I am a 29 year old woman and I am currently going through a divorce. I did not initiate the divorce and I did my best to be a faithful and good wife to my husband despite his unfaithfulness, lack of financial provision and other issues.
The one thing I want most out of life is to be a wife and mother. My question is: is it ok to date while the divorce is still pending? I was living in the US with my husband but since the divorce I have moved back to my home country (the United Kingdom).
I am a Christian but would be interested to hear your point of view on this.
It sounds like you have been through a number of very difficult and disappointing years. We pray that the future holds much happiness and fulfillment for you as a wife and mother. If you handle things correctly from here on and God blesses you, there is every chance of the good life awaiting you up ahead.
For people of faith, marriage is entered into by engaging in two separate processes. One is obtaining a civil marriage, according to the laws of one’s country. The other is spiritual; more of a covenant that includes God in the new relationship. We usually think of it as the religious ceremony in contrast to the civil contract.
Now how about the termination of a marriage? Not surprisingly, two processes are helpful here as well. One needs a legal divorce that conforms to the civil laws of the land in which you live. But there also needs to be a severing of the spiritual bond A marriage contract is between only two parties but a marriage covenant is between husband, wife, and God. We see this when Ezra tells the Jews simply to separate themselves from the foreign wives they had taken. (Ezra 10:10-11) No spiritual ceremony of divorce was needed because no spiritual bond was formed in the first place between the Hebrew men and the pagan women.
When both husband and wife have a relationship with God, the marriage sadly still might need to end. And when this happens, God weeps. (Malachi chapter 2) And when this happens, the marriage should best be ended by both a civil, legal divorce which is what you are now going through, as well as a spiritual conclusion to the marriage.
If your former husband will be willing to cooperate (which is not always the case in an acrimonious divorce), the best thing (Deuteronomy 24:1-4) would be for him to write a short note in front of two members of his faith community saying, “I, ______ do hereby divorce my wife ____________ as of this date at this location___________ in the presence of two witnesses whose names appear below,” and for him to convey that note to you. Once you receive it, you will write upon it that you hereby retain no further connection to this man in the eyes of God and are entirely free to marry anew. You sign and date it also and put the document away with your other important papers.
If involving your husband is not possible, we would recommend that you sign a slightly reworded document in the presence of two people who share your faith. Doing this acknowledges that the marriage was not only a state matter, but also a religious one. We would encourage you not to date until the divorce is final in both these ways.
The spiritual side might require more creativity on your part. Perhaps the assistance of wise friends or a pastor can be enlisted. We are certain that once both these processes are complete, you will truly feel that you have broken the emotional bonds of your marriage.You will then feel able to wholeheartedly give of yourself to another man.
We hope you have had some counseling to examine what led you to choose your (soon-to-be-ex) spouse and what patterns of your own behavior you should be aware of before remarrying. We sympathize with your strong desire to be a mother and recognize the realities of biology, but we urge you to enter into a new relationship with skills and awareness so that it may be one that flourishes and nurtures a life-long commitment.
Looking forward to hearing good news soon,
Rabbi Daniel and Susan Lapin