I join my best wishes and specific prayers for your great journey into the Catholic Church…and to work through the processes for annulment and regularizing your marriage. I offer the following respectfully, for you and your husband’s consideration.
First, you mentioned that “…we go to Mass whenever possible.”…I hope that is every Sunday/Holy Day of Obligation (specifically for your husband) and that the “whenever possible” is meant in an “above and beyond” this minimum but very firm Church Precept (there are only 5 precepts and this is the first and most important one).
** (Catechism of The Catholic Chruch–CCC–#2041-2043**)
II. THE PRECEPTS OF THE CHURCH
2041 The** precepts of the Church** are set in the context of a moral life bound to and nourished by liturgical life. The obligatory character of these positive laws decreed by the pastoral authorities is **meant to guarantee to the faithful the very necessary minimum in the spirit of prayer and moral effort, in the growth in love of God and neighbor: **
2042 The **first precept **(“You shall attend Mass on Sundays and holy days of obligation and rest from servile labor”) requires the faithful to sanctify the day commemorating the Resurrection of the Lord as well as the principal liturgical feasts honoring the mysteries of the Lord, the Blessed Virgin Mary, and the saints; in the first place, by participating in the Eucharistic celebration, in which the Christian community is gathered, and by resting from those works and activities which could impede such a sanctification of these days.82
Here is why…first it is a serious sin for any Catholic to miss Mass on Sunday/Holy Day of Obligation…not being able to receive Holy Communion is not an acceptable reason. Second…the reason that precept is so important is that even in a situation of not being able to receive Holy Communion (physically consume the Holy Eucharist)…the Church knows that Holy Mass sustains and strengthens your Catholic Faith…and most importantly…you can/and should always ask the Lord Jesus for spiritual communion with him…to come to you in his great love for you and your husband and especially your children…and for being obedient to His Church as you work through these spiritual processes.
Also, note that the other precepts (there are 5 total) only require reception of Holy Communion once per year in the Easter Season and Confession (Sacrament of Reconciliation) only once per year…these two important and great sacraments…vs…the precept for the Holy Mass…shows how important Sunday Mass/Holy Days Obligation are in the Church’s Wisdom.
Second…I recommend that you take a look at the Sacrament of Marriage section in the Catechism…the depth and profound understanding/view that the Catholic Church has of this incredible Sacrament…in beautifully stated…see CCC #1601-1666.
Third, from the Diocese of St. Cloud, Minnesota stcdio.org/annulment.htm …some good straightforward information on the** Declaration of Nullity (annulment)** Process…the “what’s and the why’s”…clearly stated (the link has a lot more information).
Once a marriage is entered into between any two persons, Catholic, Protestant, or non-Christian, it is presumed to be a valid and binding union until the contrary can be proven. And as long as a person is bound to a previous valid marriage, the Church does not permit a second marriage to take place. The Church has established certain procedures by which persons can attempt to prove that a previous marriage was not valid or binding, thereby assuring that they are free to marry according to the rites of the Church. This usually involves those persons who seek to marry in the Church, but have been previously married. However, others too may need the assistance of the Tribunal. For example, divorced Catholics may want to settle the status of a previous marriage that ended in divorce even though they have no immediate plans to remarry.[INDENT]1. What is a Declaration of Nullity (annulment)?
A declaration of nullity states that, according to Church law, a given marriage was not valid (and therefore not binding) at the time a couple spoke their marriage vows. A person asks this Office to look at a previous marriage which has ended in divorce, and, if possible, to issue a declaration that this previous marriage no longer binds either party to the union. In no way should this process be thought of as a type of “Catholic Divorce.” A declaration of nullity states that a marriage was invalid from the beginning. A civil divorce, on the other hand, asserts that a marriage, valid or not, is dissolved. The Catholic Church does not grant divorces.
[/INDENT]Fourth, FYI, your husband could receive Holy Communion well before you enter the Church or you get a decree of nullity on your first marriage and have your marriage regularized by the Church…buy essentially he would have to go to the Sacrament of Reconciliation and commit to living a Married life without conjugal relations.
Lastly, the wise advice of seeing your pastor to get his help and spiritual guidance is the bottom line…all my “stuff” herein is simply to share what (little) I know…to give you a “headstart” on thinking through the processes. Also, the Holy Spirit as stated by someone else is leading you…be docile…obedient and at peace…you will not be disappointed by the The Holy Spirit!