‘I took it off and threw it at him’: what divorced people do with their wedding rings

The Guardian – August 23, 2016

August is one of the two most popular months for divorces – here, divorced men and women describe one of the most symbolic parts of undoing a marriage

As the summer holiday season comes to a close, men and women are engaging in a little known national ritual: they are calling their solicitors and filing for divorce.

A study by the American Sociological Association has found that March and August are the most popular months to file for divorce. Explanations for the summer spike include a combination of coming back from disappointing summer holidays that failed to meet expectations, and the sense of urgency to get affairs in order before the back-to-school period begins.

Here, divorced men and women describe one of the most symbolic parts of the undoing of a marriage: what they did with their wedding rings.

‘A tortuously dramatic ritual’
Michele Oberholtzer, a 31-year-old housing advocate and writer based in Hamtramck, Michigan, remembers exactly what happened to her wedding ring: she gave it to her husband the night she moved out, and he gave his to her.

The last night they spent in the house together, they drank the champagne they were given on their wedding day, and even danced to their wedding song before exchanging their bands.

“It was so  sad,” Oberholtzer says. “It was like we had to come up with these tortuously dramatic rituals to commemorate what we had. We joked we were so good at breaking up we should stay together.”

For a while, she wore her ex-husband’s ring on a necklace. “I liked his because it was anonymous. It was clearly a man’s. I got to wear it for a while without being told I wasn’t moving on.”
‘I took my ring off, and threw it at him’
Karla, an executive assistant based in Mexico City, last saw her wedding ring in a strip club. “I found out my husband had gone to the strip club and I was furious. I went there immediately. I paid to get in and everything,” she says.

“I found my husband in a private room with a stripper giving him a dance. I went completely mad. I grabbed his neck. The security men couldn’t get me off him.

“Once they did, I took my ring off, and threw it at him. And I said: ‘I want a divorce, as soon as possible.’” She left and never saw the ring again.

‘I’ll just leave it alone’
Moussa Sall, a 37-year-old retail worker based in Washington DC, still has his ring. He knows he still has it, he just can’t pinpoint exactly where – and doesn’t know if he wants to find it.

Sall says his two-year marriage wasn’t always easy. As an immigrant to the United States and a single father, making ends meet was a struggle, and a constant weight on his shoulders.

His own wedding ring wasn’t worth much, he says. It can’t have cost him more than $100. “I wanted to save all the money I could to buy her a nice ring,” Sall says. “I wanted to spend money on her, not on me.”

Sall says he has processed the end of his marriage, but he associates it with a tough time. To him, there appears to be no good reason to do anything with the ring. “I feel funny about it. It feels very confusing. So I will just leave it there.”

‘I’m going to melt it down’
Argentina Racco, a 37-year-old high school teacher based in Toronto, keeps her wedding and engagement rings in her night stand drawer.

For the first year after her divorce, she says she didn’t know what to do with them. Every now and then, she would take a ring out and try putting it on a less meaningful finger. But it never felt right.

Now she has a plan for them.

“I have decided I am going to melt the gold and have something cute made for myself, like a charm or a necklace,” Racco says.

The diamond on her engagement ring, however, she plans to sell. “When I look at it, it reminds me of him, my ex-husband, and I don’t want that. It’s just too much.”

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