“I really like your wedding ring. So many women today have such big, over-the-top ones . . . it’s nice to see a simple, beautiful ring.”
I’m pretty sure my mouth was wide open, slack-jawed, awe-struck by the awkward compliment of the restaurant server who uttered those words.
Bless his heart. I know he meant well. But, of course, I instantly stared at my “simple, beautiful ring” and panicked that it somehow must be missing something. Some brilliance? Some carats? Probably a good cleaning?
It’s not like I didn’t know that I have a small, simple ring, comparatively speaking, but to have someone else actually remark about it, I blushed crimson on the inside.
But because I’m just as awkward as his statement was, I blurted out, “Thanks, it’s missing a couple of diamonds. They’ve fallen out over the years, and we figured why replace them when it’s now just as perfectly imperfect as our marriage is?”
Cue the awkward situation music.
Thankfully, the probably 20-years-younger-than-me server understood my sentiment and nodded his head in agreement. “That’s awesome,” he replied, as I sat there, momentarily lost in thought.
His assessment of my ring brought back a rush of memories.
Our first anniversary.
Ryan and I took a whirlwind trip to a concert in the Twin Cities. Like so many newlyweds, we thought it needed to be perfect. A concert, bar-hopping, a trendy hotel, lots of intimacy (gosh, we were clearly so young with so much energy), the works.
It’s funny how the best-made plans can go awry, isn’t it? All these years later, I don’t remember what all went wrong, but I can tell you that when we finally arrived back home, there had been far more exhaustion from traveling than partying, more snipping at each other than romantic interludes, and then, as we ended the weekend, I noticed it.
A diamond had fallen out of my wedding band!
I’ll never forget crumpling onto the silk duvet (clearly we were young and childless) in our spare bedroom, trying to hide my blinding hot tears from my husband.
I couldn’t bear to tell him. I was afraid he’d be furious. He was already disappointed enough about how the weekend had gone, and he had saved up for so long to buy me that ring.
First, the weekend didn’t go as perfectly as we had planned, and now, this?! Clearly, this was a bad sign. We were obviously not good at this marriage thing. We couldn’t even get our anniversary right! The tears of disappointment flowed.
I never did tell Ryan that night what was wrong, and honestly, I regret it. It probably could have brought us closer together. We could have understood right then and there that our plans for the perfect weekend were the source of our problem, not us, as people.
Instead, we both went to bed feeling disappointed in how the weekend had gone. And worse yet, he thought I was even more disappointed than he was, since I couldn’t bring myself to look him in the eye. For all he knew, my tear-stained face was a result of our slightly lackluster anniversary celebration.
This year we’ll celebrate 14 years of marriage. Whoop!
We sure have come a long way.
There have been more losses, more difficulties, more “that didn’t go according to plan” moments than we could ever begin to count.
There have been so many times we’ve let each other down. That we’ve let our individual selves down. That we’ve failed to communicate our thoughts and emotions. That we’ve let the expectation of a perfect experience or situation frustrate us and ruin things.
But you know what else we can’t count? The amount of joy, the amount of grace, the amount of forgiveness and understanding that we’ve extended to one another, the number of times in which “that didn’t go as planned” was transformed into something memorable.
Yes, I did tell Ryan soon after our first anniversary about that diamond falling out. And since I told him about it, I’ve lost three more. Apparently “simple, beautiful” rings with marquise settings lose them pretty easily.
We’ve talked over the years about replacing those four diamonds, but truthfully, I don’t want to.
I can’t bring myself to have them replaced, because they’re an everyday reminder to me that our marriage is perfectly imperfect.
We’re two imperfect people living an imperfect marriage as perfectly as we can. Why mess with a good thing?
Ladies, learn from my mistakes. No person, no moment, no marriage is perfect. Embrace the imperfections. In them, you’ll not only find peace, but also beauty and joy.
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