One of the things that people who don’t want to separate with their spouse are trying to avoid are questions that they don’t know how to answer. They will often dread people asking them about the state of their marriage or whether or not they are going to get a divorce. They don’t know the answers to these questions and they don’t really want to think about them too deeply, or even to talk about them.
One symbol that puts these feelings and conflicts into sharp focus is that of wedding rings. Many people believe that you should still wear them. I am one of these people. My opinion on this is that when you are separated, you are still married. And married people wear wedding rings. I believe that there’s a reason that the couple are separated and not divorced and should therefore act accordingly.
Not everyone agrees with me though. Some people remove their ring as soon as they declare themselves separated or have moved out. They feel that wearing it isn’t being authentic and they don’t want to pretend that things are fine when they are not.
This can lead to conflict when the spouses feel very differently on this topic. Someone might explain: “I have no intentions of taking off my wedding ring but my husband has already removed his and it breaks my heart. I worry that this means that he is going to be looking for other women during our separation or that he does not consider himself truly married anymore. I have mentioned these things to him, but he says that I am over reacting. He says that he just doesn’t feel like wearing his. I don’t understand this. I could never take mine off. I sometimes find him staring at mine, as if he wishes he could ask me to take it off. I don’t want to remove it because of what it represents to me. I am still hopeful that we will one day reconcile. And I don’t want to invite people to ask me questions about why I am not wearing it. I have no idea how I would answer those questions anyway. Plus, it is no one’s business. Is there any rule about whether or not you should wear your ring when separated?”
I don’t know of any rules. Most couples just decide on this based on how they feel at the time. I understand why you are upset. You feel that your husband not wanting to wear his ring is very telling in terms of his intentions. You could be right about this, but I would not panic. People’s feelings can change over the course of a separation. And, not every one wears their ring all of the time.
To be honest, there are times when I do not wear my ring even though my husband and I have been reconciled for a while. It has nothing to do with my feelings about my marriage. I do it for practical reasons and I’m never without it for the long term. When I exercise, it gets sweaty. When I cook, food gets in it. And when I shower, it gets soap scum on it. So there are times throughout the day when I take it off. And sometimes, I forget to put it back on. This certainly does not mean that I am not committed to my husband or that I’m looking for other men. Both are so far away from the truth that it’s almost laughable.
I guess my point is that not every one who doesn’t always wear their ring has bad intentions, but you would certainly know your husband’s ring wearing habits much better than I would.
I do not know that you can force him to wear his ring. And he certainly can not force you to take yours off. I would also think that the more you make a big deal about this, the more determined he is going to be not to wear it, which is probably exactly what you do not want to happen.
Of course, every situation is different, but I suspect that the best course of action might be to express your disappointment so that it is clear how you feel and then move on and just see what happens. As I said, often people’s feelings change during the separation. He may start out wanting to distance himself from you a little, but then he may change his tune once he sees that he is lonely or once he realizes that perhaps he read the situation somewhat incorrectly.
I know that this hurts. But I think it may be a misdirection of your attention if you place all of your focus on this right now. The ring is a symbol of your marriage, but it is not your marriage itself. And that is the most important thing right now. If you repeatedly make a big issue out of this after you’ve already told him your feelings on it, then your placing the focus on a secondary problem. And you want to keep your focus on what is truly important – trying to rebuild. Yes, it’s upsetting that he isn’t wearing it. But there are probably bigger problems to address that need your attention a little more. Plus, he might be experimenting with seeing how not wearing the ring makes him feel. He may actually find that it is not the positive experience that he imagined. And he may put it back on without your needing to make a big deal about it.