You’d think this post would be about how wonderful my 12th grade Economics teacher was at teaching the ins and outs of economic systems and managing money and such. But it’s not. I am embarrassed to say that I don’t even remember my 12th grade Economics teacher’s name. But I do remember a lesson she taught me, that wasn’t in the lesson plan, that I actually have just begun to understand.
Here’s how it all began: a group of us Seniors, myself included, were talking with her and in conversation were surprised to find out that she was married. In all of our 12th grade wisdom, we were slightly insulted that she didn’t wear a wedding ring. Some of the girls actually argued with her about her choice to forego wearing a ring and how it wasn’t honoring to her marriage. Other girls were just saddened by the fact, as if she didn’t take her marriage seriously. And how could she give up the fact of wearing a beautiful diamond on her hand? I mean, really, was she crazy?
She went on further to tell us that her husband didn’t wear a ring as well. *GASP* Oh the shock and horror on our little innocent faces. As I look back, I chuckle at the naivety in thinking that the “ring” is what mattered most in a marriage and that wearing one was some kind of protective veil against the world.
Bless this teacher’s heart, but she was very patient with all of us and our hemming and hawing. After all our questions had been asked and all our arguments had been voiced, she quietly said, “My husband and I choose not to wear rings because it is what feels right for us. He has a job that makes wearing a ring uncomfortable and dangerous. I don’t care for jewelry. We know we are married to each other and our promise to each other is strong and true, ring or no ring.”
In typical teenage fashion, I’m pretty sure most of us just rolled our eyes and dropped the subject. But what she said did impact me and only now do I realize just how much. I realize how true her spoken words were, over 15 years later. For quite some time, I stayed in the naivety that a “ring” around a finger made the marriage. I figured that piece of gold was enough of a shield to protect us from the outside world and the temptations it brings. But it isn’t the ring that does that. It’s the vows, the promise, and the recognition that “We know we are married to each other and our promise to each other is strong and true, ring or no ring.”
So to my 12th grade Economics teacher, thank you for teaching me an important lesson about the promises made in a marriage. For standing up and saying that it isn’t the ring that makes a marriage. It has taken me many years to finally understand, but your stance on the subject many years ago has sat and simmered in my heart. With or without my wedding ring, I know that the heart of the matter doesn’t change. And if there isn’t that purity in the promise – no piece of metal, no matter how big and shiny will make a difference. This was a far more important lesson to learn than that of supply and demand. And I am forever grateful.