So last year I started dating a wonderful Catholic man who had just had his non-marriage found invalid. He has two children from that non-marriage, and he has custody but they live with his sister in the Philippines. We are discerning marriage, and so far everything is looking great. We’ve talked about being open to life, natural family planning, how to raise the children (existing and future), money, where to live, how to deal with extended family, and we’ve gone through some tough times together. We discussed raising the children Catholic and I’ve been investigating conversion. My boyfriend spoke to his priest, who agreed to marry us after we start marriage preparation. We even picked out engagement rings.
Then in April, his ex-wife kidnapped the children. We prayed. The ex-wife returned the kids and came to Korea to harass my boyfriend in person. She was phoning and e-mailing me for a time. I started going to Church because I just felt we weren’t going to get through this without God’s help.
Last week, my boyfriend found out what the deal is. The Philippine government will not recognize either the divorce or the annulment, since they took place outside of the Philippines. According to his government, my boyfriend is still validly married. According to the Church, he is not. Since the kids are in the Philippines, his ex-wife has the right to petition for custody to prevent them from being exposed to a father who she believes is committing adultery and planning to commit bigamy.
So now we’re back to square one. I can’t date him if he’s married, and he has to go back to the Philippines to apply for his marriage to be annulled there. His priest here says he’ll still marry us if we want to, because the Church says he’s unmarried and therefore there’s no impediment, but neither of us wants to do that. It seems sneaky. My boyfriend’s lawyer in the Philippines basically said that if it’s her word against his, he’d better make sure we’re not even in the same room together until the court hearing. She can’t prove we’re committing adultery because we’re not, but it would look bad if he were seeing me.
So now what? At this point, I still think of him as my boyfriend - but a boyfriend I can’t see for the six months or so that his lawyer says it’ll take to sort this out. My boyfriend calls me from the public phone at work on his lunch break, and that’s all I get from him. He says he still wants to marry me, but of course we can’t get engaged until this mess is sorted out. I figure I’m just going to concentrate on work and my master’s degree for the next six months, spend six months without dating, and get by with a little help from my friends. I told him I’d wait for him for six months, and then we’d see how things were going. I’m willing to wait up to a year, actually, but he says he doesn’t know if he can wait that long. What the alternative is, I don’t know.
So, why am I telling you this? I don’t know. I’d appreciate prayers and commiseration. Advice is also nice, but please don’t say you told me so. I know a lot of you did tell me so, but I still think he’s the right man, just in a bad situation.