Experiences of an American woman who was married to a Serb.

Tuesday, October 14, 2008

Serbia vs the West: Why My Husband Wears Two Wedding Rings

When we flew over to Serbia a few months after we first got engaged, I did what any proud bride-to-be would do. I flaunted my ring.

"Look what he gave me!" I said in fractured Srpski. As I stretched my left hand across the table, glistening with diamonds, the response was always... polite. As in, 'Oh that's nice." Period.

There was none of the "Oh my gosh! It's so beautiful! How did he give it to you? When's the wedding?!" exclamations that are de rigour in America. I began to wonder, maybe they weren't happy with the engagement? Maybe everyone was being smiley to my face but hated Americans? Maybe I smelled bad?

After growing increasingly paranoid over a period of weeks, finally I did what I should have done in the beginning and asked my beloved what the heck was the matter. Turns out I was proudly wearing my engagement ring on the *wrong* hand. In Serbia, engagement and wedding rings are worn on the right hand, not the left. Everyone had thought I was showing off a random nice ring, not an Engagement Ring.

When we at last got married, I had my engagement ring re-sized and moved it to my right hand. So now I'm "'claimed" on both hands.

Then I started fretting. We were married in the States and live there primarly, so my husband wears his wedding ring on the left hand. But, he traveled back home frequently and I wasn't always able to accompany him. Alone late at night, the paranoia began to creep up again. What if all these gorgeous Serbian women saw this hunk of a man and decided he was fair game for poaching because hey there's no ring on that right finger!

I waited up until 2am when it would be 8am Serbian time and then called him, "Honey, you need to do something for me immediately. You have to buy another wedding ring and put it on your other finger." He laughed and pointed out that young Serbian beauties do not think of shaggy old grey haired guys as "poach-material".

"Never mind," I said, "Go get that extra ring anyway. And wear both of them at the same time. You never know where a girl might be from." So now I guess you could say, as a husband, he's double-banded.


Dejan Kitic said...

I love your insight into these Serbian/American cultural differences :)
Keep on good writing, excellent stuff

Anonymous said...

That is so true. I am of Serbian background living in Canada. I am now divorced, however, when I was married I wore two wedding bands. Being married in the Orthodox Church the band was placed on my right hand. Knowing that, I also had a band for my left hand so my Canadian friends wouldn't wonder what happened. I am seeing more and more wedding bands being worn on the right hand only by Serbs in Canada. Pride... convenience??? Have a wonderful day !
Branka from Canada

Anonymous said...

I laughed reading your blog, I recently married a Serbian man and we had the same debate. As we do live here in the States we proudly wear our rings on our left hands but have decided to also purchase additional bands for when we travel to Belgrade. I guess we can't complain that we get to wear more "bling" :)My husband initially wanted to wear his band on his right hand, but I looked at him with doe eyes and said "but honey, here in the U.S. you won't appear married. So being the hero, he decided to wear his band on his left. Sweet Serbian men, gotta love em :)Thanks for the laugh.
Haley, San Diego, CA

Anonymous said...

I'm double banded myself LOL. Wonderful post, I enjoyed it very much. And I'm still laughing about thai shrimp on basmati rice meal :). Boy how alien!