When I got married the first time, I wanted a nice-sized, traditional engagement ring. I picked it out myself. My husband-to-be paid for it. It was over 1.5 carats, a diamond solitaire with matching baguettes on either side. I loved it. I paired it with the plain gold wedding band that my grandmother got married in. The one my grandfather gave her when they eloped, after knowing each other for two weeks. So the two rings together were the perfect mix of old and new, simple and showy.

When my son was born, I picked out a diamond wedding band. It was my mommy present. But the diamonds didn’t go all the way around. That would have cost too much. And that always bothered me. The ring would turn and the diamonds would be on the other side of my hand where no one could see them. I was young then.

I wore those three rings every day for over seven years. Then I got divorced. And I wore no rings. I was 36 years old and it took a while to get used to not wearing them.

There is a ring, on the maternal side of my family, that has been passed down for four generations, starting with my great-great-grandmother. It is oblong with three diamonds. It is made of platinum and was originally a pendant. Tradition has been that the ring is passed down to the daughter when she turns 40. My mom broke the tradition. She felt sad for me and for my unadorned hands. So she gave it to me early. I was 38. And wearing it did make me feel better. The women on that side of the family are strong and it made me feel connected to their strength. I wore it all the time, except when I was asleep.

When my grandfather died, over two years ago at the age of 91, I started wearing the gold wedding band again, this time on my right hand, on the same finger as the diamond ring. Just having the rings there made me feel good. Looking at them made me feel the presence of my grandparents and reminded me of the strength of their love and their marriage. At the time that my grandfather died, they had been married for almost 70 years. He died two months before my second wedding.

When my second husband and I decided to get married, I didn’t want that formerly all important engagement ring. I felt it was a waste of money when, combined, you have three kids and you want to pay for their college education and do other things like travel or save for retirement. But I did want a diamond wedding band. I don’t know why this was so important to me. And I wasn’t going to go back into therapy to figure it out. I didn’t want my future husband to pay for it. He was paying for the wedding, among other things. So I bought it myself. Well, not really myself. I bought it with the help of a gift from my brother, from the sale of his internet company. I put most of the gift away for our retirement. But my brother said to use some of it to do something that I wouldn’t do otherwise. And this seemed like the perfect something.

So I bought myself a wedding band, for my left hand. The exact one that I wanted. The diamonds go all the way around. I look at it every day. It makes me smile. It makes me think of my husband, who didn’t think it was a silly desire and put it on my finger the night we got married, and of my brother, who walked me out to the garden that same night and who is more than important to me. And then I look at my other hand and I think of my mother, who always understands me (at least 99.9% of the time) and of my grandparents, devoted to one another all those years. Truly a marriage to aspire to.

So, I’m back to three rings. And my life is complete.