Divorce and annulment in an invalid marriage

My husband and I were fallen away Catholics when we married in a civil ceremony. We’ve since come back to the faith, and have abstained from marital relations, since our marriage is invalid. But now he doesn’t want to get married in the church. Is it possible to get a divorce and annulment, even though the marriage is invalid? How does the church view this?

If your husband does not want to have the marriage convalidated, that means he has not returned to the practice of the faith, no matter what else he says, because he has not accepted the authority of the Church to establish faith and practice for Catholics. You need, however, pastoral counselling on how to salvage the marriage and get right with the Church. Begin with your pastor, who will then answer your other questions. Your marriage is invalid due to lack of form, presuming what you have stated is true, 2 Catholics not married in the Church, so a full annulment proceeding is not necessary. Should you obtain a civil divorce, and I certainly hope you will obtain pastoral counselling to convalidate and strengthen your relationship, but if the worst happens, it is a simple paperwork matter. Counselling and marriage prep for non-Catholics takes your needs into account and I highly recommend it.

Unfortunately, he really doesn’t agree to counseling, religious or otherwise. I scheduled an appointment for us to talk to a priest months ago about our marriage situation and getting it convalidated, but he didn’t want to go. Then there was a day where we wanted to get intimate, but couldn’t because we want to stay in a state of grace. I said all we needed to do was get officially married, and he said nevermind, that it wasn’t worth it. With that comment burned into my mind, along with others, and with the fact that he won’t even simply get his baptism certificate which is what the priest told me we needed on the phone to start the process, I just don’t see things working out. I don’t like the concept of divorce, but if he doesn’t want to get married in the church, I feel like it’s almost a waste of time to stay civilly married.

I am no expert, but how in the world can he in good concience partake of the Eucharist in this mindset?:confused:

I think that he feels so long as we are living as brother & sister, it’s not an issue when, or if, we get married in the church.

I think that he feels so long as we are living as brother & sister, it’s not an issue when, or if, we get married in the church.

So, he is taking a situation that many couples endure while striving for the goal of correcting this situation to be a permanent lifestyle?

He complains about the lack of intimacy, so I don’t think he expects this to be permanent… but at the same time, he makes no effort towards rectifying the situation. I can’t force him to see a priest, so I just don’t know what to do.

You are suffering.

Does he realize you are one body?

If you suffer, his body is also suffering too albeit his pride is what seems to be getting in the way of seeing that?

He is the head of the household.

You are the weaker vessel.

You are suffering and following the Church on this matter.

And he says he is also following the Church by NOT wanting to get married in IT?

And still partaking in the Eucharist at Church?


He seems to want to have the “best” of “both” worlds here. Have his “cake” and eat it (no pun intended) too.


Any marriage attempt must be investigated by the tribunal. If your husband doesn’t want to marry in church, you will need to apply for radical sanation. Participating in the ceremony is not a statement of belief - even atheists can take part, or followers of other religions.

Thanks for all of the responses. I thought I’d post an update to this. I talked to a priest a week or so ago about this matter, and he felt that we shouldn’t get married in the church, as that would not make our otherwise shaky relationship any better. And since we our marriage isn’t recognized by the church, a civil divorce would be all we needed to do.

When I talked to my hubby about this (not about what the priest had said, but whether he wanted to get married in the church) he said that he still did want to get married in the church, but wanted to wait until he had his career goals straightened out. But we’ve been civilly married for 5 years now, and he still has no clue what he wants to do as far as a career. And in my mind, that shouldn’t even matter when it comes to being married in the church. Also, he agreed it was a good idea that we refrain from marital relations, but every day he makes comments about wanting to do it, but me never wanting to.

So the opinion of all those around me (including the priest) weigh in that I should get out of this relationship. Even I think so logically, but I still just can’t bring myself to do it. I still love him, and he still loves me, but I just don’t think we’re “in love” anymore. I wish he’d just say it was over, instead of saying that we will marry in the church one day, but within the last 6 months never doing anything towards making that happen.

A man who can go six months without any furthering of his marriage relationship is just not into it. Better to cut now than to force a church “marriage” that would probably fall apart later. Then you would be unable to remarry. What if he never found a career? How much of your life are you willing to sit on a shelf waiting for him to decide what he wants?

He says he loves you. Actions speak louder than words.

I had my XH come back to the marriage after being gone a year and I gave him the stipulations we needed to resume marital relations. He let 18 more months go by without fulfilling them. Instead, I got divorce papers.

Don’t let him use you as a sex toy. If he’s not willing to be married, and to do it right, you deserve better. He’s had five years to make up his mind. Apparently he has, he just doesn’t have the guts to tell you.

Are you “in love” with him? Or is that sentimentality speaking? He’s basically told you that any decision about you comes after his leisurely decision about his job. That doesn’t sound loving.

I strongly suggest you check out some of the links…

Particularly the retrouvaille retreat program. See if your husband would be interested in attending this. You don’t have to be in a sacramental marriage to participate in any of these resources.

You are in my prayers.

Thanks for the suggestion. Unfortunately, he doesn’t really believe in any form or counseling/therapy, religious or otherwise. Months ago, I suggested us talking to a priest, and even setup an appointment, but he refused. He’s against talking to a therapist, alone or together.

Thanks for your prayers… we need them.

I think you should consider that he has, in fact, ended it. He is unwilling to marry you. Remember, as a Catholic, you are not married to this man. If you are no longer in love, why take heroic measures to try to save this relationship? He doesn’t seem eager to save it.

May God Bless you in your time of trouble.

forums.catholic.com/showthread.php?t=106135 have you red this thread already?

I am sorry to hear of your suffering. I request that you offer up your suffering for the salvation of souls, especially those who have fallen away from the Church.

Ori, I’ve so totally been where you are now. I was in a relationship for eight years – EIGHT YEARS!! – enduring one excuse after another, waiting for j to come around and act on all those promises we made. But one day I understood that j was NEVER going to change. There was no reason to change because I was all threat and pleading and no action. So one day I ended it. J tried to get me to stay, but I’d seen the light. We were also not married in the Church, so it was not so much an ending of a marriage as following the teaching of the Church about not living with someone outside of sacramental marriage.

Pray and pray and pray. You can choose to stay in this marriage (in abstinence!) for God’s glory, if that is what you discern God wants of you. But don’t stay because it’s easier than leaving, or because you’re afraid of divorce, or afraid of what others might think, etc. (Those were all my reasons.) Don’t use some sham of “hoping he’ll change” be your excuse for feeding his disordered-ness (I’m sure that’s not a real word).

Have faith, and know that you both remain in my prayers. You will get to the other side of this, with God’s grace.

God bless you.

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