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Ask Dr. Helen: Should Prince William Wear a Wedding Ring?

The English street is up in arms over William's choice not to wear one.

by
Helen Smith

Bio

April 5, 2011 - 12:00 am

Shortwave8669 sends a question from his iPhone:

Dear Dr. Helen,

I see in the news that Prince William will not be wearing a wedding ring after marrying Kate Middleton. Is this decision different than a wife that does not take her husband’s last name?

I see many are upset at his decision but we no longer notice what I think is a similar female choice. Why? Both decisions seem of equivalent impact.

Shortwave

Dear Shortwave,

Apparently, many people are discussing the issue of Prince William’s wedding ring as evidenced by this BBC news show on the topic. In the show, the Brits on the street were asked if he should wear one, and they had a variety of answers:

“Who does he think he is?”

“In modern times, young men don’t like to wear a ring.”

“We all know he’s getting married, so what’s the difference?”

On the same show, a news panel with two men and two women weighed in. One woman thought he absolutely should wear a ring, as it is “a symbol of love” and because William is a “self-proclaimed cad.” A man on the panel said this was “rubbish, and just about women’s lib more than anything else. In modern times, it is a personal choice and if William doesn’t want to wear a ring, he shouldn’t.”

So what is the tradition of men wearing a wedding ring? According to eHow (perhaps not the most credible source, but I thought this post to be sensible), it is this:

Wedding rings for men became more accepted during World War II. Soldiers wore rings to represent commitment to wives at home. Today, some men choose to wear or forgo wedding rings for various professional or cultural reasons. Some men wear wedding rings, like women, to represent the commitment they have made. Other men choose not to wear rings because they avoid jewelry or because cultural or religious traditions discourage rings for men.

I have to say: I am personally torn. On one hand I can see wearing a wedding ring as a symbol of commitment and love, but on the other I agree with the male panelist at the BBC who said it was “all about women’s lib.” Just as women used to think they were seen as possessions of men (which may or may not have been true), men are now seen as indentured servants who exist to serve women’s needs and desires.

I can understand not wanting to wear a ring; they are inconvenient, and for people who don’t like jewelry, a real pain. Or William may feel that traditionally men did not wear rings, and he likes this tradition. Who knows? As one of the panelists above at the BBC said: “It’s his personal decision.” If a woman didn’t want to wear a ring, my guess is everyone would say: “You go, girl!” — just as they would if the woman did not want to take her husband’s name. That was tradition, so women decided to break it.

So can William. “You go, boy,” and don’t let anyone tell you how to live your life or interfere in your marriage, even if you are the potential king of England.

What do you readers think: ring or no ring? Do you wear one or not?

Helen Smith is a psychologist specializing in forensic issues in Knoxville, Tennessee, and blogs at Dr. Helen.
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