An article in The Guardian this morning got me thinking about engagement rings, wedding rings, and love. The author questions the “tradition” of expensive diamond rings marking a commitment to marry, which is less tradition and more a very successful marketing ploy. Frances Gerety’s famous line Diamonds are Forever hit the bullseye, I think, because when we are in love we hope for the same for our relationship. Chatting on Facebook with friends about our wedding and engagement rings, it struck me that this fixation on big, fancy, forever diamonds can be used as a metaphor for a wider misunderstanding of love.
We want our love to be like that diamond, steady, shining and unchanging. That is not only unrealistic, it is potentially damaging. People change continuously, who you are today is very different from who you were ten years ago. We understand this when the difference is between 3 and 13, but have less of an appreciation for the impact of the passage of time when it’s a progression from 23 to 33. Yet in many ways the differences are equally profound.
If we were to keep our love solid, shining, and unchanging as we ourselves change, we’re asking for trouble. The way we related to each other ten years ago will not work for us now. We may not even realise the interaction between us has changed, but no doubt if we were able to travel back in time and have a cup of tea with our younger selves we’d notice the difference.
Love should not be a dead, unyielding diamond. It should be a living thing. Knowing this may also help us realise that, like all living things, it needs nourishment and care to survive.
I am unable to wear my pretty wedding ring (don’t laugh – it gives me a rash), but I have a pendant Micky bought for me when he visited his brother in New Zealand. It is so precious to me, because without too much ado he chose it because of the meaning behind it. To me, it captured what our relationship means to me, and I wore it every day; so much so that when one day I forgot to put it on, my daughter was unsettled (“You just don’t look like you when you’re not wearing your pendant.”). After a few years of this, I actually managed to wear my pendant out. The Paua shell started peeling from the sturdy backing it had been mounted on. So I got another one, this time with the Paua shell mounted on wood. One day I leaned on the back of a chair to reach the computer, and the tip of the pendant broke off. So now we’ll get another one.
Love should be the same. It should change, adapt, renew. That’s warm, real, alive. Diamonds may be forever, but they’re dead.