Catholic Weddings

The other side of annulments

My father remarried about 4 years after my mother's sudden death.  He had been left with 5 young children and married a woman with 4 young children.

Perhaps it was a matter of needing another parent for their children, my dad's guess but who knows.

The marriage lasted less than a year.  A year of hell with his new wife beating his youngest children and pretty much ignoring the oldest.  In fact, I had to leave school several times to go home to protect my younger siblings from this b*tch.  She actually threw my little brother down the stairs when he was wrapped in a sleeping bag!

Fast forward about 12 years.  He was offered a prestigious job consulting for the Naval Dept and moved to DC.  At this time he felt that it was time to have a "clear slate" before her moved. So he got a divorce, adultery because she had been living with another man for several years.

Our pastor encouraged him to file for an annulment but my dad refused.  He insisted that he married the woman of his own free will and stood before God and his family to swear that.  Yes, he admitted that is was a huge mistake but the marriage was valid.  No matter what the Church said, in his opinion, that was a valid marriage, mistake or not.

After about 6 years in D.C., he met a woman who seemed to be good for him.  He was 60, close to retiring and wanted someone in his life to share this with.  They eloped to a JOP in Alexandria, VA. and informed us all the following day.

What he hadn't known was that she had chosen a house for them to live in within the same zip-code as 4 of her 5 children.  This resulted in another disaster because her children were all homosexual with SOs living with them and there was a good deal of illegal drug activity going on.

So, another divorce followed within two years of the wedding.

My dad never missed a mass on Sunday and participated in Church activities although he couln't receive communion.

About two years later, he was diagnosed with cancer, terminal.  His friend, our pastor, came to the house to administer the Last Rites.  He told me that God always knew where his heart had been so forgiveness was quite easy.

ETA:  posted too soon

What would you do with a failed marriage that you really believed was valid?

Re: The other side of annulments

  • edited December 2011
    That's something that I've often thought about, actually. 

    First, I just want to say that I would be slow to judge anyone else's situations, because I truly believe that only God and the couple know what truly went on in a relationship.  God will judge all our souls, so I don't have to.  Unless it was a VERY close friend or family member, I just don't think it's any of my business to judge. 

    That being said,  I think a lot of people attempt to (and succeed!) annul valid marriages.  Abuse, infidelity, drug use, etc., do not in themselves make a marriage invalid.  Certainly they can demonstrate a lack of capacity to enter into the sacrament (if you were on drugs, for instance, when you dated and married someone; or if someone if extremely abusive then you could argue a lack of mental stability). 

    Put it this way: If I was married for 1 year, and learned the my husband was having an affair, it would seem obvious to me that he never really intended to be faithful, that he made false vows.  But if I was married to him for 30 years and then he had an affair, I'd probably have a hard time saying those first 30 years weren't valid. Make sense?

    But again, I am always slow to pass any judgment on someone's marriage/divorce situation


  • edited December 2011
    I know that I wasn't sure of how to approach my annulment process. I was 22 when I married, but it was stressful. Admittedly, I wasn't a responsible person and I certainly wasn't a practicing Catholic. Within a month of dating my ex, whom I'd just met, I was pregnant. We got married for the predictable reason that it would be best for our child. We didn't take the necessary time to get to know eachother, and if we had, I know now (having much serious re-consideration of the matter after all this time) I wouldn't have entered in to marriage. So much was strained--the pregnancy, my relationship with my father who refused to speak to me unless I was married in the Church, etc. It really was a dumb, dumb, DUMB mistake. Be that as it may, as the years went on and I realized how wrong to marry it was, I nonetheless commited to stick it out. I made the vow and intended to hold to it. He didn't. And within two months of our separation, he had gotten his girlfriend pregnant. Within a month of the finalization of the civil divorce, he remarried. Any thought of reconciliation was out the window. I struggled with the idea of getting an annulment for a year and a half. It wasn't an easy decision, and was even harder filling out the paperwork. But I am glad that I'm going through the process and coming to terms with all that had happened. There IS life beyond divorce, and it CAN include the Catholic church...even if the marriage isn't annulled.

    My point is, after talking with a priest and going to confession several times, the priest helped me see that while I had considered it to be vaild, it really wasn't. It took some serious psychological digging to get me to face up to the truth of the situation that had been.
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  • Calypso1977Calypso1977 member
    Knottie Warrior 2500 Comments 25 Love Its First Answer
    edited December 2011
    What would you do with a failed marriage that you really believed was valid?

    depending upon the circumstances, id either stay and offer it up, or i'd separate and/or get a civil divorce but not date or marry.

    i do beleive firmly that God knows what is in your heart and your intentions.  if i knew i entered taht marriage freely and willingly, and that it was indeed valid, i would not feel right seeing if i could "get away with" having an annulment.  even if the church grants my annulment, in my heart i would know that i skirted something, and God would know too.

    interestingly, i know 2 people who are in this very situation.  in both, they did not obtain annulments as they knew that it was not right to do so.  yet both ended up in LTR's (never living together, tho) although that technically isnt right either, but i think they felt it was since they never lived together or married, although i suspect they had alot of sleepovers.
  • mica178mica178 member
    5000 Comments Fourth Anniversary 5 Love Its
    edited December 2011
    I do know some devout Catholics who are divorced and never sought to annul and/or remarry because they feel that their marriage was valid and could not be dissolved.  To me, that sounds a bit lonely, but I have never heard any of them complain about their situation, so I respect the decisions they made.
  • edited December 2011
    There are many reasons for a marriage not to be valid, based on the capacity of both parties. I am far from a canonical expert, but from my layperson's point of view, his wife may be considered to have a latent psychological problem that impeded her ability to enter into a sacramental marriage. I think the grounds for mine was "grave lack of discretion of marital judgment on the part of the petitioner." (Me) I had untreated major depression at the time and horrible self-esteem, and the fact that that I married my husband even though he was an alcoholic who had already abused me several times, pretty much says it all about my judgment. In another case I know, the couple was married over 25 years, but a major factor was her OCD, which didn't manifest until after they had been married a year or two. By the time they got divorced, her OCD was out of control and a major hoarder. Linda
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