Marriage Question

Hello all, I have browsed these forums for a while now and wanted to see if I could get some answers to one of my questions that has popped up.

I have been dating my fiance for over 2 years now. We are getting ready to start planning the wedding and she has agreed to a Catholic ceremony even though she is not and I am.

From what I have read and understand the Catholic Church will only marry a couple if they have the intention to have children together. She has Marfans Syndrome and I have my own heart issues. She has a son which is how she found out about the significant risks she has when she is pregnant, both to her and the unborn child. Due to this and the significant risk that a pregnancy could result in myself not only loosing her but custody of her son who i love very much, we agreed not to have any children of our own naturally born.

We are very much interested in adopting and and agreed we would like to become foster parents later on as well.

I am planning on speaking with the priest about this soon, but I wanted to hear some of the opinions on this board.

Thank you.

you should discuss with your priest. you could also post this question to an apologist on this site considering your circumstances.

You need to talk to your priest before making any wedding plans.

Yes, a permanent intention against children invalidates an attempt at marriage. Now, you need to discuss with your priest what a permanent intention against children means canonically.

I don’t think you are going to get the answers you hope for from the priest.

I’m going to get blasted for these…

The priest may not ask you about your intention to have children. Kind of don’t ask, don’t tell. The problem with this is that he may ask later when plans and money are far along.


Another possible possible solution. She gets her tubes tied before you talk to the priest. Sterility is not an impediment.


Skip the Catholic church wedding.

We will also assume, since you did not mention it, that she is free to marry and that she was not previously married to the father of her child. Even if she is not Catholic, she must be free to marry meaning any previous marriage must be reviewed by the Marriage Tribunal through a petition for Declaration of Nullity. This must take place BEFORE any marriage planning or date setting ever takes place as she is considered to be married otherwise.


The marital preparation process and paperwork includes ensuring the couple understands and intends the essential properties of marriage. And, the vows themselves require the couple to respond affirmatively to accepting children.

Encouraging someone to commit a mortal sin is itself grave matter, you know.

In which case he would be in an invalid mariage and committing a mortal sin.

Great advice-- NOT.

Does the Church have any way to deal with these sorts of issues? What are couples like the OP suppose to do, get married and NEVER have sex? Yes, I understand that marriage isn’t just about sex, but seriously if you cannot have sex when you are married there is no point in getting married, period.

The best way to deal with these situations needs to be according to the teaching morals of our Church.

Sometimes that means an engaged couple should be re-evaluating whether they should get married.

That pretty much means if you have certain medical issues, you should never get married.

If you willing to use NFP I think you can get married anyway. You have to be “open” to children but you are allowed to use NFP for the duration of your marriage.

First, thanks for your replies.

I guess what I cant understand right now is if the church will not marry us, since we do not plan to have our own children naturally, thats like saying that the church will only marry us if I am willing to accept the very real and significant risk of not just loosing the woman I love but also her son whom I think of as my own.

It isn’t that we dont want children, we do and nothing would make us happier than to have kids together just like the church wants. Like I said before we plan to be foster parents and are looking into adopting so we are very open to children and love them.

If you really want to get married then you would use NFP very conservatively (women in China do it with 99% success) and if you get pregnant anyway you chalk it up to Gods will and pray pray pray.

No one has said the Church will not marry you. You need to understand what is required to give valid consent. If you cannot give valid consent, it is not the Church that refuses to marry you, it is you and your fiance who self-select out of marriage. No one can supply valid consent for you, only you and she can.

Again, you need to understand canonically what a permanent intention against children means.

Life is always risky. There aren’t any guarantees. She could become pregnant even if you intend otherwise and could be just fine. You or she could die by some disease or mishap that has nothing to do with your conditions. We are all mortal.

So, no, that is not what the Church is saying. Marriage, by divine institution, requires certain elements to be valid. If you can’t supply those elements, you can’t marry.

You need to discuss this with your priest. If you can **honestly **answer that you will accept children lovingly from God, and you do not have a **permanent intention against **children, you could validly contract marriage. You can continue to consult with doctors who may have new treatments, new options, or new information. You definitely need to talk to an NFP instructor.

Thats true,
But this does bring up a secondary question which if normal contraceptives are not ok (I understand why they are not, that isnt my question), why is NFP deemed alright? I mean both NFP and contraceptives have similar chances of not working (including surgeries) and with both you are knowingly and intentionally altering your chances of conceiving a child.

This may be a bad analogy but it seems like the church is saying as long as your rob the bank during this period of time of the month your are ok, but if you rob the bank at any other time and are waring a mask you are headed to jail.

  1. You don’t change the marriage act. Think of contraceptive sex like using green koolaid for the wine during Communion. It would invalidate the sacramental grace.

  2. The sacrifice is more likely to result in its use for only the most serious of reasons.

Each act of intercourse must be unaltered. NFP doesn’t alter anything. It gives you information, which you can use to try to achieve or avoid pregnancy. You can either have intercourse or not. The Church doesn’t teach you have to have intercourse with any specific frequency.

Effectiveness has nothing to do with the morality or immorality. You must look at the object, the means, and the end.

The end of avoiding pregnancy is not intrinsically immoral. Contraception is an immoral means of avoiding pregnancy. Abstaining isn’t. Just as stealing is an immoral means of obtaining money (a morally neutral end), while working isn’t.

You aren’t altering anything. You are looking at information about your body and making a decision to engage in intercourse or abstain.

It is a completely nonsensical analogy.

You must look at not only the end, you must also look at the means used.

I would say, get a lot of medical advice, before you decide that having a baby of your own is out of the question. Especially since even with ABC, pregnancy can still happen. Be 100% sure of the risks, the odds, etc. God can still do miracles you know.

I wish you the best of luck with your marriage. Be sure to get detailed information from a specialist in Marfan Syndrome. Even if it’s just through email, you will know enough to talk to your priest about the situation.

Here, I just found this on it seems that her aortic root measurement is crucial to her prognosis for pregnancy. It looks as though perhaps pregnancy is not 100% ruled out, but it will need to be managed carefully.

I have Marfan syndrome and I want to have a baby. What should I do before I become pregnant?
There are several things to consider before becoming pregnant:

* Have an examination with your family doctor or internist to evaluate your overall health.
* Visit your cardiologist and have an echocardiogram to make sure your aorta is not at a size that would make pregnancy too risky.
* See a perinatologist (maternal-fetal medicine specialist or high risk obstetrician) to talk about specific issues related to pregnancy and Marfan syndrome.
* Consult with a clinical geneticist or genetic counselor to help you and your partner understand how Marfan syndrome is inherited and to learn about the choices you have.

Am I at greater risk of medical problems while I am pregnant?**
All women with Marfan syndrome are at increased risk for complications during pregnancy. Therefore, it is important that you are cared for by an obstetrician with the experience and expertise needed to manage potentially life-threatening heart problems. You should also be carefully followed by your cardiologist throughout the pregnancy, with echocardiograms done at least every three months.

There are not a lot of studies in this area, but available research shows that:

* Women with an aortic root less than 4.0 cm are at very low risk for a rapid change in aortic size or aortic tear during or immediately after pregnancy.
* Women with an aortic root above 4.0 cm are at greater risk, and this risk appears to increase proportionally to aortic size.
*** Women with Marfan syndrome with an aortic root of more than 5.0 cm are at extreme risk during pregnancy. In this case, pregnancy is not recommended.**

Thanks for all the answers you all have given me. This has solidified that I need to talk with my priest.

Also thanks for the medical information, from what you posted it says that my fiance does have the extreme risk marfans from what we have talked about.

I think the big part you need to look at is that it seems like you want to do the right thing. If you love this woman and are called to marry this woman than being able to have a true Sacrament of marriage including NFP will truly be a testimony to the Gospel of Life as well as your love for this woman.

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