Dear Renita,
I met a man online who I think is truly remarkable. His profile listed him as single, but when I met him I found out he was legally separated and living in his own apartment. He said that all of the accounts had been divided, and that there was no chance of reconciliation with his wife. I asked him why he had not gotten a divorce yet, and he said he was waiting for his ex-wife to make that decision. He thought that would be less painful for her if she made it. My question is, what are the spiritual laws of dating somebody who is legally separated but not yet divorced?

Listen to Renita's Answer
Dear Wondering,
If you have to ask this question, it’s probably because you already know the answer. Trust your inner wisdom on this one: you are at risk of giving your heart away to a man who is still married to another woman. And falling in love with a married man is like nicking away at your heart with your own knife. It’s a self-inflicted wound that drains the life out of you, no matter what rationalization you (or he) come up with to defend the relationship.

It’s no secret that I take marriage, even a marriage on life support, very seriously. Two people are married to each other until a divorce decree is granted (whether they live in the same house or not). That’s according to both the legal system and the Bible. Don’t let yourself be charmed by the image of this man as someone who would delay his own happiness (in the form of finalizing the divorce) for the sake of sparing his wife’s feelings. He says he doesn’t want to hurt her. But the truth is, he’s most likely still married because he doesn’t want a divorce yet.

So the man you are falling for is still legally tied to his wife. What does that mean? It means that until a final divorce decree is issued all of this man’s assets and liabilities are still connected to his wife, no matter what he might have told you about accounts having been divided. His life, in other words, is still connected to her. There is no "you and him." There is "him and her"—and, to put it bluntly, you are a figment of his imagination.

Part of the joy of falling in love is envisioning a future with the person you love. But there can be no future with a man who is legally bound to another woman. In my judgment, it’s best to leave married folks to themselves to work out their differences and decide what they are going to do about the future of their marriage.

In the meantime, you deserve to be loved by someone who loves you so much that he will go to great lengths not to hurt you. Go find him. He’s out there, and he’s not asking you to nick away at your own heart in order to be with him. He wants your heart the same way he wants to give you his heart: whole and undivided.

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