As strange as it may seem, the whole concept of men wearing a wedding ring is relatively new. Before the Second World War, it was rare to see men wearing a ring that displayed their marital status for the world to see. So why did World War II make men’s yellow gold rings and men’s wedding bands such a common sight to see on a man’s left hand? 

The trend began back when US soldiers were going off to war just after marrying their high school sweetheart and they were happy to display their commitment for all to see. Even though the habit of wearing a ring was relatively new at the time, men were encouraged to wear one by their wives, who were understandably a little nervous about their overseas deployment. 

Soon after the war, the Equal Rights movement was in full swing, which made it difficult for men to argue about whether or not to wear a ring. After all, if his wife was willing to make a public statement of her marital status, why shouldn’t he? In many cases, it would have been a condition of the marriage that he complies with wearing a ring. With the rising divorce rate, “open marriages” and all the “free love” going on in the swinging 60s, it was no wonder women were shopping for men’s yellow gold rings and men’s wedding bands in record numbers. 

Men might not have liked the idea of wearing a wedding band at first, but they quickly learned that it was easier to concede than to make a big deal about it. Even today, there are a few “hold-outs” among married men who refuse to wear a wedding ring. There is even a name for these men. One columnist from New York magazine refers to them as NakedFingers, or NFs. According to an article in New York Magazine, “The Meaning of the Naked Finger” (May 21,2005), the trend toward going “bandless” is less about a man’s adulterous intentions than it is about his desire to be seen first as a person, instead of being stereotyped by his marital status. Sure, there are men who see wearing a ring as effeminate, or who can’t wear a ring for cultural reasons, but these are relatively rare. 

After reading this article, which basically allows a couple of NFs to rationalize their “ringlessness”, it all seemed like a massive rationalization to me. One of the NFs interviewed even said that wearing a wedding ring was “very bourgeois” and compared the look of a wedding ring to a “gay priest or a Banana Republic ad”. Huh? Maybe it’s me, but I just don’t get it. 

Like the author of the article noted, we need to start calling a spade a spade. A married man might say that not wearing a ring lets him be defined by who he is rather than by his marital status, but I say this – if you think wearing a men’s yellow gold ring or other men’s wedding band robs you of your identity; then you should really try changing your last name sometime – it might make wearing a wedding ring seem a lot less painful. Or better yet, why not just stay single?

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