Divorce from non-Catholic Spouse Looming...Advice?


#1

Hello!

I'm new to this forum and apperciate any feedback. I'm a confirmed Catholic, have never been married through the church, and am currently seperated from my wife whom I've had very little contact with recently. She is a non-Catholic and has not been baptized. We have been involved in a civil marriage just over two years and have no kids. We are both in our late 20's early 30's.

During the first year of our marriage she was having an extramarital relationship that caused us to seperate for a month or so. I forgave her and expressed interest to reconcile, and as a result she took initiative to go to RCIA and wanted to get married through the church. The affair was a blessing in disguise as I grew closer to my faith, made my relationship with Christ stronger, and learned more about my faith while accompanying her to RCIA. Unfortunately, over the past few months, she and our relationship had regressed to the point where she felt she had to leave and she felt bad for "dragging me along". Currently I'm struggling with not only failing in marriage, but more importantly failing as a spritual mentor as I doubt she will go back to RCIA at the moment. Please pray for the both of us.

Right now I'm at a crossroads. I'm married outside of the church to someone that has left me and has hurt me and my family twice in a little over a year. I have forgiven her in my heart and continue to pray for her. Although I love her and have forgiven her, I dont see our relationship as healthy for either of us and feel the need to protect my heart. When I made my vows (outside of the church) I still made a promise to God to love her no matter what, and because of that promise I'm having trouble letting go.

I'm ready to put this civil marriage behind me while still maintaining our friendship. But doing so I want to make sure I'm not jeopardizing the future opportunity of being able to marry in the church (which I've come to realize the true value of over the past couple of years!).

So my questions are should I justify getting a divorce because we were never married through the church and our marriage was not valid anyway? Can someone direct me to any scripture that might assist me in my situation? Has anyone been in this situation before?

Thanks, and any advice and help is much appreciated!


#2

I would talk to your priest about this.

If you have been receiving the Sacraments in the Church, I can only assume that your marriage has somehow been regularized.


#3

I will be praying for you.

Also, I can give you the following bits of information:

In the Catholic Church the sacrament of marriage is between a man, a women, and God; usually with a witness in the form of a priest. It lasts for life and is intended to come into fruition with the birth of children. It is one of the few sacraments that does not require a priest and canonical form in times of very grave distress when a priest cannot be found (but this requires a later dispensation). newadvent.org/cathen/09699a.htm

However, it seems that your marriage was never valid, and thus can be annulled in the eyes of the Church. A valid marriage must be between two baptized individuals. Further it requires canonical form unless you are in grave distress (picture a war torn country or communist China where priests are hard to come by). I would confess and speak to a priest about your situation, but I am fairly certain you will be able to marry again, with some preparation, if marriage is what you feel called to. A document of annulment might be useful if you want to marry again, but probably won't be absolutely necessary (This is usually at the discretion of your diocese. Such a document would only be used to refute any allegations that might arise stating that you were previously married). Check out the Catechism sections on marriage for scriptural references btw.

I hope that you lay out this situation before God and that relationship with him becomes closer because of it. Sometimes a bad situation may lead to something good.

If you have been receiving the Sacraments in the Church, I can only assume that your marriage has somehow been regularized.

It is also possible all sacraments received since your marriage are invalid. Again speak to a priest about those as well.


#4

A couple corrections from the previous post. You can be married validly to an unbaptized person, it would be a natural marriage instead of a sacramental one but it would be valid in the eyes of the church if you had received permission from your bishop to marry an unbaptized person.

If you married outside the church you almost certainly will need a declaration of nullity to marry someone else in the church. It should not be a complicated process for you because as a Catholic you are required to marry in the church or get a dispensation -since you did neither its a pretty straight forward reason why your marriage is invalid.

Also if someone is in an invalid marriage they can not receive communion unless they have been to confession and are abstaining from sexual relations.

Please speak to a priest about your situation.


#5

Hi Mex,
the previous posters covered the canon law (Church law) aspects thoroughly. I will only add this: don’t beat up yourself about your failure to lead your wife (wife per civil marriage) to God. In fact, your situation threatened to lead YOU away from God. You married without the Church’s sanction, which means your marriage is null and void in God’s eyes, your physical intimacy with your wife is sinful, and you cannot partake in the Eucharist as long as that physical intimacy persists and as long as you don’t take the steps to have your marriage recognized by the Church. Of course you could get your marriage recognized by the Church, but your wife is no longer interested and she left you. This is a perilous situation for YOUR soul, and you should get out of it in order to protect your soul and your path to salvation. As for your wife, you can still pray for her. Hopefully she will find God in God’s appointed time, but that may happen tomorrow, 50 years from now, or on her deathbed. You don’t know and you have no guarantees. When St. Francis of Assisi went to convert the Sultan of the Muslim army, the Sultan came to greatly respect him, but he just couldn’t find the courage to convert to Christ and become a traitor in his people’s eyes. With great sadness, St. Francis accepted the fact that the Sultan was not going to convert, and the saint returned to Italy. Your situation is similar now. You tried to convert your wife but she refused; now go and save your own soul, and put her fate in God’s merciful hands.


#6

Some real life situations that come to mind:

If someone is drowning, typically you should stay far enough while rescuing them, so that they cannot accidentally pull you down, resulting in the death of both of you.

If the airmasks get released in an emergency situation, in an airplane, you should put the mask first on yourself, and help others only after that.

Maybe this is what Jesus meant with the parable of the 10 prudent virgins, who took enough oil for their lamps, and the 10 foolish virgins, who did not take enough oil. And Jesus approved the action of the 10 prudent virgins, who refused to give oil to the 10 foolish ones, saying that they didn't have enough oil to share, and that if they shared then they would also run out of oil.

Jesus also instructed his apostles to leave those towns that won't accept them and their preaching, and to shake the dust from their feet. They were not supposed to stay and keep on trying ad nauseam. And if you read St. Paul's story in the Acts of Apostles, you see that after the Jews rejected his preaching, he loudly proclaimed that he was finished with them and that he was going to preach to the gentiles from that point forward.


#7

[quote="merry_mex, post:1, topic:180358"]
When I made my vows (outside of the church) I still made a promise to God to love her no matter what, and because of that promise I'm having trouble letting go.

[/quote]

As the product of a similar marriage (a Methodist married a Catholic in a civil ceremony), I'm glad to hear you don't take it lightly. If my Dad had believed he wasn't really married to my Mom, they probably would have parted company the first time they argued. Aren't Catholics supposed to follow through on the promises they make?


#8

[quote="masuwerte, post:7, topic:180358"]
As the product of a similar marriage (a Methodist married a Catholic in a civil ceremony), I'm glad to hear you don't take it lightly. If my Dad had believed he wasn't really married to my Mom, they probably would have parted company the first time they argued. Aren't Catholics supposed to follow through on the promises they make?

[/quote]

Your jab at Catholics is most unhelpful to a man in very real pain over infidelity and being left by his wife, not once but twice during their short marriage.

If your dad married your mom outside the Church and did not convalidated the marriage, then he is NOT validly married no matter what he believes. If they are still together it's not too late for him to convalidate the marriage.

It is not the OP who failed to keep the vows he made, but rather his unfaithful, non-Christian wife. Your dad's situation is not analogous to this poster's, so really stop being rude.


#9

[quote="merry_mex, post:1, topic:180358"]
So my questions are should I justify getting a divorce because we were never married through the church and our marriage was not valid anyway?

[/quote]

Yes.

There have been some various levels of correctness in other posts regarding validity of marriage. You need to talk to your priest about the situation. After your civil divorce is final, you can turn in all your paperwork and document your lack of form. This will be a short process that will have everything in order should you, in the future, want to marry in the Church.

[quote="merry_mex, post:1, topic:180358"]
Can someone direct me to any scripture that might assist me in my situation?

[/quote]

Yes.

In 1 Corinthians 7, Paul addresses this situation. It is called the Pauline Privilege. In context, he is talking about two people already married in which one converts and the other remains an unbeliever. But, it applies to your situation as well:

12 To the rest I say this (I, not the Lord): If any brother has a wife who is not a believer and she is willing to live with him, he must not divorce her. 13 And if a woman has a husband who is not a believer and he is willing to live with her, she must not divorce him. 14 For the unbelieving husband has been sanctified through his wife, and the unbelieving wife has been sanctified through her believing husband. Otherwise your children would be unclean, but as it is, they are holy.

15 But if the unbeliever leaves, let him do so. A believing man or woman is not bound in such circumstances; God has called us to live in peace.

The early Church prohibited marriage to unbelievers. See 1 Corinthians again:

39 A woman is bound to her husband as long as he lives. But if her husband dies, she is free to marry anyone she wishes, but he must belong to the Lord.

[quote="merry_mex, post:1, topic:180358"]
Has anyone been in this situation before?

[/quote]

While not the exact situation, the poster **rpp **has been in a similar situation.


#10

[quote="1ke, post:8, topic:180358"]
Your jab at Catholics is most unhelpful to a man in very real pain over infidelity and being left by his wife, not once but twice during their short marriage.

If your dad married your mom outside the Church and did not convalidated the marriage, then he is NOT validly married no matter what he believes. If they are still together it's not too late for him to convalidate the marriage.

It is not the OP who failed to keep the vows he made, but rather his unfaithful, non-Christian wife. Your dad's situation is not analogous to this poster's, so really stop being rude.

[/quote]

Not trying to be rude here, ke, I really am glad to see the OP doesn't take his promises lightly.


#11

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