Question:

Hello, and thank you for your biblical answers.

After my divorce, I met a woman online who assured me that she was in the process of getting a divorce. I told her that I did not get involved with married women, but we ended up going bowling anyway and continued to see each other after that. I thought that she had at least filed the divorce papers and was in the mandatory 90-day waiting period prior to setting a court date for the divorce. However, I soon found out that she had not filed the divorce papers, and still has not filed them because her husband refuses to sign them.

When I asked her why she was getting a divorce, she told me that the marriage was terrible from the start. She said that her husband was abusive, drunk all the time, and disrespectful. She said that her husband cheated on her, but she still was willing to keep the marriage together. But after cheating on her, her husband moved out of the house and told her the marriage was over. She said that this was all she could take. So, she is filing for divorce.

But, she has admitted to me that after her husband cheated on her and told her the marriage was over, she had sex with several other men. My question is whether or not I can marry this woman after her divorce is final or would the marriage be considered an adulterous relationship? I almost feel like she is divorcing her husband so she can be with me at this point because it has been a year since we met and she is just now getting around to filing the papers. But she told me right from the start that she was going through a divorce.

Thank you for your help.


Answer:

I'm assuming that your own divorce was because your former wife committed adultery.

Now why are you interested in a woman who marries, but claims her marriage was never good? When her husband did her wrong, she found justification to not only retaliate, but to do so multiple times with multiple men. While she claims she was getting a divorce she took a year to get around to filing the paperwork. Meanwhile, she has been committing adultery and seeing you. (Given her behavior, I must wonder if seeing more of you than is morally proper.) Then there is the matter of her saying she was getting a divorce, but wasn't at the time, so we also know she isn't above lying or letting others believe a lie if it suits her purpose. That then leads to the question of how much else is she telling is true or is she only telling you what she thinks you want to hear? And you want this woman as your wife?

There is another inconsistency in the story. He cheats. She wants to work the issue out. He moves out and says the marriage is over. She claims she didn't file the divorce papers because her husband would not sign. But isn't he the one who supposedly said the marriage is over? The story doesn't match up with behaviors. I'm getting the impression that he moved out after her affairs, not before as she claims.

While in a no-fault divorce consent is required by both parties, a person who truly wants a divorce can get it without the spouse's consent if they can prove they are unfit partners. There are claims, but the evidence is sorely lacking. It leaves me wondering if she is playing the victim card because men are attracted to damsels in distress.

I don't think this woman has the right to remarry because it is clear that she is divorcing because of her adulteries. His might have been the trigger, and I could not be certain of that unless I asked him, but her behavior says it wasn't so important to her that she would end the marriage. It wasn't until she found another man to leap to that she was willing to cut her ties to the last one.

I know you justified seeing this woman because you thought her divorce was in process, but the proper thing to have done would have been to tell her to contact you after her divorce was final to see if you were still available. As it stands, you became a contributing factor to the ending of her marriage even when you were trying not to.

With all that you told me, I think you are making a huge mistake.

Thank you for your response. 

Yes, my divorce was because my former wife committed adultery.

I agree that I should have told this woman to contact me once her divorce was final.  And maybe I should still do this now.  When I met this woman, she and her husband had been separated (not legally separated) for three years already due to the fact that she caught her husband committing adultery.  I agree that my presence in her life could not have helped them to reconcile, but that never entered my mind, as she assured me that she would never get back together with her husband no matter what.  Although, at first, she wanted reconciliation with him, eventually she decided not to continue pursuing reconciliation, probably because he continued to see other women.

But let's say this woman was telling me the truth, and that she did not cheat on her husband, and that he really did move out with another woman and tell her that the marriage was over.  She has told me that her husband has warrants for DUI situations and she doesn't want to get him in trouble with the courts and that's one of the reasons that she has not filed the divorce paperwork.  Also, she said that her husband refuses to look at the papers because he thinks he is being treated unfairly in the paperwork.  But the main thing is he has warrants for DUI and that's why she has waited a year to file for divorce.  But she is filing now.  Anyway, let's say that what she is telling me is the truth.  In that case, if I did marry this woman, would this be okay biblically?  I know that I am not the sole cause of her seeking a divorce.  She has assured me that there was no chance at reconciliation with her husband, even though she wanted reconciliation at the beginning.  But she has definately had other boyfriends after catching her husband cheating on her.  Does this mean that she is not eligible to remarry biblically, even though it was after her husband already cheated on her and ruined the marriage?

Also, if I need to, how would I go about telling this woman that our relationship is over?  We have been together a year, and I have strong feelings for her.  I've never had a woman treat me right and this one does.  She really seems to care about this relationship and having known this person for so long now, I trust that what she is telling me is true about her and her husband, and I really hope that I do not need to put an end to our relationship.  But God needs to come first in my life.  I've made lots of bad decisions and done terrible things.  But I want to turn from my sins and follow God.  This whole thing would be so much easier if I could just marry this woman biblically.

Trying to untangle the mess people get themselves into is sometimes near impossible. I'm like a blind man sitting on the side lines listening to one person's description of the game and then being asked to coach the team. I'll do the best I can, but please remember that I'm not in the possession of all the facts.

The delay in filing for the divorce remains a lame excuse. He got himself into trouble regardless of whether she filed for divorce or not. The government would be able to track him down regardless of whether a divorce was filed for or not -- the courts that process divorces are not the same ones that handle criminal cases. Technically, since she remained married to him without even a separation filing, she left herself exposed to any financial trouble that he might have caused. So either she isn't thinking things through or this isn't the full story.

If I understand the current time line. Her husband committed adultery and was caught. She wanted to keep the marriage together, but at some unspecified time later, he gives up and moves out of the house. Over the next two years she has affairs with several men, yet makes no effort to end her marriage or to file for separation. For the last year she has been with you. I have to assume that she has been committing adultery with you since you said you had done terrible things. Am I also right that the divorce papers still haven't been filed, though she says she is going to do it soon?

You said you want God first in your life, but it appears to me that you are thinking sexually and not morally. You've been justifying this affair with a married woman, compromising yourself when you know it is morally wrong.

Logically, everything adds up to say that if she divorces, it isn't about her husband's affair. She has been tolerating it for well over three years. When I ask myself what changed, the only thing I can see is that she just now snagged a man who is willing to marry her, so only now is she willing to let go of her husband so she can latch on to someone else. The divorce isn't about the rejection of her husband's sin, it is about her having someone to move in with. Given all of this, I have a hard time saying that this matches what Jesus was talking about in Matthew 19:9.

The key point is that she remains a married woman. You want to end this affair by marrying her. I want you to put God first. Right now you're justifying your sin because you think you might marry her soon. Call off this affair immediately and repent of your sins. Tell her to contact you after the divorce is final to see if you are still available and interested. In between, you must have no contact because it isn't proper for a man to be dating a married woman. Do not give the impression that it is guaranteed you'll marry her once the divorce is final. I suspect several things will happen:

  • I will not be at all surprised to learn that the divorce continues to be delayed.
  • I will not be at all surprised that she starts seeing other men. I get the impression that she doesn't like to be lonely.
  • I think that during the break you're going to start thinking more clearly about this situation.

You can't decide if you can marry this woman biblically because she isn't available -- she is a married woman. If her marriage ends, then you can consider whether the marriage ended because of her husband's affairs or not. Only then can you decide whether to date this woman or not. It is because you are rushing things and involving yourself in sin that this has become messy.