medical school, Barb's was in her first OT job. Gefilte the gold fish and Riff-Raff the parakeet made easy pets. No kids, no mortgage, and not that many responsibilities. An easy time to travel, even if the budget allowed only a bare bones European tour of 10 countries in 20 days. The motor coach was overheated and the tour guide sported a lousy attitude.
But the free and easy life didn't last and neither did that first ring. I don't remember if it became too tight, or if Barb just decided to surprise me with a new wedding band. This one was a more eye catching number. Four small diamonds, perhaps indicating we were checking off a new station in life. A good hospital position with lots of extra duties for me? Check. Extra training and certification in hand therapy for Barb? Check. Nice suburban homes? Check. Dogs and cats replacing fish and birds? Check. Two kids, days loaded with school, sports, b'nai mitzvahs, graduation? Check. So a little sparkle on my finger, and better accommodations on the next European tour.
Glitz has its attraction, but it can sometimes fade. The children go away to college for lives and families of their own, jobs change and so do goals and ambitions. My third wedding band, the one I now wear, does away with the diamonds and their twinkle. It is gold and platinum. Bimetallic, similar to the mechanism in old fashioned thermostats, it sets the perfect temperature balance. Just as our marriage does.
I have been having a little trouble with the ring lately. On many days, it is too tight for my finger. I suppose I should get it sized up. Or is it time for a new ring and a new stage of life? After all, we are in the new home, we are grandparents twice over, and our youngest child is soon to be married. Maybe it is a new phase of our marriage. I wonder what a new ring, or Marriage Phase Four, will be.
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