Tuesday, July 1, 2014

Permanence

In the wake of an affair, your mind can feel truly haunted. Dates, locations, images and words swirl around your brain, taunting you constantly. The morbid details of infidelity become seared into your heart, and to overcome this torment, I believe you must establish new memories and benchmarks for your relationship. You must celebrate your love and create measurable points for your progress. For our recovery process, we used tattoos as a visual reminder in our personal campaign to re-claim lost territory.

Try to guess what mine is.
For those of you who didn't know, Hannah and I like tattoos. A lot.  In fact, we don't wear any kind of wedding bands or rings normally, instead opting for tattoos on our ring fingers instead.  Although I think this may receive mixed reactions -- some people think it's nifty, and others think that it makes us look like ex-cons -- I believe in this decision and I love this way of commemorating our vows to one another. We used to wear rings, but in the light of everything we've been through, we established this new way of reflecting our love and commitment.

Lately, I have been re-evaluating all of the familiar tropes and traditions that accompany weddings and marriages. I believe that wedding culture has become more about vanity and spectacle, and less about the beauty of marriage itself. In a previous post, I wrote about how I walked into our marriage with some pre-existing conditions that played a role in the turbulence we've faced. I have to wonder if these traditions that we embrace are helping us or hurting us, and I will probably write more about this in the future.

Now, don't misunderstand me. I don't think there's anything wrong with the traditional wedding ring. I actually enjoy wedding bands for decorative purposes, but when it comes to signifying the commitment we have to one another, only a permanent mark on our hand will truly suffice. Sure, rings are pretty, but they don't really represent my relationship with Hannah. Here's why I love marriage tattoos.

They're actually permanent.


I find it perplexing that we allow wedding rings to symbolize our marriage relationship, when they can easily be taken off and thrown in a drawer. Our tattoos, by comparison, cannot be hidden in any practical way. I cannot simply remove this symbol of our love because it is literally a part of me. Likewise, getting a wedding tattoo after surviving infidelity is so fitting because you have shown your marriage to be tougher than steel. If you have overcome the sorrows of unfaithfulness, your marriage is virtually indestructible. Even unlike other tattoos, which can easily be concealed by clothing, a mark on your hand is very visible at all times...just like your marriage should be. I couldn't think of a better way to represent our commitment, as an always-present part of our bodies.

They hurt immensely.


The pain of my ring finger tattoos rivals any other discomfort I've experienced. Honestly, it felt like my finger was being severed, and  I think that's a fitting experience for something that represents my marriage. Whereas a diamond ring comes with a hefty price tag, a tattoo's primary cost is measured in pain. It requires a sacrifice, just like marriage itself. A large diamond brings the wearer glory, but what does it cost them? Too often, we want the glory and privilege of marriage without the cost that comes with it.  Although my tattoo was very painful, I would get it again if I had the chance. In fact, I have to, because...

They require upkeep. Just like my marriage.


Many tattoo artists advise against having work done on your hand, and other areas of your body that may be especially prone to fading. Your hands come into contact with everything you do, which means that your ring tattoo will fade faster than something on your bicep, neck, or ankle. Because of this, ring tattoos need to be touched up and redone on a regular basis. The tattoo requires upkeep, just like marriage relationships do.  Diamonds are forever, but tragically, many marriages are not. Perhaps we should view our marriages like some view their ink -- as something that requires tending to in order to maintain it's initial state. Your marriage is not made of diamond.

Now, I'm not telling you to go out and have some pierced-up guy mark on your hands. Depending on your line of work, that may be a terrible idea. Regardless of how you choose to signify your love, I urge you to re-evaluate it and re-establish it. Spend time pondering the depths of your commitment and how you choose to express it. Be intentional, and no matter the avenue of your expression, your marriage will benefit from it.Your marriage is a beautiful thing, and it deserves to be commemorated and honored somehow. How you do that is up to you.

What are some special ways that you have honored your marriage? If you've gone through a similar recovery process, how did you commemorate your healing? Gifts, holidays, getaways, lifestyle changes... Tell us in the comments below! You can even comment anonymously!

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7 comments:

  1. My husband has been rescued by the Lord from a nearly life-long porn addiction that led him to be unfaithful. A year ago, on Good Friday, our marriage came to the decision point and that was the beginning of his journey to healing. I had his original wedding ring melted down, just like God had refined my husband in His fire. I had a cross put on the ring to remind my husband that although Good Friday is an ugly day, it was on that day that God redeemed both him and our marriage.

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  2. I actually really like y'alls tattoos. I tend to take my rings off a lot at home because I am so worried something will happen to them, & I think it used to bother B a lot. I have considered getting something small tattooed there (small enough that it would be covered by rings at work) so even when I take the rings off, there is still a symbol of my marriage.

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  3. Its been 2 yrs since I discovered my husband's affair. It has been very difficult to deal but we r trying our best. About the rings...it makes me wonder cuz my husband doesnt wear his at work, he says he doesn't want people to kno his business but I feel that he wants to hide he's married n it doesnt help that he works around alot of females. Sometimes I think I nag at him too much for not wanting to wear it when he goes to work...am I wrong n over exaggerating??? Sumone plz advice me.

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  4. No one can truly know your husband's heart and his reasoning for not wearing it to work. It would seem that a man who loves his wife would easily jump at the chance to prove his commitment with such a simple gesture. I think it's important for you to explain your feelings to him and how his actions or lack thereof affect you and your healing.

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  5. may I ask what the tattoo is of?

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    1. Of course! My ring finger tattoo is actually a spinning top from the movie INCEPTION. Sounds weird, I know. People think the film is a sci-fi flick, but it's not. It's actually a love story about how a man's marriage bond transcends even death. It's powerful if you watch it the right way. Although it's not pictured above, Hannah has a tattoo of an old-school diamond design on her finger.

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