Dear Father Angelo,
I have already written to you before, telling you about the deep grief caused by the end of my marriage and the choice I’ve made to stay faithful to my union, despite that my husband has been with another woman for almost two years now (our separation dates back to four years ago, but in the meantime there were other relationships). I will not linger on the void and the disappointment I feel, nor the suffering caused by the knowledge that my husband, the father of my son, lives, dreams and plans his future with another woman and with the children she had from a previous marriage.
Instead, I wish to ask you a suggestion, a piece of advice regarding our nephews, children of my husband’s brothers.
He, even though unwillingly, tolerates that his nephews continue to call me aunt or that I am invited to some family celebrations. Not long ago, another baby girl was born and this time my husband believes that there is no reason at all for her to consider me a “relative”. He wishes that his new partner were called aunt. Beside the heartbreak that this further desire to erase me brings about, I think it could confuse our son (who is already struggling with this difficult situation) and the other nephews.
My brothers-in-law are obviously torn between their brother’s will and the affection they still feel for me. What do you think?
I also take the opportunity to ask you about a concern that is wearing me out. I believe you can understand how my only wish is to have my family reunited and our marriage saved; there is no day, sometimes even hour, when I do not pray to the Holy Family and especially to St. Joseph, husband and father, for this miracle. I know that the ways of the Lord are mysterious, but I cannot understand and it really confuses me how He could somehow prefer my husband’s new relationships and bless it with happiness, success and affection, when it’s the result of two broken marriages.
I have prayed a lot and I still pray to Him, so that He grants – at least to our son, after this great suffering – the chance to live in a united family, with two parents that love each other, and not in an extended family full of strangers. But so far, everything, every event is only dividing us more and more, and strengthening the other bond instead.
I entrust my doubts, my tears, my hopes to you and your prayer.
Thank you very much
Answer from the priest
1. To solve your problem, we need to look for the truth of things.
This truth is provided by God, by Jesus Christ, in chapter 19 of the Gospel of Matthew. Regarding marriage, He said: “Have you not read that from the beginning the Creator ‘made them male and female’ and said, ‘For this reason a man shall leave his father and mother and be joined to his wife, and the two shall become one flesh’? So they are no longer two, but one flesh. Therefore, what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matt. 19:4-6).
2. Even if your husband lives with another woman, he is still your husband.
He is not the husband of that other woman, although to the eyes of the world that approves of divorce he is considered so.
To the eyes of God, he is an adulterer.
3. You and your husband are one flesh and this bond will be forever.
Just like you would still be the aunt of your siblings’ children if they were to die, you are still the aunt of the children of your husband’s brothers, even if he is with another woman.
As long as you live, this other woman could never be the aunt of his brothers’ children, even if they call her so.
Because only you and your husband are one flesh.
And they are not.
4. Therefore, before God you are their aunt, and you still are even if your husband’s brothers do not acknowledge it.
Not only it is right that they call you aunt, but it would be equally wrong (as a sin, a fault) if you did not acknowledge yourself as their aunt.
Towards them you have all the obligations of a relative, an aunt.
So you must be present in the happy and unhappy occasions of their lives, and make them a part of yours.
By extension, what the Lord said is valid also for you and your nephews: “what God has joined together, no human being must separate” (Matt. 19:6).
5. Go on like this then, showing with your behavior that the bond tied before God is the only real one and that no other bond – although acknowledged by human laws – can destroy or replace it.
In this way, you still give testimony of the indissolubility of a real marriage.
I am happy to hear that you are praying for your family to be reunited according to God’s will.
I add my prayer to yours, and I bless you.