Can you help me?


I’m at a complete loss! And this is my cry for help…

My girlfriend has just left me on her mother’s instruction which my girlfriend, although she is 37 years of age and although she holds a different view, has decided to obey.

I am 41 years of age and I was married in a registry office, never in a church, 16 years ago. My wife walked out on me when she tired of our family life. I am now nearly 5 years separated and I hope to divorce this year.

I’ve been seeing my girlfriend for the best part of a year and we have been all but living together. In fact, we had planned on officially moving in together up until recently. And that we would marry whenever we both could.

She too is separated and is hopeful of qualifying for an annulment.

Her mother believes I am a married man and that being with me prevents my wife from getting back with me. She says my girlfriend should not see anyone until after her annulment and that she can then see a single man if she wishes.

Our relationship is seen as bringing shame on the family. And her recently deceased father would not approve either.

I have never felt as loved by anyone else before and I want to spend my life with this woman but the emotional turmoil her mother’s seemingly extreme religious views has caused her, is preventing what can only be right. Yes, we’ve both made mistakes and neither of us would have left our respective marriages but we were walked out on. Neither of us would ever have wanted to have taken vows that couldn’t be kept.

And then we met each other, we fell very much in love and now I am being told it would be against God’s will. This would seem to me to be taking the name of the lord in vein. But rather than cause her mother any more hardship, she has decided after a lot of discussion and argument to obey. Today, she’s not even taking my calls.

I am very angry and I am very annoyed and being so helpless in fighting this argument which holds no weight with me. But is it the will of the church that it should be so?

If not, please tell me why not so that I can equip myself to make the argument.

Thanks for listening,



Dear Michael,

This isn’t as bad as it seems. I looked up your personal information and learned that you are a Catholic. Once you are divorced, you should not have a difficult time getting your marriage annulled since you were married outside of the Church. It would be just a matter of the marriage tribunal objectively verifying this fact.

Right now though, your girlfriend’s mother is absolutely correct. Until the Church determines objectively that her marriage is null, she is still considered married and is obliged to live as a married woman. This means no dating. Married persons don’t date people they are not married to.

That you and your girl friend planned to move in together without being married speaks of the need for both of you to understand more fully what marriage is and what the Church teaches about it. You do need to know this before entering into a sacramental marriage. I strongly suggest that you read the book: “Good News About Sex and Marriage” by Christopher West, available through or by phone: 888 291 8000.

Right now, you need to put God first in your life as she is doing. You need to get to the point where you prefer His will to your own because He matters that much to you. Spend some time each day looking at a crucifix and reflecting on how much He chose to endure on you behalf because He loves you that much. Then thank Him. The more you do this, the more reasons you will find for thanking him.

Put your life completely in His hands and all its loose ends will come together.

Fr. Vincent Serpa, O.P.

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