Confused about Annulments

I married someone I wasn’t in love with, but is a very good man. We didn’t have much in common, but I knew he was a good man, so I tried something that made it seem like it was working. I was convinced that the real reason I didn’t feel drawn to him was because I was scared of someone actually loving me. This seemed to help the situation, and we were married. Now it is 20 years later, and I think maybe I was wrong to do the mental gymnastics that helped me love him in the first place. Especially when I read about annullments and what the catholic church teaches. It makes me wonder if I have a valid marraige, if my consent was real, and if I really understoond what was going on emotionally. We were married in the church. and like I said, I was able to convince myself and him that the love I feel was enough. I never fell in love with him, but I think I have grown to love him in the last 19 years. Still, there is this nagging question in the pit of my heart that all the work I do to keep this marriage together is just in vain, because it is not valid, and it is not valid because of my mental gymnastics. If I had truely fallen in love with him, I wouldn’t have had to do anything. Now sometimes I feel like something is missing. I read about other peoples marrital problems on this post and sometimes it helps, and sometimes it is depressing because I see where other people who have been in my situation are now divoriced, and ended up getting annulments, which seems like it makes everything okay. So, if the tribunal found that those other marriages weren’t valid, then mine must not be either. I really don’t want to divorice or get annulled, but here is the kicker. I went to a marraige seminar last week and it actually made me feel hopeless. They way they talked about consent in marraige made me feel like I never really consented to anything, that I actually faked consent too. I don’t know up from down anymore, and believe me, I pray like crazy. I just cant discern Gods voice because of this strange disconnect between what is and isn’t a valid marraige. I am try to follow God, but what if He is telling me that I made a mistake, and that the only way to fix it is to have a tribunal say that there was never a valid marraige in the first place. I think I would actually be happier if God just said “Your Married Hon” divorce is not an option and neither is annullment, because your marraige is valid. But who can tell me that? What if God says this isn’t a valid marraige, I cant expect HIm to give me any graces then can I? And it is a difficult marraige when you are not sure whether your consent or feelings are for real.

If you were married, and it was of your own will, and you were in sound mind, it is a valid marriage. From what you have said, it certainly was the case.

However, bear in mind that tribunals (especially in the USA), generally look for excuses to grant annulments, and the whole thing is turning into a massive joke. If you really want an annulment, you will easily get one.

You have absolutely NO place whatsoever to say that. You do not know all the facts of the situation, and NO ONE has the ability to determine the validity of a marriage outside the Tribunal.

However, bear in mind that tribunals (especially in the USA), generally look for excuses to grant annulments, and the whole thing is turning into a massive joke. If you really want an annulment, you will easily get one.

You really don’t have a clue do you. Have you been through this process yourself?

To the OP - you need to talk to a good holy priest about this.  I don't think this is the right place to be looking for advice.  There are a lot of idiots on the internet.  :rolleyes:  You sound like you are having some sort of crisis right now, and the first thing you need to do is work on what's going on in your head with regard to your marriage (and yes, you are presumed to be in a valid marriage until proven otherwise).


The thing is, OP, being in love is not a requirement for a valid marriage.

That said, I do think you need to discuss this with someone and not on the net. If you can’t speak to your pastor or some other priest maybe you can speak to a good counselor, preferably a Catholic one. Sometimes the grass just looks greener.

Hi Rita,

I am sure it has not been easy for you all these years. Just thot I share with you a view that is not from the US about marriage and annulments.

Where I am from, I have been told that all marriages are deemed valid. That is to say, the church assumes that the couple married in good faith, to love, to honour, with the openess and so on. Hence, unless the couple is divorce, and goes down the path of investigating the marriage for an annulment, the church will regard the marriage as good.

I am not sure if I have explained well and I am no canon lawyer. But the point I am I trying to make here is, while I read that you have had a hard time all these years figuring whether you love your spouse or not. The church will not encourage you to investigate the validity of your marriage, while still being married.

That leaves the question of why you feel the need to “get” the green light from the church on whether you have a valid marriage or not? So if the church says you don’t have a valid marriage, you “can” divorce your husband? And if it says your marriage is valid you will stick to it? Where are you in the decision making? I am just wondering if you are trying to make the church responsible for your decision making?:shrug:

Just some thots:p


Romance and emotion have nothing to do with the validity of a marriage. They are nice when they happen, but, not required.

If you were both of sound mind, not under any outside force, you are presumed validly married.

Go to Retrouvaille, read “Seven Levels of Intimacy”, work on getting romance in your marriage if it is what you would like to have. Love your husband as the man you vowed to marry. Respect him and never compare him to other men.

Here are the relevant Canons:

"The following are incapable of contracting marriage:

1° those who lack sufficient use of reason;

2° those who suffer from a grave lack of discretionary judgement concerning the essential matrimonial rights and obligations to be mutually given and accepted;

3° those who, because of causes of a psychological nature, are unable to assume the essential obligations of marriage.

Can. 1096 §1 For matrimonial consent to exist, it is necessary that the contracting parties be at least not ignorant of the fact that marriage is a permanent partnership between a man and a woman, ordered to the procreation of children through some form of sexual cooperation.

§2 This ignorance is not presumed after puberty."

In other words, if you are of unsound mind, or do not understand that marriage is permanent, then the marriage is not valid.

Well, I agree with all of you that post that feeling in love is not necessary for a valid marraige. I just wonder sometimes if I have put myself in an impossible situation, because sometimes I wonder if I just manufactured love for him instead of finding him irrestible in the first place. Yes, if I look at love as an action, and behave like a good wife, I can manufacture the feelings of being in love. I have done it many many times with variable degrees of success. I just believe it would be better if at the end of the day I didn’t have to do anything. That I just wanted him, and couldn’t help myself. I have been in love with others like this, I have found myself in love with others who I didn’t want to be in love with.
and found myself wanting them even against my will. This is the kind of love that I would love to have for my husband, but don’t. I do want to love him though. I think he is a great man, and very sweet to put up with me and my fickleness. So basically, I think what I am really asking is is there any hope. Can I do something to make the marraige I am in a good one, or am I just screwed because there is something terrible wrong with the foundation that I built it on in the first place. I also I don’t think it is good for me to compare my feelings for him to my feelings to others to see if he measures up. Does anyone else see this as the case.

yes there is plenty of hope
you are married
divorce is not an option nor have you given the least indication that there is any reason to even consider it
therefore annulment is not even a consideration.

Newsflash (just celebrated 40th anniversary) I am willing to bet there is not a married couple on earth in which one or the other party has not had such doubts and thoughts from time to time, no matter how madly in love they were in the beginning.

Work on your own spiritual growth and maturity, that is, detachment from emotions and sense consolations, and more dependence on true grace and trust in God, and that in turn will feed your married love. there is nothing “manufactured” about loving someone through your actions

Okay, but I am not sure what you mean by detachment from emotions and sense consolations? Can you explain?

There is love ---- and then there is love. :wink:

I’ve been madly and deeply in love before - so much so that I could hardly breathe. I was engaged to marry this man but it fell through - I was too Catholic, he was too Protestant, so he broke off our engagement six months prior to the wedding.

Then I met my husband. :slight_smile: The feelings I have for him are so very different. This time I can breathe. I’m rational, and realistic about enduring love. What it is and what it isn’t. I know that the love that is enduring is not about sweaty hands and a quickly beating heart (although that could be part of it). It is not about constant desire and longing (although that could be part of it). It is about a deep and abiding oneness with a person - so much so that you may sometimes find it hard to know where one of you ends and the other begins, and yet you are two different people. It is about respect, support, kindness, and courtesy. A desire for the other to get to heaven and doing everything in your power to make sure that happens. It is a sense of calm and assuredness that you are there for each other, no matter what.

Do I love my husband? Absolutely. Is it anything like what I thought was the love of my life? No. But in so many ways it is better.

I don’t wish to speak for annie - but I suspect what she means is that you need to understand that you probably do love your husband, but your romantic and emotional ideal of love is getting in the way. What you need to do is to redefine love according to what it is for the two of you - and pray every day to love your husband more.

You sound like you are in a very wonderful marriage really - but that you are looking for something that may already be there but in a way that you are not recognizing it.

I agree with the suggestion to find a good Catholic counselor to talk about all this. You don’t need to worry about if your marriage is valid or not - you need to worry about making it the best marriage it can possibly be for the two of you.


I agree with the suggestion to find a good Catholic counselor to talk about all this. You don’t need to worry about if your marriage is valid or not - you need to worry about making it the best marriage it can possibly be for the two of you.

I think this is a good point. When I start wondering about annulments, it is perhaps looking for an out. I am using my energy looking for an out instead of using it to build up the marraige.


Do you feel other parts of your life are not ‘right’?

Have you seen your doctor?

Generally people don’t think about their marriage being ‘invalid’ after 20 years together. Especially when their spouse is “a good man”.

If you havn’t seen your doctor yet, I would recommend doing so.

My prayers for you.

Dear Rita,

From what you have said, you can, through an act of self-sacrifice, manage to make things work. You many not be “in love”, but respect, loyalty, and, indeed, just routine, can make a relationship work (or at least work as well as anything does in this imperfect world). Just stick with it, and when it is difficult, remember that God calls us each to carry our cross.

God bless

detachment from the idea that emotions and “sense consolations” as the monastics would have said (we might say the warm fuzzies) are somehow indicative of true deep felt love and commitment. or that our subjective view of the relationship or situation is somehow more valid than an objective view. sometimes we need the help of a third party–pastor, counsellor etc–to get that objective view. It becomes a problem in a relationship for the reasons you describe very well. It also becomes a problem in our spiritual life, when we mistake satisfaction, emotional response, sentiment, memory in prayer for true devotion and holiness.

the advice to look at other areas of life–health, nutrition, fitness, self-esteem, career, and so forth–is also very sound

Yes, Puzzleannie, I do think I get it now. I do believe that I am depressed as well. I otherwise have no explanation for why I am so prone to focus on my hurts and dissappointments. Still, I wonder about how to use this as a way to draw nearer to Christ.
I have a friend who has a wonderful spiritual director priest, and I have left a message that I would like to meet with him regarding spiritual direction. Also, I picked up a copy of Teresa of Avila “The Interior Castle” for some light reading. Ha Ha.

By the way, my husband also was excited to see that I bought Teresa of Avila home to read. He said it is a classic, and he wants to read it too. I’am wondering if maybe we should read it together?

Great idea!

Another to read together is Fr Dubay “Deep Conversion, Deep Prayer”.

Question, do you and your husband pray together?

Don’t confuse lust with love. Just because lust is missing doesn’t mean love is missing also. Lust is triggered, and disappears as fast as it arrives. Love grows slowly until it surrounds and sustains you. Lust is an almost involuntary response. Love must be nourished and cultivated.

Lust is an emotion, driven by hormones. Lust is exciting. Lust is attractive. Lust induces us discard reason and act on impulse.

Lust has its place. Lust is the glue which keeps a newly-married couple together despite the pressures of the outside world, even when there is no logical reason for them to stay together, while they are learning to respect and love each other. The husband may be struggling to keep a job, the wife may be sleep-deprived by a colicy baby, or any number of other unreasonable triggers may be trying to drive a wedge between a young couple. But a quick roll between the sheets which triggers lust can keep them together while they are learning to cope with life and learning to love each other.

Love is a choice. Love is a conscious decision to act in the rational best interests of both yourself and someone else. Love frequently requires you to suppress your own immediate needs in favor of the immediate and long-term needs of someone else. Love requires you to respect that what you receive from someone else may not be what you wanted, nor what you hoped for, but it may still be the selfless gift of the best they have.

Lust dies when the attractive triggers vanish. The smooth face gets wrinkled, the taut abs turn slack, the luxurious shining hair turns grey and recedes. Love sees past the wrinkles, the flab, and the grey, and sees the generous kind heart within.

Don’t throw away love just because lust is absent. Look for ways to cultivate love instead.

Question, do you and your husband pray together?
We try to at least. We go to mass together .

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