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  #1  
Old Oct 1, '10, 2:43 pm
Luke K Luke K is offline
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Default Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

I was talking to a non-Catholic the other day and he said that divorce should be allowed in case you realize that the person you're with is not right for you/it doesn't work out. He gave the example that he was once engaged to a girl but then left the relationship because it wasn't going to work. He said that there wasn't a difference between agreeing with someone that you'll marry them and breaking it off and marrying them and divorcing. You lie both ways and leave the relationship for the same reason, despite committing yourself to the other person.

I said that an engagement isn't a solemn vow like marriage, and that Catholics don't hold marriage to be indissoluble until it's consummated. But I do understand his point, that you're not letting your "yes" mean yes in both cases.

So can someone explain to me why breaking off an engagement is not prohibited like divorce is?
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  #2  
Old Oct 1, '10, 2:48 pm
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DexUK DexUK is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Because the engagement is a commitment to seriously prepare for marriage - which includes the marriage preparation classes run by the Church. Having gone beyond the point of casual dating and begun seriously considering committing oneself to another for the rest of your life it is then that you should really take stock of what it is that you're hoping to do and really examine your relationship with the other person.

If that examination reveals that actually you're not going to have a successful marriage, then it is only right to call it off before making a vow before God to stay together.

Remember, it should be that nothing conjugal has taken place - and, indeed, this is a good reason why conjugal acts should be reserved for marriage alone, since they represent, in a spiritual and physical sense, a joining of two people which can never be undone. Without that joining, there is no shame or sin in the couple deciding that they aren't, after all, that right for each other after all.
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  #3  
Old Oct 1, '10, 3:04 pm
DebChris DebChris is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

With an engagement, the man and woman have agreed to marry one another. Their relationship is exclusive as they discern their life together.
Unlike a marriage, they have not cemented their promises by vows before the Lord. They have not bestowed the Sacrament of Matrimony on one another.
In the past, bans were read at each of the Masses for the three weeks prior to a couple's wedding. It is during this time that any impediments to the marriage are to be brought before the Church. I am glad to see this practice of reading the bans maintained in my current parish.
It is far better to decide before the wedding that you are not meant to spend the remaining days of your lives together than to marry and divorce. Solemn vows have not been proclaimed. One of the purposes of marriages is procreation. Divorce affects every member of the family, most especially the children born from the union.
As Catholics, we are called to chastity until marriage, even if not always adhered to, and celibacy throughout life.
Marriage is a lifelong commitment and it is better to walk off the altar than to divorce and break the vows we made before the Lord.
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  #4  
Old Oct 1, '10, 3:33 pm
ironband ironband is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

No. A marraige is a covenant resulting from vows (promises).

An engagement, on the other hand, is something that results from a proposal.

I can propose to buy your car for $5000, but until I give you the money and you sign the title over to me, it isn't my car, and I can back out of the deal.

Likewise, I can propose marriage to a young lady, but until we meet the requirements of both the Church and state, say "I do" before witnesses, and sign on the dotted line, we aren't married.

All analogies break down, and marriage is clearly not the same as buying a car...but you know what I mean...Bottom line is just because two people agree on a proposal doesn't make it binding.
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  #5  
Old Oct 1, '10, 4:28 pm
seanflynn seanflynn is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Quote:
All analogies break down, and marriage is clearly not the same as buying a car...but you know what I mean...Bottom line is just because two people agree on a proposal doesn't make it binding.
I've been led to believe that marriage is more like buying a cow.
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  #6  
Old Oct 1, '10, 4:38 pm
seanflynn seanflynn is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Quote:
I was talking to a non-Catholic the other day and he said that divorce should be allowed in case you realize that the person you're with is not right for you/it doesn't work out.
What does "not right for you" mean? What is "not working out?" Is it simply prefering to end the relationship than work to heal it? Wouldn't it work out if the couple worked it out?

Best statement I've heard on this matter: A good marriage isn't about finding the right person, it's about being the right person.

Marriage is sacrificial love. Love is a choice Ephesians 5, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her," makes me wonder if Jesus thought the cross that he was with was right for him/worked out.
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  #7  
Old Oct 1, '10, 4:48 pm
Bluegoat Bluegoat is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Since marriage is understood by the CC to be a sacramet, an objective change has been made in the people who have been married - a change which cannot be undone.

THis is not true of an engagement, which is a mutual agreement, but there is no indissoluble change in the nature of the people which means it is impossible to back out.

Since being engaged is quite serious, people ought to do some soul searching before they enter that state; and if they have done so breaking it off would also involve, one imagines, serious reasons. But does anyone seriously think that it would be a good idea to carry on when serious reasons not to have been discovered? And if it has been entered into foolishly, that is perhaps an even better reason to break it off; in that case it was the entering into the engagement that was the bad action.

There was a time that breaking an engagement was considered very serious indeed, and the engagement was almost akin to what we would call the marriage vows - but that isn't how it is understood now. Some people seem to use the term to indicate vague plans to marry at some unspecified future time.
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  #8  
Old Oct 1, '10, 11:48 pm
DebChris DebChris is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Quote:
Originally Posted by Bluegoat View Post
Since marriage is understood by the CC to be a Sacaramet, an objective change has been made in the people who have been married - a change which cannot be undone.

THis is not true of an engagement, which is a mutual agreement, but there is no indissoluble change in the nature of the people which means it is impossible to back out.

Since being engaged is quite serious, people ought to do some soul searching before they enter that state; and if they have done so breaking it off would also involve, one imagines, serious reasons. But does anyone seriously think that it would be a good idea to carry on when serious reasons not to have been discovered? And if it has been entered into foolishly, that is perhaps an even better reason to break it off; in that case it was the entering into the engagement that was the bad action.

There was a time that breaking an engagement was considered very serious indeed, and the engagement was almost akin to what we would call the marriage vows - but that isn't how it is understood now. Some people seem to use the term to indicate vague plans to marry at some unspecified future time.
Joseph and Mary were betrothed (engaged) when he discovered her pregnancy. His plans were to divorce (break the engagement) quietly. In his dream, God told him,"Do not be afraid to take Mary as your wife."
While many now have long engagements, I had been taught that it was better to know a person a long time before becoming engaged, and that the engagement itself should last a maximum of 6 months. Entering marriage is a very serious decision indeed.
The Catholic Church requires a minimum one month engagement in order to allow the reading of the bans. Some parishes require longer (six months to one year) in order to schedule the wedding Mass. Engaged couples are also required to go through pre-Cana instruction in the same way that all Catholics receive instruction before receiving any Sacrament. Couples are interviewed separately and together and the Sacrament of Reconciliation received before the wedding. Other people important in a person's life may also be interviewed.
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  #9  
Old Oct 2, '10, 5:21 am
PatriceA PatriceA is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanflynn View Post
What does "not right for you" mean? What is "not working out?" Is it simply prefering to end the relationship than work to heal it? Wouldn't it work out if the couple worked it out?

Best statement I've heard on this matter: A good marriage isn't about finding the right person, it's about being the right person.

Marriage is sacrificial love. Love is a choice Ephesians 5, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her," makes me wonder if Jesus thought the cross that he was with was right for him/worked out.
I take it you've never been in a situation where you realized that things are just not going to work, no matter how much you love the other person or no matter how much you try to be the right person. One can prepare and discern that getting engaged is the next best thing to happen in a relationship, and still have serious concerns that may only be revealed after the engagement. Sometimes these concerns are only discovered while going through pre-cana counseling. Sometimes a priest will recommend that a couple not get married after meeting with them. Until you have been in the situation that you realize the person you thought you were going to spend the rest of your life with is not going to work out, don't be so quick to judge other people that have been there and made the very difficult decision to break off the engagement. At least those people can look at the situation realistically and break it off, some couples will have every red flag shoved in their face and still proceed with the marriage and end up being another divorce statistic.
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  #10  
Old Oct 2, '10, 9:53 am
Luke K Luke K is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Quote:
Originally Posted by seanflynn View Post
What does "not right for you" mean? What is "not working out?" Is it simply prefering to end the relationship than work to heal it? Wouldn't it work out if the couple worked it out?

Best statement I've heard on this matter: A good marriage isn't about finding the right person, it's about being the right person.

Marriage is sacrificial love. Love is a choice Ephesians 5, "Husbands, love your wives, just as Christ loved the Church and gave himself up for her," makes me wonder if Jesus thought the cross that he was with was right for him/worked out.
I agree with your distaste for the notion of breaking off a relationship rather than working it out. But also realize that even God can't make some relationships work out. Look at Jesus and Judas. Tons of people reject a good relationship with God and go to hell. People have free will and if they refuse to work on a relationship even if you're willing to, there's nothing you can do about it.
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  #11  
Old Oct 3, '10, 6:12 pm
EvelynEVF EvelynEVF is offline
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Default Re: Is breaking off an engagement akin to divorce?

Sometimes you realize it just isn't right, that this isn't the person you want to make vows to. It's no more wrong for a person to end an engagement than it would be for a postulant or a novice to leave a religious community before taking permanent solemn vows. Those trial periods are there for a reason, and sometimes you don't have everything you need to know to discern properly, until you're in very deeply.
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