What does a Christian man owe the wife who divorced him?


#1

Other than child support and other legal obligations, what obligations does a Christian husband continue to have to his wife who divorced him, over his objections, for another man? The Church says they are still married, so I know he must remain chaste, and he should not date as if he were single. But should he continue to do all the other things he would normally do to see that she is supported properly and cared for? What if the second man leaves her and she wastes her money and becomes poor, while the husband is well off?


#2

Assuming the wife is not in some kind of dire need but is capable of supporting herself, then from a material standpoint the husband she divorced owes her only what is outlined in the divorce agreement. From a spiritual standpoint, he owes her his prayers, penances, and other spiritual sacrifices for her conversion. Should her circumstances deteriorate and she not be able to support herself, and should she not have any other means of support, it would be an act of charity for her husband to give her whatever help he can, if for no other reason than out of consideration for the fact that she is the mother of his children. Doing so might also be of spiritual benefit to her, because such unmerited love showered upon her in her hour of need might open her to grace. St. Paul observed:

“Beloved, never avenge yourselves, but leave it to the wrath of God; for it is written, ‘Vengeance is mine, I will repay, says the Lord.’ No, ‘if your enemy is hungry, feed him; if he is thirsty, give him drink; for by so doing you will heap burning coals upon his head.’ Do not be overcome by evil, but overcome evil with good” (Rom. 12:19-21).


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