For many years as a strength conditioning coach, newly married, I would take off my wedding ring when I lifted weights. I didn’t want the knurling to scratch it when grabbing the barbell. My wedding band is simple gold band, no stones, no designs, simple but beautiful. I also wear a silver cross ring on my right hand that Colleen gave me as a gift over 20 years ago. Early on in my marriage I recall having my ring polished, because as a strength conditioning coach when you’re spotting athletes, you’re grabbing that barbell and scuffing up the ring.
Nowadays people buy silicone rings, and things that can be worn and tossed if they get ripped or lost. That was not a thing when we were married in 1998, 26 years ago. Some jobs will not allow you to wear a ring for safety reasons. I still remember the slides in my undergrad “Safety Class” of someone degloved finger when their ring caught in apiece of machinery. If I had a job like that, I would wear a silicone band but since I do not, I wear my rings all the time now even when I train.
I like wearing a gold band. I think it goes in line with the whole concept of a wedding ring. The wedding band projects to everyone who sees it a commitment to my marriage and spouse. It shows to others and myself a reminder of the vow I have taken to commit my life to her. The circle has no end or beginning signifying infinity and representing eternal love. Gold as a precious metal represents the preciousness of the marriage bond. It should be special and taken care of but on display for the world and not hidden away in a jewelry box, on a dresser, or in a pocket. I believe, having it on my finger displays I am cherishing it and demonstrates how precious it is to me even as the knurled bar etches it as I strain in a deadlift. The bond of marriage should be out there for the world to see cherished (by the two united) and displayed every day. This every day use and display (life) will undoubtedly lead to some scuffs, some scrapes, some bumps, and some bruises just like the scraps on my ring. I don’t know who said it or where I saw it but recently, I saw something to the effect of “A perfect marriage involves two imperfect people committed to each other and forgiving each other’s imperfections.” I like the simple elegance of the gold band with no designs or stones. This is what my dad wears. It suites my simple, straightforward personality. Strength training should be simple, basic and straightforward as well. there is beauty in a simple straightforward approach. Strength training only works from consistent effort and commitment to ordinary exercises over a long time. Sounds similar to marriage to me.
The practical side of my brain understands the utility and draw of the silicone rings. My philosophical side detests the throwaway nature of the silicone ring. The “it doesn’t matter if I lose it” mentality seems to be the mentality of the silicone ring and many people’s sentiment about marriage these days. “I might lose it so I don’t want it to be special, then if I do lose it, It’s not a big deal.” In my opinion this leads to not treating it very special and taking care of it, which in turn leads to it being lost. I cannot imagine how many rings I would have lost if I did not take the mentality of caring for this dear treasure. I’m not saying I’ll never lose my gold wedding band in fact, on our honeymoon, while playing water polo I threw the ball and the ring went flying off across the pool clanking all the way along the pool deck. If I do lose it one day, it doesn’t mean the end of the world and certainly not the end of my marriage. It is a representation of our marriage to ourselves and the world. How I treat the ring/wife/marriage is reflected in how important it is to me. As I live my life, and so I wear the rings all the time. Like the calluses on my hand near my rings show the work I do for myself and my family, the scraps and scratches on the ring express the same and in a weird way are beautiful.
The gray in my hair speaks of the years I have given to my bride and the etched/scratched gold and silver circlets speak the same language. My wedding band is ellipsoidal instead of circular because of a walloped softball that I caught years ago. The sting of that catch still makes my hand ache and later I ascertained it reshaped my ring. It is now a little oblong and out of shape. A little wide around the middle just like myself seems fitting so I have never had it reshaped.
On my right hand the silver cross ring is thinner and on the palm side is scraped fine from the knurled barbell. If you are not a lifter the knurling is the course cross pattern on the barbell that allows you to maintain your grip while lifting. The same thing that allows you to hold on and get strong is the agency of callouses. The obstacle is the way. Lifting & straining are hard but are the origin of strength. Knurling causes callouses but facilitates growth that could not happen without it.
There is beauty in the mundane, in the ordinary, the every day. I am ordinary and mundane, my bride is most assuredly not. There is beauty in the ordinary everyday struggle of strength training just like ordinary everyday marriage is beautiful. It is giving your everyday to the other person one day at a time. I do not intentionally damage or scrape my ring. I wear it with pride every rep, every set, every day forever just as we give each day to each other building strength for the future.
The scuffed, tarnished ring represents me well as every scratch, every nook, every blemish shows the life, the years. Wedding pictures are beautiful but the old couple still together, committed to each other, with lines on their face and gray in their hair is a special kind of beauty.
So I choose to wear a gold band and wear it when I train. I wear them all the time it’s beautiful, it’s precious just like my beautiful bride.
I love you Colleen, thank you for loving me.