These are my rings, my engagement ring and my wedding band. They are beautiful and valuable and I love them. Just looking at them reminds me of a time in my life filled with excitement and joy. They are also a symbol of the evolving dynamic of any relationship. My husband and I picked them out together over twenty years ago. That’s right. We picked them out together. There was no down-on-one-knee, hidden-photographer, #romanticgoals, proposal, probably because there was no social media. There was a conversation about how he wanted to spend the rest of his life with me and after I said no, twice, he eventually convinced me that I wouldn’t regret changing my mind. (That is a story for another time.) Then, he took me shopping. He picked out a few rings he thought I would like and let me choose. When the jeweler ask what kind of gold we wanted, he immediately responded with the most valuable and pure of the options, 14k. The message was clear. He thought I, and our marriage, was worth the investment.
Fast forward more than two decades, twenty one years of for-better-or-worse, kids, pets, mortgages, career changes, debt, more kids, in-sickness-and-in-health, finances, surgeries, for-richer-or-poorer, until-death-do-we-part stuff. After all that, my rings don’t look like I thought they would. They aren’t round anymore. They are oval. Turns out that valuable and pure 14k gold is also very malleable. It is soft and pliable when exposed to heat and pressure. It turns out that we also needed to be malleable, soft and pliable when exposed to heat and pressure.
All those years ago, I married a 25 year old man. He was kind and generous and open minded enough to love me and the two rough and tumble boys that came with me. He wore polos and khakis and played tennis. He was college educated and incredibly smart. He was a hard worker and as a new Christian, always willing to model servanthood. I had hit the jackpot! I couldn’t have been more pleased to be his wife. Imagine my surprise when, about 10 years in, he traded his tennis rackets for hunting gear. How could this be? Camouflage replaced the classic polos. What was happening? Instead of hours on the court, he was spending days in the mountains as I struggled to raise our ever growing family. He brought home game that I had no idea how to prepare and didn’t even particularly like. I was never anti-hunting, as long as it wasn’t my husband doing it. This is where the heat and pressure came in, only I wasn’t made of 14K gold.
It’s been a bumpy road and there have been concessions on both sides, but as I look at my rings, I am reminded that even though my marriage doesn’t look like I thought it would, it is still beautiful and it is still valuable. By the way,my husband’s ring doesn’t look like it did when we bought it either. It is a bit bent and it is missing a small stone or two.
I guess what I would like to say to young couples is this: It isn’t hard to love the person you marry. It may be hard to love the person they become because, like our rings, nobody stays the same their entire life. Do it anyway. They are still made of the same stuff you fell in love with, it might just be a slightly different shape.