What One Learns by Sleeping with an Ex
I fell asleep wearing my wedding band last night. This may not seem newsworthy, but I have been divorced for nearly five years. I rarely even look at the thing anymore, shoving it out of the way mindlessly as I search my jewelry box for cuff links or a tie chain. (Do real men call these "jewelry" boxes?) I don't think I ever slept with it even during my short, troubled marriage.
The ring is beautiful, a flat white-gold band incised with three concentric rings lacquered black in the grooves. We found them in Denver, where we would marry, made by a Navajo in New Mexico, where we'd met. I have kept it mostly as a reminder to be wary of the mistakes I made getting into that marriage, which led to the mistakes I made in it. Most I'm sure I've forgotten anyway. The big ones that remain in memory haunt me still and make me wary of new relationships. The three-month one that just ended was my longest in the five years since, but there isn't much competition.
I didn't wear the ring because I am in love with my ex-wife. I don't even feel a need to speak to her again, except maybe to issue a formal apology. She is a good-hearted person and I wish her all happiness, but that link is long gone. No, the ring went on for some other reason not yet clear.
I had watched an old episode of "Party of Five" to close a long workday, one in which rapprochement was a key theme, but I'm not seeking such with her. Then I was reading an old novel in bed, John Updike's "Rabbit is Rich," by coincidence picking up again in a wedding scene.
Soon I was overwhelmed by a yearning not for a person but for an institution, for the promise and partnership of marriage. I miss the commitment, the sense that no matter my strength or fear in a given moment, someone was there to back me up. I want someone to believe I am there for them no matter what, regardless of how imperfectly I live up to that intention. I want that sense of partnership, "we're in this together through thick and thin." I need an adviser I trust enough to tell all, even if I rarely ask for advice.Continued on the next page