Why I Stopped Wearing My Wedding Ring

He pulled out a small box as our boat bobbed in the gentle waves of the setting evening sun.

I was two months out of college, and he would be a senior that coming year. He told me how much he loved me, that he wanted to spend his life with me, and asked if I would be his wife.

He slipped a diamond ring on my finger – a white-gold band filled with small stones flanking a larger center diamond.

Fifteen months later, we said our vows before God and our families. A promise of commitment to each other and to our future children. And we put on new rings to symbolize that promise.

When our daughter Brenna was born four years later, I took off that wedding ring.

The first time was because my finger under the ring was irritated. Her health was so critical in those early days, and I probably washed my hands 30 times a day in an attempt to ward off bacteria and keep her as healthy as possible. The skin on my fingers was bothered by the constant cleaning and drying in the dry winter months, and I got a rash under my wedding ring.

I took it off one day for a while, and then the next. I would put it back on eventually, but my skin always fared better without the rubbing of the ring.

As she grew older, I began to wear my ring less and less. And then it came to the point where every time I would attempt to wear it, it would scratch her skin – applying her lotion or buckling her into her carseat or lifting her up to the table to eat.

“Mommy take off your ring!” she would cry. “It hurts me!”

And so, for the most part, my wedding ring stayed in my jewelry box.

But on our nine-year anniversary a few weeks ago, I got a surprise. Connor and Brenna walked into the hall carrying a small package, grinning with mischief and pleased to be in on a little secret.

“Thanks for marrying Daddy!” they exclaimed just as they’d evidently practiced.

Inside the package was a new ring. Plain and tiny, no sharp-edged diamonds to scratch sensitive skin.

I placed that simple white gold band around my ring finger where diamonds used to be, nine years prior.

And truthfully I’m even more elated with the band than I was with my diamond proposal on the sunset boat ride with the boy who took my breath away. Because that delicate circle is a much more accurate way to describe what our marriage has looked like. Not fancy, but solid. Unending. Always.dsc_0122

Over the years of marriage, the excitement over diamonds will fade.

The excitement over the details of your wedding day – the lace of the dress, the placement of flowers, even the hashtag you debated for social media – will eventually morph into lovely memories that make you smile together as you remember seeing his happy tears at the end of the aisle and the way it felt to dance with her for the first time as your wife and what joy you had as you celebrated with all of your loved ones, especially those who are no longer here today.

And the excitement about your marriage? That takes work. Every single day.

It’s only been nine years, but we’ve found that marriage takes a lot of willingness – willingness from both people to listen, to forgive, to trust, to give the best of yourself even when you don’t want to, to assume the best instead of the worst about the other person. It’s hard. But small choices in every moment have a ripple effect of the marriage you are cultivating – the tone in your voice when you respond to a question, the ability to get over it when he’s late from work, being willing to apologize when you should, communicating with the other when you make a large household purchase. And we’re finding that you can use the difficult seasons to learn from and to bond you closer, instead of driving you apart, if you choose to.

So today, I don’t wear my diamond wedding ring anymore – at least not very often.

Now I am honored to wear a new band that is much more appropriate for our life and marriage… and I wear it with even more excitement, even more commitment than I could have imagined when I said yes as that first diamond was slipped on my finger 11 years ago.

My book, A Different Beautiful, is now available for order!

Interested in reading more with your kids about differences and being yourself? You can download a guide to the best children’s books on differences and disabilities when you subscribe to my monthly email newsletter!  Follow me on  Facebook and Instagram.

{Celebrating Beautiful} The Goodness of Miracles: by Sarah Rodriguez

In blogging for the last 4 years, I’ve written about many different topics, but one theme that has remained constant has been my focus of sharing about how our family is discovering the beauty in difference and choosing to celebrate the incredible beauty all around us, and how we want to encourage others to do the same. After connecting with and reading about so many amazing people and families doing so many amazing things, I started a guest blog series called Celebrating Beautiful, as it relates to beauty however it can be interpreted: motherhood, faith, your kids, an experience, home, and so much more.

It was just before my book was released that I first hear Sarah Rodriguez’s name during a meeting with my publishing house. They shared some of her story with me, and I immediately was deeply touched by her life experiences and her faith. Sarah’s book was just released this month, and it has been a privilege to read as she shares her faith-filled testimony about her husband’s cancer diagnosis and raising her two beautiful children as a single mom. (Go order her book, From Depths We Rise – you will be forever changed!) Here is Sarah Rodriguez on Celebrating Beautiful…
It came when I no longer believed it could, the miracle that is. I had asked for them many times before in my life, yet my cries went seemingly unanswered. Then in an instant, it all came to a head. The place where hope and faith collided, and I was never the same again. I’m getting ahead of myself…

In 2005, I moved to New York City after dreaming of such a move my entire life. After only a few weeks in my new town, I met the man of my dreams. We were married shortly thereafter. Sound like a fairytale? It felt like one. Until…

Infertility was the first obstacle we faced, but it was a big one none-the-less. To try every month for something you want so badly, yet are unable to attain, is a grueling and gut-wrenching process. For years we were unsuccessful, and it felt like the biggest mountain we would ever faced. But it was about to get even worse.

My husband was unexpectedly diagnosed with kidney cancer at the young age of 32. We were left reeling. First we were not able to start our family as we had dreamed; now we went from fighting for a family to fighting for my husband’s life. Never before have I felt such fear.5

He fought it for a year, then went into remission. That is when our dream was finally realized as I became pregnant with our son. Yet, just as our dream came to fruition, simultaneously so did our nightmare. My husband’s cancer had returned. Aggressively. He fought the battle again, with all he had, but in the end we lost the war. My husband died, leaving me a widow and single mother at the age of 31.

The story is not over yet. In many ways it was just getting started.

Because of our earlier trials with infertility, I still had two embryos leftover from a previous IVF cycle. My husband was gone, but a piece of him remained as unconventional as it may seem. What was I to do? I wrestled with this decision unlike anything I have ever wrestled with before. In the end my choice was clear, put the embryos in my womb and put the results in the hands of God.

In the end it was meant to be, I became pregnant with a baby girl. I named her Ellis. She was perfection on every level. Beautiful, vibrant, peaceful, a much needed healing balm to our broken hearts. From the very beginning, her life was filled with such richness, such depth, such purpose.7

As quickly as she arrived, life took a turn yet again. This time, plunging us into the deepest depths we have ever known. That beautiful, healthy baby girl, at two weeks old developed a case of bacterial meningitis. She was rushed by ambulance to our local Children’s Hospital and placed on a ventilator before I could even wrap my brain around what was happening.

“Your daughter will not live,” I was told. “And even if she does, she will remain in a vegetative state – never able to give or receive love. There is no hope for her.”

No hope. The same words I was told less than two years prior about my husband. I did not understand it, any of it. Why was this happening to us once again? Had we not endured enough? Why was I given this gift, only to have her cruelly ripped away? None of it made sense. I tried in vain to pull together what last remaining shreds of faith I possessed. Truth was, little remained.

After two weeks on a ventilator, she stopped breathing alongside it. They were not able to control her massive seizures, or vital signs, even after pumping every medicine in the book into her veins. She was dying, and amidst that terrible reality it was now time to say goodbye.

The day we removed her from the vent was horrific. I had asked for her to leave this world the same way she entered it, skin to skin. As I ducked into a hospital bathroom to change into a gown, a defining moment occurred.

“God” I said timidly “I don’t know if you will, but I know that you can. If there’s any way, any way at all to save her life, please do. Thirty days with her, well…it is just not enough.”

There it was. The true depths of my heart revealed. I had spent weeks feeling abandoned, as if my prayers were hitting the ceiling. Yet in this moment I realized, who I was at my core, was one who against all odds-believed.8

He gave me a miracle that day, when I thought all hope was gone. Ellis lived. Now as an almost two-year old, she thrives. Her life is a testament to His goodness, His power to do the impossible. To her Mommy, she is the hope that awakened my heart again. She defied all the odds, just as He did on her behalf.

There is nothing too great for Him. There is nothing too broken for Him to piece back together. God doesn’t cause evil, but He will use evil for our good. He will take the shattered, jumbled up mess of our pain and use it for our triumph. He will take our story and use it in redemptive ways, all for the glory of the one who holds the pen.2

Sarah is an author, speaker and blogger at www.journeyofsarah and the Huffington Post. She is the founder of the Choose Joy Project a “random acts of kindness” initiative to honor the life of her late husband, Joel. Her life’s greatest role is that of Mommy to Milo and Ellis. Sarah is a one-time NYC transplant who now makes her home in Oklahoma, where the best sunsets on earth are found. Her memoir, From Depths We Rise: A Journey of Beauty from Ashes, is available in stores now.