With this ring I thee wed. “To Bills’ Quarterback, Losing (Wedding Ring) Is Not Option” Ryan Fitzpatrick, married nearly five and a half years, says he never removes his wedding band. Not when he clips his nails. Not when he changes diapers. Not when he slings footballs around the field on Sundays for the Buffalo Bills.” * (New York Times, November 4, page A1)

The wedding ring carries strong symbolic significance in most cultures. The ring is of course a circle, a symbol of eternity. It has no beginning and no end, like time. A wedding ring or wedding band is a metal ring often gold indicating the wearer is married. Depending on the local culture it is worn on the base of the right or left ring finger. The custom of wearing such a ring has spread widely beyond its origin in Europe. Originally worn by wives only, wedding rings became customary for both the husband and wife during the 20th century. If one or the other party removes the ring while still married it is felt as a betrayal and can cause serious consequences in the marriage. One couple came into treatment because the husband was seen at a bar without the ring. She stated that she could have accepted his being at the bar and his even flirting with other women if he had not removed his ring. The ring is a symbolic representation of the fact that one is married. The removal of the ring then sends out a message that one is available and not attached to another person. The ring symbolically can be felt as confining and can cause anxiety about one’s lack of freedom. It is not uncommon to see someone touching the ring or moving the ring back and forth during a session, often indicating one’s ambivalence about the marriage.

Dianne Heller Kaminsky, LCSW, BCD

Got thoughts or opinions on this topic? A helpful anecdote you want to share? Feel free to leave a comment below.

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