You really don't think about the rings your parents wear until you become an Adult Child of Divorce and they don't wear them anymore. You may not know where the rings are, or they may sit in a drawer that you look in once in a while, or they may be sold, but regardless, as you look at the hands of your aging parents, the wrinkled fingers are now strangely exposed.
What is a ring? In other cultures, now and many years ago , it is/was a sign of a contract between families. The woman received a ring, the man and his family pledging to provide for her and she giving up her family to be bound to another by love and responsibility. Over time, and throughout various cultures, the specifics and types of rings have changed, but the ring symbolizes a deep, permanent bond. The shape is easily worn for practicality of a physical symbol, but also signifies being timeless, endless, whole and of continuation. It is given during a public ceremony where a private relationship is celebrated and witnessed in community. Two people become "spouses". The Latin word from which the word "spouse" comes, refers to a promise, or a binding pledge.
A ring is a symbol given and worn in public to point to a vow and promise of a binding private relationship. We give other symbols in public to celebrate a person being a part of something bigger than themselves that they have committed to, such as awards and pins for being part of a football team, or badges and pins to show promise or completion of a pledge to the military.
The difference is that a ring in marriage means forever. And it acknowledges a common life and greater purpose in caring for and continuing creation as the lives of those wearing the rings affects their children, their friends, relatives and the greater community as well.
A ring is a sign to others that our energies, gifts, emotional and physical intimacy, our dreams, money, etc. are going to be given to only one other person forever, over and over, again and again. The deeper meaning of a ring is its promise and adult children of divorce feel the emptiness that is caused when the rings come off.
How can we as Adult Children of Divorce preserve the importance of promises kept when we've experienced them broken?
1. Wear our rings proudly...they are a sign of liberation and clarity of purpose, not a sign of constraint or bondage
2. Respect the rings that others wear. They are committed to give much to another and we have no right to take things that belong to others
3. Look at the empty , exposed hands of our parents and realize that they may feel freedom , or they may feel shame, or someplace in between. But those hands bathed us, fed us, worked hard to provide for us, and tried to love us and each other.
As Adult Children of Divorce I think we will always look at The Rings differently now and hopefully wear ours with more meaning as well.
Next Post : The Postcard