Married, but, living as brother and sister


#1

I have recently married the woman whom I have loved since highschool over 20yrs ago. I am a convert to the Church and have never been married before. She was in an abusive relationship for thirteen years and has always been protestant. We have begun the annulment process; But, have decided that we will live as brother and sister so that I might live in full communion with the Church. I am very blessed to have such a gift as I do in this wonderful woman and our four children whom she had concieved in her prior union. The living as brother and sister seems to not need TOO much explaining. I am confident that we will grow closer because of it. I would be interested in hearing from other couples who might have gone through this same thing. Raising our four children, we do think requires a father and mother and do not want to seperate if possible. Your prayers and advice would very much be appreciated, thank you!


#2

Good for you for sticking with Church teaching! While I have never been through this and hope never to have to, I wouldn't see any reason for you two separating. You are providing a stable environment for your children (props also to you for calling them your children, as a step-child myself, I know how much that means). Go through the annulment process, get your marriage blessed and ride off into the sunset!

Sending prayers your way for the success of your annulment.


#3

Does someone know if this is allowed? If the annulment has not been verified, then she is still married to another man. If she is married to another man, but he is living with her, isn't that a problem?
OP, I wish you the best of luck, and will pray for you. I never would have recommended ever getting married before the annulment was granted though..


#4

I know of someone who was in a similar situation (attempting to live as brother and sister); and that person later came to understand that cohabitation falls into the category of serious sin. I know that may be difficult to hear. Please consider that the Church hasn’t yet given the annulment a verdict and until then she must be seen as another man’s wife.

I forget what resources were used in finding this out. I will make a resolution to to try and find them if you’re interested. In the mean time maybe check with a knowledgeable priest commited to following our Holy Father, the Pope.

Another thing to consider; is she remaining protestant? I know the Code of Canon Law says something about Catholics and non-Catholics should not be married except for serious reason. I can find out which exact one says that too if you’d like.

Pax Christi,
DouayRheims -Lay Apostle


#5

I’m confused, why would you get married and then want an annulment, and only live as “brother and sister”???


#6

Judcargile,

Some thoughts, please Although I admire your clearly sincere desire to "do the right thing," I must cautiously, and respectfully, ask you to consider other issues which may make it undesirable to continue to do what you are doing:

  1. I can only assume that you are civilly married to a woman who has had a civil divorce from an abusive ex, from whom she is now seeking a religious annulment (which I am confused about, seeing as she is protestant).

  2. I will leave aside the whole issue of whether it is acceptable to be civilly married under those circumstances, as that is not what you are inquiring about. Instead, you are inquiring as to "living like brother & sister."

  3. What form does "living like brother & sister" take? Do you sleep in separate beds? Separate bedrooms? Does the public see you guys as true spouses?

  4. "Living as brother & sister" is not, IMHO, the ideal "marriage," for many reasons. Among other reasons, it may create confusion for the kids. How old are they? Do they understand that what you are doing is not the "norm" in any way as to marriage? Could this create unreasonable expectations on their part as to what marriage is truly like?

  5. Also, I note that your wife is someone you knew long ago, and have strong feelings for, and she was also abused. I am sincerely sorry about that but...that situation, where she knows of your feelings, but allows you to be "kind-of-married-but-also-not-married" becomes a sort of crutch, and is not really fair to you, wherein she gets all the benefits of marriage without some of the obligations. When is the "brother& sister thing" going to change..if at all?

  6. It sounds like you'd like a more traditional marriage but she's not ready for it (or, worse, may not want it, at all), in which case you've gone & gotten married, which creates some major complications as to how long this arrangement will last.

IMHO, this whole "married but living as brother & sister" sounds far from optimal, and maybe is her way of being "not ready" to get over the abuse she suffered...that, and perhaps you wanted to "rescue" her. IMHO, the better pattern is for her to get her annulment, and to figure out that what she needs is a true, healthy marriage..not one where she gets her emotional needs met without any real "marriage bond" to accompany it.

I am really sorry if I sound harsh, because I sincerely don't mean to. I pray it all works out for all involved.

--VdT


#7

My wife is protestant; But, is going through with the annulment because she respects my beliefs as a catholic and understands why this must be done. We initially sought a civil marriage because it was a condition of her divorce that there be no overnight guests. It was very important that I be in close proximity to the children as the household was in grave need of a father figure. I did not live locally prior to that time. Several miracualous things happened that day we were married and it seemed that Gods' hand was all over our getting married. I also misunderstood some of the reasons catholics may not have civil marriages and my being allowed to receive communion. I would advise most any catholic against doing what I have done; But, it has worked out very well in our situation it seems.

My priest offered a pamphlet on the annulment process and pointed out as published where it is highly recommended that if we do cohabitate, then we can do so as brother and sister in that I may be able to recieve communion. As far as willfully putting myself in the near occasion of sin, we must use common sense to protect against tempting situations. Some can handle seperate beds and some only seperate rooms and others can not cohabitate. We did not have sex before marriage and do intend to wait until convalidation before continuing that level of intimacy. I am finding it hard to find much published material as to the living as brother and sister; But, this is not an invention of my own doing!

Do you not think the kids were prone to abuse her as that was all that they had seen? This situation was very desperate and now there is structure and peace in our home. Publicly we do live as husband and wife; But, we do not share the level of intimacy as a married couple. This I hope, will bring us even closer than before. God said do not put asunder what I have joined together. I believe that is what He has done and the best that I can do is be obedient and follow the authority that God has given the men over me. We must present the case as to why the marriage bond never existed in her previous union and are working toward that.

I am interested in people with first or second hand experience in this matter. People with opinions about this and no knowledge really have nothing to add here. You did not know that the Church allows this and you have no knowledge of the details between my family and myself.


#8

[quote="VonDerTann, post:6, topic:218934"]
Judcargile,

Some thoughts, please Although I admire your clearly sincere desire to "do the right thing," I must cautiously, and respectfully, ask you to consider other issues which may make it undesirable to continue to do what you are doing:

  1. I can only assume that you are civilly married to a woman who has had a civil divorce from an abusive ex, from whom she is now seeking a religious annulment (which I am confused about, seeing as she is protestant).

AI am catholic, I can not be married in the eyes of the Church without her getting an annulment, she supports that!

  1. I will leave aside the whole issue of whether it is acceptable to be civilly married under those circumstances, as that is not what you are inquiring about. Instead, you are inquiring as to "living like brother & sister."

AOf which it seems you will not be able to give advice?!

  1. What form does "living like brother & sister" take? Do you sleep in separate beds? Separate bedrooms? Does the public see you guys as true spouses?

AWe live in public as husband and wife........We stay clear of the obvious things that can tempt us. We are mature and in love with God and our family, we try to put them ahead of ourselves.

  1. "Living as brother & sister" is not, IMHO, the ideal "marriage," for many reasons. Among other reasons, it may create confusion for the kids. How old are they? Do they understand that what you are doing is not the "norm" in any way as to marriage? Could this create unreasonable expectations on their part as to what marriage is truly like?

AThis is intended to be temporary, perhaps six months. The children were never invited into our bedroom, they should detect no difference.

  1. Also, I note that your wife is someone you knew long ago, and have strong feelings for, and she was also abused. I am sincerely sorry about that but...that situation, where she knows of your feelings, but allows you to be "kind-of-married-but-also-not-married" becomes a sort of crutch, and is not really fair to you, wherein she gets all the benefits of marriage without some of the obligations. When is the "brother& sister thing" going to change..if at all?

AWe were present at the service and it was clear from the blessed signs that God gave to us that He was pleased as to our union. We both are convinced that we are married and will be committed unto death. The annulment will happen and when we get convalidated, we will procreate children. I can not receive communion if we live as husband and wife....God should come first. I have a wonderful gift in a wife that she is protestant and would make this sacrifice! This is VERY married and you will not find many examples that are so excellent!

  1. It sounds like you'd like a more traditional marriage but she's not ready for it (or, worse, may not want it, at all), in which case you've gone & gotten married, which creates some major complications as to how long this arrangement will last.

AI do not know why you even thought of this question????????

IMHO, this whole "married but living as brother & sister" sounds far from optimal, and maybe is her way of being "not ready" to get over the abuse she suffered...that, and perhaps you wanted to "rescue" her. IMHO, the better pattern is for her to get her annulment, and to figure out that what she needs is a true, healthy marriage..not one where she gets her emotional needs met without any real "marriage bond" to accompany it.

I am really sorry if I sound harsh, because I sincerely don't mean to. I pray it all works out for all involved.

AEvery bit of this since her divorce was final has been my suggestion, again, I do not even understand how this is even entering your mind, truly!

--VdT

[/quote]


#9

[quote="spunjalebi, post:5, topic:218934"]
I'm confused, why would you get married and then want an annulment, and only live as "brother and sister"???

[/quote]

We live as brother and sister UNTIL we get annulment/convalidated!!


#10

My husband and I lived as brother and sister. It was a challenge (we slept in separate beds in the same room which helped, we worked - and still do - opposite schedules, my job is draining which also helped). The most challenging part for me came when examining my conscience wondering if desiring to kiss him was a grave sin, holding hands was a grave sin, etc.


#11

But, in regards to the strength of our relationship, it caused us to really work on our communication skills and we have a marriage that is united. Our families know that we are a team (whereas most of the marriages in our family are definitely not united and based on helping each other get to heaven). The attempts by others to get in the middle no longer happen because they know they won't get away with that.


#12

I'm sorry, but you shouldn't be in a romantic relationship with a married woman, and until she has the annulment in hand she is a married woman.

Whoever told you that it was ok as long as you live as "brother and sister" was seriously mistaken.


#13

[quote="KostyaJMJ, post:12, topic:218934"]
I'm sorry, but you shouldn't be in a romantic relationship with a married woman, and until she has the annulment in hand she is a married woman.

Whoever told you that it was ok as long as you live as "brother and sister" was seriously mistaken.

[/quote]

Uh, the whole point of living as brother and sister precludes romance being included in our daily lives. Not only was this option brought up by my priest, it is published in a brochure about annulments published by Our Sunday Visitor.......YOU, are seriously mistaken as the evidence is against you! Have you recieved Holy Orders? Do you have the responsibility of souls? Can you even read? The whole point is that a couple live outside of a romantic relationship until convalidation!


#14

No, I can read and understand the rules perfectly. You do not set up and play house with someone else’s wife. The rules you are speaking of are for those that have repented of the sin of adultery but can’t separate for some serious reason such as finances or children.

The faithful who persist in such a situation may receive Holy Communion only after obtaining sacramental absolution, which may be given only “to those who, repenting of having broken the sign of the Covenant and of fidelity to Christ, are sincerely ready to undertake a way of life that is no longer in contradiction to the indissolubility of marriage. This means, in practice, that when for serious reasons, for example, for the children’s upbringing, a man and a woman cannot satisfy the obligation to separate, they ‘take on themselves the duty to live in complete continence, that is, by abstinence from the acts proper to married couples’”(8). In such a case they may receive Holy Communion as long as they respect the obligation to avoid giving scandal.

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_14091994_rec-holy-comm-by-divorced_en.html

This is not intended so that people can enter a romantic relationship and plan on living as brother and sister waiting on an annulment.

Unless they have children together or have some other serious reason to cohabitate they are under a serious obligation to separate.


#15

[quote="judcargile, post:1, topic:218934"]
I have recently married the woman whom I have loved since highschool over 20yrs ago. I am a convert to the Church and have never been married before. She was in an abusive relationship for thirteen years and has always been protestant. We have begun the annulment process; But, have decided that we will live as brother and sister so that I might live in full communion with the Church. I am very blessed to have such a gift as I do in this wonderful woman and our four children whom she had concieved in her prior union. The living as brother and sister seems to not need TOO much explaining. I am confident that we will grow closer because of it. I would be interested in hearing from other couples who might have gone through this same thing. Raising our four children, we do think requires a father and mother and do not want to seperate if possible. Your prayers and advice would very much be appreciated, thank you!

[/quote]

judcargile,
God bless you for asking this question. I am so thankful that your friend has agreed to do this with you. I am in a similar situation, it has not improved our communication, but it has gotten him to look more seriously at our differences in belief and has made progress.

This, for me, has been a time of learning to trust God for the outcome, and a trial for my kids and his mom to watch. I have at times nearly lost faith because of this trial but it has made me stronger and wiser for others. I pray like crazy for people about to make the same dumb mistakes. I have learned that in my own life certain things are disordered, that is what brought me to the point of seeing what I was doing. I had to face up to the charge by the Church of adultery. Visiting our chapel when Adoration is available, and sitting for a while, has provided a break from my situation every week.

When this is over, it is my hope that all this trouble, suffering, physical, emotional, spiritual, will be for some good, for his soul and mine...and eventually our kids and his mom.--the first advice i received was that my children need both a father and a mother.

It is a time of discernment and growth. It is a most difficult "do-over" if it works out that way. God is in control. He needs me to trust Him, and he will deal with the details...meanwhile I must forgive, and watch God unfold his purpose in my life. There is not much in the way of help in this area. I am not sure why. someone posted a book written back in the 60s called "whom God has not joined" and I just ordered a used version because it is not in print.

You are so blessed your friend is supportive in this. It does show that you love her very much. Thank you for protecting her, and the children and putting God first. He is a most gracious friend.--peace.


#16

[quote="KostyaJMJ, post:14, topic:218934"]
No, I can read and understand the rules perfectly. You do not set up and play house with someone else's wife. The rules you are speaking of are for those that have repented of the sin of adultery but can't separate for some serious reason such as finances or children.

vatican.va/roman_curia/congregations/cfaith/documents/rc_con_cfaith_doc_14091994_rec-holy-comm-by-divorced_en.html

This is not intended so that people can enter a romantic relationship and plan on living as brother and sister waiting on an annulment.

Unless they have children together or have some other serious reason to cohabitate they are under a serious obligation to separate.

[/quote]

EXACTLY, the four children is why we have done this! Since you can read, then start from the beginning and please do so. I have a confessor and follow all of his advice, Thank You! I would appreciate that you do not darken my doorstep again. You are ignorant of the situation that I am in and you are not in a place of authority to be dispensing spiritual advice..........simply, you have forgotten your place and can add nothing of substance to what I have asked for.


#17

[quote="judcargile, post:16, topic:218934"]
EXACTLY, the four children is why we have done this! Since you can read, then start from the beginning and please do so. I have a confessor and follow all of his advice, Thank You! I would appreciate that you do not darken my doorstep again. You are ignorant of the situation that I am in and you are not in a place of authority to be dispensing spiritual advice..........simply, you have forgotten your place and can add nothing of substance to what I have asked for.

[/quote]

Sorry, if you just want to be affirmed in how great your decision is then don't ask for advice and stick with your confessor. I read your original post and didn't see that you had any children together. I must have missed it.


#18

[quote="KostyaJMJ, post:17, topic:218934"]
Sorry, if you just want to be affirmed in how great your decision is then don't ask for advice and stick with your confessor. I read your original post and didn't see that you had any children together. I must have missed it.

[/quote]

I don't think he's looking to be affirmed. He asked for prayers and advice. You are blessed to not have sinned, he recognizes what he has done and is asking for practical advice from those who have fallen short of the Glory of God. If you have not been in his situation, why would you even be on this thread since obviously you have nothing to contribute since you have not btdt, unless you're offering prayers. So far I'm the only one who's offered practical advice on how to live as brother and sister in this self-imposed difficult, near sinful situation.


#19

I think some posters are missing some important pieces of information. Like that he strayed from the faith when he married her civilly. That he knows this was a sin and (I assume) went to Confession, and now his "wife" is seeking a declaration of nullity and until (and if) she receives that they are living as brother and sister. This is so that he can come back to the Sacraments. Since people in his church probably know them as being married, it might be more shocking for them to separate, not to mention that there are children there.

I have no personal advice, but like any difficult situation in a marriage, the best thing to do is pray together.


#20

Oh okay, I think I get it now.

What I am wondering is, does this provide a good model for the children involved? For instance, are they aware that the parents aren't truly married, but are still living together? I understand that it's important for children to have two full-time parents, but what kind of witness does this provide?


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