I’ve been watching the Showtime show The Affair. Anyone who has watched will know that it is a deeply psychological study of marriage, an affair, and the individuals involved and it really makes you think. It’s probably not the show you want to watch with red wine as your only company while your husband sleeps in the other room. Because you’ll come to bed a touch mad at your (presumably innocent) husband for the transgressions of the main character on the show because aren’t his destructive and bonehead decisions the decisions all men would make if an ethereally sexy and damaged Montauk waitress came onto them? Fuck them.
So that’s the backdrop for something that happened recently. Last week, while binging on The Affair, I watched a scene in which the protagonist Noah Solloway (Dominic West, aka McNulty from The Wire) was spinning his wedding band round his finger and having deep thoughts about the repercussions of his extramarital affair and I thought of my own husband and how he used to always play with his wedding band. Often, the band would go flying and we’d look for it on a dirty restaurant floor. I’d tell him “You need to keep that on your finger, it ain’t cheap.” (Actually, it was sort of cheap. We purchased it hours before our Vegas wedding at a Zales in the mall.) I suddenly realized it had been a very long time since I’d seem him toy with that ring. I went into the bedroom, but he was out cold and his hands were unreachable. I didn’t want to wake him and besides, why was I letting this show make me crazy? Of course he is wearing his ring. After eight years of marriage that band is now a part of his hand like a mole or something and so it’s hard to picture. Later when I went to sleep, he stirred and this was the perfect time to feel for his left hand. It was ringless. “Why aren’t you wearing your wedding band!?” I demanded. Gently, like you do when you yell at someone who is only just waking up.
“I lost it two years ago at a frisbee tournament and you never noticed,” he mumbled. “I can’t believe you never noticed.”
He went back to sleep. I had a terrible night of sleep. In the morning, I tried to be mad at him for losing the ring, but soon realized that wasn’t the issue. I don’t care that he lost it. It’s just the sort of thing I would do, what with my frequency of breaking and losing things. The person I was actually mad at was myself for not noticing. I pride myself on being an astute observer of human behavior. I don’t think I’m oblivious (but then again, no one thinks they’re oblivious). How had I not noticed? And moreover, Adam is not even mad at me. “It’s harder to notice an absence of something than a presence,” he said, cutting me more slack than I feel like I deserve. If the situation were reversed, I’d be seething with a roiling lava of resentment that he didn’t notice my lost ring for two years. Two years! But it never would have come to that because after one week, 2017 Me would have said to him: “I can’t believe you didn’t notice I lost my ring a week ago! You’re oblivious!”
Anyways, I have no neat conclusion about what it means, when, after eight years of marriage a wife doesn’t notice her husband hasn’t been wearing his ring for two years. “This is why you should get tattoos on your ring fingers instead” said my sister, which is what she and her husband have. I don’t think we’ll be going that route, but possibly a new wedding band is in order. Something much blingier?