Friend in a complicated moral spot

I have a friend who is in a bit of a mess, but is open to advice. I am talking to people I trust gathering their perspectives, but wanted to post here too to obtain some feedback.

My friend has been married for 20 years, has two children, and until a few years ago was devout and some would even say square. He and his wife were faithful to each other, good parents, and had never been with anyone else physically, before or after marriage. His wife then fell in love with her boss and had a one year affair, until he found out about it. Obviously he was devastated. I don’t know that anyone realized exactly how devastated he was though.

He tried to make it work and do what he thought he was supposed to do, but clearly there was a ton of pain and probably unforgiveness there under the surface. He pretty much snapped. He met a woman who he then moved in with and now she is pregnant. She is poor and scared of the implications of having the child and has made it clear to him that if he was not around she would abort the child.

He is now trying to put his life back together, but feels very muddled about where his moral duty lies. He feels like he is caught between a rock and a hard place. And strangely enough he is still furious at his wife and feels like his marriage was over when she went off with another man.

I have my own thoughts on what he should do, but I am curious about what you think church teaching says he should do.

The Church would teach that he is still married to his wife, therefore the duty of each of them is to forgive the other and seek to rebuild their relationship.

Given that the man in this situation has now fathered a child out of wedlock, his duty is also to support that child as well, since it is not that child’s fault that his father committed adultery.

There isn’t going to be a perfect solution to this issue for everyone though. But the wedding vows come first. That which husband and wife had once for each other was there for a reason. With patience, prayer and charity for each other, they may yet be able to recover it.

He can be every bit as upset as he wants to be about his wife’s affair…buthe cannot blame her for his, or the results thereof. He has an obligation to the healthy upbringing of the child that his mistress has conceieved by him. He also had a duty of breaking off his intimate relationship with that woman until such time as the Church finds his previous marriage null. He also bears the duty of working to repair his relationship with his wife, regardless of who cheated first. The fact that he follwed her example in that behavior speaks against him morally and puts responsibility even heavier on his shoulders. That’s my feedback.

Thank you for your response. I think what you say is true, but I also hesitate to give him this response because what if he follows that advice, moves out, and then the mother of his unborn child aborts the baby? Then how much moral culpability would I have in that act since I was informed that if he moved out she would act in this way? Does the life of the child trump the marriage?

You need to bring this to the attention of priest for advice, and by priest I mean someone you trust will do his best to follow Catholic teaching .


Your friend should talk to a priest as well.

This is what I would say, too ^ The allegation that the other woman has threatened to abort the baby if he moves out is a moral dilemma for both of them. His duty is to do everything he can to dissuade her from this contemptible action. However, his first responsibility is to his family, and secondly to this innocent child. If the other woman carries the baby to term he has a moral and financial responsibity to care for the child. If she opts to abort, the responsibily rests totally on her shoulders so long as he has tried everything in his power to talk her out of it.

That gets to the nub of the question for me. If he moves out and back with his family is he doing everything he can to protect the child who is not yet born? I will be talking to a priest, but do appreciate all of your input as well.

He can only do so much to influence the other woman but in my opinion he should go back to his wife and children because they made a vow before God to stay married until death. He has made a compleat muddle of things by his own actions and an innocent child, not to mention his first children, will pay the price for his gross irresponsibility. I am not sure there is a good answer but I simply don’t buy the “snapped” thing. He knew exactly what he was doing when he made the decision to move in with another woman WHILE he was still married. I will say that the decision whether or not to abort lies exclusively with the other woman. He cannot impose his will on her no matter how much he’d like to do so. I hope he understands the moral implications of what he’s done. He can be as furious as he wants about his wife’s infidelity but that is surely the pot calling the kettle black at this point. He is the one who needs to see a priest or other clergy.

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