Take this ring as a symbol of my love to you and the assurance that I will be faithful to you all the days of my life.” This statement is commonly used when couples are exchanging rings during wedding ceremonies. It reflects the whole essence of what the ring stands for.
In preparation for the wedding day, couples spend time and huge resources to procure a particular ring of their choice, it could be diamond, gold or silver.
Usually worn on the fourth finger, beside the pinkie, as it connects to the vein that flows directly to the heart, it has been described as a sign of mutual fidelity.
The exchange of the rings during wedding ceremonies is often treated as sacred and important. Apart from the wedding vows, exchange of rings is really the epitome of the entire ceremony.
But interestingly, most men, when compared to women, seldom wear their wedding rings despite the huge investment and the high emotional attachment to this aspect on wedding days.
Findings by Saturday Punch revealed that while the use of wedding ring might be a thing of pride and a status symbol for women, men find all sorts of excuses to cover up for not wearing theirs. A cross section of men who spoke to our correspondent gave some of their reasons.
The excuses range from their indisposition to the use of jewellery, inconvenience and forgetfulness, to the nature of their job, leaving out the most obvious which is infidelity. Some however claimed that they were not proud of the quality of their rings, hence, they couldn’t flaunt them as much as they would love to. Interestingly, these excuses cut across all the religions.
Mr. Gbenga Emmanuel, a civil servant, said he had not been using his ring since he got married about 23 years ago.
“I don’t like jewellery and the few days that I wore it, it made mark on my finger and I didn’t like it. I wish I could use it but I just can’t because it’s not convenient. It is not comfortable, simple.”
When asked if he would allow his wife not to use it for whatever reason, he said, “No, my wife has no excuse not to wear hers. It even helps her because it is the first means of identification that she’s married. Wearing it will limit her exposure to advances from men.”
Mr. Arise seems to be another breed as he revealed that he had never worn his wedding ring since he got married over 10 years ago.
“I stopped wearing it a month after my wedding because I don’t like jewellery and my wife knew that even before we got married.” When asked if he would allow his wife to go out without wearing hers, he said, “Why would she do that? It’s even a thing of pride for women and that is why you see them flaunting it here and there, but for men, it’s more of a burden.”
Mr. Ade Ojo, a banker and newly-wed, said, “I wear my ring all the time. Apart from the fact that I got married about a year ago, it’s a sacrifice that I’m ready to make. I’ve never been a lover of ring or jewellery but for the sake of my home, I will try and get used to it so as to make my wife happy.”
He told Saturday PUNCH that some street girls who are in search of men, precisely for sexual exploits, prefer married men because they feel married men are responsible and decent.
This view was corroborated by Mr. Saliu Sodiq, a civil servant, who said that, “It was in those days that a ring could deter men and women from infidelity. But now, people don’t attach importance to it as much as before. Some even remove it so as to present themselves as single. I also know that some ladies, especially the commercial sex workers, prefer men that are married because they feel such men would be more responsible, decent and richer than those who are single. For me, I’m not a lover of ring and my wife understands.”
However, while men come up with excuses, some women who spoke to our correspondent said wedding ring makes them feel proud and that it bestows a special status on them.
Mrs. Adeosun, a civil servant, said she’s proud of wearing her ring all the time. “Since I got married about 10 years ago, I have never had cause to remove my ring. Why should I remove it? For what? I love having it on 24/7, not only because I’m proud of my husband or my wedding, but also because it reminds me of the promise I made to be faithful to him. Truth is, I’m used to it and it has become a part of me.”
She added that wearing of wedding rings by women helps to reduce advances from men.
“A man who would have come to disturb you in the name of asking you out may have a rethink when he sees your ring. Though that does not stop some of them, but, it reduces such gestures. And that is why married women flaunt it so that nobody would disturb them.”
When asked if her husband wears his all the time, she sighed and said, “My husband doesn’t like jewellery; he doesn’t even use wristwatch. How do you compel someone who doesn’t use a wristwatch to start wearing wedding ring? Besides, he’s an engineer who works with machines most of the time. I think that also compounded his dislike for it. But when we have an occasion like a party to attend, I try to compel him to wear it and, reluctantly he does, sometimes.”
On the other hand, Mrs. Eze Sandra, a trader, seems different as she claimed to have stopped her husband from using his ring. She told Saturday PUNCH that she is very comfortable with her husband not using his ring.
“In fact, I stopped him from wearing it all the time because of the nature of his job. He sells tyres and I don’t want him to spoil it. He only wears it to special occasions.
“The ring is expensive and I won’t want him to spoil it just like that. I trust him not to engage in extra marital affairs, besides wearing wedding rings does not stop people from being promiscuous these days.
“For me, I love my wedding ring and I don’t want it to spoil, so I use a fashionable ring that I could wear all the time. I only wear the real one on Sundays or to parties.
“Despite the ring, men still ask me out on a date. I wonder why a man would have the effrontery to ‘toast’ a woman who has a ring on her fourth finger.”
Mrs. Titilayo, a pharmacist in her 60s, said she did not enjoy wearing any form of jewellery but that she had to learn to use her wedding ring because she’s married. “I’m not comfortable wearing it all the time because of the domestic work that I do, but I wear it when I have a function to attend. Trust matters and if the relationship is cordial, the issue of wearing ring or not will not be a serious one, also if there are no suspicious acts from either parties. My husband complains jokingly if I don’t wear it while going out and I do same for him too and we laugh over it sometimes.
“However, taking off the ring permanently or going out frequently without wearing it could call for concern,” she added.
The idea of wearing ring has always been but it has not sparked controversy as much as it does now. Taking a brief look at history, Madam Felicia, a tailor in her late 60s, explained that in the olden days, men and women used it and they were very proud of it, but nowadays, “men don’t place much emphasis on it and that is why you see most married men not wearing it. It was a thing of pride then but due to infidelity now, most men shun it as if it’s not important and they come up with loads of excuses.”
She argued that there were acts of infidelity then but not as brazen as they are now. “Some men even go as far as removing their rings if they see any lady they like so that she would not know that they are married.”
She also said that due to the endless advances from men, some single ladies and men now wear rings, even on their fourth finger, when they are not yet married. She said ladies do that now to dissuade men from disturbing them so that they would be seen as married, also to earn the respect that is accorded married women.
Ironically, some ladies prefer to go out with married men especially the ones with rings because they feel such men are responsible and have the capacity to take care of them.
Some women wondered why married men would not be bold enough to use their rings.
Mrs. Joy Ibeh, a civil servant, said “It is only a man who is not proud of his wife or of being married that would not wear his ring. Women are usually proud of being married and they flaunt their rings for anyone who cares to see, not only to put men off, but it brings respect and it also shows that they are proud of their marriage.
“I’m led to think that some men who don’t wear their rings have ulterior motives. Yes. It is because they still want to be chasing those girls; infidelity, and there are available examples to justify that.”
The use of wedding ring seem to cut across all ages. In an interaction with our correspondent, 75-year-old Madam Abike said nothing could make her remove her wedding ring in spite of the fact that her husband died about five years ago. “I have been using this ring since I married my husband about 40 years ago and I don’t think I can ever remove it. For me, it’s like a symbol of eternal commitment, and really I don’t know why I should remove it.”
Even though no religion or doctrine compels or forbids its members from using wedding ring, it is expected of couples to wear their rings at all times once they share one with their partners.
A Pastor in a Pentecostal Church, who pleaded anonymity, said it depends on the rules applicable in various churches. “In my own church, we use Bible to join couples; we don’t use ring while some other churches do. What is more important is the word of God and it is the basis on which we join people.”
He said that it is difficult to rule out adultery despite the ring. He said ladies prefer going out with married men because they are perceived to be more responsible and homely, since women love to be pampered.
In his words, “Ring doesn’t symbolise anything to me but I use it because I’m already used to it. It’s not scriptural and it’s not unscriptural. What is important is to avoid lust and remain faithful to one’s partner.”
Another pastor, who does not want his name in print said, “It is part of our doctrine and it is a symbol of commitment. It is not like it is expressly stated in the Bible, but it has always been there even in the church. If not for the abuse, it would have been a good check on couples.”
Notably, whether Orthodox or Pentecostal Churches, Islam or other religions, none of them imposes the use of rings on members. Some choose to use the ring to join couples while some make it optional. In Islam, it’s allowed but a man should not wear a ring made of gold.
An Islamic cleric, who gave his name simply as Adebayo, said, “Exchange of ring in Islam is just a gift of love from the man to his wife. However, the ring must not be gold for men because men are not permitted to wear gold in Islam.”
Legally, the law does not recognise wedding ring, hence, couples are not legally bound to wear it, which makes it a matter of choice and mutual agreement between partners.