Faith in Relationships - long question


#1

As some of you know, I’m dating a man who was married before. He has two children from his previous marriage. He has custody of them, but they live with his mother in the Philippines, since he didn’t have a well-paying job there, and wasn’t able to support them financially and raise them. His ex-wife abandoned him and the kids, and is living with her parents, about 30 minutes from his mother’s house. My boyfriend lives in Korea, about 90 minutes away from me.

My friend is furious that I am seeing a man who was married before, and who has children. She insists that he is probably still married, and refuses to acknowledge him or my relationship with him until I offer her proof that he is not married. She believes that he is still married to his ex-wife, that his “wife” believes they are still married, and that he is leading me on because he wants to cheat on his wife.

She is refusing to talk to me about him until I offer her proof that he is not married. She says that if I can’t prove that he’s not married, then it’s the same as dating a married man, and the kind of woman who dates a married man could never be her friend.

I have not actually seen his divorce papers and annulment papers. I wouldn’t even know what they would look like! I knew him as a friend for about 6 months before we started dating, and we discussed his relationship with his ex-wife. He had no reason to imagine that we might start dating, and therefore no reason to lie about the relationship with his wife. I have been given no reason to distrust him or believe that he is lying. He has never been anything but honest with me. I have looked for warning signs, in case my friend is getting a vibe from him, but there are no warning signs.

I have met members of his family, who have referred to his ex-wife in conversation. I have spoken on the phone with his sisters, who confirmed that he is divorced. I have spoken on the phone to his daughter (who is only three years old, and so didn’t have much to say on the subject). He went home to the Philippines to visit his kids, and gave me his sister’s number as his contact info. Every time I phoned it, the phone was immediately passed to him, which indicates to me that he was indeed spending time with his mother, his sisters and his kids, not with his ex-wife. His friends have independently confirmed his story that his wife abandoned him and the kids. All the signs point to him telling the truth.

So what do I tell my friend, who refuses to believe me that he’s not married?

I feel that I have no reason to distrust him, and so I don’t want to ask him to prove his marital status by showing me the papers. Asking him to show me the papers shows that I have no faith in his word. I do have faith that he is a good person.

The whole issue started because when I first met him, he showed me pictures of his kids. I took that to mean that he was married, and mentioned in passing to my friend that he was married. A month or so later, I learned that he was divorced and waiting for the annulment process to be completed. He apparently felt uncomfortable mentioning the divorce until he knew that he would be completely divorced. A few months later, he mentioned in passing that his annulment had been approved. And, a few months after that, we started dating. Certainly, I would never have considered dating him if I hadn’t learned that he was divorced. My friend thinks that he made up the divorce and the annulment in order to start dating me. I think that since we started as friends, and were not even considering dating when he told me he was divorced, I have no reason to doubt his word.

My friend says that my faith in him indicates that I
a) have no morals and no compunctions about sleeping with a man who could be married.
b) am naive and foolish to think that a man would be telling the truth about his marital status.
c) am gullible for believing this man, who is probably only trying to get my guard down so he can get into my pants.

So what do you think? Is my friend overreacting, or does she have a point? Do I have a moral obligation to make sure that he really is divorced?


#2

Your “friend” has no right to be “furious” with you nor does she have any say in your dating.

Well, she could not talk to me all she wanted…

At some point, sure, he will have to provide proof. That is part of the discernment and pre-marriage process. He will need to submit the paperwork to the parish before you could get married.

But, as far as your friend goes-- yeah, she’s crossed the line and is acting like a psycho conspiracy theorist. He hasn’t given you **any **reason to doubt him. Don’t let this “friend” plant unwarranted doubt in your mind. Stay away from her. As your relationship develops with this man, just take it slowly and also take time to meet his family and spend time in the Phillipines.


#3

Thanks, 1ke, for your reply. Sometimes I just need to hear that I’m not doing the wrong thing.

I really wish I could just get away from my friend. I feel like I need a breath of fresh air after I’ve spent time with her. Unfortunately, we work in the same office and she lives in the apartment above mine. Her desk is facing mine at the office, and it’s really uncomfortable when she is giving me the silent treatment.

What really gets me is that she’s making me look bad to my boyfriend. His friends have never been anything but polite to me, and here my friend is deliberately setting out to make him feel uncomfortable and worthless. Of course, now I don’t invite her to spend time with us, but I feel bad for having exposed him to her psycho-crazy issues. And even though she’s been nothing but rude to him, he still asks me about her health and includes her in his prayers. (I seriously hope he’s praying for her to get a grip! I know I am!)

I’m at the point where I’d love to resign at the end of this semester (I’m a college lecturer) rather than work with my friend any longer, but I’ve signed a contract and don’t feel it’s right to leave the college hanging. Their hiring deadline has passed already. I don’t feel that I should have to be the one to leave, since it’s her that has the problem, but I’d rather surround myself with happy people. If transferring to another college will get me out of this poisonous situation, I may just do it.

It’s a terrible thing when you have to choose between a friend and a boyfriend. I’ve been friends with her for fifteen years, but she has never been anything but dismissive of anyone I’ve tried to date. I think I’ve had enough. I don’t want to lose a friend, but I shouldn’t have to edit my life to talk to her, or change it to please her.


#4

sounds like a question about friendship, how much do you allow friends to dictate your actions by using emotions, threats and manipulative behavior. that being said, if I was your friend, I would remind you that a man with one failed marriage, who is unable to support the children from that marriage, is in no position to begin a romantic relationship with another woman.


#5

Well, this says it all. She is no friend.

Also, I agree with Annie that you need to assess your boyfriend’s situation in light of his ability to provide for his current responsibilities. But, that should be a separate issue from the ones your supposed-friend is bringing up. They don’t seem to be based in fact. However, his current financial position and his relationship with his children is based in fact.

You don’t seem to be overly romanticizing the situation, so I’m sure you have it well in hand.


#6

I agree with both of you, puzzleannie and 1ke. The family/financial situation is a concern of mine. He’s not poor, but he’s not rich either. By Philippine standards, he’s very well off. He could have afforded to feed and clothe his children just fine on the salary he had there. The problem is that he wants to send them to Catholic school, and that’s not cheap. He also wanted to be saving money for their university educations (admittedly, pretty far off in the future). He did some calculations, and if he’s working in Korea for three years, he can afford to invest in a business that should allow him to send them to Catholic school, with a little money left over to start a college savings fund. So it’s not that he can’t make ends meet. And he works really hard, and is very goal-oriented and disciplined, so I don’t doubt he can do it.

But the Philippines is not a rich country at all, and there is definitely an income disparity between us. As a teacher, I earn at least twice what he does, and I’m getting a Master’s degree, which could bump my pay up even more. Right now, of course, we are just dating, and our finances are completely separate. But I do wonder whether money will be an issue between us, especially when it comes to deciding whether I should be a stay-at-home mother or have a job outside the home. I know that money troubles are one of the biggest issues in marriages, and I think that third-world versus first-world income differences have the potential to make a big problem even bigger.

We haven’t had a money talk yet. I know it will come up, but we aren’t at that point yet. We’re going to take it slow in this relationship. I have to make sure that he knows what went wrong with his last relationship and isn’t repeating the same mistakes, and he certainly doesn’t want to ruin his kids’ lives by rushing into another marriage without being absolutely sure I’m going to stick around. After all, if it’s meant to be, then we’ve got the rest of our lives to be together, and what’s wrong with waiting a year or two to iron out the wrinkles?


#7

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