Have a question about life, love, or faith? Post it as a comment or email it to melfert@stjohns-cathedral.org, or submit your question online privately.

Hey Rev!

A few months back you answered a letter about a person in a sexless marriage. I have also been in a sexless marriage for four years. I am in hell. He is Indian. His family tells me how uneducated I am. He calls me fat, stupid, etc. I drink now. I want to die. My mom has forced me into this so strong, it’s hard to get out. They say I am nothing. I want to be a sculptor. I cry and sleep naked next to him every night and I get nothing. I am a curvy 180 pound 24-year-old with 32 DD boobs; and feeling death is a closer than life. He does not even get my jokes.

- Sculptor

Sculpture of a woman looking down

Sculpture of a woman looking down photo courtesy Shutterstock

Dear Sculptor:

Holy crap.

There’s a whole lot going on in your letter. Rather than trying to scale the great mountain of confusion and hurt that you are living with right now in one go, therefore, I’m going to suggest that we break our conversation down into somewhat more manageable chunks. Let’s begin with the most pressing matter, with what would be my first follow-up question if you were sitting in my office: when you say that you want to die, do you mean that you are thinking about suicide?

If your answer to that question is “yes” — or even if it’s “maybe” — then make preserving your life into your first priority. Suicide is a permanent solution to a temporary problem. While it’s undeniable that ending your life would set you free from the train wreck which is your marriage, it would also irreparably wound those who love you, deprive countless people of your generosity, compassion, and friendship, and mean that the sculptures waiting to sing forth from your soul would become a gift lost to the world. That’s a bad trade.

Sculptor, I promise you that you can find happiness, healing, and meaning without hurting yourself. As unlikely as it may seem right now, know that many people before you have journeyed out of the abyss and into wholeness. So, the next time that death calls to you, shout “no” even if your voice shakes. And then ask for help: type “suicide hotline” into Google, call the number that comes up on your screen, and tell the person who answers the phone the whole truth.

Now, let’s turn to your husband and your in-laws.

In telling me that your husband is of Indian descent, you sure appear to be implying that his skin color or his ethnicity explains his actions. If that implication is on purpose, Sculptor, then give your head a shake. That’s racist horse puckey. Stop it. The problem with your husband isn’t that he’s Indian. The problem with your husband is that he’s a jerk.

There is a name for the kind of jerkitude that your husband and his jerk parents are engaging in. It’s called emotional abuse. And you have a right to insist that it stops.

I wish that I thought that you could stop this abuse by negotiating or by otherwise appealing to reason. But given that the behavior of these three folks is so far beyond what is reasonable — given that your husband is engaging in a gross violation of his vow to love and to honor you — I don’t have a whole lot of hope of that working.

So, here’s what you do, Sculptor: pack up your stuff, walk out the door, and find a friend who will let you crash on her couch while you look for your own place.

In the unlikely event that your husband has any interest in salvaging your marriage, he’ll beg you to go to counseling with him. But what is far more likely is that, as soon as the door closes behind you, he will sigh with relief. That’s because his actions make abundantly clear what he isn’t grown-up enough to say out loud: this guy doesn’t want to be married to you.

I know that’s a crushing thing to hear. So I also want you also to know two things. First, you are a beloved child of God just the way that you are. Your value as a human being does not hinge on the opinion of your husband, your in-laws, or anyone else. Know that you are loved. Know that you are special. Know that you are gloriously and wondrously made.

Second, if you do want to get into another relationship, know that there are a metric tonne of men out there who will laugh enthusiastically at your jokes, who will be jazzed about your art, who will share their own passions with you, who won’t be able to believe their good luck should the two of you end up in the same bed. You deserve to be with one of those men.

Leave and go find what you’re looking for.

I get that your mom is going be pissed off when she hears that you’ve left. Maybe she’ll have an epic tantrum, maybe she’ll call you awful names, maybe she’ll froth at the mouth and roll on the floor, maybe she’ll write you out of her will. Picture her doing her worst. And now tell me that your mom’s anger is more awful than what you are experiencing right now. The reality is that you are already living the worst-case scenario.

So go. Walk away. Start to carve sculptures in which you make interesting and wonderful mistakes. Build the portfolio that you will need when you apply to art school. Make friends with people who want to celebrate your many and amazing gifts. Look for opportunities to learn, to stumble, to grieve, to risk, to love, to learn some more.


Go forth to find the adventure that awaits you.

Have a question about life, love, or faith? Post it as a comment or email it to melfert@stjohns-cathedral.org, or submit your question online privately.

Categories: Beliefs


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Martin Elfert

Martin Elfert

The Rev. Martin Elfert is an immigrant to the Christian faith. After the birth of his first child, he began to wonder about the ways in which the Divine was at work in the world. Shortly thereafter, he joined Christ Church Cathedral in Vancouver, BC, where he and his new son were baptized at the Easter Vigil in 2005 and where the community encouraged him to seek ordination.

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