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Okay, I have to ask

There have been a lot of posts about annulments lately and this is bothering me. Can someone please explain to me why annulments are good? Everyone on this board seems to be 110% supportive of annulments and congradulates people on annulments and that is not something I understand.

I understand how in certain circumstances they make sense, but I was raised to believe annulments are horrible. Even my very Catholic grandma, thinks it's better to get a divorce and not be able to take communion than to say that the marriage never happened. And this is the woman that convinced my grandpa (who can't hear the sermons anymore) that he needs to keep going to church because you go to get the sacrament.

My parents divorced when I was young and both are remarried. While, from what I've heard, they would have been granted an annulment, neither of them ever wanted that. My mom married for life, and although she is happily remarried, a part of her still loves my dad because she married for life. And you can't just say those 12 years of her life didn't happen.

My mom also knows someone who got a call saying her marriage had been annulled. Just that. Even though it was her marriage, they wouldn't tell her the reason her marriage was invalid. You may say she can now be happy and have a valid marriage like her ex-husband, but she doesn't want to. That first marriage was 100% valid in her eyes, so she can't remarry, even if the church says she can.

I think what really bothers me is that until yesterday, I had never heard of someone seeking an annulment that didn't get one. That is much too high a percentage of invalid marriages for me. I was raised to believe that when you marry, you actually get married and no one can take that away from you. That's why you don't get married on a whim and you do pre-marital counseling, because marriage is for life and it isn't easy to break. When you marry someone and consumate the marriage, you become one flesh. You can't invalidate that.

I don't want to make any of the women on this board who have gotten annulments feel bad or like I'm judging them. I don't know your situation. And I understand for some people it's very important to get remarried in the church. I just would like to prehaps hear the way annulments were described to other people, and why you think they are good. However, I don't want to hear, "Well, the church doesn't invalidate marriages unless they are invalid." I've seen that a lot but it isn't enough for me because I personally don't believe a marriage can be invalid unless one or both of the parties was unable to give consent, and I've seen marriages annulled when both people were fully capable of giving consent.
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Re: Okay, I have to ask

  • I think you're asking some great, but hard, questions.

    But first of all, be careful in assuming that "everyone" is 110% supportive of annulments. For example, if someone posts, "Yay! I got an annulment!" Do you think that the people who have similar thoughts to yours, ("Well, that's nice that you can now get remarried in the Church, but wasn't your first marriage 'for life'?") are going to post that on that thread? Um, no. Even if people think that, they'll still just post the first part, ("Congrats! You can get married in the Church!") so as not to offend! So, be careful about assuming what people actually think. Keep in mind, this is a wedding board, so we *try*, as much as we morally can, to be excited and happy about everyone's weddings! For me personally, if the CHURCH has said their previous marriage was invalid, that's enough for me, and I'm certainly not going to dwell (on this board at least,) on whether that was a just ruling.

    Personally, I think that annulments are given out too frequently, as it sounds like you have observed. However, many people think they aren't given out frequently enough! It could be said (I cant remember if I read this recently on this board, or heard it somewhere else,) that just about anyone *could* get an annulment for something like properly understanding what marriage is or being emotionally capable to make that committment-- because who really DOES understand, or IS prepared?! So, yes, perhaps there are some "loopholes" there. 

    And yes, maybe it seems like there is a quite high percentage of people who get annulments, but keep in mind that many people who have no "proof" are going to be told in the initial screening process (like with their priest) that they shouldn't even bother.

    So why are annulments good? I think they're good and they're not good. The way I look at it in this regards is *kind of* similar to divorce... like when someone gets divorced it's bittersweet- "yay you're free from this person!" But also sad b/c the marriage is over. So I personally certainly don't think annulments are 100% wonderful. It's really sad b/c like you're saying, it's the ruling that all those years of supposed "marriage" actually weren't marriage. (It's not that they were a lie- it's that it was just the mistaken apperance of a marriage. It can't be a lie b/c at the time everyone believed it were true. A lie occurs only when someone is intentionally lying!) But it's happy b/c now the person is free to go on with their life and marry someone else- and of course, like I said above, that's what we tend to focus on on this board becaue it's a wedding board! :-)

    Anyhow, I don't think I'm explaining that very well. I'm sure others will chime in. I've had similar questions in the past as you're asking, and what helped me was to ask a priest about it- a good, holy priest, who of course believes that marriage is for life, and yet he has the perspective of seeing people who are trying to get annulments, and he understands the human element, and the fragility of human relationships and human emotions.
    Anniversary
  • I agree with Lalaith and think she gave a pretty good answer to a really difficult question.

    I would add that a part of me gets irritated with annulments because even though the marriage may be shown to be invalid (for whatever reason), that's not WHY the couple split up.

    It's not like one day the couple realized, "hey, I think our marriage is invalid, we never really consented to this, we should get it annuled."  No, instead, the couple wants a divorce because they don't love each other, or they fight a lot, or one cheated on the other, or they have money problems, etc... and in the cases where annulments are granted, it just so happens that now they are free from this marriage that was a burden to them now. 

    You never hear of a couple who finds out their marriage wasn't valid, then tries to amend that and make their marriage valid.  I think it would be a better solution in some instances where the couple is having problems to see if the marriage was valid, and if it wasn't work on that.  Work on their relationship until they can make a valid commitment, get married properly, and receive the graces of the sacrament. 

    A couple married invalidly isn't receiving the graces of the sacrament of marriage, but if they were, then they might be strengthened more to solve their problems better.  It would require sacrifice, but isn't that what we're called to?

    My point of all this is that there are cases in which annulments are necessary, and even a "good" thing.  Someone in an abusive relationship, for example, if they can receive an annulment and move on to a healthier relationship, should. 

    But for many, I think, annulments are treated just as loophole divorces.  I think it would be better if more people tried to heal and validate the marriage, not end it.

    It also should be said that annulments do not fall under infallbility.  It's possile for the Church to be wrong.  BUT, I think in most cases, the men and women on annulment tribunals try really hard and make correct decisions, so I think we should give the Church the benefit of the doubt on annulments and not make any judgments of "well, I think that one was wrong, etc."

    I will also say that even though annulments are not the ideal solution, it is much better for someone to receive one and be able to live in grace with God than to remarry without one and be cut off from the sacraments.  It is never preferable to live in sin.

    I'm saddened by how many remarried Catholics I know who have left the Church now because they can't receive the sacraments.

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  • [QUOTE] I would add that a part of me gets irritated with annulments because even though the marriage may be shown to be invalid (for whatever reason), that's not WHY the couple split up. Posted by monkeysip[/QUOTE] Yes, but I think the idea is that their incapability of entering into marriage is likely what contributed to, or even caused, these problems down the road which become visible.
    [QUOTE]  You never hear of a couple who finds out their marriage wasn't valid, then tries to amend that and make their marriage valid.  I think it would be a better solution in some instances where the couple is having problems to see if the marriage was valid, and if it wasn't work on that.  Work on their relationship until they can make a valid commitment, get married properly, and receive the graces of the sacrament.  A couple married invalidly isn't receiving the graces of the sacrament of marriage, but if they were, then they might be strengthened more to solve their problems better.  It would require sacrifice, but isn't that what we're called to?Posted by monkeysip[/QUOTE]  I think that would be GREAT if someone would do that, and I am sure that no one in the Catholic Church would complain if that's what someone wanted to do that! (but to me, the thought of someone actually trying to do that seems so far-out that it's actually amusing. unfortunately. sigh.)Or better yet, what if people who weren't granted annulments were like, "hm, our marriage was actually valid, according to the CC. Maybe that's a sign that we should try extra hard to work and see if we can repair it?" (Obviously, that wouldnt be possible in every single case, but it's worth thinking about.)
    Anniversary
  • As someone who was recently granted an annulment, I can tell you that no part of this has been easy. I didn't choose for my marriage to end in divorce. But it did. However, I can fully and freely say that I would never have married at all if not for the certain circumstances of my life at that time, and I can honestly say that at the ceremony, I was thinking that this is the right step to take- for now. I did not enter into marriage believing it to be for life. And that is fully on me. I should never have married not believing it, but I did anyway. That said, once in it, I gave it my all and tried my best to make it work. It didn't. He cheated, got her pregnant, and filed for divorce. I fought, but it still happened. Afterward, when I was lucky enough to find real, full love, I knew I wanted it to be a lifelong marriage and would go through anything to make it so.

    I had counseling, both spiritually and psychologically, to make sure I really knew and understood what I was wanting to commit to. I hadn't intended to seek an annulment until my priest suggested it. When I got all the paperwork to fill out, it was really gut-wrenching to have to own up to my mistakes and ultimate fraud from the very beginning. I felt terrible and prayed a lot for forgiveness.

    There are several reasons a marriage can be annuled. My particular case qualified for 3 different reasons. By the end, it was affirmed as annuled for only 1 reason. So, they do really go through all the paperwork, and all the testimony to try to make the best case for it being valid.

    At every step of the way, my ex was informed of the process. It's required. And at any time, he could have argued against it and made his case. He did not. I don't know that the outcome would have been different if he had, but I can easily see how it would effect other cases. Had he wanted, he could have appealed the case all the way to Rome. That's how much they care about both sides having a say and fighting for the validity of the marriage.

    At the end, I can say that as painful as it was for me to go through, it was also very enlightening and freeing. I saw and learned so much about myself. I know what not to do. I sought forgiveness, and feel like maybe one day, I will be. I am so tremendously grateful for this second chance and I feel like I've grown so much closer to the Church as a result of this process. And I'm so happy that we can receive the sacraments together when Fi and I get married this October.

    I know that doesn't make a case for all annulments, but I hope it lets you see a little bit that it can be done for pure and true purposes and not false ones. There was no lie, at least, in any of mine.
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    Ovarian cyst lapro: '01, '04, '09 Conal biopsy: '01- results negative Dilation: '03 for cervical scarring Pcos test: '05, FSH and LH normal Mirena removed July '12 My Ovulation Chart
  • First off, someone who gets a divorce can still receive communion if they confess any serious sins (sometimes there are some involved with the divorcing situation). Living separated from a spouse is NOT sinful in of itself. No need to stay away from communion. 

    2nd--- Id like to see the sources for the opinion that there are too many annulments given...

     There are more annulments because there are more divorces. There are plenty of people who start the process of annulment and don't continue because they are told they don't have grounds, so its stopped right there. Many of the annulment cases are of people from protestant backgrounds wanting to marry a catholic. So, only the cases that have a good grounds even get to the tribunal court. Even then, some are denied. 

    3rd--- if someone believes their first marriage is valid, why on earth are they "civilly married" to someone else? That is blatantly commiting adultery. Just because there is an annulment doesn't mean you don't love the person, either. 

    4th- an annulment doesn't say 12 years didn't happen. An annulment says at the time of the vows there was an impediment to a valid marriage taking place. 

    The fact that there are a lot of annulments today is a symptom of a bigger problem-- bad marriage prep, bad catechesis and formation growing up, bad examples of marriage in lives growing up, broken families, lack of religious practice, a contraceptive mindset, a culture of death mindset, and a completely ridiculous understanding of what commitment actually is. (I can see this week after week by the no-shows on the lector, extraordinary ministers, and server list). People don't even keep a commitment to basic voluntary activities.

     
  • I got an annulment from my exH after the divorce & custody legalities were completed.  I really wanted a "clean slate" (other than, of course, my daughter)

    I didn't get an annulment because I wanted to remarry just then, quite the opposite in fact.

    Counseling helped me to realize that my divorce didn't mean that I was a failure, it meant there was a mistake there all along.  And the Church agreed.
  • I consider that the Church has the annulment process as a statement on her part of the incredible value and importance of marriage, especially in recognizing the courthouse wedding my non-Catholic DH had when he was young (and almost any civil or religious marriage ceremony).  Most of us would agree that the Catholic Church is one of the foremost defenders of the sanctity of marriage, so the annulment process is hardly taken lightly.  When DH went through it, someone was appointed specifically to defend the marriage bond, and two tribunals had to consider the marriage invalid.  His first marriage included deception about a significant mental illness as well as abuse and threats to his life.  From what he’s shared with me—and we walked through his whole annulment process together—I don’t think God would want anyone to be in that constant emotional turmoil and physical danger.  The Church’s annulment meant that he could form a marriage bond with me that better reflects the sanctity of God’s plan for a husband and wife.  That is a beautiful opportunity.

    "Do not fear, for I have redeemed you; I have called you by name; you are Mine!" (Isaiah 43:1)
  • ChloeaghChloeagh member
    100 Comments Second Anniversary 25 Love Its Name Dropper
    edited August 2012
    Thank you for the thorough answers. I'm sorry if I offended anyone who has gotten an annulment. That was not my intention and I'm sure it was a difficult process. I do understand that for some people, it presents a beautiful opportunity to marry within the church.

    Not only was I raised with a negative view towards annulments, but before coming here, the only stories I had heard were similar to my mom's friend, who was not involved, so she couldn't fight it. She wasn't even told why her marriage was invalid when she asked. Was that just a bad bishop?

    Also, what makes a marriage invalid? Maybe if I understood why a marriage can be invalid I would understand annulments better. I was always under the impression that if you were both capable of consent (sober, of age, and not being forced) and the marriage was consumated, it was valid. I also find it hard to understand how you can become one flesh with someone, then have that connection called invalid. Any views on that would be appreciated.
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  • Consumation doesn't make a marriage valid. The marriage is presumed valid at the vows. Consumation makes a sacramental marrige indisoluable.

    In order for a marriage to be valid, it has to have 4 components: be free, total, faithful, and fruitful, and not have any other impediments. (such as being related, or having a previous marriage, etc). 

    A permanent intention against children is grounds for annulment. If someone has a serious mental illness they probably don't have complete freedom in their consent. Being forced into marriage is not exclusive to the typical "shotgun" wedding idea. Cohabitation often plays a role in lessening freedom of the will. Some people don't have an intention of being faithful. Some people hide parts of themselves from the other. 
  • When you hear these stories, you are only hearing one side, often removed from the actual person involved, and they almost always do not include all of the complete information. I can't tell you how many people begin applying for annulments that have such a misunderstanding, all because of "someone they know once had this happen" when it didn't even happen that way. 

    The fact is, every person has a right to give testimony to an investigation of their own marriage. They have a right to review the testimony. There already is a person designated to be "Defender of the bond". 

    There is also such a thing as civil annulments that has nothing to do with the church. 
  • In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask:
    [QUOTE]When you hear these stories, you are only hearing one side, often removed from the actual person involved, and they almost always do not include all of the complete information.
    Posted by agapecarrie[/QUOTE]
    I'm confused by this statement. I heard these stories directly from the people they happened to. In the situation I'm asking about, the woman directly told me, "I asked why my marriage was invalid and they told me that was classified information." That is not removed from the person involved and even if I didn't get all the information, that part is complete enough for me to side-eye the whole situation and the bishop involved.
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  • At ever juncture, this "woman" you speak of should have been notified of the process: when it began, the supposed reasons for nullity, the option for contributing testimony, the option of supplying their own witnesses, the option to oppose the reasons for nullity, the option to oppose the decision rendered in the first instance, the option to oppose in the second instance, and the option to appeal to the Roman Rota. If none if this happened, then she has significant grounds to have the annulment ruling reversed with her own separate appeal.
    Typically, all communications are made in writing and require a written response. If she didn't contact them in a written statement, that may be why she was denied access to the case file. If she was never contacted in any of this, then all the diocesan members involved are at fault.
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    Ovarian cyst lapro: '01, '04, '09 Conal biopsy: '01- results negative Dilation: '03 for cervical scarring Pcos test: '05, FSH and LH normal Mirena removed July '12 My Ovulation Chart
  • In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask:
    [QUOTE]At ever juncture, this "woman" you speak of should have been notified of the process: when it began, the supposed reasons for nullity, the option for contributing testimony, the option of supplying their own witnesses, the option to oppose the reasons for nullity, the option to oppose the decision rendered in the first instance, the option to oppose in the second instance, and the option to appeal to the Roman Rota. If none if this happened, then she has significant grounds to have the annulment ruling reversed with her own separate appeal. Typically, all communications are made in writing and require a written response. If she didn't contact them in a written statement, that may be why she was denied access to the case file. If she was never contacted in any of this, then all the diocesan members involved are at fault.
    Posted by lv2011[/QUOTE]
    Why is woman in quotations? Do you think I'm making this up?
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  • [QUOTE] 2nd--- Id like to see the sources for the opinion that there are too many annulments given... 
    Posted by agapecarrie[/QUOTE]
    Um... why would you need to see sources? That's just an opinion I happened to express and I've heard others express. Opinions don't have to be backed up by anything - that's why they're opinions, and I certainly have no desire to argue it or even discuss it here.
    And Chloeagh, I doubt she meant anything by putting it in quotes. She probably just did that to emphasis (or something) who she was talking about.
    Anniversary
  • Agape, I think when you hear about celebrities receiving annulments for their 48-hour weddings, it's easy to assume that there are a ton of annulments just handed out to anyone who wants one.  I know that's not the case, and I know most of these "annulments" are not Catholic.  That goes back to your comment that the problems associated with annulments are much, much bigger than people just getting married who should not.
    Anniversary

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  • In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask:
    [QUOTE]Um... why would you need to see sources? That's just an opinion I happened to express and I've heard others express. Opinions don't have to be backed up by anything - that's why they're opinions, and I certainly have no desire to argue it or even discuss it here. And Chloeagh, I doubt she meant anything by putting it in quotes. She probably just did that to emphasis (or something) who she was talking about.
    Posted by lalaith50[/QUOTE]

    I actually was responding to the original poster.
    Opinions are usually based on "something". How many people have an opinion on the catholic church when the idea is actually based on something they heard, and its not actually true. We already see in several threads here there are many misunderstandings on what an annulment actually is. I was asking for where  My question is about where they got the idea to begin with? It's a fair question, especially when they are making such judgements that its "too high a percentage" that are granted, when they have no access to the tribunal courts judgements or how they came about. 
  • In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask:
    [QUOTE]Agape, I think when you hear about celebrities receiving annulments for their 48-hour weddings, it's easy to assume that there are a ton of annulments just handed out to anyone who wants one.  I know that's not the case, and I know most of these "annulments" are not Catholic.  That goes back to your comment that the problems associated with annulments are much, much bigger than people just getting married who should not.
    Posted by professorscience[/QUOTE]

    yes, that's why I also threw in that point about the existence of civil annulments. Lots of opnions being made without really a lot of background accept anecdotal stories of people they know. 
  • I just saw this posted by someone on the forums of a catholic site I peruse...this is a good start.

    http://www.cuf.org/Faithfacts/details_view.asp?ffID=12
  • In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask : Why is woman in quotations? Do you think I'm making this up?
    Posted by Chloeagh[/QUOTE]

    Of course not. That's a ridiculous assumption. I used quotations so you'd know I was referring to the same woman you were, since there was no name to capitalize and reference.
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    Ovarian cyst lapro: '01, '04, '09 Conal biopsy: '01- results negative Dilation: '03 for cervical scarring Pcos test: '05, FSH and LH normal Mirena removed July '12 My Ovulation Chart
  • In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask:
    [QUOTE]In Response to Re: Okay, I have to ask : yes, that's why I also threw in that point about the existence of civil annulments. Lots of opnions being made without really a lot of background accept anecdotal stories of people they know. 
    Posted by agapecarrie[/QUOTE]

    I saw where you mentioned that.  It's not the church's fault, really, that this misconception exists, but it still exists.
    Anniversary

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  • I didn't read the posts responding to the OP post, but wanted to share my thoughts before re-thinking after reading others views! 

    I agree it would be very awkward and weird for me if I were to be maried for many years, had kids, and then suddenly one day agreed my marriage never existed just for the sake of staying in "good faith" with the Church, or being able to remarry (I put good faith in quotations because I've heard people use that as reasoning for annulments, but I believe the Church will forgive if you confess divorce as a sin, no?). I have an Uncle who annuled his marriage of three months. Almost immediatey after they married, she decided she really didn't want to be married, live with him or ever have kids. She went out every night with her friends and rarely was home. He was devastated and felt deceived. I think that is one situation where I agree with annulments.

    I've only been married for 5 weeks now, and I think if my husband were to tell me,"I lied to you, I never want to have kids." I would definitely seek an annulment because having a family is something very important to me, and a topic we both have discussed at length that was the reason we wanted to marry in the first place.


    ~ES~
  • I would think that just because one person views his or her marriage as valid, it doesn't mean that the spouse does.  I know of a case where a woman fell in love and married a man; he married her for her family money, they had children, and then he left her for a man.  In no way was that marriage ever valid even though she truly thought that it was.  I think that anulments are important for that very reason--relationships that cannot ever be fixed.  It's sad when they happen, just as divorce is, but they are sometimes necessary.
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  • Lalaith, I totally know what you mean about annulments being given too easily.  I have felt that way in the past!  I've changed my perspective slightly, though.  I'm more in an "I don't know" state than having completely changed my mind.  I think it's really hard, in our society, to enter in to marriage 100% sure you'll never get divorced.  We all know of good, Catholic people who ended up divorced, you know?  So it's getting to a point where people barely have the ability to enter into marriage without reservation, without conditions, etc.  There's this "I will love you unless..." attitude in our culture that is a real problem!

     

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