He doesn’t want to wear a wedding ring

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Dear Meredith,

How important are wedding rings? I want to wear one, my partner doesn't. I'm American and he moved to the US as an adult from a country where wedding rings aren't standard. I'll admit that the men in his extended family seem very happily married yet do not wear wedding rings. It's pretty important to me; I think it's a really sweet, daily reminder of that commitment made to each other. I also understand that him committing to wear a piece of jewelry for the rest of his life and committing to love and respect me can be two totally separate things (of course I care more about the latter!).

Should I yield here and say I'm ok with both of us skipping the rings? (Won't it be weird if only I get a ring at the ceremony?) Is a compromise where we exchange rings at the wedding and I ask that he wear his, say, on special occasions but not everyday asking too much or disrespecting his culture? My thought is that if we do reevaluate later and decide to get him a ring, we can never get that day back and it doesn't hold the same meaning if it's not exchanged on the wedding day. I sense a compromise is the best route forward (the first of many in our marriage, I'm sure), I just don't want to give too much on this important subject and regret it later! Will I feel alone if I'm the only one wearing a ring? Or am I ascribing too much meaning to a piece of jewelry?

– Rings

A couple's traditions and symbols don't have to match. You can wear a ring with pride and it won't mean less because his fingers are bare. The two of you can show off the same big love in different ways, I swear.

There are many things couples do during wedding ceremonies that are important to them, but aren't repeated daily for the rest of their lives. Couples don't have a big dance every evening. They don't restate their vows before dinner. An exchange of rings (or the gift of one ring) on your wedding day can be a huge gesture, one that matters to him but doesn't result in a lifetime accessory. You can wear your ring forever because it means more to you ... and maybe because you like it. (I would not require him to wear jewelry at important events. It's just not his thing.)

Your marriage is going to involve so many traditions and rituals that you haven't even started yet. The wedding will always be an important memory, but I don't think you'll be wishing for ceremony do-overs if your goals and accessories change.

Also, do you know how many people straight-up lose their wedding rings? It doesn't mean much about the marriage.

Figure out what you want for the ceremony (together), and accept that you'll show your commitment in different ways after the party is over. Ask what traditions are important to him. Let yourself wear a ring with pride, and know that with or without it, you're both celebrating the same bond.

– Meredith

Readers? Married readers? What do your rings (if you have them) mean (if anything) to you?