A wedding ring is a significant symbol of commitment between a couple.
Because of this, if you notice that your partner has actually taken off their wedding ring your heart might sink.
While this certainly isn’t good news, it doesn’t have to be the nail in the coffin. Instead, a moment like this can be utilized to finally start turning things around for good–if you’re ready to do so. Join us as we explore the reasons why a spouse might remove their wedding ring as well as provide practical, actionable advice on how to begin healing the relationship.
Understanding the Reasons Behind Wedding Ring Removal
Before jumping to conclusions about the state of the relationship or making assumptions, it is crucial to understand why your spouse has chosen to remove their wedding ring. It may not be what you fear.
The ring is uncomfortable
Maybe their fingers are swollen (record-breaking heat of summer 2023, anyone?), or perhaps they took it off to clean it or fidget with it and merely forgot. Before you schedule an internal freakout, ask yourself (and your spouse) whether it’s merely an oversight or a comfort issue, or whether it’s truly something more significant.
The first step to take is to clarify with them why they removed it. If they are doing so because they are concerned about the relationship then these are some of the things that may be bothering them.
The dreaded marital issues
If a marriage goes through an extended period of tension, arguing, and/or disconnection, some people feel compelled to take off their wedding rings as a symbolic nod to the state of the relationship. It can also be done in a bid to get attention–not in a malicious way, but rather as an effort to get one’s spouse to take issues more seriously or engage emotionally in the depth of suffering being wrought by marital problems.
Open Up the Conversation
Assuming you’re quite sure there are deeper reasons at play than those described above, you’re going to need to open up a high-stakes and potentially difficult conversation. Choose a comfortable and non-confrontational setting in which to express your feelings and concerns. If you’re nervous and not thinking straight, you might be tempted to impulsively raise the topic in public, at a time when tensions are high, or when one or both of you isn’t able to be fully present. Avoid this temptation and select the time and place carefully, keeping in mind that your ultimate goal is to strengthen your relationship, not to blow off steam and aggravate tensions.
When you do talk, commit to remaining open-minded, calm, and encouraging your partner to share their thoughts and emotions. Listen actively and try to understand and validate whatever your partner shares, even if your own feelings (which you should also express) are not in alignment with theirs. If you feel that the discussion is becoming heated, take a break and do a self-soothing activity before you come back about 15-30 minutes later.
Reaffirm Your Commitment and Reconnect
If you notice that your husband or wife has removed their wedding ring and you’re pretty sure it’s not just because they’re cleaning it or their fingers are sweaty, it will (understandably) lead to doubts about the level of commitment in your relationship. Done skillfully, the two of you can turn the situation around by taking the opportunity to reaffirm your love and dedication and reconnect to one another. How? Here are a few ideas.
- Take your partner on a tour of places that have been special in your relationship, such as the spot where you had your first date or got engaged, somewhere you both really enjoy or in which you had a memorable conversation or interaction, etc. At each spot, stop and do something to connect with each other. It could be a minute-long hug, taking turns telling each other what you like about each other, or simply sharing a snack and chatting.
- Take a weekend trip together to somewhere close by that doesn’t require too much stress and planning to make it happen. Once there, turn off your phones if possible and focus on non-digital activities. Bring along your favorite games and play them together, or learn a new one. Get outside and do things in nature together. Or, bring a book you’re both interested in reading and take turns reading it aloud to each other.
- Do something new and exciting together. Learn to speak Portuguese. Go bungee jumping. Sign up for kitesurfing lessons. Choose anything new that excites you, as long as you’re doing it together. Some couples prefer to take this route because it re-ignites the spark without putting pressure on the relationship by shining a spotlight on the tension.
Reinforcing your sense of connection through shared activities aids in rebuilding trust and re-establishing your commitment to one another and to your relationship.
Focus on Self Care
During challenging times in a relationship, you need to be able to show up at your best–which is counterintuitive when you’re feeling your worst. Therefore, it is absolutely essential to prioritize self-care in order to be the best you you can be in service of your relationship. How? By taking care of your physical, emotional, and mental well-being.
Do activities that bring you joy, even though you might not feel like it because you’re in a low mood. Practice mindfulness, pray, or do another personal growth or spirituality activity that makes you feel grounded. Seek support from friends and family. By nurturing yourself, you will be able to contribute positively to the relationship’s growth and healing.
Reevaluate Your Relationship
As much as you really really don’t want to, this unfortunate turn of events may provide a needed opportunity for you and your partner to reassess the overall health of your relationship. Reflect on whether both of you feel fulfilled, respected, and supported in the partnership. Assess whether the relationship truly aligns with each of your individual values, goals, and aspirations, as well as your collective ones. Honest self-reflection and evaluation can help determine the best path forward.
In some cases, the best path forward is to separate. As awful as that is, it provides an opportunity to rebuild yourself individually and come out stronger and happier on the other end, potentially ready for a new and more fulfilling relationship. However, sometimes the outcome of reevaluating things is simply that the two of you need to put some TLC into your relationship, consider couples therapy, and pay more attention to nurturing your connection continually over time.
In many cases, seeking professional help from a marriage counselor or therapist is highly beneficial. If you’re thinking about breaking up, seek help first, even if there has been infidelity afoot–it just might save your relationship. How? A neutral but relationship-literate third party can offer guidance and facilitate productive discussions between you and your spouse while providing a safe and structured environment in which to work through your concerns. They will assist in improving communication as well as identifying the underlying causes of the marital issues at play and suggesting strategies to address them.
If you don’t feel a fit with the first therapist you try, don’t write off therapy altogether–try someone else. It may take a few tries to find someone with whom you both feel comfortable and think can add value, but the search is worthwhile; when you find a really good fit, you’ll both feel empowered to make positive changes in how you communicate and relate to one another.
Give Each Other Space
If you’re in each other’s faces all the time, you’re not going to have time to decompress, let alone heal and work on the relationship. Allowing each other space and time for individual growth is crucial in any relationship, but it’s extra important when you’re going through marital struggles. That doesn’t mean you should stonewall each other or shut down, but it does mean that you should intentionally take time for yourselves individually.
Sometimes, removing a wedding ring can signify a need for personal reflection and self-discovery. Grant your spouse the freedom to explore their own journey while maintaining a supportive and understanding stance.
Rebuilding trust takes time and effort from both partners. Be patient and consistent in your actions to demonstrate trustworthiness. Keep your promises, be reliable, and maintain open lines of communication. Over time, trust can be restored, fostering a healthier and more secure relationship. It’s essential to recognize that trust is not an overnight accomplishment but a gradual development that requires sustained commitment. Upholding these principles over time contributes to the rebuilding of trust.
Reinforce Your Emotional Connection
For most couples, emotional intimacy is one of the most important aspects of a fulfilling relationship. If you’ve pulled back or if you’ve not nurtured that side of your connection very much, make an effort to engage in heartfelt conversations, express your emotions, and actively listen to anything your spouse shares with you. Nurture emotional connection by being empathetic, supportive, and understanding towards one another, but also by allowing yourself to be vulnerable and share openly about your innermost thoughts and feelings.
FAQs (Frequently Asked Questions) About Wedding Ring Removal
Q: My spouse removed their wedding ring. Does that mean they are being unfaithful?
A: Removing a wedding ring doesn’t automatically imply infidelity, although in some cases it may. Before you jump to conclusions, initiate an open and honest conversation with your spouse to understand what’s going on.
Q: Is it normal for married couples to take off their wedding rings occasionally?
A: Yes, it is normal for married couples to occasionally remove their wedding rings for various reasons, such as discomfort, safety concerns, or during certain activities such as water sports or contact sports. Some people may forget to put it back on after such activities, triggering worries for their spouse.
Q: What if my spouse refuses to discuss why they took off their wedding ring?
A: You can’t force your spouse to talk if they don’t want to, but you can seek professional help for yourself. See a counselor or marriage therapist, let them know what’s going on, and see what they have to say. They will likely suggest communication techniques or behavior modification strategies you can try.
Although you can’t control your spouse’s behavior, if one person in a relationship changes their own behavior, the other must react. Oftentimes, just one person making some shifts thereby initiates a process of change.
Additionally, inform your spouse that you’re going to counseling and invite them to come along. If they’re unwilling even to talk about the issue with you, it’s unlikely they’ll agree to come to counseling–at first. After they see that you are going regularly, they may get curious and decide to join. Or, they may notice positive changes in you and begin feeling more open to giving counseling a try themselves.
Q: Should I be concerned if my spouse takes off their wedding ring without any explanation?
A: It is natural to feel concerned if your spouse removes their wedding ring without explanation. In all likelihood, there is an explanation that has nothing to do with problems in the relationship–especially if you haven’t noticed any major issues or feelings of distance. Approach the situation with as calm a mind as possible and ask them what’s up before you jump down their throat with accusations.
The Bottom Line
If your spouse takes off their wedding ring, you’re likely to feel shocked, slighted, concerned, and a whole range of emotions. However, with open communication, empathy, and a commitment to work through the issue, it is possible to strengthen your connection and repair the rift. That said, it is absolutely crucial that you approach the situation with understanding and love, not with animosity and reactivity. By addressing the underlying causes of whatever is going on, rebuilding trust, and fostering emotional connection, you can navigate this hurdle and emerge with a stronger bond.
Trevor White is a Marriage Therapist with a Private Practice in Seattle. He specializes in premarital counseling and developed a web-based premarital counseling video series called Launch to Land for couples to be able to access a low-cost and convenient therapy option as they approach their wedding. He also hosts a podcast called Marriage Stories where he interviews real married couples as they discuss their unique success stories in their marriages. When he is not doing therapy he loves playing volleyball, spending time with his wife and kids, and running with his Siberian Husky Athena.