I’ve begun to suspect that I may have married a saint.
To be clear, it didn’t take me 20 years of marriage to figure out that my husband, Erick, is a uniquely kind, generous, and principled human being; he’s been that way as long as I’ve known him, and his fundamental goodness is one of the things that first drew me to him.
But lately, Erick has added a series of ascetic practices to his life that make me wonder if he’s displaying the early warning signs of becoming a desert hermit. He’s not yet wearing sackcloth and ashes, or practicing self-flagellation, but it may be only a matter of time.
Erick is no stranger to discipline, self-denial, or extreme frugality. When I met him he was managing a hedge fund in Greenwich, Connecticut, but his only earthly possessions were confined to a few plastic bins. Then, as now, he wore his clothing until it literally fell from his body in tatters. (Much to his children’s chagrin, he takes great pride in several Sesame Street t-shirts and a black trench coat that date back to his high school days.) I have long been baffled by his habit of suddenly cutting coffee entirely out of his life for weeks at a time so as to avoid becoming dependent. He eschews all social media and imposes strict controls on his internet use. Yet he will tell you humbly that all of this discipline is necessary…because he lacks willpower. (How’s that for circular reasoning?)
This is the husband I’ve known and loved for two decades, but over the past six months he’s taken his monkish habits to the next level.