Is the marriage invalid or valid?

Here’s the scenario, (names have been changed): My friends have been married for almost 3.5 years, and they have 2 wonderful kids. About 6 months ago the wife, Angela, found out that her husband, Bob, has been struggling with same-sex attractions. He has had this struggle since he was in his teens. He never told her any of this while they were dating or engaged. He also never told anyone else. The only people who knew were his confessors and spiritual director. His spiritual director at the time of their engagement advised him not to share this information about himself to his future wife, on the basis that it would cause unnecessary distress and trauma to both him and her; also both Bob and his spiritual director thought that any inclinations he was struggling with were “under control.”
Bob loves his wife very much and is very remorseful. Currently he is taking steps to better himself (i.e. therapy, groups, etc.) as well as attending marriage counseling with his wife. However, Angela, does not consider the marriage valid as she says she would not have married Bob had she known. They spoke to their pastor and he affirmed that they’re married, but she does not believe him and is tied up on the “presumption of marriage does not validate a marriage.”
What I am asking is: is the marriage valid?

How could we know more than their own Pastor? They need to speak with a priest regarding possible grounds for an annulment.

If the priest is unwilling to help you out because he feels the marriage is valid contact the Marriage Tribunal in your diocese and ask for the name of a Canon Law Attorney to assist you.

Hope it all works out ok for all involved.


In order for a competent Tribunal to review their marriage, Bob and Angela would have to have completed the legal divorce process.

After that, they submit their petition.

We have no way of knowing without the training and access to all of the testimony that would be given.

ETA. Attractions are very different than actions.


Actually she might get away with saying that it would have been an impediment to the marriage if she had known beforehand.


Let’s listen to St. Jerome-

“Do not tell me about the violence of the ravisher, about the persuasiveness of a mother, about the authority of a father, about the influence of relatives, about the intrigues and insolence of servants, or about household [financial] losses. So long as a husband lives, be he adulterer, be he sodomite, be he addicted to every kind of vice, if she left him on account of his crimes he is her husband still and she may not take another.” , “Letters” c. 396 A.D.

Also, her hypothetical intention doesn’t matter for anything. The fact is that she stood before God and a priest and congregation and at that time willingly gave consent and consummated the marriage. There’s no way out of that.

Now, if she simulated or faked her consent while thinking she could always get the marriage annulled later or a divorce later, it would be invalid on two counts-

  1. Simulation (faking) the sacrament.
  2. Willing AGAINST the permanence of the marriage.

But otherwise, she has no way out.

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Interesting that his spiritual director advised him to lie through omission.


It’s valid in the eyes of the church.

If they civilly divorce and seek a decree of nulity, they’ll learn whether the tribunal finds it was valid.

The messed up part is that she would have to go through the process of a divorce, and apply for a degree of nullity to evaluate that possibility. It’s then conceivable that the tribunal would say it IS valid. At that point, it would likely be very difficult to return to a life of marriage for the two of them

The bigger question, I think, is whether she can make this marriage work. Will she choose him over all others, in sickness and in health, until death do them part? That’s for the two of them to decide

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I’ve been through an annulment after thirteen years of marriage and one child. The annulment process has changed a lot in recent years with Pope Francis streamlining the process. My annulment from start to finish took four months start to finish in the Archdiocese of Philadelphia. A nun I know near my winter home in Broward County, FL, says it takes 12-15 months there. The primary thing they’re looking for is a reason to believe the marriage should not have occurred in the first place. I had to get four witnesses to answer questionnaires and make statement to that effect. It was hard for me since my first marriage was in 1979 and divorce in 1995. I had to use my former sister in law and her husband and my two cousins. I digress. From what I learned of the process and from what you said, she probably wouldn’t have any problem getting an annulment. Another younger woman in my RCIA class also got an annulment and it went quickly.
However, I do think she should try to make it work, but that may be water under the bridge at this point. Have her talk to her priest before she takes any action legal or with the Archdiocese. She can probably find the paperwork on the Archdiocese’s website and the process the Marriage Tribunal in her Archdiocese uses.

Generally speaking, marriage enjoys the favor of the law; thus, validity must be upheld until the contrary is proved. The burden of proof rests upon the one alleging invalidity. So if Angela doesn’t plan on leaving Bob, what does she have to do? Technically speaking, nothing.

If she does want to leave him, she must first obtain a civil divorce and then submit the paperwork applying for a nullity case to be heard. She could potentially have an argument, but if this cannot be proved—to the moral certainty of the judge—validity must be upheld.

A possible argument could be based on error concerning a quality of the person. In Gratian’s Decretum, the father of canon law explains that consent exists where two persons perceive. He who errs does not perceive, and consequently does not consent. Thus error concerning the person renders a marriage invalid, which is contained in canon 1097.1.

Paragraph 2 then explains: “Error concerning a quality of the person does not render a marriage invalid even if it is the cause for the contract, unless this quality is directly and principally intended”. If Angela married Bob on condition that he was heterosexual, and Bob directly refused to tell her about his same-sex attraction, knowing that his “heterosexuality” is the cause for the contract, then she may have a case. It doesn’t seem very likely to succeed, however, if she simply says that if she had known, she would not have married him.

My two cents; don’t take this as anything authoritative. Rather, take it with a grain of salt, as this is online communication and I don’t know all the details of the case.

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A small correction: it is presumed valid until the contrary is proved.


What does this even mean? Where is she getting this from?

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Only a judge can answer that question, and only after a tribunal has examined the case.

Which presupposes a civil divorce.

Without a divorce in hand, no tribunal will accept a case.

I too have been through the annulment process. Mine took 16 months. Does anyone truly think this marriage could be valid when someone had SSA? I don’t.

Actually, you’re mistaken. “Willingly giving consent” to a situation of which she is not aware is not ‘consent.’ The question is whether she would have “given consent” had she known.

However, the other posters are correct: while the marriage is ongoing, it is presumed valid. End of story. (If there is a divorce, she may petition the tribunal to investigate validity. Short of that, the answer is a simple “it is presumed valid.”)

The case, as presented here, doesn’t hinge on whether the husband has SSA; it depends on whether that is a quality that would have caused the wife to refuse marriage, had she known. So, yeah… there can be valid marriages in which one spouse has SSA.


First and foremost: only a Tribunal (or the bishop himself) can determine if a marriage is valid or not, and only after the necessary processes have been completed. Unless and until that happens, marriage enjoys the favor of the law.

Keeping that in mind, it seems to me that what you describe could be legitimate grounds for a petition for declaration of nullity, based on canon 1098 (or 1097.2).


I am guessing that there is more to this story. How did it come to light that he has “been struggling with” SSA for many years? What is he remorseful for; in therapy, counseling, for?

Irrelevant quote, as St. Jerome is speaking about post marriage issues, not issues existing as of the day of the marriage.

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Presumption of marriage is not the issue. Bob’s failure to give Angela relevant information is the issue. But deception does not necessarily invalidate the marriage.


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