Am I really married?

Does the church recognize my marriage?

Me: Baptized in a Catholic church as a baby. Went to Catholic school until the 3rd grade where I made my first holy communion. Went to an alternative Catholic high school for 2 years.

Spouse: Wasn’t baptized and was an atheist at the time of marriage.

We got married by a justice of the peace.

The church would not consider your marriage valid because you did not marry according to cannon law or get a dispention to marry outside of the church. If neither you or your spouse have been previously married it should be easy for you to have your marraige convalidated by your priest.

As you were taught in Catholic School and by your godparents and priests and parents, Catholics are bound to follow the precepts of the Church.

One of those is to follow the Church law on marriage. You chose not to do this.

Stop having sexual relations until you can have your marriage regularized. Your Priest will help you begin pre-marriage counseling, get you to Confession and schedule your wedding in the Church.

Christ always welcomes back those who have walked away.

I was not taught about marriage by anyone Catholic at any time. I understand it was a choice but for the most part I was ignorant as opposed to being disobedient.

If I knew then what I know now…


It is astounding that one could go through all those years of Mass and Catholic Schools and having Catholic parents and never once hear a lesson on Marriage.

Just call up your Priest!

I halfway disagree with you. How much does this stuff sink in or make sense to someone that is between the ages of 6-9? I remember learning that marriage was a sacrament but that was it. I never remember learning the “whys”. As for high school the word alternative should be a big tip off. We were taught with Catholic values but not obligated to learn about Catholicism.

I would appreciate it if you could elaborate more on the no sex thing.

I also have another ? if the church does not recognize my marriage would they recognize a divorce? And of so why.

Most Catholic schools do NOT teach the faith properly both out of fear of creating controversy among the liberal and non-Catholic students as well as because many of the teachers were not taught and do not understand/believe much of the churches teachings and hence cannot pass down what they do not have. This is why they graze over most of the concepts and try to give a feel good version of Catholicism. It means that parents, who in many cases do not understand the faith and do not pass it down even if they do, and the students themselves are the ones that teach the faith and the ones that actually do this are the ones that are stronger in the faith. Some private schools do a good job at teaching this as well but good teaching in school must follow up with reinforcement at home.

Catholic are in general poorly catechized. Most sermons by priests at mass are poor at best. It should come as no surprise that many Catholics leave and do not understand the faith.

Sex outside of a valid marriage is sin. The gravity of that sin (if it is mortal or venial) depends on the other conditions for mortal sin, your Priest will help you with that.

When one is not validly married, one is not to have sex. The term “live as brother and sister” is commonly used.

Should one in an invalid legal marriage file for a civil divorce, the Catholic party would simply fill out the “Defect Of Form” paperwork with the Diocese in order to be free to marry. This shows your legal marriage was not valid due to lack of form.

So, recognizing the civil legal document called a decree of divorce and your legal freedom to marry, yes - I mean, the Church knows that the state issues marriage licenses and recognizes their right to do so. Canonically you’d just fill out some paperwork to register that legal stuff.


Peace and all good!!

Personally I think that marriage education from 6-9 would be more out of place :slight_smile:

In the Catholic Church marriage is a unique sacrament in that it is the husband and wife which complete the Sacrament with God. The Priest or Deacon are only there as a witness.

Since your marriage was outside the church and you were Catholic by virtue of Baptism you are civilly married but in the eyes of the Church not. This can be resolved by having your marriage blessed by your Priest. You can have another wedding if you prefer but it is not necessary.

Since a marriage is a sacrament you can not undo it, this is why we do not believe in divorce. You can be civilly divorced as a Catholic but before someone were to remarry it would have to be annulled.

The other persons comments on the “sex thing” was that Catholics do not believe in premarital sex and since your marriage is outside the Church as Church it is seen as sin.

Personally I suggest just talking to your Priest about it. I am not going to be the one to sit on a podium and say not to have sex with your civilly married wife. I carry WAY to many sins to tell anybody to do anything. “Let whoever is without sin cast the first stone”.


According to the Catholic Church, you are committing fornication every time you have relations with your partner, because you are not considered married.

You can fix this in either of two ways: (1) by getting your marriage convalidated in the Church, or (2) by separating from your spouse and getting a civil divorce.

I just received a parish bulletin from a friend’s parish and they are reporting collections are down by half because Mass attendance is way down.

I’ll try to find it on line and post it on a new thread.

But if so few Catholics don’t go to Mass [and catechesis is poor anyway], then the overall state of American Catholicism is pretty terribly poor.

Actually, I don’t find it that astounding. I was in Catholic School for K-12th Grades, and I learned A LOT, but I don’t remember ever really being taught the specifics of Marriage. As a sacrament, I learned a lot about it, but they didn’t go into all of the laws about marrying a non-catholic, or an un-baptized person, etc. I did however understand that one should of course be married in the Church though.

Now Peanutty, the best advice is to go to your local Priest and talk to him. You are not completely to blame, I believe, especially if you were never properly taught this. A lot of Catholics are unfortunately poorly Catechized. In fact converts and people coming from RCIA are Catechized better than most “cradle” Catholics! I believe the fact you are posting here is a good sign that Jesus is calling out to you and you are starting to respond.
You and your spouse will be in my prayers.
God Bless you,

Thank you everyone for taking the time to respond. :blessyou:

My husband spoke to 2 different priests and neither one mentioned no sex until we married in the Church. Could this be because he’s now a Catholic in good standing?

No, it’s because Catholicism in the real world is very different than Catholicism as portrayed on this forum. The cold, hard fact is that the vast majority of actual Catholic priests don’t think it is realistic to expect a couple that has been living as man and wife to suddenly stop having relations for several years just because they found out they had broken some Catholic rule they didn’t know about. The point is to get your marriage right before God, not to cause such stress and strain on it that it breaks up before the annulment is even filed.

The people who brought your husband into the church dropped the ball on the marriage question. This should have been taken care of then. You do not appear to have a valid marriage. Make an appointment with your priest to have rectify this. You will need a con validation if you wish to continue living as if married to each other.

To address something earlier - the church doesn’t believe in divorce as a moral solution per se but it recognized it as a legal function.

Sadly, many priests are not fully aware of the power of the grace of God. If the couple were to follow this advice they would be greatly blessed for their obedience.

Some priests prefer to look the other way and not get involved with what seems difficult. They are not clearly proclaiming what they should.

I personally have no idea what the majority of actual Catholic priests think and I find it interesting that you do, but as a Catholic, I would hope that the majority of priests actually adhere to the teachings of the Catholic Church and lead their parishioners accordingly. The teachings of the Church are that a couple who are in an invalid marriage but who are living as man and wife are living in mortal sin and should stop doing so, go to confession and have their marriage convalidated. With what has been revealed here, it appears that that process should not take several years at all.

Peanutty, the teachings of the Church indicate that you should stop having relations until you are validly married in the Church. Please seek the guidance of your priest immediately to make arrangments to go to confession, have your marriage convalidated and resume life in a valid Catholic marriage.

If you want to find out more about how Catholicism is actually practiced in the real world, I recommend that you read the Complete Idiot’s Guide to Understanding Catholicism. It is very informative in this regard.

I live in the real world and I do the best I can practicing real Catholicism, thanks. But, may I suggest that, if you are a Catholic, you refer to an actual Catholic guide yourself, the Catechism of the Catholic Church, instead of the book you suggested?

I’m curious why you even mentioned an annulment? Perhaps I misunderstand, but I think the OP just wants to know if the Catholic Church recognizes his/her civil marriage. An annulment is a formal declaration by the Church after investigation that a marriage never occurred. It doesn’t appear that that is what the OP wants.

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