The Kitchen Sink: What Is It With Men and Wedding Rings?

Apr 17, 2008

Wow. This ring thing must be really touchy business… 


One of the zaniest old sitcoms on TV was “The Nanny”, which happened to star one of the funniest women on the planet, Fran Drescher. As many will remember, even though this Queens-born Nice Single Jewish Girl might occasionally think about something besides marriage, her giant-haired mother, Sylvia, never for a second wavered in her own desire to see The Nanny hitched and living the high life on Long Island. And with each passing day…month…year…Sylvia became less and less choosy about possible candidates for son-in-law.

There was the time when Fran and Sylvia were sitting in front of a sleazy groper at a baseball game. He pinched Fran’s nether regions and she called him on it in disgust. Now, while Sylvia, too, turned on him and read him the riot act, this hubby-hunting mom couldn’t help but lean over to her daughter afterward and whisper, hoping for a negative response: “…Did you feel a ring?”

But what’s interesting here—aside from Sylvia’s Guinness-Book-worthy gall—is the fact that the masher in question may well have been married, but simply not wearing the ring that would indicate it.

Some say that American men did not traditionally wear wedding rings before the World Wars, but that their having gone off to fight gave rise to the use of these powerful symbols as a reminder of their wives on the homefront. I don’t know how accurate that might be, but I have noticed that, for whatever reasons, as a tribe, women really seem to like wearing wedding rings. Yet among men, it’s definitely not an across-the-board priority. Their reasons range from a feeling of constriction to worksite accident-prevention. But many women are convinced—some from dreadful experience—that comfort and occupational safety are all too seldom the true guiding forces at work here.

“I don’t want everyone to know my life story from the ‘git-go’,” says one man I quizzed on the subject recently. Boy, does he want to remain nameless! He went on thereafter to suggest all sorts of spirit-crushing, soul-stealing effects linked directly to sustained wedding-ring use in the human male. He spoke from the heart, such as it was, and became more impassioned as he progressed.

He championed man’s wholly unfettered “pursuit of freedom”, and also mentioned something rather puzzling about a desire to be judged by strangers on “[his] own terms”. Amazingly, his fervent anti-ring rhetoric gradually morphed into a fairly cogent discourse in defense of the American way of life as we know it.

Wow. This ring thing must be really touchy business.

Our Hero had skillfully jettisoned the subject miles back, and all that remained now was one man’s desperate plea for the restoration of America’s most cherished constitutional guarantees. “Wedding ring, schmedding ring,” he seemed to be saying. “Is this a great country, or what?”

I didn’t think it necessary to return to our original topic. It was enough that I had learned, through his artful dodging, that I had encountered someone who did not seem to fall into the category of men who find rings physically unbearable; neither did he seem one of the many men influenced by workplace safety issues.

No, this “patriotic” trailblazer was clearly of that other sort: The kind who at least flirt with the notion of keeping all male-female “options” open—though they have officially narrowed those options, in celebration before witnesses, by choosing to speak the words, “I do”.


Notes from the blogosphere:

Wedding Rings: Should A Man Wear One Or Not?

Wedding Band Saves Merchant’s Life 

(Now, there’s something to think about!)

Why I Don’t Wear My Wedding Ring

Does Your Spouse Wear A Wedding Band?