I felt as though I’d been struck in the gut when I noticed the new wedding ring on his finger. He’d come to pick up our daughter. Sunlight flashed off it as he reached out to take the papers I was giving him. He must have been wearing the band since his wedding three months earlier, but it was the first time I’d noticed it.
My daughter and her dad drove off, while I was left with a stunned feeling of loss and grief that I couldn’t understand. I talked myself through all the rational intellectual thoughts: I knew he was remarried; it wasn’t a surprise that he would be wearing a wedding ring; he hadn’t been “mine” for eight years. Knowing all that, why did I feel this way? Was it jealousy? Did it renew my feelings of abandonment or of loneliness?
Wedding Bands and Marriage Vows
The wedding band is a tactile symbol of the eternal vows pledged on the wedding day. My ex-husband’s new ring was certainly a reminder to me of tour wedding vows broken by divorce. Even though our divorce had been eight years prior, there remains a lingering feeling, with varying intensity, that something very precious and important was fractured and will never be quite right again. And that’s true because more than a marriage between two people was broken. An entire family – including children, grandparents, in-laws, aunts, and uncles – was torn apart by the divorce.
This new ring was a reminder of our broken marriage, but there was also something more going on inside me that I couldn’t identify. I took my confusion to the Lord, asking him to heal the knife-wound I felt in my heart, the depth of pain that made absolutely no sense to me. It was a few days later that I realized why it bothered me so much, why that little ring had set off such a deep, strong reaction in my heart and emotions.
To Ring or Not to Ring
It was because my husband had stopped wearing his ring about mid-way through our twenty-year marriage. In my reality, he didn’t like wearing a ring. It shouldn’t have been on his hand, but it was. It was like seeing hair on a bald man. Hair is a normal thing, but if you don’t expect someone to have any, that “normal” would be abnormal.
He has asked me if I minded if he stopped wearing his wedding band since it bothered him because of the work he did. I suggested we replace it with a more comfortable band, but he didn’t want to wear any ring at all. I told myself it wasn’t that important, and because I cared about him and didn’t want him to be uncomfortable at work, so I acquiesced to his request.
This is what had caused the confusing cascade of emotions when I saw him wearing that wedding band, the deep root hidden beneath the surface.
Had he already stopped loving me when he stopped wearing his wedding band? That thought had struck me deeply, below my conscious thoughts, and left me wondering what was true and not true. Afterall, he was doing for his new wife what he hadn’t wanted to do for me: endure the discomfort of the wedding band.
Did my husband stop wearing his wedding ring during our marriage because he was unhappy? Was it an early warning sign? Or did he just care more about pleasing his new wife than he had his first wife of many years? Or maybe he was surprised when he tried on the simple silver band and found it more comfortable than the intricate gold band he’d selected when we were married.
These types of questions are fruitless; there is no peace in contemplating them. In the end, I took my mess of feelings to God in prayer, asking him to heal the wound that continues to exists in my heart.
God’s Grace Turns Darkness into Light
If it hadn’t been for the grace of God, that pain I felt when I saw the band on my ex-husband’s finger could have grown into bitterness towards him, passive-aggressive anger, or pettiness. Those feelings become a dark cloud that envelope us and poison our every thought and word, they spread and ensnare more and more of our thoughts, assumptions, and responses. That dark cloud could have seeped out as derisive or angry comments to my daughter about her father and that kind of talk is an unkind burden to put upon children who are already wounded by divorce.
Only because of God’s grace was I able to look deeper into my reaction and prevent it from coloring the rest of my life. Jesus truly is the gentle healer, and he longs to lead us along the “level ground” of holiness. Sometimes I feel like a spoiled little child as our Lord tries to lead me, sitting down to pout instead of following in his footsteps. But God never gives up on me; he never gives up on us.
When we fall, when we stumble, when we dig in our heels and refuse to take one more step, even then our Lord doesn’t abandon us. We may have been abandoned or betrayed by our husbands, but our Lord will never betray us. He will never abandon us. He is gentle, merciful, and faithfully loving.