Legally divorced standing by wedding vows


#1

I am just wondering if there are any legally divorced Catholics out there that have decided to stand my their wedding vows?

Long story short, I was married to a great man for 17 years (3 children). Mid-life crisis combined with PTSD (military) lead him to file for legal divorce. I am in a no-fault state, so I had no option but to go along with the divorce.

I set up an appointment to talk to our parish priest to get advice regarding legal divorce. Instead, the woman who deals with annulments met with me. She quized me and found a “loop hole” that would allow for an annulment. It stunned me.

My husband and I are on very friendly terms and talk daily. We are both in agreement that our marriage was valid.

Although I know in my heart that I am doing God’s will by standing by my vows, I seem to be alone in my views. I mean, I did say “for better or for worse.” This is the “worse” in my opinion. If this means growing old alone, then so be it.

My views are difficult for anyone else to accept. If I hear “screw him” or that some man will come along and “sweep me off my feet” one more time I am going to scream.

I don’t know why it is so hard for people to accept that I am at peace with my decision. This isn’t so much about my husband, but about my relationship with God. I believe I am sending a great message to my children too.

Any thoughts (reassurance :wink: ) on the issue would be much appreciated.

Thanks!


#2

You are not alone. I have a friend who believes the same thing and is planning to remain celibate and unmarried also.


#3

[quote="GeorgiaPeach, post:1, topic:197301"]
I am just wondering if there are any legally divorced Catholics out there that have decided to stand my their wedding vows?

Long story short, I was married to a great man for 17 years (3 children). Mid-life crisis combined with PTSD (military) lead him to file for legal divorce. I am in a no-fault state, so I had no option but to go along with the divorce.

I set up an appointment to talk to our parish priest to get advice regarding legal divorce. Instead, the woman who deals with annulments met with me. She quized me and found a "loop hole" that would allow for an annulment. It stunned me.

My husband and I are on very friendly terms and talk daily. We are both in agreement that our marriage was valid.

Although I know in my heart that I am doing God's will by standing by my vows, I seem to be alone in my views. I mean, I did say "for better or for worse." This is the "worse" in my opinion. If this means growing old alone, then so be it.

My views are difficult for anyone else to accept. If I hear "screw him" or that some man will come along and "sweep me off my feet" one more time I am going to scream.

I don't know why it is so hard for people to accept that I am at peace with my decision. This isn't so much about my husband, but about my relationship with God. I believe I am sending a great message to my children too.

Any thoughts (reassurance ;) ) on the issue would be much appreciated.

Thanks!

[/quote]

For the time being I am in a similar situation. After our civil divorce I caved and filed (half-heartedly) for an annulment. It was denied prior to ever making it to the tribunal (some sort of pre-screening thing). I was relieved. I have no desire to date ever again, let alone re-marry. I still love my wife and take my vows very seriously. However, about a year ago, my wife turned around and filed for an annulment. Now I find I dread going to the mailbox for fear that the tribunal will have granted nullity. We've been married 24 years (separated & then divorced for almost 5 years). A decree of nullity would mean that all those years were a lie. The wedding band that I continue to wear on my finger would become meaningless. What of the love that I still have for my wife?

I understand and share some of what you are going through. I can't tell you how many times I've been asked why I still wear my wedding ring or why I don't look for another relationship. Even many Catholic friends seem confused over my decision to stay faithful to the vows I took at our wedding. It's very sad and my biggest prayer is that the petition my wife submitted will be denied. If it's not, I don't know how I will be able to cope. The being apart has been devastating. To then be told that there was never a marriage to begin with and that the woman who I continue to love is not and never has been my wife… I think that might destroy me completely. :(


#4

I would say that there are two ways of looking at this - both valid.

The first is the position you currently hold. That you did not choose the divorce and are satisfied to let it go at that and commit to a single, celibate, life.
If this is what you are most comfortable with - then go for it and “blow off” what others say.

The second is that, since we can never know what the furture holds, it would be wise to go ahead and apply for an annulment while things are “fresh” in everyones mind.
An annulment does not mean that you cannot continue to be friends with your ex, or that you cannot continue your commitment to a single lifestyle.

One thing that is not specified in your post is whether your husband plans to re-marry, or is at least open to that possiblility and whether he is catholic.
If he is, then seeking an annulment would prevent him from entering into a sinful relationship with another woman.

I know that this is not the “encouragement” you seek, but overall it is you who must make the determination on what is right for you - regardless of what others think.

Peace
James


#5

What a great example of being faithful to your vows. Vows are promises and promises are meant to be kept.

Your situation is probably a glimpse of my future, so it is heartening to see this.

jb


#6

I would say you can do what you think is best, but I would be afraid that your devotion to your vows is obviously a one way street and that I would hope you are not thinking your spouse is coming back and all you have to do is wait.


#7

This point bears a little emphasis - you do have to think about what is best for your husband and his spiritual welfare as well as your own. If your husband is open to the possibility of remarriage within the church, with another partner, then it would be wise to consider the possibility of an annulment to allow him to do so.


#8

I’m sorry for your sadness. You are obviously in terrible pain. Hopefully, with time, you will find a way to make peace with your situation.

That said, assuming that you believe the tribunal is guided by God and will therefore rule accordingly, wouldn’t you be better off knowing the truth about the validity of your marriage? As painful as it might be to learn that your marriage had been invalid, at least you would be able to view the situation as it truly is - not just how you wish it was.

I mean no disrespect by saying this, but IMHO, there is no virtue in obsessively clinging to a hopeless situation for the rest of your life. If your wife’s petition is granted, that part of your life is truly over. Sadly, no amount of “staying faithful to your vows” is going to bring it back.

I was in a situation similar to yours many years ago. When I finally allowed myself to let it go, I felt as if a giant weight had been lifted from my shoulders. I have since remarried and find that I am much, much happier than I ever was before. A similar fate could be yours if you will only make room for it.


#9

More background: We were engaged for 4 years before we were married. I still have the marital inventories we took during our premarital counseling. Our views on the Church and marriage are right there in black and white. There is no denying that we were both on the same page the day we took our vows. We discussed the sacrament of marriage at length with our each other, our parish priest, and my parents. My husband agrees with this.

I don’t know if he plans on remarrying or not…some days yes, some days no. Most days he beats himself up for messing things up so badly. He is struggling with his faith right now and has a sincere desire to do the right thing. He has a lot of ups and downs and wants to get his head straight. He has made it clear that he does not want our marriage annulled.

I love reading stories about Saints and they inspire me to be extraordinary. I can’t justify what I feel in my heart is wrong. It isn’t about waiting around for him to come back, I’ve let that go. I have found happiness within myself. It’s more about taking a stand for the sanctity of marriage in a pro-divorce world. If it impacts just one person in a positive way, then it is worth it. I have three sets of eyes looking up to me for guidance, I cannot let them down.

The loop-hole for an annulment is that his parents were divorced. Since my husband and I are legally divorced why should my children even bother getting married in the Church? Seriously? It makes me ill to think about.

Tietjen - My heart goes out to you.


#10

You should certainly do what you believe is right, however, it is possible that even if you believe you were validly married you aren’t according to the Church. Since your husband left you, you can’t lose by finding out.

However, in a later post you say that the loophole is that his parents were divorced?! That doesn’t make much sense in light of canon law with respect to validity of marriages. The person who said that doesn’t know their stuff.


#11

God bless you for your courage and your devotion to our God, to your husband, and to your children.

I am at a loss to understand how his parents marital status could effect the validity of your marriage…:confused:

It does appear that now is not the time to consider an annulment (if indeed you ever do). It seems to me that your husband has many things to work out, and perhaps you do too.

Stand firm. Thank those who advise you to seek an annulment for their concern, but tell them quietly that you are perfectly content with things as they are.

Peace
James


#12

Thank you all for the thoughtful responses.

It was suggested that he didn’t have the “skills” enter into a valid marriage because his parents were divorced. I don’t see how this would make it past the filing. During the 5 minute inquiry about our marriage there were other things suggested…me marrying him because I liked the way he looked in uniform, getting married due to his earnings (20K a year??), and being too young (22) to take our vows seriously. It opened my eyes regarding the process!

I will continue to hold my head up high and not be a victim. I am happy. I may grow old alone, but not biter! Of course, I am never truly alone.


#13

I believe you are sending a great mesage to your children (and society) about the permanence of marriage. :thumbsup: Society may not want to hear that message, but I admire you for your courage to live out your vows in a difficult situation. May God bless you and your family.


#14

I think that the woman that deals with the annulments is clueless at best, or a bad Catholic. The are no loopholes in the validity of a marriage. From what you stated she is threading in dangerous waters. I see that you are trying to do what is right and I would encourage you to talk to the priest or a deacon. Obtaining a decree of nullity based on lax procedures is wrong, and does not make a marriage invalid.


#15

If (and this is a big “if”) you believe the tribunal is guided by the Holy Spirit and will therefore render a correct verdict, a decree of nullity does, indeed, mean that the marriage is invalid.


#16

I also believe that people can lie to get an annulment. Just because the tribunal is guided by the Holy Spirit, that does not imply that people will listen to Him. There is no infallibility associated with the tribunal.


#17

Well, from my personal perspective, I agree with you 100%.

Allow me to ask you this: Does it work the other way too? Is it possible that the tribunal might refuse to issue a decree of nullity for a marriage that was, in fact, invalid?


#18

Well…I did apply for an annulment and got one. I have been alone since the fall of 2006, and still have not dated because I don’t want to. But the door is open if I ever do meet someone.

My reason for getting an annulment was because I didn’t want to have to revisit the most painful period in my life ever again. When you undergo an annulment, you have to remember all of the awful stuff that happened. I’d rather leave it behind me and move forward and heal.

It sounds like there is a chance you and your ex might get back together, if you have remained friends and can talk. There was absolutely ZERO chance in my case, because my ex turned out to be a narcissist.


#19

To add to my previous post, my ex-husband revealed to me that he wanted an open marriage, and was convinced that was a viable choice. I would not go along with it, so he left and filed for divorce, among other things.

I serve as a better example to my children to not put up with that kind of nonsense.


#20

I don’t have any advice for you, but I just wanted to thank you for the testimony you are giving about the sanctity of marriage. Thank you also for your honesty, and your refusal to take advantage of shaky ‘loopholes’. There are few people that would be as honest as you are, as it seems more and more people are seeing annulment proceedings as some kind of Catholic way out of a marriage, and looking for the above mentioned ‘loopholes’.

Thank you from a member of the younger generation that is inspired by your example !


DISCLAIMER: The views and opinions expressed in these forums do not necessarily reflect those of Catholic Answers. For official apologetics resources please visit www.catholic.com.