Monday, August 28, 2006

Shopping/Alienation and Wedding Ring/Lack Thereof

My daughter and I went back-to-school shopping today. We are both very fond of acquiring school supplies, and less fond of shopping for clothes, but it was a fun day anyway. It is always a bit weird to venture out into the real world on a weekday. I felt like I was visiting an unfamiliar culture, with rituals and customs I don't really understand. Mostly that is because I lack a Shopping Gene, and feel acutely alienated from the rest of humanity when I am in a Mall, which is exactly where we went today.

We were very entertained by some of the bizarre fashions, including what I will call "mature" styles for pre-teens. Fortunately my daughter isn't interested in wearing something that looks like adult women's lingerie to school.

I was also entertained by the saleswomen who glanced in an obvious way at my ringless ring finger (I am married but don't wear a wedding ring) and then called me "Miss", as in "Can I help you, miss?". The beringed woman near me got a "Can I help you, ma'am?". Perhaps that's part of the sales job, to identify people by their situation and customize the greetings? I don't care what they call me, but it briefly interested me to be categorized like that. I know it is odd to be married and ringless, but I've never worn jewelry (I seldom even wear a watch), and the ring symbolism doesn't mean anything to me or my husband, so neither of us wears a wedding ring. My ringlessness has resulted in some strange encounters over the years, and some people are quite disapproving of my lack of a wedding ring, as if I'm less committed to my husband, trying to look single and available, or somehow violating a law of nature. I keep thinking that eventually some of my relatives might change their mind about the significance of a wedding ring, as my husband and I remain happily married and my ring-wearing siblings/cousins and others divorce, but it hasn't happened yet. I have never met another married woman who doesn't wear a wedding ring, but I think there must be others out there somewhere. (?)

21 comments:

Anonymous said...

There are some other ringless married women out there: My mother and her older sister.

You are not alone!

Anonymous said...

I am ringless, too. (There's a long wacky story involved.)

Besides, it suits my general ambivalence about the institution of marriage, and my refusal to spend a pile of money on something that's about impressing other people.

We also both kept our last names.

As I told somebody several months after we got married: we live together because we love each other; we got married because it made financial sense.

And somehow it's stuck for 6 1/2 years now. (We are 32 & 36.)

Cathy Davies said...

I like the French idea: Once you are of a certain age or professional status, married or not, they will call you "Madame" rather than "Madamoiselle".

Anonymous said...

Actually my mother in-law doens't wear a ring. A lot of my male coworkers don't wear wedding rings either. There aren't really enough married women coworkers for a representative sample. I take my rings off whenever I'm doing lab work or cooking or cleaning or showering. I don't mind doing this, but I can see the benefits of not wearing a ring.

Anonymous said...

Cathy:
For what it's worth, the German language has practically removed "Fraeulein" from its vocabulary. And the German speaking countries generally are NOT known for being all that advanced when it comes to women in other roles than housewifes. (Changing rapidly, however, at least in Austria and Germany, I don't know Switzerland so well.)

Anonymous said...

My mother too is married-but-ringless, as is my father. Like you, they do not believe in the symbolism of the ring, and remain happily married after about 30 years.

Anonymous said...

I don't have a wedding ring yet, but I do have a ring my grandfather gave me before he died, but I prefer to wear it on a chain around my neck, as I am prone to taking it off when I am studying or writing and forgetting it in places

Ms.PhD said...

What a great idea! My boyfriend has no desire to ever wear a ring, but I guess I always assumed if one of us had to (I assumed I had to) that we both should. It's only fair.

We thought about going to Mexico to get tattoos around our fingers instead of wearing metal rings. Would make a lot more sense for the lab. But no ring at all is even better!

I guess where we live, though, single people are considered fair game, and no ring means you're an available target. I know I get hit on often enough. Though... I'm not too worried about my boyfriend, he rarely realizes when someone flirts in his direction. It just goes right over his head.

But everyone calls me m'am in stores... I hate it. I'm barely 31 and it makes me feel like I must look terribly old for my age, which makes no sense since everyone at work assumes I'm an undergrad (or a grad student). ugh. I can't win either way.

blop said...

My wife and I don't wear wedding rings despite the fact that... she's jeweller!
(We get married on the 1st of april, as it was a nice joke for both of us)

Anonymous said...

My husband and I don't wear our wedding rings on a daily basis for our own reasons. He refuses to wear man jewelry and laughs when I ask him to try it on and see if he wants to wear it. I, on the other side, am a student in college and feel like I am the only married person around so I never wear it to school I only put it on for family functions. Both of us are very happy together and don't believe in wearing rings every single day for the rest of our lives. It just seems unnecessary and redundant, there is nothing I want to signal to others by not wearing my ring. All that is important is that we have each other.

Anonymous said...

I'm married and don't wear a ring!
When people ask me about it, I either tell them my spouse and I are considering getting matching nose rings, or I tell them that my father has been married for over 50 years and has never worn a ring. That usually shuts them up.
Great blog.

Anonymous said...

My mom has never worn a ring. My dad always has. No big deal either way!

Anonymous said...

I am single and DO wear a wedding ring, at least when I am out alone around lots of strange men. I hate strangers hitting on me, and a convincing married looks helps greatly to dissuade uncomfortable situations.

When I am around men I know, and a lot of the time at work, I either wear a less married colored stone ring, or no ring at all.

Anonymous said...

I am married and I never wear my diamond wedding ring. Neither does my husband. It's just a matter of practicality. We are not used to wearing any jewelery and afraid of losing the ring while washing hands!
I think rings has no significance when you hold true to your heart!!

Change said...

My mom and dad don't wear rings.

I'm not married and don't plan to be.

But I may try what one of the anon's is doing:

I am single and DO wear a wedding ring, at least when I am out alone around lots of strange men. I hate strangers hitting on me, and a convincing married looks helps greatly to dissuade uncomfortable situations.

Maybe it can be interpreted that I'm committed to being single. :P

Anonymous said...

I am with the single woman who does wear a wedding ring, to a "T". I have several convincing wedding looks, one wedding band with tiny diamonds that I wear stacked on top of a thin diamond band, as a set, or else a textured gold band and my .25 CT Diamond engagement ring I got in an estate sale, as my protection. I too, HATE strange men hitting on me, and it offers the most effective, non-confrontational deterrent that I know. As with the other poster, when I am around men I know and am comfortable with, I will wear either my sapphire ring or my pink tourmaline ring...or just a colored stone ring on my left middle finger.

Mandatory Vacation said...

My parents went without wedding rings for many years, although my mom eventually got some costume jewelry to stop guys from hitting on her.

She didn't change her last name either, and when I was born the hospital tried to make my dad sign some forms acknowledging himself as my father. This despite the fact that I have his last name

Martina Solmes said...

Be at peace:) I don't ever wear my wedding/engagement ring. Although I appreciate the visual stimulation of beautiful jewelry, at least on other people, I feel extremely uncomfortable wearing it myself. Especially anything that goes on my hands and fingers. I use my hands way too often in way too many dirty tasks around house and yard, etc (kids!) that I've early on known I'd not be a ring wearer because I hate having to take it off, put it on, take it off, etc. A ring has little significance to me. I guess I'm very unconventional and un-romantic...As with you my marriage is superbe, but other people tend to take offense or give me strange looks about it. I'm from Switzerland and I don't think people put as much emphasis on wedding rings there anyways...Americans sure seem to a lot more:)

Anonymous said...

I´m getting married in July and we don´t want to get rings: I´d lose mine in no time and we both hate men jewelry :)
We got matching watches for our engagement and we plan on exchaging them again on the wedding.
I guess it helps that his mom is single and that my parents lost theirs early in their marriage so I don´t really remember them wearing rings.

Halima said...

For cultural reasons, I never had the white wedding dress, walk down the aisle fantasy about marriage. I did, however, have the "I am my own person, will keep my family name and do not need a ring to be married mindset." And I am a serious romantic. Long story short, I now have several "wedding rings" that I wear on the third finger,left hand. And sometimes I wear them on my right hand. Three were given to me by my husband; the others I bought myself during different parts of our married life. (Like many women I realize if I don't buy myself something fabulous, I won't have something fabulous). I think this ring thing has a lot to do with Western/ American culture and class. As a child of the late 70's, when diamonds were de rigueur and friends were getting married on the beach, shoeless, I find the ring thing to be very personal and no a lot of ringless, happily married people along.

wedding rings said...

I think that you are spot on. You don't need a wedding ring in order to have a good marriage. A wedding ring doesn't define who you are. I applaud you.