"Sick at Heart" wrote that she is trapped in a loveless marriage because after being divorced, she made a religious commitment that she would never leave her second husband. She said the love is long gone and that her doctor has not been able to successfully medicate her severe depression. You advised her to talk with her spiritual adviser.
I am a spiritual adviser, and I would like to direct my comments to that woman:
I strongly feel that in a marriage made by God, two people become one. From your description of your marriage, it is clear that it was never sanctioned by God, therefore you are released from any pledge that you made.
The Bible tells us that God is present everywhere. This includes you. His spirit is within you. God is love and wants love to fill our lives. God does not want anyone to live in a situation such as you have described. There is no spiritual law that demands you stay in your loveless marriage.
Learn to forgive yourself for this "mistake" as Jesus forgave "the woman at the well who had five husbands and the one she was living with was not her husband." Listen to the Holy Spirit within you and you will be free to go your way.
The Rev. Norman L. Conaway, Eustis, Fla.
You are obviously a caring and compassionate man of God. I hope "Sick at Heart" sees your letter, and that it gives her the courage to do what she must for her own mental, physical and spiritual health. Read on:
As a female ordained minister and spiritual counselor, I would like to comment on the letter from "Sick at Heart."
God has admonished us to love everyone. "Sick" must remind herself that "everyone" includes HER. Loving herself cannot include living with a spiritually and emotionally absent man.
Adultery comes in many forms. Being neglectful, inconsiderate and emotionally absent is a form of adultery. Such negligence is also abusive -- and no scripture, teaching or God condones the continuation of a marriage where either adultery or abuse or both exist.
She is not only doing a grave disservice to herself, but also to her husband, because she is unable to love him. She is far better off leaving him so they BOTH can be free to find mates who will truly love them in the way God desires for them both.
It is never God's will for any of us to be sick, especially in our hearts. Medication cannot and will not cure such deep heartache as this woman is experiencing. The God in whom she believes is more than happy to grant her a new beginning. God desires to set her free.
The Rev. Dr. Katiti L. Cesana
Aliso Viejo (Laguna Beach), Calif.
Bless you for writing, because your message is an important one. We cannot love another person until we first learn to love ourselves -- and we cannot make another person happy unless there is happiness within us.
Prior to my older sister's recent death, she shared a family secret. She told me that in the 1960s, while he was serving in the U.S. military in a foreign country, our brother had fathered a child. He was young and fresh out of high school.
My sister said our now-deceased mother had opened a letter addressed to my brother from the baby's mother saying his child was born. She read it -- and tore it up. To my sister's knowledge, Mother never shared the news with my brother.
Now that I am over the shock, I am struggling as to what to do with this information -- if anything. (My brother is happily married with grown children.)
What would you do?
Caught in the Middle
Since the woman had your mother's address in the States, she clearly was more than a one-night stand. If I were you, I would tell my brother privately. He has a right to know.
Dear Abby is written by Abigail Van Buren, also known as Jeanne Phillips, and was founded by her mother, Pauline Phillips. Write Dear Abby at www.DearAbby.com or P.O. Box 69440, Los Angeles, Calif. 90069.
(c)2002, Universal Press Syndicate