Wedding band, that is.
When Chris and I got married, we decided there were only 3 things we really cared about the wedding: 1) the food; 2) the photography; 3) the rings.
We entrusted our moms with the catering and splurged on a fantastic photographer. These were both great decisions. Guests said it was the best wedding food they’d ever had and our wedding photos are some of my most treasured possessions. Stephen captured the essense and the happiness of the day for us perfectly. We prioritized perfectly.
On the rings though, not so much. While we didn’t go all out, we did pick out two very simple, very nice, bands in platinum. Our thinking was, a wedding is one day, our marriage is hopefully for a lifetime. We wanted bands that said something to that commitment.
Turns out though, no matter how committed you may be to your marriage, your ring may not feel the same way about you.
Especially when your husband has strangely tiny knuckles and taper-shaped fingers apparently ill-suited for rings (sorry Chris, but it’s true).
Yes, yes, you guessed it. Once upon a time Chris and I attended a Chinese New Year banquet at which Chris made an expansive gesture and a small circle of platinum, signifying his love and devotion to me, went flying off into an abyss of brocade and baijiu, never to be seen or heard from again. We turned over nearly every table in that restaurant, retraced our steps, called the restaurant 5 times afterwards, but to no avail.
Poor Chris was completely distraught. He felt horrible for days, no matter how many times I reminded him that it wasn’t his fault. He had picked out that ring carefully and it meant a lot to him. There was no question, we would have to replace it somehow.
Unfortunately though, owing to an error made by a customer service agent when we revised our insurance coverage last year, our personal property rider had somehow been deleted from our coverage plan. When we called to file a claim for the ring, we were told that, despite notes on our file stating that we had asked to be billed the measly $5 extra per month for comprehensive coverage, we were not actually covered at the time of the ring’s epic last flight.
They were very sorry. We now make sure to look for that $5 charge every month.
It sucked. Worse still, only 3 days later-2 days before leaving on R&R- we found ourselves in the middle of a very, very expensive run-in with a heating duct at a local shopping mall. Beware parking garage heating ducts in China, they are made of moldy asbestos/plywood and if you tap them going 5mph, they will crash to the ground and the garage owners will try to charge you as if they had been plated in pure gold. Expect to be held in the garage for over 6 hours. Also expect requests for the equivalent of $10,000USD in cash.
Between the ring, the stressful and seemingly endless heating duct negotiations, it was probably one of the hardest and most expensive weeks we’ve had here yet. That night in the parking garage was a turning point in our marriage for me, as I watched, as if in slow motion, as Chris backed the car up and the ductwork shattered. I screamed, I sobbed, I stomped off to a corner to collect myself and generally acted like a petulant child for a few embarrassing minutes.
But the words “for better or for worse” rang over and over in my head and I swear I felt something almost physically shift in my heart and in my head as I became dimly aware of the fact that these are the sorts of moments that help to make or break a marriage. Those moments when you have to use every last ounce of your strained will-power to resist the urge to fight and/or flee. When you have to remember that sometimes the person you love needs you to stay strong for them just as badly as you need them to somehow make everything ok again. So that night, we held hands, surveyed the damage, and hoped for the best.
For the second time in a week, we learned the hard way that sometimes insurance companies really suck and I cried imagining all of the funds we had spent months diligently saving that would now be used to pay off an overly-greedy garage owner. Chris still mourned his ring. We fought, not always successfully, to keep from inflicting our shared anger and frustration upon one another and we both hated China that week with a passion only 2 people so badly in need of a break can.
Sure we had an emergency savings fund we could draw on, but with a baby on the way, we decided to suck it up, tighten our belts, and pay off the garage owner out of our checking account rather than our emergency funds. It ended up being much less than the extortionist quotes we were first given but it was still a lot of money, especially for a few feet of moldy plywood. We cancelled our plans to do a big consumables shipment, toned down our babymoon to St. John, skipped buying new clothes in the States, and agreed that we’d wait and replace Chris’ ring when we could better afford it.
But of course, that’s not the end of this story. This story has a happy ending. And, unbelievably, it’s courtesy of Sky Mall.
Yes, that Sky Mall.
Because while enduring the unique form of torture that is a 13 hour economy flight from China, Chris passed the hours flipping aimlessly through the Sky Mall catalog.
And amidst the faux-concrete lawn gnomes, pet staircases, and replica Harry Potter wands, he found this:
When we got home from R&R, in a much better state of mind than we had left, Chris showed me the ring online. It was unique, oddly masculine, and at $210, it was a replacement ring we could afford.
It took about 15 emails with the company in Canada and a circuitous route to get here, but finally, last Tuesday, it arrived.
I had wanted to do something romantic like hide the box, take Chris out to dinner and propose to him again on one knee. But in the end, we were both too excited and we practically ran to the mail room to tear open the box together.
It’s fitting I guess, Chris has a ring again and we’ve never been very good at delaying gratification for the sake of romantic gestures anyway.
After he tried it on for the first time, I made him shake his hand for a full 30 seconds to test it’s fit.
Turns out, any ring that isn’t literally turning his finger blue is capable of flying off of Chris’ hand. It’s just something about the way his fingers are shaped.
But this ring did stay on for 20 seconds of furious shaking and I think that means we can plan on it sticking around for at least a few years. And now we know for sure that our insurance will cover the loss when it does ultimately, and likely inevitably, disappear from our lives like the first one did.
But if it does, we also know now that it really doesn’t matter that much.
It wasn’t a ring of platinum that got us through that night after I had screamed and cried and Chris spent a heroic 6 hours negotiating in non-stop Mandarin with the garage owners. It wasn’t a ring that reminded us to hug and hold each other after painful, icky, financial conversations through which we (I) barely held our tempers. And we certainly didn’t need a ring to have a wonderful time on our R&R, in spite of all of the sandy peanut butter and jelly dinners we ate in St. John to save money.
I understand now more than ever that a marriage is much more sharing a house, a joint checking account, and a couple of matching rings. It’s about sharing a life, full of really great days and really shitty ones.
Chris, I love you. And I may not have given you a romantic proposal with your new ring, but I hope a blog post will do instead. So I want to ask you, the man who refuses to buy me flowers (because they die) but buys me house plants instead, the guy who always holds my hand and does the dishes after all of my big kitchen messes. The man who is my partner in crime and life and who I’ve found distractingly handsome and irresistibly intriguing since the day we met. With your new ring, will you marry me again?