Another Marriage Question


My wife and I are converting to Catholicism. A different thread in Family Life prompts me to ask this relatively complex question.

Me: I was married in 1966 in a Methodist church (I was a Methodist) to another Methodist. We remained married until 1986, having four beautiful children in the interim. We had lots of problems stemming from alcoholism (both of us) and infidelity (me, not her), and divorced. :frowning:

My wife: She was previously married in a civil ceremony to a man she later divorced. There is evidence the man was still married at the time. In any case, he has since died. She has not had children. :frowning:

Us: My wife and I were married in a civil ceremony in 1988 :stuck_out_tongue: and have no children.

With the confusing background, the question is simple: What kind of problems are we going to have joining the Catholic church and having our marriage blessed by it?

Thank you in advance for your help.



The best advice, talk to the Priest and person in charge of RCIA at your Parish. They will be best to answer specific questions.

In general, it would seem you would need to have your first marriage investigated by the Tribunal. The Catholic Church sees marriage as valid until proven otherwise. Best to get that ball rolling soon!

In the mean time, study, pray, go to Mass and Adoration.


What she said.

I will also suggest you get the book written by Jimmy Akin on this very subject. You can purchase it through Catholic Answers. Basically what a Tribunal does is look at the marriage against some set criteria to determine if the marriage was valid - i.e. no impediments at the time it took place. What may have taken place AFTERWARDS (let’s say the problem you developed was addiction to drugs and it did not happen until you had been married for several years) will not be looked at…however, if you were an active alcoholic at the time of your marriage and unable to form a sober, true intent to marry that may impact the validity.

Anyway, talk to your RCIA director and have them help you out. We do it all the time in RCIA and have assisted many people ‘home to Rome’ over the years.


Thank you both for your answers. I have read about two investigations, one four years and another five years, and I’m not going to live with my wonderful wife for that long as brother and sister.

I’m quite discouraged. This, the movement to the Catholic church as been going so well. Maybe I set my expectations too high. I certainly don’t want to contact my ex regarding an annulment either. This is a mess!

The priest in the church we have been going to will be back in town this week. I’ll talk to him, but it really doesn’t look good.

Thanks again for your help.


Listen, I know I am preaching to the choir on this but remember, take it one day at a time and one step at a time.

You may be doing your ex an incredible favor by asking for an annulment. It may be a chance for you to set things right, if you know what I mean…

but just do not worry at this time…my experience has been that if I give myself wholly to Christ - including my sexuality - and say “Whatever YOU will for me I will accept” all kinds of wonderful things happen.

But what am I doing? I am telling an ‘oldtimer’ all the things you have said to ME (for the past 15 years) to help me walk the road of recovery - and if it didn’t come out of your mouth it came out of the mouth of someone else with your amount of time so…again, welcome Home to Rome, my brother…


Thank you, Leslie. I really needed that today. I can’t describe how greatful I am to you.


No problem …besides, I may need the same from you sometime so now you have to stick around…:wink:


I went to a class on annulments last week. The priest who gave the lecture was on the tribunal for my archdiocese as well as tribunals for maronite and eastern rites. He gave a tip during the class if there was a case that needed to be investigated involving two non-Catholic parties, they would have the option of going to a tribunal through an eastern rite or maronite rite. He said that this could save much time since these other rites are not as overloaded as the latin rite tribunals. He said that an average case in our archdiocese would probably take 12 months, but that an average case heard by a tribunal in the maronite rite might only take 3 months. These were of course rough numbers he was just throwing out, but in a situation such as yours, you might want to look into it. Talk to your priest, and take a look at the website for the Eparchy of Our Lady of Lebanon.


talk to a priest who will get you started on the tribunal investigation process, get his help, or that of the deacon who works closely with these cases, to assist you in completing the interview form. The more complete it is the faster the process will be and the more likely all relevant factors that pertained at the time of the marriage will be looked at.

get all the required paperwork together, that is the most common reason for delays, attempt to get up to date contact info on witnesses, that is the other reason for delays.

your first wife’s previous marriage must also be looked into, because obviously that affects your own first marriage, and whether or not it was valid.

every marriage situation is unique, you cannot make inferences about your own based on the experience of others. The soon you see the priest the sooner you will get your answers.


I don’t have a reply to this, but this is my first time at this site and was wondering about something. I was baptized Catholic and made my first communion, but was never confirmed can I still be married in a church for my upcoming wedding? I feel my parents will have a hard time if I am not.


My annulment took 6 months. My daughter’s annulment took 9-10 months. Our family is so much happier for having converted. And our marriages have both been blessed by the Church.


You may be married in the Church but I would definitely look into receiving your Sacrament of Confirmation. Our parish has an adult confirmation class for those who wish to complete their Sacraments.


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