by Amy Alpert
While I was unloading groceries recently, my engagement ring got caught on one of the drawers and my diamond slipped out of its setting. I was shocked to see my ring setting minus a diamond! Luckily, I was able to immediately find the diamond, but my heart was racing before I did.
I have had this ring for more than 20 years. I wear it every single day. I never take it off. It is a small enough ring that it doesn’t get in the way, and I would feel naked without it. I have never wanted an upgrade, even as I have genuinely admired the upgraded rings of my friends. I happen to love big, beautiful diamond rings. But so far, I have not replaced mine.
My 16-year-old daughter was sitting with me when the jeweler asked if I wanted to upgrade my setting. My daughter looked horrified when I paused to consider it. (As I mentioned, I love big, beautiful diamond rings.) She shook her head vigorously. “That’s the ring Daddy gave you! I can’t imagine you with a different ring. I love your ring!” Not surprisingly, she had a strong opinion (she is 16), but I appreciated her nostalgia. Not everything needs to be improved or upgraded.
As we approach our 20th anniversary of marriage, this event made me stop for a moment and think about any symbolism my broken engagement ring might have. I rarely see a coincidence as a mere coincidence. What was this telling me?
Don’t take things for granted.
I have worn this ring for 20+ years without a problem, and then, out of the blue, it comes out of the setting. My husband and I have our daily routine: We go to bed together, we wake up together, we touch base during the day, we organize our schedules. This predictability is not something to take for granted. Unexpected things can happen. Appreciate the routine.
Time can wear down the foundation.
Sure, love can grow deeper as you are married longer, but minor annoyances can also grow, age-old fights can become ingrained, and the wear and tear of life can feel insurmountable. In many ways, marriage can get harder as we get older. This is less of a problem if you acknowledge it and move through the challenge together. Sometimes my husband seems surprised when things are tough. I gently remind him that marriage can be hard work. Nothing worthwhile is ever easy.
Shiny new things can be appealing.
Sometimes my husband and I think about things we can buy to add a little spice to life. But, ultimately, spending money is not going to strengthen our marriage. For us, simply going out to dinner can make us feel more connected and happier together. For our 10- year anniversary, instead of a trip to Europe, we went out for Indian food at our favorite restaurant (located in a Jersey strip mall!). While going to Europe is an amazing way to celebrate, that was not going to work for us at that time. I will always remember that evening as being full of love and laughter—which is why I married him in the first place!
Expect the unexpected.
My father-in-law passed away six months ago, and my husband’s suffering was hard on our marriage. But, thankfully, we had the foundation to get through it. Marriage is not immune to the ups and downs of life. If we can honor that, we can get through them together.
Things are just things.
I got lucky and found the diamond. But what if I hadn’t? That would have been okay. I don’t need a ring to prove our love. Love is the energy we bring to our relationship on a daily basis. Love is knowing that we are both completely invested in the success of the relationship. It is a delicate dance—and I don’t want to learn to dance with anyone else.
Amy Alpert, a graduate of the Certificate in Positive Psychology, is a solutions-focused coach with a practice based in positive psychology. A former human resources executive at Goldman Sachs, she holds a master’s degree in organizational psychology from Columbia University. This article was originally published on Amy’s blog at amyalpert.com.