How do I get my girlfriend to move on from her divorce?

I am a soldier in the U.S. Army and have become attached to a woman who is deeply Catholic. She is 22 years old, with two children, and about to finalize a divorce. I have not been a very religious person but my views have changed considerably since I met her. The Church has forgiven her for her divorce and she is taking classes to continue to receive Communion.

The help I am seeking is that she has told me that even though the Church has forgiven her and the divorce is about to be final, she doesn’t feel that she can carry on any type of relationship with anyone else because, no matter what, because she considers herself still married in God’s eyes. It is serious enough that she doesn’t even feel comfortable enough to hold my hand anymore.

I truly love her and willing to do anything and wait as long as I need to be with her. I have supported her in all respects of her religion. Is there some type of advice that you can give me so that we both can move past this and make a better life for the both of us and her children?

Until her divorce is final, legally speaking, your friend is still a married woman. The Catholic Church views civil divorce as a legal separation between two spouses. Unless and until your friend is granted an annulment for her marriage, a process that usually starts after a civil divorce is finalized, the Church will presume her to be a married woman who is legally separated from her husband. If the Church marriage tribunal determines that her marriage was sacramental, an annulment cannot be granted and your friend will not be free to marry anyone else. In short, your friend is right: She is a married woman and you should treat her as such.

Love is not merely romantic feelings; it is an action of the will that desires for the other person that person’s ultimate happiness, which is God. If you truly love this woman, you will desire for her that she not do anything that would violate both her Church’s teaching and her own conscience. Understandably, this will likely leave you struggling with feelings that have been nurtured over the time you have known this person. All I can recommend is distancing yourself from the relationship and praying for the grace from God that your feelings will be brought into alignment with her and your best interests. God bless.

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