Marriage Not Recognized By Church

I’ll keep this brief. I am a Catholic, married to a Baptist. We were married at the JP. He was married once before to another Baptist. I was married once before to a Catholic. I am willing to have previous marriage annuled so that current marriage will be recognized by Church. He refuses to do such. His reason is he is Baptist and the annulment process is a Catholic rule, not a Baptist rule. Should I remain in this marriage? I feel things in my life are not going well, and living in this state could be the reason.

Well getting a marriage annuled is not as easy as most people think. I was a Lutheran and married a Cradle Catholic that was previously married to a Catholic. We are in the process of trying to get my wifes first marriage annuled. The issue is that marriage is the only sacrament were the Priest is actually only a witness. The one performing the sacrament is God and the two people. If both know what they are doing, know the requirements of marriage including being open to life, and are not forced or coerced or lied to then it is likely a valid marriage and pretty tough to get out of.

What is interesting is that my wife and I were also married by a JOP and if I wanted to I could Divorce her and marry a Catholic and it would be legal. You see that Church would recognize your husbands first marriage because two baptized christians entered into it, but they would not recognize your marriage because you are a Catholic and know better then to marry him. For me since I was a Lutheran and my wife the “sinning” Catholic the church would not recognize our marriage so if I wanted to abandon my family and marry a Catholic I could do so and then start participating in the Eucharist, which I am not allowed to at the moment because my wife is still technically married.

I have been thinking that if this does not go well for my wife then I might become an Orthodox as I believe in the Church but would like for my wife to be able to get divorced and the Orthodox Church does allow for it. Once I am confirmed as and Orthodox then I could have communion there. I am still in RCIA.

It sounds to me that you are having trouble in a second marriage so you might want to consider that marriage is just not your vocation? If I were you I would go and talk with a Priest. Figure out if the relationship you are in could ever be a marriage. You may be married to your first husband. The Priest should be able to tell you if you had a real marriage or not. In the end it is a little hard to say, but I really don’t believe in Divorce and if something happened between me and my wife I would never marry again. I think I would become a Deacon or a Brother though. I think I might like that…

Good Luck I will Pray for you… Please pray for my wifes annulment… Thanks…

Thank you for your prayers, Lypher. I need them. I will pray for your wife’s annulment.

The circumstances of your divorce are completely immaterial. What matters is the status of things at the very beginning of your marriage - your intentions, maturity and ability to enter into a contract. This is what the marriage tribunal will examine if you should decide to pursue a decree of nullity, which would mean that a real marriage never existed.

You need to decide if you want to continue in your present marriage. If so, there may be a way to proceed without your husband’s cooperation, but I am not certain of that. Your priest would know. If not, you will be objectively living in mortal sin, unless you cease marital relations altogether.

From what you wrote, it sounds as if you might be wanting a way out of your present marriage. If that is your true desire, doing so would certainly remove a persistent occasion of sin from your life. Pray a lot for God’s guidance in the matter.

God bless you.


You need to see a priest to help you sort all of this out. He can counsel you on your marriage situation and start the paperwork for the annulment process.

One brief comment to make is that your husband is wrong to say that annulments are a “Catholic” rule. The rule comes from Jesus, who says at least 3 times in the NT that it is adultery to divorce and remarry. The Catholic Church is the only Church that actually listens to Jesus here. The Church’s policy (i.e. annulments) is to say you can’t divorce and remarry, unless of course you were never married in the first place. That’s what an annulment seeks to find out. Even if just the husband or just the wife sought the marriage with faulty motives, then it’s possible the marriage didn’t take place. The stance of other churches is to ignore Jesus and let people commit sin.

There is a lot of misunderstanding about annulments, but the simple truth is that it’s a merciful venture by the Church to allow people to find a new spouse, but only IF one may do so morally (as defined by Christ himself). Other churches immorally allow people to ignore Christ’s message and “separate what God has joined together”.

As a last word, I would like to point out that until an annulment has been granted, it is presumptive to assume it will be granted. For this reason it is a grave sin (adultery, even) to engage in the marital act with one’s legal spouse if a previous marriage has not been declared to have never sacramentally happened. Many people in this situation simply live in that sin (and consequently do not receive Communion) until the annulment case is resolved. For those who are strong and disciplined, however, Communion is available if that sin is avoided. I hope you will consider the latter case, although it’s obviously something that requires conversation with your husband. At the very least I hope the two of you would spend some time prayerfully considering the words of Christ on marriage and it means for the two of you.

Thank you, Betsy. The last thing I want is out of this marriage. I never wanted a divorce the first time. Tremendous amount of pain endured by everyone. I would not wish that on my worst enemy. I guess what I’m looking for is how can I stay married now and not be living in mortal sin? The Church has requirements that I just can’t meet. I am willing to do what is required, but no amount of explanation to my husband will change his mind.

You can live as brother and sister.

As for your previous marriage, I imagine you should have little trouble getting it annulled since your husband abandoned you and committed adultery and was thus not mentally prepared to make the vows. As for your current husband, I don’t believe there is any way you can get him an annulment without his consent (well, I suppose you could go to the ex-wife and get her to start the process, but I wouldn’t really recommend that for various reasons!). I am sympathetic to his position – annulment is Christian rather than exclusively Catholic, yes, but as a Baptist he doesn’t believe in the validity or necessity of the Catholic Church’s ruling on the issue. But if you wish to remain married and to be able to participate in receiving the eucharist, I don’t think you’ll have any choice but to convince him.

A decree of nullity should not be taken for granted. Applying for one does not equal obtaining one. Your first marriages could be found valid. You certainly should pursue a decree of nullity if you believe you have grounds. But, you need to be prepared that the outcome may not be the one you desire.

I am sorry to hear that your husband is unwilling to pursue a decree of nullity for love of you. His pride is standing in the way of doing something he knows is important to you. That, in itself, is a sign of trouble IMHO.

You are not currently in a marriage. You are in a state of adultery. You should talk to your priest about reconciling with the Church. That may mean separating from this man, or it may mean living as brother and sister. Your priest can give you spiritual guidance. If there are children involved, all parties need to be sensitive to their needs as well.

It could be. We often find our lives not going well when we separate ourselves from the Lord and his Sacraments.

First order of business: go see a good and holy priest for spiritual counsel.

Should I remain in this marriage?

Technically at this point you are not in a Marriage.

I feel things in my life are not going well, and living in this state could be the reason.

Bingo, you also do not have access to any Sacraments like Holy Communion and Confession, which should be important to you.

I am willing to have previous marriage annuled so that current marriage will be recognized by Church.

You don’t just "have the previous Marriage annuled, you ask the Church to investigate the circumstances surrounding the Marrriage to determine if what you suspect invalidated the attempt at Marriage was present or absent.

Jesus established a Church, He gave her protection.

She has the power to investigate a marriage to see if it was real, if it was valid.

As Jesus said that one can only remarry after divorce if the marriage was invalid. Granted, many translations of the Bible inaccurately translate that word and say “adultery” or “fornication”. CCC below, bold added.

1650 Today there are numerous Catholics in many countries who have recourse to civil divorce and contract new civil unions. In fidelity to the words of Jesus Christ - "Whoever divorces his wife and marries another, commits adultery against her; and if she divorces her husband and marries another, she commits adultery"160 the Church maintains that a new union cannot be recognized as valid, if the first marriage was**. If the divorced are remarried civilly, they find themselves in a situation that objectively contravenes God’s law. Consequently, they cannot receive Eucharistic communion as long as this situation persists. For the same reason, they cannot exercise certain ecclesial responsibilities. Reconciliation through the sacrament of Penance can be granted only to those who have repented for having violated the sign of the covenant and of fidelity to Christ, and who are committed to living in complete continence.

I appreciate everyone’s replies and the information has been helpful. I found a list of “Grounds for Annulment” and found that both my previous marriage and my husband’s previous marriage would, I feel, if investigated by a tribunal, be found invalid for the following reasons:

My husband married his first wife because she became pregnant. Had she not become pregnant, he had no plans to marry her, so this most likely would fall under the grounds of Force and Fear. Here is the quote: "(Canon 1103) Force and fear are two conditions that adversely influence a person’s ability to freely make decisions and thus the ability to give consent in the marital contract. This force and fear may either be internal or external.** A young lady becomes pregnant. She fears what her parents will say and how they will react. **She fears her grandmother will die of a heart attack when she finds out about the pregnancy. These are examples of internal fear. External force and fear is when she tells her father and her father forces her or her boyfriend to marry. " My husband married his first wife out of fear. He didn’t know what else to do, so he felt this was his only option.

My former marriage situation is not as cut and dry. In a nutshell, my ex-husband believed (and still does - he’s on wife #3) that if things don’t go well, life is too short to be unhappy. He did not enter our marriage with the intent of it being indissoluble. Here is the quote: “Partial simulation contra bonum sacramenti is against the good of the sacrament - against the indissolubility of marriage. A person may openly and with sincerity says to one’s intended spouse, “Well, we can try it for awhile. If it does not work out, we can always get a divorce.” That belief is contra bonum sacramenti. Due to multiple divorces in one’s immediate family, a person may not realize the element of marriage’s permanence. Permanence is a foreign thought to him or her.” My ex-husband’s parents were both married and divorced multiple times, so he grew up with that mentality.

I feel better knowing that mine and my husband’s former marriages would most likely be annulled. God knows our hearts and intentions. I will sleep better now knowing what I already knew in my heart.

I will keep praying and hopefully one day I can make things official. If it doesn’t happen that way, then that’s okay, too. I know we are right with God.

Here: Lutheran married to a Catholic in Lutheran Church no dispensation, and she has no interest in convalidation. (I’ve no idea why) 20-plus years and happier now than on day one. I suspect the unhappiness in your life has more causes than the church’s assignment, or not, of validity to your marriage

Remember, to live in a state of sin is to be in a state of sin.

The Catholic Church is not a Bible only Church. We have Sacred Tradition as well. While what is found in Sacred Tradition does not go against Scripture it is not always explicitly found within Scripture.

So continuing to as for Bible verses to support Catholic Doctrine is not productive and will not always get you the answer you are looking for.

Do not forget the Scriptures are a product of the Church, the Catholic Church.

Thank you for your reply, and congratulations on 20 years of marriage! :thumbsup: After reading my original post, I think I have mislead when I state that there is unhappiness in my marriage. It’s not unhappiness between me and my spouse. It’s just the usual financial, never seem to get ahead kind of stuff. I see people all around me doing better and often wonder if the reason things are not better for us is because of our non-recognized marriage.

Living in sin is not better. Please, work with your Priest to return to Jesus in the Eucharist!

Chamomile & Lypher

I’m currently about to begin the Tribunal process with the hope of having my first marriage annulled - with the hope of having my current marriage convalidated afterwards.

I will pray for you both - my heart goes out to you.

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