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Throw It Across The Room

My wife and I once watched a television show. We watched many, actually, but this show was of specific importance.

We had embraced polyamory, and here on television was a reality show (however generously so described) about the topic of polyamory. We were each also blogging on these matters, so we (well, I didn't think of this) decided to live blog each episode.

And so, we watched the show.

One of the narrative lines followed three people who were together in a relationship and their decision to marry. Each week it built up to the marriage, as I remember it, and made plain their internal and external conflicts.

And then they were going to select their wedding rings. What the decided was not to have rings at all, but to tattoo rings onto their ring fingers.

At this moment, I need to back up.

When I married, as I have described before, I was drawn to permanence and it's symbols. And, beyond that, or because of that, I was also in a mindset of love and relationships that last forever and cannot be torn asunder as an absolute and immutable principle. The relationship, the marriage, the love was forever because it had to be and no end or circumstance that could bring about an end was even possible to contemplate.

One can call this naïve, but it is much more than that. It is disrespectful, and it devalues the love and the relationship in and of itself.

I did not understand this, but my wife did. She tried to make me understand, though I was extremely dense, at least in this matter.

What I (eventually) understood was that love love that is defined into existence and is unchangeable by definition is nothing, really. It is honoring a rule and not a person or a bond. It is doing something because there is no option. And that dishonors what is meaningful about being with someone.

It dishonors love. And it puts commitment on automatic pilot.

When it was revealed that these people on the television show were going to tattoo wedding rings on their bodies, we each had the same reaction: I can't remember which of us said it, but one of us said that if you can't take the wedding ring off and throw it across the room, it means nothing. Whichever of us said it, we were in instant agreement.

There is not any effort in waking up each day with something permanently on your body. It can't not be. And that means that, whatever it meant to you when you put it on your body, it stays there whether you mean it or not. It stays there regardless of whether it represents you, right this minute.

There is nothing wrong with tattoos, though I have none myself (that is an entirely different story), but they persist regardless of whether the sentiment that they represent persists with them. And if it represents a marriage, it represents a marriage that you are stuck with, not one that you choose.

On their ring fingers were symbols of what they were stuck with. They might also be symbols of what they want, but the symbols will be fixed without regard to that.

A ring that you can throw across the room is a ring that, to a degree, to an extent, on a fundamental level, is a ring that you choose to wear, like the marriage it represents.

And a marriage, or a relationship, that is defined into existence and is not an organic thing among two (or more) people is not a choice, And making that choice every day is, to my thinking, what gives that relationship power and meaning.

I am not so smart and wise that I cannot be wrong. And I can be wrong about this. But for all of the time that this has had to ferment in me, I feel it is more true,

The ring that matters is the ring that you can throw across the room. Because the fact that you don't means everything.

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