Can I seek male friendship while separated?

I am separated from my husband and have found a male friend. I have not filed for divorce because I’d like to petition for an annulment so I am sure the marriage is not valid before I totally give up on it. Can I continue to email my friend? (I have sought counseling and my husband is not willing to really work on the marriage for the past year-plus.)

My guess is that your use of the term “male friendship” is a euphemism for “romantic relationship.” What you want to know is whether or not you can cultivate a romance with this man while separated from your husband. If you believe I am wrong about this, then ask yourself whether you would be considering cultivating this “friendship” if you were not separated from your husband. If I am reading your question correctly, it is precisely because you are separated from your husband that you want this “friendship.”

If this is the case, then no, you cannot cultivate a romance with anyone who is not your husband. You are a married woman, both in the eyes of the Church and in the eyes of the state. To cultivate a romance with another person would be adultery, plain and simple. If the Church ever grants an annulment for your marriage, only then – and at no earlier point – would you be free to look for romance. (And please be aware that a marriage tribunal ordinarily considers an annulment petition once a civil divorce has been granted. The tribunal wants to be sure that the couple is unlikely to reconcile before considering whether or not their marriage was invalid from the beginning.)

Unfortunately, it has become a trend in our society to consider separation to be the equivalent of divorce. Some forty years ago a marriage license was deemed nothing but A Piece of Paper unnecessary to obtain before living together as man and wife. Now a divorce decree also seems to be considered by many to be nothing but A Piece of Paper unnecessary to obtain before diving back into the dating pool.

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