I stood at the counter and considered the man’s question. He had asked me what I had paid for the diamond and wedding rings I wanted to sell him, but a cash amount was the furthest thing from my mind. I finally responded that I had paid with the unhappiest decade of my entire life. He nodded solemnly, and then he told me he’d give me as much cash as possible to help me through the next decade in better shape.

I knew the rings were worth thousands, but I really didn’t care how much cash they could bring. It was the act of selling them that mattered; a fresh start for a new life was what I wanted. My former mother-in-law had been the one to suggest I sell them, and we both knew she was the one who had paid for them. I asked her if she wanted them back, but she said a decade of having a good daughter-in-law was all the payment she ever needed.

We both admitted that her son had been a lousy husband, and I felt bad for her. We had only been divorced for a few weeks, yet he was ready to marry again. He had found another sucker, someone naïve like me, and he wasn’t going to waste any time tying the knot again. He had already called to demand I give the rings back, and I had already refused.

His mother called shortly after he did, and she told me about his plans. I told her that knowing he wanted them back made me feel sad, and I knew I could not contribute anything more to the devastation of another woman. His mother said she felt the same way, and he’d have to get a job if he wanted an engagement and wedding ring for a new wife.