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By God’s grace and some serious soul searching, she eventually did the very important work necessary to be completely available to date and fall in love.
Duffy points to three things that will help a person to discern their availability.
The book’s opening chapter encourages the reader, first and foremost, to draw strength from Christ and not to turn away from His Church during this difficult time.
Here's the crystal clear part: If someone is divorced and doesn't yet have an annulment, they are presumed in the eyes of the Church to still be married. I really wouldn't want that responsibility on my head.) We can't say "Well, look at the situation. It's a fairly recent cultural construct, and exists mostly in the Western world.
I say "presumed" because, until the investigation is over and the tribunal has ruled, no one can say that for sure. Clearly there was no marriage." Maybe there wasn't, but that's not our call to make. It's defined differently among different people at different times.
The tribunal may find that no sacramental marriage ever existed. And it's difficult for the Church to be clear about something that isn't clearly defined. To engage in sexually intimate behavior with someone who is presumed to be married would be presumed to be adultery. Is going out to lunch with someone adulterous behavior? Obviously it's not the meal, or the act of sharing that meal, that's adulterous. If these two people are sneaking around behind a spouse's back, if they're being deceptive, if they're violating the intimacy that spouse has the right to expect, then they are behaving in an adulterous way. I think planning or moving toward marriage while one partner remains "unannulled" is unwise.
But then again, to engage in sexually intimate behavior with someone who isn't presumed to be married would be fornication. But does "dating" someone who is presumed to be married constitute adultery? It's a sin against the spouse who is being deceived. I don't know if it's technically sinful, but I do know that it's disrespectful of the process, and it could be setting two people up for enormous disappointment if the tribunal doesn't grant the annulment.
The situation changes slightly when a couple is publicly separated and legally divorced. I think engaging in dating-type romantic affection — kissing, "making out", whatever you want to call it — is probably inappropriate for the unannulled as well. You can control your thoughts, so just as you shouldn't be fantasizing sexually (about anybody you aren't married to, really), you probably shouldn't be fantasizing about the big wonderful wedding you're going to have once that pesky annulment is out of the way. Some applicants, over the course of the process, can see that in their individual case the annulment is extremely likely to be granted.