When Do You Take Off the Wedding Ring?


Friday Feedback is performing poorly so I am suspending it for a while.  If you have a problem with that, please leave it in the comments and I’ll pretend to care.  And PLEASE read this one all the way to the end, comment, and share!

Dear Robin:

My husband and I separated 8 weeks ago and have decided to divorce.  Things are fairly amicable (we have both been reading your blog for over a year and like your ideas on divorce) and I want to keep it that way but last week I noticed something that really upset and surprised me:

He’s not wearing his wedding ring.  I still wear mine and was planning to until the divorce is final because until then, I am still married.

I asked him when he took it off and he said a couple of weeks after we separated, which is infuriating and baffling because I thought we were still trying to work on the marriage.  I guess not.  And I guess I should assume he’s dating now?

We have two kids and I’m worried about how they will react to seeing their dad without his ring on.  I don’t see why he can’t keep it on until things are finished legally.  

What is the proper protocol, or is there one, for when you remove your wedding ring?  When should I?  And am I making too big a deal out of this?

Sad Ex

Dear Sad Ex:

Thank you for your letter.  I’m sorry your marriage is ending but I’m thrilled you and your husband are making a concerted effort to maintain a good relationship.  I want you to keep that in mind as you read the rest of this blog, OK?

You asked if there is a protocol for when one should stop wearing their wedding ring.  

The short answer is “not really,” unless you are a Secret Service agent in which case the answer is “wheels up, rings off.”

Your husband’s choice not to wear his ring is his and his alone.  

While I understand that choice causes you pain, you should not let that pain cloud your judgement and create tension between you both.  You need to let this go.

You have every right to feel hurt that he removed it early on in your separation, but when we messaged you told me the marriage had been dead for years and you are positive divorce is the right option.  That tells me that yes, you are making too big a deal out of his naked finger.

I said there is “not really” a protocol for when one removes their ring because the right time to take it off is when the wearer feels it’s time.  Maybe that’s the protocol you are looking for. 

The ring is an outward symbol of the marriage and for some, removing it soon helps them move on more quickly (and of course get laid).

For others, keeping the ring on provides normalcy and comfort to them as they go through the divorce, while shielding them from unwanted attention if they aren’t ready to date yet.  

Some people take off the wedding ring but wear another ring on the left ring finger, which is interesting to me because I’m not sure whether they are trying to pass themselves off as married or just want a ring on that finger due to habit.  

Regardless of all that, your concern over your kids’ reaction to dad’s choice is either mislaid or simply a smokescreen.  

You are getting divorced.  

You are living in separate homes and the kids have, after some struggles, accepted and adjusted to the new family structure.  Whether or not your ex wears his ring and how it could affect your kids is a false flag and I think you know that.

What you are really upset about is the finality symbolized by your husband’s choice and the signal he is sending that he’s single and ready to (co)mingle (bodily fluids).  In other words: he’s moving on more quickly than you.

Sad Ex, that’s OK!  Everyone processes the breakup of a relationship at a different speed.  It may take you more time than your husband, but you are already on a wonderful path:

  • You have committed to each other to have the most amicable relationship possible
  • You are using a mediator for your divorce and being very fair with each other
  • You have a great job
  • Your have healthy, happy and well-adjusted kids
  • You are open to finding love in the future, but not now

When should you take off your wedding ring?

That’s simple.

When you are ready, and not a moment before.




This Post Has 5 Comments

  1. Sandra

    I took my ring when we separated. The marriage was over! My ex took his ring when we divorced.

  2. Scott C.

    I agree. Whenever the individual is ready. It is a symbol of your love and the marriage, some may wear it for a long time after and some will take it off long before they have even tried to save a failing relationship. And then there’s the Secret Service…

  3. Tamsen

    Perfect response Robin. It’s different for everyone.

  4. jeff

    it comes off when you are comfortable in your own self to show the world you are independent again.

  5. Baphomet

    I think this was the most suitable answer for the reader. I still wear my wedding ring, although my husband and I have been separated for six months (we’re not legally able to file divorce yet as I am almost 9 months pregnant). My husband, however, took his ring off a month after our separation. I was hurt.

    I still wear mine for various reasons. I’m not at all prepared to face a new relationship, I am still trying to heal after all this time (he just left one day, never came home, there was never any talk of divorce), I have “ancient” morals (as he used to tell me) where I still feel bound to carry myself as a wife when I’m not really a wife anymore, and I do not like the attention that comes with being “ring-less”. I have been pressured by a few to remove my ring “because he did, so you should, too” but if you’re not ready.. you’re just not ready and pressure will only make you resent anyone that is suggesting you to do so. That includes one’s self. (I tried to remove my ring before I was ready, which added to the loathing I had already felt towards myself, resulting in me returning to my ring… and counseling).

    On a different note – Robin, you’re a beautiful mind. Thank you for existing!

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