ZG and I have had an open relationship for about 8 months now, and while that is not a long time (especially compared to the 10 years we spent in monogamy) it has been an amazing time of growth for each of us as individuals and for us as a couple. We have had ups and downs, talked of compersion and played with jealousy. We have argued and made up and in the end are closer today than we could have ever been before. Our learning is far from over, but I don’t think anyone would argue that we have experienced a great metamorphosis in this time. As we near our tenth anniversary of marriage this coming October, we felt that there must be something we could do to symbolize this change and this growth. So, without ceremony (as we’ve done most things in the time we’ve known each other), we casually decided the other day that we would move our wedding bands from our left hands to our right.
I had been thinking about wedding rings for a few weeks now. One of the joys of having an open relationship is that I am now “available” again. I find myself looking at women’s hands all the time, looking for rings at the grocery store and at work, when picking up the kids from summer camp and talking to other parents. I am, after all, an objectifier, looking at people as a collection of pieces, and the left hand specifically had become a new focal point for me. It was a place to start. If a cute teacher at the gremlins’ school had a ring then there was really no point in flirting, now was there? As I became aware of myself doing this I also became more aware of my own ring. I began to wonder how it was that I could explain my forward behavior if I was wearing a ring on my finger. The whole “we have an open marriage” schtick has been ruined by infidelitous jackasses and just seems hollow. On the flip side, removing the ring is not an option because it is symbolically shortchanging the very thing that is most important to me in my life. I am very much a happily married man, and not only am I unafraid to show people this, but think that it is important that anyone I meet knows this. I am looking to get to know people, to date and have fun, and yes possibly to even fuck people, but that is not to say that I am looking to forsake what I have with ZG. So I found myself stuck in a place of looking for unattached fingers, while very conspicuously wearing my own ring. I was a living paradox.
Meanwhile, on the other side of the living room…
…ZG was having the same thoughts. Our opening up has had a very clear evolution to it. It started with play partners and then moved to having more emotional connections to play partners, to toying with the ideas of “dating” for more than just the sex of it. It was only a matter of time before we moved into the realm of looking at the people that we met in our everyday lives as potential partners. So while I was checking out the ass on the newest member of our accounting team, ZG was trying to casually note whether the good-looking new guy in her office was wearing a ring.
As with most things in our shared lives, we started to talk about this conundrum while on a recent road trip (sans children). When talking about all the nuances of this particular philosophical question, ZG made the recommendation of simply moving the rings from the left hand to the right. It was such an elegant, simple thing. It was something we could do right then, while driving. There was nothing special needed, no ceremony, no special contract or ring or other piece of jewelry. It was a small gesture that could mean something special, something that we wanted it to mean. This was not the end of our old relationship nor was it the beginning of a new relationship, but it was a moment, a threshold, a mile marker in the life of our relationship. It was a moment that needed to be marked in some way, but in a way that neither attempted to replace the past or create a new future.
At first it was an odd feeling. The indentation on my ring finger is very pronounced and the weight of the ring on my right hand seems odd. I am not a jewelry wearer so I am acutely aware of the movement of my one piece. I had developed some habits and quirks around my ring. I would tap it on hard surfaces, I spin it, generally play with it absent-mindedly when nervous. These are the little things that constantly remind me of the move. This may seem like a sad thing, that I am noticing the fact that it is missing but that is not it at all. Every time I feel for my ring on my left hand I am reminded of the fact that we have moved it, I a reminded that our relationship has evolved and grown. I am reminded in a very real and tangible way that we are more complex and complete in our relationship today than ever before.The movement has me thinking about my ring and subsequently my marriage more than I used to. This symbolism is perfect because it is the opening up of our relationship that has made ZG and I think about our lives together more than we ever did when we were monogamous.
For us, this simple symbolic gesture has been a perfect marker of the evolution of our relationship. We are as strong as ever, but are constantly evolving and growing to learn more about ourselves and each other, something that has made us happier and more complete. To me, I can’t think of a better reason for a right-hand ring.