The idea of a wedding ring can be traced back to Egyptian times, when women would wear a dangle a key from her ring to signify her allegiance to her husband. It was not until 1948, when De Beers created the ‘a diamond is forever’ campaign, did we start to associate diamonds as a necessity in a wedding ring; up until this point, diamonds were seen as only for the upper classes, so this campaign targeted both men and women of the middle class, with the rhetoric that, “if you buy this diamond, then your marriage is sure to last” (how materialistic and utterly American of us to buy into this). While I do agree that insisting on a 3 carat diamond is a little presumptuous and not practical (and let’s face it–sometimes C.Z. is more sparkly anyways), I do agree that wearing a wedding ring is important: the wedding ring sends important nonverbal signals to other people, represents the era of your relationship, and serves as a constant reminder of your commitment and dedication to each other.
They say 90% of the way in which we communicate with each other is non verbal; our gestures, facial expressions, environment, distance, touch, and physical appearance. Upon my first introduction to a person–no matter a guy or a girl–one of the first things I look for is whether or not they are wearing a wedding ring. People treat you differently if they think you are married or not. Of course, if they are not wearing a wedding ring, that does not necessarily mean they are not married; perhaps the ring is being resized, they work near heavy machinery so it’s dangerous to wear during their job, or they just came from a CrossFit competition. But, if someone is wearing a wedding ring, then there’s probably a 99% chance they are married, and I know it is probably safe territory to ask them what their significant other is up to. If I meet someone my own age who is not wearing a ring, I might stick to conversation topics about their job, what kind of adventures they have been on, what they do in their leisure time (because we all know that goes out the window when you are married and have kids), and I might start probing them for information in case I have any single friends they might like. If they are middle aged and not wearing a ring, that might mean they are divorced, so I might stick to conversation topics about their kids, or the weather, or sports. By just a simple glance of the left hand, I can garner some very important information about a person that will determine how I interact with them.
These rings also symbolize the era of your marriage: when you got engaged, how long you have been together, how weathered your life has been what your marriage has weathered. I love hearing stories from couples who still wear their original pinpoint size diamond engagement ring–because that is all they could afford at the time–because it is a reminder of when and where they first began, and a representation of their marriage. Or, the ring they had customized, because they went scuba diving together, and someone fetched a clam with a shimmering pearl, or the ring they created tighter in jewelry class that has meaningful and significance to their relationship.
Someone whose ring has a small band with colored stones might have meant a marriage in the ’60’s (which meant that their marriage endured Woodstock, Aqua-Net hairspray, and a long denim era). Someone wearing a gold band probably go married in the 90’s or early 2000’s (which means that their marriage survived Y2K, BSB, minivans, and another long denim era). Someone wearing a white gold band with a halo cut diamond probably recently got married, and may still be in the newly wed stage (when the titanium metal first came out for men, it reminded me of a mood ring), and with time, that style will also pick up cultural trends as time passes. The ring is bought to reflect the current trends at the time and as the times change, and the ring stays the same, a statement is also made about the marriage.
Perhaps most importantly, however, wearing a wedding ring symbolizes your commitment to each other; it is a selfless choice to say, “I want to wear this to tell everyone else that I am married to you”. In the series, “Happy Ever After” from Grace Fellowship Church, Jeremiah Olson explains how marriage is a commitment that we make, not for the benefit of ourselves, but for the benefit of the other person. It’s like saying ‘I love you’ to someone else–my intention behind saying, “I love you” should not be because I want them to say it back to me so that I feel good about myself (those are selfish intentions) but rather, I should say, “I love you”, because I want the other person to feel cared for and valued. I think the same thing is true with making the choice to wear a wedding ring–I am not wearing it because I want to show off how big my diamond is, or how neatly manicured my nails are–I want to wear it, because I want people to see it and to ask about you, so that I have an opportunity to brag about you, and my commitment and loyalty to you–for you.
In conclusion, wedding rings send off non verbal cues, symbolize the era of our marriage, and serve as a selfless reminder of our selfless commitment to another human being.