Ring the divorce lawyer! 没戒指:婚姻失败?

Vocabulary: Love, marriage and divorce 詞匯:愛情,婚姻和離婚

Does the removal of a wedding ring mean that marital bliss has gone or even that divorce is looming?

That seems to be the message people are sending when they take off their wedding band. Actress Katie Holmes was seen in New York without hers after filing for divorce from Tom Cruise.

As soon as the newspapers suggest that a celebrity relationship is on the rocks, the couple will be scrutinised for real signs the marriage is over - the "noticeably bare finger".

Not everyone wears a ring after they get married, but for those who do it is usually deeply symbolic, a sign of commitment. There's a painful contrast between the joyous ceremony involved when people tie the knot, and the loneliness when things haven't worked out.

For some couples, the ring comes off and goes back on as the relationship goes through its ups and downs. "Taking it off does help one psychologically," says agony aunt Virginia Ironside. "But it's a pretty emotional decision."

If the separation appears to be amicable, some people might not rush to remove the ring. Singer Seal said in an interview that he'd wear his ring, even after it had been announced that he and wife Heidi Klum were to split. "It's a token of how I feel about this woman," he said.

But on the other hand, the divorce process can be lengthy and many people get anxious over the right time to remove the ring - when lawyers are taken on, or when the decree absolute comes through. Many will feel they are living a lie wearing it, but are worried in case it looks like they are back on the dating scene.

The ring was supposedly worn on fourth finger of the left hand because of a belief in ancient times in a vein running from there directly to the heart, which the Romans called "vena amoris" - "vein of love". Archaeologists found evidence of brides' wedding bands in hieroglyphics of ancient Egyptians, for whom a circle symbolised eternity.