Abusive Marriage?

I married over 20 years ago. We were both protestants and have since become Catholic. My husband has constantly lied to me over important issues, hidden things from me and mentally/verbally abused me. I had hoped he would change when we converted. Now I wish that I had divorced him before I became a Catholic. He has kept me in the dark over important financial situations and lied to others about me to keep me from finding out. I’ve been in counseling and the counselor says I should leave.

I’m embarrassed to go to my Priest with this. Do I have a valid reason for leaving and perhaps seeking an annulment? Is this something I should continue to put up with?

If he physically abused me (the mental/verbal feels as painful, but he has not) I would leave. If I knew he had been unfaithful, but I don’t think so…

I am desperate and really need advice, answers, prayers…

thank youu

You have a lot of prayers here. I would highly recommend seeking a priest out on this.

Next, even if you would have divorced before becoming Catholic, if you were both baptised christian protestants and were married in a Christian church, your marriage may well still be valid.

An annulment looks at essential elements at the time the marriage took place.

I was in an invalid marriage at one time.

If you are in an abusive marriage as you speak of I would recommend separation, not divorce.

Again, I highly recommend swallowing what pride, guilt, fear you may have and see your priest, schedule some private time with him. It may do a world of good.

Don’t be afraid to go to your priest with this. Be honest and open about what your married life has been like. The Church would not want you to stay in a relationship that is harmful, either physically, emotionally, or spiritually.

Whether you divorce before or after becoming a Catholic really is not a consideration as far as the validity of your marriage. It is what your intentions and your husband’s intentions were at the time you exchanged your vows. Your priest can help you to better understand this.

To be a good Catholic you do not need to stay in an abusive situation. Take a look at this website put out by the USCCB:


There is absolutely no sin involved in leaving an abusive marriage. Don’t be afraid to speak to your priest about this.

Prayers for you. I hope you are able to find peace.

I have to clarify, that I recommended separation. There is no such thing as divorce in the Catholic church, however if you need to obtain a civil divorce to escape the abuse, then you are justified, however remember that the marriage within the church may still be valid.

Are you willing to live your life celibate and never be with anyone else the rest of your life?

I don’t know you, but this would mean you could still be married in the eyes of the church, however not legally with the government.

I will and already did say a prayer for you.

If the abusiveness and lying and other deceptive behavior is part of his whole history with you, you may be eligible for an annulment.

Talk to your priest. No one expects someone to stay in a marriage that threatens their safety or sanity.

Try counselling. You have to be able to say you tried everything.

Then try separation. Being alone is better than being abused. You can feel lonelier in a room with someone who treats you badly than you are in a house by yourself. There are some things worse than being alone.

Good luck. Prayers your way for wisdom. I always found that was the best thing to pray for.

It is my understanding that in the Catholic Church, a civil divorce must be obtained prior to an annulment, if an annulment is possible. It sounds as if this man may have had longstanding issues which may indeed prove to have been an impediment to a Christian marriage, and result in an annulment being granted.

Indeed, speaking with the priest, and obtaining a legal separation to safeguard your legal rights, are the first steps.

God bless you. You are in my prayers.

I was told that when I started my annulment from my ex that I needed a civil divorce before starting the annulment process.

I would highly recommend before divorcing that a priest should be spoken with before a divorce, a legal separation, in the case of abuse I would get that ASAP.

Try to save and heal the marriage first. Even if you had gotten a divorce before converting it doesn’t mean an anullment would follow.

Do talk to your priest. He may be helpful. Do consider counseling from a Catholic or Christian Counselor who believes in the permanency of marriage. Do consider www.retrouvaille.org

First of all abuse is abuse be it physical, emotional or verbal. The worst is emotional abuse that stays with you for a very long time.

Before you can think about divorce see what solutions you can have to the problem. Go and speak to a priest he can guide you in the right direction. You have nothing to be ashamed or embarrased about. It is not your fault that your husband is the way he his.

It will be very easy for me to say to you divorce your husband as I come from a physical and emotional abuse marriage and anyway my husband and I are not together anymore because he abandoned and deserted me and my two kids after 12 years of marriage. But that is not the point the point is that you need to decide what are you going to do about this situation you are in. Are you going to continue to allow him to treat you in the manner abuse is a serious thing and can lead to other things.

Go and see the priest let him guide you in the right direction and if you feel that this marriage is worth saving then save it. Go to the Retrouvaille weekend, go for counselling together not on your own because a marriage takes two people not one person only.

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