A Long Time Marriage: A Happy Burial of Sorts



A post by writer Doreen Frick: 

Today I took my wedding band and buried it. It was cold and snow showers were threatening, but I wasn’t cold or sad or threatened when I took the ring out of my coat pocket and put it under the soil where my husband’s great-grandparents rest.

Yes, it was symbolic, and yes, the next day I almost went back to the cemetery to retrieve it. Yet a week later, as I write this, the ring remains where I laid it, safe and sound and with the ones I think would understand. I need to let go and move on with my life.

Initially I took the wedding band off in the morning after a night of weeping. In the spirit of hopelessness (if there is such a spirit), I wanted to run away from my problem (and in my sleeplessness I came up with a Plan A, a Plan B and was working on a C when I fell asleep), but when I woke none of my plans seemed to matter. What was important was that I awoke happy. Confident. Whole. My problems had not been solved, nothing had been accomplished, and yet I had a new vision. A trust. Not so much in us, but in me, and in him, and therefore in us.

Still I kept the ring off, and when he noticed, I told him the truth. I want a new ring for a new beginning. Yes, after 43 years, we (and I mean we) need a new start. He never asked where the ring has gone, and I’ll probably never tell him. I applied for a job that day (most of our fight was about money), and then I led a seminar on writing your story to a group of women and young people who’d answered my ad in the newspaper. In preparation for the day out, I cut my own hair, colored and moussed it, and put on foundation and a new outfit. Turns out Mom was right after all. Sometimes when you’re feeling down you need to go shopping.

Spend money when you’re fighting about it. Fix your hair when you feel low about yourself. Reach out to others when you want to pull in and stay in bed. I had no intention of running away after I buried my ring; I was fine with staying put. All notions of solving this with my nighttime planning dissolved.

Having options (no matter how flimsy) helped me come out of my quagmire much more quickly. As crazy as it sounds, it was as if having choices helped me make the more sound one. Stay. Get strong. Eat a good breakfast. Fix your hair. Voice your opinion and wait. Remember Who is watching over you. That night I got a text from my granddaughter in Michigan. I texted back and asked how she was doing. Her reply was pure magic:

“I’m doing good most of the time, but I have my moments.”

Seventeen-year-old honesty, and instantly we bonded. She’s mine, oh yes, she’s mine because I, too, have my moments. But I’m good too.

In the freedom of waiting, I looked back over the past week when the problem surfaced. Of course it’s been below the surface for over twenty years, but that’s my way of dealing with things. Hide. But on this day, while eating lunch in the car, I railed against him, and began the unloading of assault.

In the middle of it, I looked over and saw his hand tremble, and his pulse racing in the vein in his hand. His demeanor belied the worry beneath, and I had a thought that maybe I can back off for now, and revisit this problem later. Of course I picked the middle of the night to let it all out.

Or maybe it picked me, but the real miracle is the thought that maybe he’s wounded too. Maybe the man has to hold it in and figure out how to solve it, but just for him to listen to my pain means he has to be mighty courageous. Nobody can take somebody’s pain away. But they can be brave enough to hear it.

And that’s where we’re at. I bought a cheap $5 ring at the thrift store to hold me over until we can afford the one I want. I put the picture of the gem-encrusted ring front and center in my pen jar to remind me there is nothing but beauty when one looks for it. In the acknowledging we have an unsolvable problem, I was given the confidence that took me out of myself. Tackling the next phase of life, where things do not revolve around how I feel, but who I am. A beloved child. A strong woman. A listener. A healer. Wounded, but for a purpose. I can’t ask for anything more than to have purpose. For me, everything has to have a purpose.

The snow skiffed by and the temperature dropped, but the sun came out again and when the night fell I slept like a brick. Did I get the job? I don’t know yet.

Will I ever fight with him about money again? I can’t promise.

Am I glad I didn’t buy a plane ticket to Florida? Yes.

Have I ruled out the little house next door to my daughter? Not yet. I’m half-plugging for that in our future.

In one of the many meltdowns, I mentioned if I should ever lose my memory and forget him, I will never lose the memory of the cologne he used to wear when we were dating.

That afternoon while I was out burying a ring, he came home with Brut in his shopping bag.


About the Ring: This is Doreen’s dream ring, which she spotted in a cowboy magazine. It’s sold in a shop in Santa Fe, and the middle diamond is, in her words, “massive!”

Doreen Frick is a 61-year-old writer from Philadelphia who has lived in Washington State, New Mexico, and finally she’s half-settled in Ord, Nebraska where her husband’s people homesteaded over one hundred years ago. She first began to write when she journaled in a tablet her days raising four children, some dairy cows, and a horse, chickens and the welcome stray cats that found their way to her place.Capture

19 thoughts on “A Long Time Marriage: A Happy Burial of Sorts”

  1. Congratulations, Doreen on being courageous, making decisions, and recognizing his pain too. And Brut – yeah!

  2. We don’t often get what we want in life, but having the guts to go after it? Well done!

    I’m a Polo girl, myself.

  3. Thanks for your honesty Doreen. We all want to flee sometimes, like an Ann Tyler heroine. When the children are gone, and he retires, our needs come into sharp focus. If we are lucky, our husband will buy the cologne.

      1. So did I! It’s one of the few fiction books I’ve actually read (my being the more non-fictional research person engrossed in academic books, etc., etc.); but I was captivated by that novel. And, I just happened to be on vacation with family in Cape Cod (haha!). But, I didn’t run away like the protagonist (Tyler’s heroine struck a cord, and allowed me to live, experience vicariously)!

    1. Hi – the ring I buried was not the ring in photo. I’ve yet to buy that one! ! Thanks for your question.

  4. While I cringe at the smell of Brut (each to his own!) this post really touched me. The honesty of what many of us go through, not just with marriage but with ourselves. I applaud you for sticking to your marriage even though the challenges might remain. Growth at yet another stage of life. Clearly love wins.

  5. I was very touched by this post. He bought the Brut, he brought it home, he heard your passion in terms of your memories of your dating years and the exciting setting in motion of a new relationship. I hope this does launch you into the new beginning that you are so yearning for with your husband.

    Symbolically, the burying of the old ring, and the envisioning of this new fantascized ring probably have many meanings. Exploring this might help you know what you want to leave behind and what you want to create!

    Best wishes as you go forward in this new life stage!

    1. Thank you. Thank you. All the kind community of words that followed my story are precious. The next step we took was to take a trip, and since my husband is hard-of-hearing very little was spoken about, but that was fine. Sometimes a road trip with the wild west (we went thru the blizzard in Wyoming) is good thinking time. My friend in New Mexico recommended a road trip, she is a few years my junior (57) and took one to clear her mind and plan out her next phase of life. Career change. Life change.

      The silence, the road, and the timing can do that. And I shall read Anne Tyler, Barbara, thanks!

      Bless all of you,
      Doreen Frick

  6. I should update this “buy the ring” story. I think the telling and the burying met a need, and in the summer I unburied the ring in order to give it to a very special daughter-in-love. And she, who understood my words and did not judge, is now even dearer to me. As are all those who see a person going through a season, and give them space to figure things out. I did buy a new ring, an opal, that changes with the moods! !

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