Annulment question

My wife will not convert to Catholicism. This fact is eating away at me and causing me to not want to be married to her. If we were to divorce, could I get an annulment. Even w/o an annulment, I think I would be happier than to remain married.

Decrees of Nullity are tricky…the Tribunal must determine that, at the time of your marriage, there was an important element missing, in that you or your wife were not capable of giving “full consent” to marriage as the Church sees it. Since you knew ahead of time your wife wasn’t Catholic, that shouldn’t factor as a reason. Others here will have much better, more thorough explanation of nullity.

I know she is frustrating you now, but continue to pray for your wife’s conversion. My sponsor’s husband was received into the Church after being married to a Catholic over 30 years. It takes time, but it can, and does, happen!

no you could not get an annulment unless you have reason to believe your marriage has been invalid since its inception. A Catholic can marry a non-Catholic with a dispensation, and there is never any requirement that the spouse become Catholic. If it is eating away at you this is something you should discuss with your spiritual director so he can help you focus on your own spiritual health and on real issues with your marriage. Also the tribunal will not even investigate your case unless the union has broken down irretreivably.

When you vowed to love her and be married to her forever, did you mean it?

If so, then the proper focus (IMHO) is on being the best husband you can be, regardless of her willingness to convert.

Was her conversion to Catholicism a condition you placed on your consent to marriage? What I’m trying to ask is, when you were married were your thoughts: "i only agree to marry you if you become a catholic"
If so, can anyone verify that?

Hmmm. Well, yes I did have full knowledge of her religion (Christian-Scientist) before marriage. In our pre-marriage class at my Catholic parish, we discussed her religion. We were asked to write down the one thing we would want the other person to do before marriage. I worte down, “convert to Catholicism”. That erupted into a huge scene with lots of tears from her. She then laughed during the blessing of the rings ceremony. She is not religious at all and is still a good person. But she will not convert ONLY because her mom will not convert for C-S. Her mom remarried when my wife was in grade school. She married a Catholic who never got an annulment??? So, because her mom did not convert, she didn’t convert. My wife gets propaganda C-S emails every day from her Grandma that ticks me off so much. I thought I could have converted her by now. How can I evangelize if I can’t even convert my own wife? I am miserable.

It sounds like you just want a divorce.

But if you truly mean to try to stick it out, as you vowed, then you need to realized that you cannot convert her. That’s something she’ll have to do. You can only be the best Catholic you can be and by your example, maybe she will see the light and choose to convert and of course, pray, pray, pray for God to touch her heart.

I do pray everday for her conversion. I pray a rosary 5x/week for her conversion. I have not said anything to her about conversion since that day in pre-marriage class at church. That was 5 years ago. I try to live by example. I just am running out of patience and have a plethora of issues that I have left on threads today.

How can you run out of patience when you have not spoken of the issue in 5 years?

Is your wife a mind reader? I think you need to talk to her. Get a spiritual director or at least meet with your pastor.

Refusal to convert is not, IMHO, grounds for a divorce. Afterall you married her as she is. Did you receive a dispensation when you married her as one is necessary for a Catholic to marry a non-Catholic. Did you understand the reasons for the dispensation?

I speak as someone married to a non-Catholic, who has borne the trial of being married to someone who may never choose to become Catholic. I have been there for nearly 20 years. Do not get me wrong: he loves me very much, he does nothing to undermine my faith, he treats me extremely well, and he bears no ill will against the Church. So far, though, he has no plans to convert. How I have wished he were Catholic!

As long as they are willing to live with us in peace, though, we are not free to leave them,. not even if we do not ever remarry. We have a positive obligation to love them, to honor our vows to them. Continuing in the state for which we ourselves requested a dispensation from our bishops to marry them does not constitute a choice against peace on their part, per se. We are, rather, bound to love them…as in the verb “love”, not the emotional consolation, “love”. That emotional consolation is a gift, but not one that is guaranteed in marriage.

Besides, it may very well be that living a life which will win their conversion is the life’s work God intended for us, including the suffering involved. Will we shirk this, or respond as Elisabeth Arrighi Leseur did? I heard her story on the radio yesterday, as told by Fulton Sheen, and was very moved by it. I will find it on the internet and append it later. I tell you, though: neither you nor I will love or suffer as she did, and go without our reward.

Elisabeth Arrighi Leseur, was born in Paris in 1866. She had been pious as a young girl, but, by the time she married the doctor Félix Leseur at the age of 21, her religious observance had become rather conventional, though sincere.
Her husband had lost his faith completely, however, and though he had promised to respect Elizabeth’s practice of her religion, he soon began a relentless attack to make her lose her faith.
After seven years of marriage, she had lapsed, but when Félix tried to finish off what remained of her faith by giving her Renan’s treacherous History of the Origins of Christianity to read, his attempt backfired, as he later wrote:
“Thanks to Divine Providence, the very work that I thought would accomplish my hateful object brought about its ruin. Elisabeth …] was not deceived by the glamour of the form, but was struck by the poverty of the substance …]. She felt herself approach the abyss, and sprang backwards, and from then on she devoted herself to her own religious instruction.”
Accordingly, she began to read the works of the Fathers of the Church, St Augustine, St Thomas Aquinas, St Teresa of Avila, St Francis de Sales, and above all, the Holy Bible. The result was her conversion back to the faith of her youth and the renewed practice of the Christian life.
During a trip to Rome with her husband in 1903, Elisabeth had a mystical experience of the presence of God within her and of a complete renewal of her interior life. She abandoned herself to Our Lord without reserve. One of her greatest consolations and supports thereafter was in the reception of Holy Communion.
At the same time, she worked unceasingly for the conversion of her unbelieving husband. Argument availed nothing, and so she concentrated on praying for Félix and setting him a good example by her own holy life.
The more she co-operated with grace, the more God sent her physical sufferings in order to pay the price of her husband’s conversion. Constantly she prayed: “My God, wilt Thou give me one day - soon - the immense joy of full spiritual communion with my dear husband, of the same faith, and, for him as for me, of a life turned toward Thee? I will redouble my prayers for this intention; more than ever will I supplicate, suffer, and offer to God Communions and sacrifices to obtain this greatly desired grace.”
As a doctor, Félix could be under no illusion as to the gravity of her sufferings, nor to the eventual outcome of the cancer eating away at her body.

“When I saw how ill she was,” he later wrote, “and how she endured with equanimity of temper a complaint that generally provokes much hypochondria, impatience and ill-humour, I was struck to see how her soul had so great a command of itself and of her body; and knowing that she drew this tremendous strength from her convictions, I ceased to attack them.”
Nevertheless, he was not converted. As Elisabeth drew near to death, she told him one day, “Félix, when I am dead, you will become a Catholic and a Dominican priest.”
“Elizabeth, you know my sentiments. I’ve sworn hatred of God, I shall live in the hatred and I shall die in it,” he replied.
She repeated her words before she passed away in 1914 in her husband’s arms at the early age of 47, without seeing his conversion.
Rummaging through Elisabeth’s papers, Félix found her Spiritual Testament and read these lines:
“In l905, I asked Almighty God to send me sufficient sufferings to purchase your soul. On the day that I die, the price will have been paid. Greater love than this no woman has than she who lays down her life for her husband.”
“A revolution took place in my whole moral being”, he wrote. “I understood the celestial beauty of her soul and that she had accepted all her suffering and offered it - and even offered her very self in sacrifice - chiefly for my conversion. …] Her sacrifice was absolute, and she was convinced that God would accept it and would take her early to Himself. She was equally persuaded that He would ensure my conversion.”
That conversion was only to come about three years after her death as the doctor, still an atheist, visited Lourdes with a view to writing an attack on the devotion of Catholics to Our Lady.
Once again, however, his malice was to backfire. What happened at the grotto in Lordes he later confided to Archbishop Fulton J. Sheen, who, as a young priest, attended a retreat given by Félix after he had become a Dominican:
“As he looked up into the face of the statue of Mary Immaculate, he received the great gift of faith. So total, so complete was it, that he never had to go through the process of juxtaposition and say, ‘How will I answer this or that difficulty?’ He saw it all. At once.”
In 1919, at the age of 57, he became a novice in the Order of Preachers, and was ordained a priest at 62. Fr Félix Leseur died in 1950, blessing the memory of his wife, who had offered her sufferings for his conversion at the feet of Mary Immaculate. [After Rev. Fr Jordan Aumann, O.P. Christian Spirituality in the Catholic Tradition and Mgr Fulton J. Sheen’s talk The Woman I love, (transcription at]

I don’t really want a divorce. But, I also do not want to continue to live my life next to someone who completely believes in the opposite of me. Yes, we had dispensation. No, I disn’t know what it meant. I was ignorant. This is my fault. I should have researched more about her religion before we got married. I did, but not that much. I foolishly thought it would be ok. At least, I have agreement that our kids will be raised Catholic. Thank God for that!

Should I ask her to convert??? I am actually wrting a letter to her with all my thouhts about it and was not going to send it, just using it to get it out of my head. Should I send it to her?

Write the letter, then destroy it and talk to her in person…after you have spent some serious time in prayer. And talk first to your pastor or a priest whom you trust, as well. Do not, do not write her a letter about this. Talk to her yourself. Trust me on that. In the meantime, spend yourself on loving her. That is a choice you have, too.

I think if you ask God for guidance through the intercession of servant of God, Elisabeth Leseur, you will get guidance, and more.

It is going to be your actions, the quality of your ability to love, that God will use to convert her. I don’t mean to be ashamed of the faith, but if you are teaching your children properly, she’ll hear it. And certainly, if you do have children, consider that they love you both and would suffer deeply if you were to split.

I married my wife in 1989 and she was not of any particular religion. I asked Mary to help me petition the Lord for her conversion. Well, through times that I thought I would crack you must not give up hope and give her the example of Catholic life… it was 2 weeks before our 20th anniversary that she came into the church.

Don’t stop praying… be her guide to Heaven… that’s what I DO means… for life.


Is your wife’s failure to convert the REAL reason you are unhappy in this marriage? It doesn’t sound like she ever agreed to convert in the first place and you were aware of her anti-Catholic family. I don’t think you have a good cause for annulment. Converting or not is between her and God, and He works in his own time. It took my husband 20 years to convert, and that was 11 years ago! :rolleyes:

you cannot place a condition on marriage that the Church does not impose. Yes it is a cause of grief when there is a difference in religion, and yes that difference often puts a strain on marriage because it is so fundamental, by by itself you cannot use your feelings as a reason for divorce. You keep your marriage vows, and show your love for her in every manner in your power. Trying to control her conscience is not part of that.

I agree that you should not send her a letter, but I’m not certain that you should talk to her about it, either.

For one thing, you don’t want her converting because of you (in which case the Church would presumably lose her when you died); you want her converting because it’s the right thing to do. So browbeating her – which is what it will seem like if you keep bringing it up – accomplishes nothing (or, worse, is counterproductive).

For another thing, she married you, presumably in good faith, knowing that you were Catholic, while at the same time you knew she wasn’t. If you now tell her something to the effect of, “I want a divorce unless you convert” (even if you don’t put it quite that way), she will rightly feel betrayed.

Moreover, you promised God (and her) that you would love her. Love is a lot of things, but most importantly of all it is a choice. You promised to choose her for the rest of your lives. That means that you are obligated to stay with her, notwithstanding the fact that she remains non-Catholic, and do your best to make the marriage work.

I would also point out that, in the five years since your marriage began, nothing has changed. You’re still Catholic; she’s still Christian Scientist. She has a right to expect the marriage to continue; after all, it isn’t like something has suddenly changed.

Finally, I would advocate that you witness to the Faith without words. Let her see your faith in action, day after day and year after year, without pressuring her into making a decision she isn’t yet ready to make. I know five years seems like a long time, but just ask the other people on this forum; that’s nothing compared to some of the others.

My impatience I suppose it was is bothering me. I just can’t fathom living the next 30 years without her converting. She will not convert until her grandma and mother die. That’s the sad fact. They influence her more than I ever could. If she converted our marriage would be so much more blessed and would be scaramental. My wife was never baptised. She isn’t even a protestant. She’s Christian Scientist which is not Christian and not Science. It’s, in my opinon, satanic.

I at least want her to get baptised!

Hmmmm… my :twocents:

Tell her what you just said…that it would mean a lot if your marriage was “sacramental”, and not just “natural”…and let her know through baptism, that could happen. If she laughs it off, that’ll just be the way it is for now. But who knows…that small appeal might work, or maybe at least get her thinking.


I really don’t have any advice other than what has already been offered. I am going through an investigation to determine if an old marriage (now divorced 18 years) is valid.

I do suggest speaking to your wife and I also suggest speaking to your Priest. I wish you luck and will certainly remember you in my prayers.


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