My wife wants a divorce, is it justifyable in the eyes of the church?


#1

Posted same basic question in Ask an Apologist Forum

First a little history: My wife and I checked into getting married in the Catholic church 13 years ago. We had both been raised in the Catholic church (both received first communion), although my wife’s mother was a Southern Baptist, so she attended that church as well growing up. My wife had been married twice before before, first in the Baptist church, and then in a civil ceremony. Her first marriage ended in divorce due to her husband being unfaithful and giving her a venereal disease. Her second marriage ended when her husband told her he thought he was gay, and was considering killing her and himself.
We both wanted to be confirmed then married in the Catholic church, but we were erroneously told that she could not get an annulment for the marriages, so we were married in a civil ceremony, and later confirmed in the Catholic church.
Now thirteen years later she tells me she is no longer in love with me and wants to be divorced. We went to our Priest, and because we weren’t married in the Catholic church, he said that there is no marriage and that she is free to get an annulment for all marriages and to marry the guy she has fallen in love with.
I realize that we were not married in the Catholic church, but we are both Catholic and we both agreed when we married that we had made a covenant with God to be married. I have since found out that my Priest had been married before, and had received an annulment that allowed him to become a Priest. I am wondering if this could have played a role in his nonchalance about our thirteen year marriage.
What is the Catholic churches stand on this situation? And doesn’t the word of God in the bible state that “God hates divorce”? Does not the bible state also that the only grounds for divorce is adultery, and even then only if the offended party wants to divorce? Are there scriptural grounds for divorce?
My wife claims that there are, saying that I broke our vows by being distant and not “loving her as I love myself”. Also because we were not sleeping together (because my snoring kept her up and I refused to do anything about it).
I no longer know what to believe.
Please Help!!!


#2

I don't think the fact that your priest had a marriage annulled makes him nonchalant. I think it means that he is well aware of the inner workings of the annulment process and what makes a marriage valid or not. Despite the length of your marriage, if it was a civil ceremony it is not valid in the eyes of the Church. If you want to be Catholic and live Catholic, the marriage must be performed according to Catholic protocol. Your wife's church wedding may or may not be valid, depending on what a tribunal would decide.


#3

Thank you for your reply. I see the Catholic churches view on things but, I also asked a question as a Christian. If my wife and I made a covenant with God, should we not still remain married. Also, aside from strict Catholic doctrine, am I not interpreting the Bible correctly...specifically in reference to divorce? How do you interpret scripture when it comes to divorce?
Thanks,
G


#4

I have family who went through something similar. Catholic spouse married a non-catholic, impregnated her and left. When non-catholic went to Priest, Priest said similar thing: your marriage is not valid anyway. Catholic spouse actually knew this and opted to get married in a court so as to allow themself easy escape from marriage.

It's frustrating. I know the Church doesn't mean for it to be an excuse not to fulfill obligations, but it is used that way.

As a Christian, your spouse has to answer to God still.


#5

Dear brother.
I am sorry about your troubles.

What the church teaches really isnt your first concern, because the Church doesn’t stop people from seperating or getting civil divorces. The Church doesn’t twist people’s arms to stay together, so if she wants to leave, she will leave no matter what the church says, I think.
You are right that your wife wrongs you if she leaves because of those things you indicated.
It does seem like your marriage was invalid, if, after you were both members of the Catholic Church, you had only a civil marriage ceremony and didn’t have the demanded form either. How could that even happen?? didn’t you go through pre-cana or talk to a priest about the status of your marriage in all those years?

Your situation is very sad, but I think your best shot is to win her heart again, make her realize that you love her and that the emotional rush will always come and go, and that she, validly or not, promised her fidelity to you in good and bad times.
After that, when you have convinced her, then you guys can focus on getting married in the church.


#6

The first problem is that if your wife had permission to marry outside of the Catholic church, her first marriage would still be considered valid. Which means that despite your intentions and covenant that you thought your made with your wife, she could possibly still be married to her first husband in the eyes of God and the catholic church. And what about any vows or “covenants” she made with her first 2 husbands?

Your wives first 2 marriages would have to be examined for validity and found to be invalid in order for her to be considered free to marry.

Your second problem is that as Catholics you and your wife are obligated to marry according to cannon (in a Catholic Church by a priest or deacon, or outside of the churhc with proper dispensation from the Bishop), for your marriage to be considered a valid Catholic marriage.

In the eyes of the Church you are not married.


#7

Thats why the Church also teaches us to really discern who we marry, to court chastely while figuring out the truth about the other, instead of fornicating or cohabitating which many people do today.
We cannot blame the church for our own bad decisions in lif, alright. The OP too had a responsibility of marrying validly, and can’t blame the church for that side of the trouble.

It sounds in your scenario like a person rather didn’t use her time getting to really know the character, virtue and love of her future husband, and for that, my friend, there are consequences.

You wanna talk about the Church rules about annulment. I just went through a canon law course on this subject and I am proud of my Church for taking marriage so seriously while in other churches people divorce and remarry and blankly ignore the words our Saviour gave us. I can’t see any Church with so high a regard for marriage as the Catholic Church. And I say that not because I wanna bash my protestant back ground, but its a fact.

That man you tell us about had impediments to marriage which should have been spotted before marriage, that is, he never actually recognized that indissolubility is a part of valid marriage.
It seems like the lady can also be happy that the Church has declared their marriage null, so that not only he but also she can be free and maybe find true love in the future.


#8

Ok, try this.

First pray. Pray to God for guidance, help, and patience. Pray to St. Joesph for the same.

Then tell your wife that you love her and that, before she gives up on this marriage, you think that you both deserve to see what it’s like to be truly married in the eyes of the Church.

Also tell her that you have realized that the two of you must live a chaste life until your marriage is valid. This is a must.

Tell her that you want to help her get her previous marriages annulled and that you want to get your marriage validated.

Then go together with your wife and speak again with your priest and let him know that this is what you want from the Church. Also, ask for a referral to a good marriage councilor. Go to the counseling by yourself if your wife will not attend with you, but ask her to go with you each time you go.

Your wife may not be willing to do these things. But, if it were me, I would try this even if I had to go on my own to the priest and counseling.

I’ll pray for you and your wife, and your marriage. Please say a prayer for me too.

Hang in there! This won’t be easy but it may so be worth it!


#9

[quote="coachguillot, post:3, topic:238810"]
Thank you for your reply. I see the Catholic churches view on things but, I also asked a question as a Christian. If my wife and I made a covenant with God, should we not still remain married. Also, aside from strict Catholic doctrine, am I not interpreting the Bible correctly...specifically in reference to divorce? How do you interpret scripture when it comes to divorce?
Thanks,
G

[/quote]

The view on interpretation of the Bible teaching on divorce is a main difference between Protestants and Catholics. Protestants go by the adultery cause and want to say that if the divorce is because of adultery then its ok, and the marriage is dissolved even though God hates divorce. Catholics have a different viewpoint. Divorce in itself is not the problem. We are not called to live in abusive dangerous situations. There are times when it is necessary to separate from someone for the protections of our children and ourselves. But we do not recognize divorce. We are married till death do us part AS LONG as the marriage was a valid one in the first place. If there was an impediment to the covenant than in the eyes of the church a valid marriage never took place. This is what the annulment process determines. Your wife was not free to make a covenant with you. And I'm not really sure how you both managed to be Confirmed Catholic when you were in a civil marriage with a twice divorced woman.

It kind of sounds like you want it both ways....it was ok for her to divorce the first two, but now you don't think she should be allowed to divorce you.


#10

Thanks for all of the replies.

In the case of my wife's first marriage, the Baptist preacher hit her husband so hard when they were counseling with him, after finding out that he had given her VD, that he knocked him out of his chair. He went through whatever procedures there are in the Bapist church, and dissolved their marriage.

We were incorrectly told on two different occasions that we could never have her first marriage dissolved in the eyes of the Catholic church...both be fore our civil marriage and after our civil marriage when we were going through RCIA.

The situation of finding out my wife wanted to divorce me came about this last Christmas season. My wife's mother died on Christmas morning. We went back home to Louisiana/Mississippi for the services (having moved to New Mexico after hurricane Katrina because our house had toxic mold damage that had made us all, but particularly my wife very ill...he doctor telling us that she would die if we stayed in such a humid environment). I stayed for the wake and funeral, while my wife stayed back home for six weeks getting her mothers affairs in order. During that time she also had a big blowout with her siblings and was left taking care of everything herself...with the assistance of a your Methodist man, who is planning on becoming a preacher. During their time together, he felt moved to tell her that he had fallen in love with her, even though he knew that she was married. At that point she told him that she had been planning on divorcing me for almost two years. After claiming that she had fallen in love with him, she gave him a passionate kiss as she was leaving and told him she was in love with him.
After having been gone for two weeks, she told me after having been home for two days that she wants a divorce, she is in love with another man. She then goes on to tell me everything that has happened, and how he is such a good Christian, and I should be happy for her.
I guess I am just having trouble accepting what has happened, and how flippant everyone seems to be about the state of our marriage. It is also very troubling to me that I was so misinformed about our NOT having been eligible for a Catholic marriage, that we both badly wanted...that now gives her religious grounds to divorce me.
Do Christians not take the words of scripture on marriage seriously, (I know the Catholic church holds my marriage to be without any value)? As Christians, shouldn't we have respect for a covenant made with God to be married, no matter who preformed the ceremony? I feel that regardless of religious affiliation, any person pasturing a Christian flock should at least hold a marriage as something other than an inconvenience at best.
I am sorry I am so bitter, but I feel betrayed by my own faith.
G


#11

It kind of sounds like you want it both ways....it was ok for her to divorce the first two, but now you don't think she should be allowed to divorce you.

Maybe I am missing something here. The first case involved adultery resulting in my wife getting a venereal disease. When asked by the preacher if he was sorry and would stop, he said that he would not promise that and he would almost surely cheat again.

The second marriage ended when her husband said he was gay, and was thinking of murder/suicide to end their marriage.

I was distant and had a snoring problem.:confused:
I don't see your point
G


#12

[quote="coachguillot, post:11, topic:238810"]
It kind of sounds like you want it both ways....it was ok for her to divorce the first two, but now you don't think she should be allowed to divorce you

Maybe I am missing something here. The first case involved adultery resulting in my wife getting a venereal disease. When asked by the preacher if he was sorry and would stop, he said that he would not promise that and he would almost surely cheat again.

The second marriage ended when her husband said he was gay, and was thinking of murder/suicide to end their marriage.

I was distant and had a snoring problem.:confused:
I don't see your point
G

[/quote]

Your wife should have asked for annullment processes on both of her previous marriages before she went on to marry you.

Did you or did you not have premarriage courses??

I understand that you are bitter, but it seems like you have not done your homework. You wife is very wrong in her actions, and she is likely making her own situation worse and worse.
The issues she had with her previous men happend after the event where a valid marriage must presumably have taken place, especially the first one. The husbands bad choices do nothing to dissolve a valid marriage, unless he was concretely planning to sleep around, get STDs, and leave his wife even at the time of the wedding ceremony.
You understand?

You need to go to speak to a priest.


#13

I’m sure this was a terrible shock, and I’m sorry for your unhappiness. But you entered voluntarily into a marriage that you knew was not recognized by the Church, and now you blame the Church for not recognizing it? You really can’t have it both ways.


#14

[quote="coachguillot, post:3, topic:238810"]
Thank you for your reply. I see the Catholic churches view on things but, I also asked a question as a Christian. If my wife and I made a covenant with God, should we not still remain married. Also, aside from strict Catholic doctrine, am I not interpreting the Bible correctly...specifically in reference to divorce? How do you interpret scripture when it comes to divorce?
Thanks,
G

[/quote]

YOUR "WIFE" WAS NOT FREE TO MARRY YOU.
SHE WAS NOT FREE THEN. SHE IS NOT FREE NOW.

Really. That's the simplest answer.


#15

[quote="GraceDK, post:12, topic:238810"]
Your wife should have asked for annullment processes on both of her previous marriages before she went on to marry you.

Did you or did you not have premarriage courses??

I understand that you are bitter, but it seems like you have not done your homework. You wife is very wrong in her actions, and she is likely making her own situation worse and worse.
The issues she had with her previous men happend after the event where a valid marriage must presumably have taken place, especially the first one. The husbands bad choices do nothing to dissolve a valid marriage, unless he was concretely planning to sleep around, get STDs, and leave his wife even at the time of the wedding ceremony.
You understand?

You need to go to speak to a priest.

[/quote]

As I have stated we spoke to a priest both before and after our civil ceremony, and were told we could not be married in the Catholic church. (Her marriage was dissolved in the Baptist church for the reasons I mentioned). We were later told on two different occasions that her first marriage could have been annulled, and we could have been allowed to marry in the Catholic had we been advised correctly about the procedure. Our present Priest said that our marriage is not valid, her first marriage can be annulled, and she will be free to marry this "Christian" man that she just met.
G


#16

[quote="catharina, post:14, topic:238810"]
YOUR "WIFE" WAS NOT FREE TO MARRY YOU.
SHE WAS NOT FREE THEN. SHE IS NOT FREE NOW.

Really. That's the simplest answer.

[/quote]

She was not free to marry me in who's view, her first marriage was dissolved by the preacher that performed their marriage ceremony. I explained that I understand the Catholic church has no regard for my marriage. I am talking about Christian doctrine in general.

Plus what's with the caps are you yelling at me?
G


#17

My primary blame on the church is for misinforming me on two different occasions that we could not have her first marriage annulled in the eyes of the Catholic church. I am sorry that people in the church did not listen to the whole (and seemingly) most important points of the story were, when we were trying to be married in the church, but they were overlooked, and we weren’t allowed to even do the paperwork for the annulment because someone thought they heard a disqualifying factor, and failed to listen to all that was being said.

Thanks for all of the kindness and empathy I have been shown by you all.
G


#18

[quote="coachguillot, post:15, topic:238810"]
As I have stated we spoke to a priest both before and after our civil ceremony, and were told we could not be married in the Catholic church. (Her marriage was dissolved in the Baptist church for the reasons I mentioned). We were later told on two different occasions that her first marriage could have been annulled, and we could have been allowed to marry in the Catholic had we been advised correctly about the procedure. Our present Priest said that our marriage is not valid, her first marriage can be annulled, and she will be free to marry this "Christian" man that she just met.
G

[/quote]

You asked the first priest and he said to you you could not be (validly) married in the Church. So why on earth did you proceed to get married invalidly?

What you were told later on is of no consequence, what matters in these legal issues are actions, and you married invalidly even as you knew you could not validly marry anymore because you were told she was already married by that priest. And indeed validity is presumed until otherwise proven, as in any court of law.

You were told then later, after these events, that maybe she could have gotten an annullment. That is unknown. Its not a peace of cake to get an annullment and its also likely she wouldn't have gotten one. It doesn't seem from what you tell us, that she would have gotten one. At any rate, we are not the Tribunal, and cannot tell you what may or may not have happend.

You cannot force her to stay with you and figure these things out. She has to want to. But I promis you that if she leaves you and she is still a Catholic, then she will have at least a few years of hard paperwork to explain to the tribunal how she was married three times. This will take alot of time... so don't think she can simply go and marry this other guy. Or, she can, but she will then be an adulterer in the eyes of the Church and God.

As a Catholic - baptised or confirmed in the Catholic Church - she cannot get permission to marry anyone unless she has gotten a decree of nullity from the tribunal.

At any rate, you are the free man here for sure. Even from what you have told us, the tribunal can probably give you an annullment within a short time and you might find a way to try again with love, but this time more responsibly..


#19

Sorry if CAPS mean yelling to you. They don’t mean that to me.

If you and your “intended” were joining a parish and were
being interviewed by a priest for info about annulment, perhaps
you would have been heard. Marriage prep (nowadays) takes
six months for all eligible Catholic couples. In a situation like
yours, there are almost certainly NO quick solutions. I’m sorry
if you feel/believe you were “mis-led” by the Catholic Church.
Yes, plenty of Protestant denominations have a number of easy
answers to “back up” a divorce. The Catholic Church does not.

If you wish for help with your current problem, see a Catholic priest -
preferably one who is associated with the marriage tribunal at your
own local diocese.

Thirteen years (plus?) away from the Church is a long time.


#20

[quote="GraceDK, post:18, topic:238810"]
You asked the first priest and he said to you you could not be (validly) married in the Church. So why on earth did you proceed to get married invalidly?

What you were told later on is of no consequence, what matters in these legal issues are actions, and you married invalidly even as you knew you could not validly marry anymore because you were told she was already married by that priest. And indeed validity is presumed until otherwise proven, as in any court of law.

You were told then later, after these events, that maybe she could have gotten an annullment. That is unknown. Its not a peace of cake to get an annullment and its also likely she wouldn't have gotten one. It doesn't seem from what you tell us, that she would have gotten one. At any rate, we are not the Tribunal, and cannot tell you what may or may not have happend.

You cannot force her to stay with you and figure these things out. She has to want to. But I promis you that if she leaves you and she is still a Catholic, then she will have at least a few years of hard paperwork to explain to the tribunal how she was married three times. This will take alot of time... so don't think she can simply go and marry this other guy. Or, she can, but she will then be an adulterer in the eyes of the Church and God.

As a Catholic - baptised or confirmed in the Catholic Church - she cannot get permission to marry anyone unless she has gotten a decree of nullity from the tribunal.

At any rate, you are the free man here for sure. Even from what you have told us, the tribunal can probably give you an annullment within a short time and you might find a way to try again with love, but this time more responsibly..

[/quote]

The "Christian gentleman" that she wants to marry is a Methodist, and the pastor that is mentoring him to take over as pastor, said that their is no marriage and that
he will gladly marry them. They are planning to marry as soon as we are divorced. Any Methodists out there able to confirm if this is their doctrine?


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