Don't Know How to Advise Divorced (Protestant) Sister


#1

Hoping to get some good advice here…

My sister’s husband of 9 years left her a couple of years ago when she was pregnant with their 2nd child. He told her that God wanted him to move to another area and buy a house there, and against her wishes, put down a deposit and then proceeded to close on this house and move in without her, all against her wishes. This was also to move about an hour away, and close to his dad, who is the pastor of a charismatic congregation, of which he wanted to be a part (my sister did not). They were separated quite a while and he kind of forced her hand to file for divorce, and they have now been divorced for about a year I think.

That is all just for a little background. She is Protestant, as is everyone in my family (and everyone I know!) I am a convert of a couple of years. However, she understands the Scripture where Christ talks about divorce as the we as Catholics do. She says she vowed to God to love this man forever and she will never in her life remarry. Of course, this idea is not very popular in her church, and she goes to a singles group there, with other divorced people who probably have every intention of remarrying. So she has had the issue of men showing interest, and recently has had a bit of interest in a man, although she says she knows she can’t do anything about it, and still holds her strong commitment to remain single the rest of her life.

This is really hard for me to know what to say to her. If she were Catholic, she could probably get an annullment for several different reasons, but this doesn’t even apply to her situation. When she asks me my opinion, I just say, yes, that Jesus taught that you are married once, and it is wrong to remarry. But of course that is assuming you had a valid marriage. Since annulments tend to be a touchy subject with Protestants, (calling it “Catholic divorce”, etc.) I don’t even want to bring this up. But then again… I hate to see her remain single for the REST of her life–she is only 34! – especially if her marriage is not a valid sacrament anyway.

Hope that wasn’t too wordy and got my point and question across well enough…

Any ideas?


#2

If she is protestant and has no intention of remarrying, why is she going to a singles group anyway? She has a young family to raise. Can’t she find a better way to build a support network in her life that doesn’t include eligible men? There are bible studies, women’s share groups, prayer meetings, church services, etc. If she needs help getting over her divorce, then she should pray more, seek the counsel of a professional (if she can afford it), and focus herself on being there for her children. I understand that she needs friends, but it seems like she’s baiting the hook and casting the line by going to a mixed gender singles group. Perhaps, deep down, she really wants to get married again, but is hiding behind scripture until she meets Mr. Right #2? And if she’s not Catholic, and if Mr. Right #2 isn’t Catholic, what difference does it make to talk about annulments? Are you trying to help her accept the fact that her marriage wasn’t valid so that she can move ahead in another relationship? When she says to you, “I will remain single,” can’t you help her accept that with joy, rather than secretly hoping that she take a different path? If your sister was a nun who was struggling with her “state in life” decision, what would your advice be to her then? Pray for your sister. You never know what God has in store for her.


#3

Sounds like your sister doesn’t have a problem.


#4

My first thought is for her children.

Second marriages have an even higher divorce rate than first ones…and I believe second marriages that involve children are higher still. Do a little digging and find the stats. If you can bring that up in a casual conversation it may make her think.

She shouldn’t be willing to risk her children’s well being for some guy. I know you said she has no intention of marrying again, but her actions (attending single’s groups) show otherwise.

Get her to focus on her kids. She is now solely responsible for their healthy upbringing. They already have extra challenges because of the divorce…she doesn’t need to add any with a new love life.

Help her find resources for friendship and support that will not put her “back in the market” so to speak. Just be a sister to her. I’m sure she needs someone to listen and a shoulder to cry on. You sound like you are doing a great job already. Witness the faith to her. This may be an opportunity to bring her “home”.

I will pray for you and her and all those involved in this terrible situation.

Malia


#5

[quote=Cupofkindness]If she is protestant and has no intention of remarrying, why is she going to a singles group anyway? She has a young family to raise. Can’t she find a better way to build a support network in her life that doesn’t include eligible men? There are bible studies, women’s share groups, prayer meetings, church services, etc. If she needs help getting over her divorce, then she should pray more, seek the counsel of a professional (if she can afford it), and focus herself on being there for her children. I understand that she needs friends, but it seems like she’s baiting the hook and casting the line by going to a mixed gender singles group. Perhaps, deep down, she really wants to get married again, but is hiding behind scripture until she meets Mr. Right #2? And if she’s not Catholic, and if Mr. Right #2 isn’t Catholic, what difference does it make to talk about annulments? Are you trying to help her accept the fact that her marriage wasn’t valid so that she can move ahead in another relationship? When she says to you, “I will remain single,” can’t you help her accept that with joy, rather than secretly hoping that she take a different path? If your sister was a nun who was struggling with her “state in life” decision, what would your advice be to her then? Pray for your sister. You never know what God has in store for her.
[/quote]

This doesn’t describe my sister at all. Apparantly I wasn’t very clear in my original post.

She’s not looking to get remarried, I think she is just having a hard time with it today in particular. I’m sure it’s hard for any of us who are married to relate.

And no I’m not at all trying to make her see that her marriage wasn’t valid… These are all just thoughts in my head. All of my thoughts always include the hope for all of those I love that they will be Catholic one day. So that is why my thoughts went to annulments…

I wasn’t really looking for answers to give her about what she should do, nor is she looking to me for those answers. I guess I was just thinking through the issues.

Thanks everyone.


#6

[quote=aterrell]I wasn’t really looking for answers to give her about what she should do, nor is she looking to me for those answers. I guess I was just thinking through the issues.

Thanks everyone.
[/quote]

You started your original post with

Hoping to get some good advice here…

and ended it with

Any ideas?

Sorry if we misunderstood you…would you care to try again? What are you looking for advice about specifically?

I am sure we can give you many ideas (but I won’t promise any of them will be good;) )…

Malia


#7

Since she is protestant as is her ex-husband I don’t see why you would be transferring your Catholic guidelines to her situation.

Let her live her life.
If and when she gets to the point where she is entertaining thought of starting over, then** SHE** can look at her specific situation depending upon whether or not the new man is Catholic or Protestant or non-Christian.

Until she comes to you asking your approval of a new man in her life, I don’t see where there is an issue for you to advise her about.

Personally, I worry about my siblings too, but when I find I get so caught up with their lives that my stress level rises, then I know I’m neglecting my own life and my own issues. Perhaps you need to redirect your energies toward your own life situation until your sister comes to you for specific advice. You love her, you want her to be happy, just pray for her.


#8

[quote=YinYangMom]Since she is protestant as is her ex-husband I don’t see why you would be transferring your Catholic guidelines to her situation.

Let her live her life.
If and when she gets to the point where she is entertaining thought of starting over, then** SHE** can look at her specific situation depending upon whether or not the new man is Catholic or Protestant or non-Christian.

Until she comes to you asking your approval of a new man in her life, I don’t see where there is an issue for you to advise her about.

Personally, I worry about my siblings too, but when I find I get so caught up with their lives that my stress level rises, then I know I’m neglecting my own life and my own issues. Perhaps you need to redirect your energies toward your own life situation until your sister comes to you for specific advice. You love her, you want her to be happy, just pray for her.
[/quote]

SO… Is this our attitude towards Protestants? “They’re Protestants… let them do there thing?” Isn’t truth TRUTH? My sister is a very devout Christian and tries very VERY hard to do the right thing. Yesterday’s conversation with her bordered on her asking “IS this the right thing? MUST I stay unmarried forever?” I guess this is the question I am struggling to answer and what I was looking for help on. Of course I can’t live her life for her (or get “caught up in her life”) but loving your brother or sister the way Christ taught us does not mean “redirecting energy toward your own life.” I understand your thought there, and that there does need to be balance. But when someone you love is struggling with something like that, you don’t want to wash your hands of them and only pay attention to your own life. I have also tried to talk to her about Catholicism some as I have with other family members since I converted “out of the blue” and no one else in my family or my husband’s is Catholic. In light of my evangelizing her… HOW IS THIS QUESTION ANSWERED? It looks like the opinion here is “Well, she’s just a Protestant, who cares? Let her live her life!” Protestant Christians ARE Christians, they are our separated brothers! We are to love them as such! But how? When our rules don’t apply to them?

Hope this is more clear. Thank you everyone. I’m sorry I was not clear before and I do appreciate everyone’s opinions.


#9

I don’t think that is the attitude at all, but I think their point was to say that the “rules” as we view Catholic marriages don’t technically apply to non-Catholics.

Doesn’t mean they aren’t good guidelines to live by for anyone (in fact, they are THE correct way for everyone to live their life, that’s the sad thing about the separation of our Protestant brethren), but that an annulment is probably not necessary for her unless she intends to become Catholic.

Good luck :slight_smile:


#10

I could be NUTS, but, I could swear I’ve read that the tribunals can review cases of non-Catholic marriage even if it is not related to someone converting to the RCC. Let me do some digging…


#11

[quote=aterrell]bordered on her asking “IS this the right thing? MUST I stay unmarried forever?” I guess this is the question I am struggling to answer and what I was looking for help on.
[/quote]

I guess the simplest way to answer her if she asks that specific question is to say “As a Catholic I believe that you will not have to stay “unmaried” because your marriage still exists under the eyes of God. But as a Protestant you are not required to believe this”.

Tell her that if you were in her situation you would (whatever you would do ).

Discuss marriage with her from your Catholic perpective and guide her to the Truth without imposing it on her.

I wish you luck!

Malia


#12

[quote=HappyCatholic01]I don’t think that is the attitude at all, but I think their point was to say that the “rules” as we view Catholic marriages don’t technically apply to non-Catholics.

Doesn’t mean they aren’t good guidelines to live by for anyone (in fact, they are THE correct way for everyone to live their life, that’s the sad thing about the separation of our Protestant brethren), but that an annulment is probably not necessary for her unless she intends to become Catholic.

Good luck :slight_smile:
[/quote]

Thank you. That was the point.


#13

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