On Why We Don’t Always Wear Our Wedding Rings

Cody once worked with a guy that removed his wedding ring depending on the type of customer he was serving. Cody and I both thought it was pretty smarmy and gross (and we still do) but we didn’t know much about marriage as we were wee babes ourselves.

After our own vows and rings were exchanged, I can remember going to a wedding reception when Cody forgot his ring. I flew into a crying fit in the parking lot “HOW WILL ANYONE KNOW WE’RE MARRIED! PEOPLE WILL THINK WE’RE JUST ENGAGED! HOW COULD YOU DO THIS TO ME?”

So.

You could say I was passionate about rings.

Over the years a number of different things made wearing rings difficult: basketball, gaining weight, having babies, going to the gym, and swimming. There were even times we would go on vacation and both opt to leave our rings behind “just in case.” By this point, we knew we were married and it didn’t really matter if he was marked with a gold band or not (one thing I’ve learned over the last 14 years is people don’t often care if someone is wearing a ring or not. Keep it classy, society.) So while our rings hold enormous sentimentality and symbolism, neither of us will forget we’re married without them.

Back in 2009, when I went through Lupron hell, I was lost. Gone. Completely messed up in every area of my life. I felt completely abandoned by Cody, and own brain as well. When Cody and I decided to stay together, I had this intense need to drown out the emotional pain I felt from the previous six months and in some way show Cody how dedicated I was to making our marriage work.

So I got his name tattooed on my butt.

Kidding!

I did get a tattoo. One that has even deeper meaning to me than a ring. Rings can be lost, stolen, left behind and removed when the situation desires. Tattoos are kind of there forever. I didn’t tell Cody I was getting them, and later I sent him a picture and a statement that said “I’m sorry, but I had to do this for me.” (He was totally anti-tattoo at the time, not only for religious reasons, but he is also terrified of needles.) A week later he came out to see me at my parents house and he asked me about getting them, I told him that the obnoxious stinging and buzzing was a welcome sensation compared to all the other things I had been feeling recently. Later that night, he pulled me aside and took off his shirt to reveal the exact same tattoos on his own shoulders.

We matched.

We went together.

If you were to put us in a group of a million other people, you would know we go together. That is an intensely intimate and comforting feeling, something no ring will ever be able to encompass or represent.

Someone the other night commented on the fact that I wasn’t wearing a wedding ring in an Instagram photo, it made her think that my marriage was in trouble and we were most certainly headed towards the end. But what you can’t see in the photo are my shoulders, my shoulders that match Cody’s. The tattoos that have us linked forever no matter what happens. They’re not flashy or showy, but they are deeply meaningful. Not only for what they represent, but for the season of life in which we both got them.

So that’s why you won’t always see me with a wedding ring, while I may wear my heart on my sleeve, I wear the love for my husband in ink on my shoulders.

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(But what do they MEEEAAANNN? You ask, well. If you ever saw Ghost, Patrick Swayze and Demi Moore said ‘ditto’ instead of  ‘I love you.’ Loce is our ditto.)

he never gave up on me.

For the first time in our almost 14 years of marriage I have finally allowed myself to be completely and hopelessly in love with Cody. I’m so in love with him I struggle to find words adequate enough to encompass how I feel about him. When I talk about him I generally end up in tears because through everything, he never ever gave up on me. I have hated myself for so long, and in hating myself I tried to convince Cody to hate me so I could be even more justified in my own self loathing. Up until recently I never let myself believe that he truly did love me, he was only with me out of obligation and circumstance.

I was always guarded with him, not on purpose, but more from life experience. If you don’t open up yourself up completely, you can’t be hurt as badly.

I am full on belly up with all my soft spots exposed to this man for the first time in my life. My heart is absolutely exposed to him with no defenses in place aside from trust. It’s that feeling you get when you first lean back in a climbing harness, wondering if it will catch you or not. Up until now I’ve always played it safe, keeping at least one hand and two feet on the wall at all times. Now I’m completely reclined, with complete faith in his ability to carry me.

We should have ended. I see so many other relationships end and I wonder how ours made it (although I know how ours made it and it’s because of Cody.) Several people have written to him or me asking how we survived, desperate for some sliver of hope in their own relationship. The only response I can even give is that he never gave up on me.

In letting him love me I have learned to love myself. I don’t second guess if I’m worth loving anymore. I have known love, but the love I have learned from Cody has me absolutely overtaken. It’s scary, and yet it’s not.

I wish everyone could experience this level of intimacy and absolute connection with another human, all the pain that has led me to this point has been worth it. I hate that I hurt Cody so badly in the process, but will forever be grateful that while I was falling apart, he knew the girl he fell in love with was still inside and he never gave up on her.

He has her now. More wholly and completely than he has ever had her in his entire life.

This mug encompasses almost everything I feel right now.

I can say with absolute certainty that at this moment, I am happy in places I never thought I could be.

I am in no way perfect, but I am loved deeply — and that is enough to get me through anything.