Does size really matter (in marriage?)

| June 24, 2016 | 0 Comments
The author of "Meat and Potatoes of Life" talks about her marriage and dealing with the size ... of her engagement ring.

Lisa Smith Molinari, the military spouse columnist of “Meat and Potatoes of Life” talks about her marriage and dealing with the size … of her engagement ring.

By Lisa Smith Molinari
The Meat and Potatoes of Life

I’m still a little sore from dancing like a madwoman at my cousin’s wedding last weekend. She, a doctor, married a lawyer, and they spared no expense for the nuptial events — the finest country clubs, gourmet foods, open bars, and a 12-person band that brought everyone to the packed dance floor until midnight. And now my cousin and her husband are lounging on a white beach on a French-speaking Caribbean island.

Now, that’s the way it’s done … right?

Any wedding magazine would tell you, “You deserve only the best for your big day! It’s a once-in-a-lifetime thing, so don’t waste this opportunity to treat yourself! A humongous ring, a gazillion roses, pure silk, fine china, cut crystal, surf and turf, spa treatments, and of course, a honeymoon that’s simply to die for. Paris, Bora Bora, the Bahamas, Tuscany – that’s what you deserve! You don’t want your entire marriage to get off to a mediocre start, do you?”

My engagement ring, a modest-sized gold solitaire, seems to have gotten smaller over the years, which might be due to the fact that it’s always gunked up with something or another. My plain quarter-inch wedding band has been dulled by constant wear. For over two decades, both rings have been permanent fixtures on my left hand (especially since I jammed my fingers catching a football at the beach a few years ago), which is now dappled with the beginnings of liver spots and crisscrossed with tiny wrinkles.

Back in the spring of 1993, my then-fiancé, Francis, was in his second tour of duty in the Navy, so he bought the best ring his nonexistent budget and low-limit credit card could buy. With the ring in his pocket, Francis knelt down between two tables at our favorite Italian restaurant in Pittsburgh one night and asked me to be his wife.

I tried to cut wedding costs wherever I could – making my own veil and centerpieces, decorating the church, baking cookies for the reception, hiring an amateur DJ instead of a band. Everything went off without a hitch.

Afterward, we spent a night at the Pittsburgh Airport Best Western, complete with “honeymoon package” – a metal ice bucket with sparkling cider and two plastic glasses – before flying to Bermuda for our honeymoon. We had rented a tiny pink cottage named “Halfway to Heaven” with outdated furnishings and a few resident Palmetto bugs hiding in the kitchenette. The weather was not as warm and sunny as we had hoped, but we got the cottage cheap because it was the middle of hurricane season.

Twenty-three years later, do I wish Francis had spent a little extra to get me a bigger diamond? Do I wish we had splurged on roses and limos for our wedding? Do I wish we had just shelled out a few more bucks to honeymoon somewhere that wasn’t in the midst of a tropical depression?

Here’s the thing:

Back when we were scrounging for the money (or available credit) to spend on our wedding and honeymoon, we were so goofy, cheesy, silly, corny, stupid in love, that we were clueless. Mention that time in our relationship to any of our relatives, and they will roll their eyes and huff, “Oh brother, you guys were so annoying.”

We were in that ridiculous stage when you can’t keep our hands off each other. When you look into each other’s eyes a lot and giggle. When you talk incessantly about how much you love each other’s freckles, hair, eyes, lips and toenails. When you think that everything that happens is serendipity.

To us, our honeymoon could not have been more romantic – everything from the stormy skies to the Palmetto bugs had some kind of romantic meaning. Blinded by love, “Halfway to Heaven” seemed like Pure Heaven to us.

So now, when I look down at my plain gunked-up solitaire ring, I don’t want a bigger one. My ring symbolizes that lump-in-the-throat feeling of being utterly in love, regardless of financial or practical limitations. My ring reminds me that, as long as we splurge on love, size really doesn’t matter.

(Editor’s Note: Lisa Smith Molinari’s blog can be found at

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