My wife wants a what?


My wife of 10 years wants a divorce. I suggested counceling but she refuses to go. She said that she is "done".

Our marriage has not been perfect and for the past three years we have drifted apart. I've done my share of insensative and selfish things as has she. So, though she wants the divorce it is not all her fault. Unless their is divine intervention (literally), this divorce will go through.

I am a "practicing" chuch going catholic while my wife is catholic but not an avid practitioner of her faith.

What do I do now from a spiritual standpoint? Are we both excommunicated? Can I go to communion? Are we damned to hell (I'm asking in all sincerity)?


Make an appointment with your priest. Ask your wife if she would consider going too, either with you or separately (it doesn’t sound like you think there is much hope, but you never know).

Should the civil divorce happen, neither of you are excommunicated or even in sin (by that action). You can both receive the Eucharist and all the other sacraments. You are not damned to hell.

As far as the Church is concerned, you would still be married. For you to not be considered married, a decree of nullity would have to be found (that is, you did not enter into a valid marriage for some reason).


Talk to your priest, but if a divorce happens over your objections, you are not culpable for the divorce. You may not re-marry unless the marriage was an invalid one, but you will probably be in standing to remain in communion. You might have plenty of sins to confess, but the divorce itself wouldn't necessarily be on your head.

There is no sin for which repentance is not possible. With repentance, heaven is always possible. The sin against the Holy Spirit, which cannot be forgiven, is the sin which refuses forgiveness. There are a few situations in which an excommunication is incurred which has to be removed by the Holy See once the person repents, but divorce is not one of them. Rather, if you repent and amend your life, you are usually returned immediately to communion. (This is getting into things that your confessor would explain better.)

You might explain to your wife that even from a secular view, there is "done" and then there is "done". Even when a marriage cannot be repaired in the sense of a husband and wife being able to live in peace in the same house, the relationship is going to exist after the divorce. You have friends in common, you have relatives in common. Agreements need to be made about how to be civilized to each other, if nothing else. If there are children, this step is simply not negotiable. As I tell my unmarried relatives: Marry well and carefully. You may think you can get a divorce from your spouse, but an "ex" is forever.

Furthermore, people who just quit and don't do any finishing work when they leave a marriage have a much greater chance of repeating the same mistake and divorcing again. If not for you, she owes it to herself to figure out what went wrong. Talking to you and hearing your side of things, as warped as she may believe that thinking to be, is part of that. IOW, if she just leaves you, history says that she will find herself married to someone very much like you later in her life, frustrated by the same things that frustrate her now. She needs to learn about what those things are, how to prevent them, and how to cope with them when they happen.

Those who don't learn from their own history are doomed to repeat it. If your wife won't go to counselling, go yourself. But if you can get her into a counsellor and have good faith yourself, who knows what might happen. Try to be faithful, let God take care of success.


I heard Retrouvaille discussed on an EWTN program that I was watching.

Many people's marriages have been saved through this retreat.


PS That your wife wants a divorce and will not hear of counselling does not release you from your obligation to be the best husband you can be. Now that you know better--that is, that your behavior is not of the sort that makes her think much of you as a husband--try to do better. Read the books, learn and start practicing healthier means of communication, and so on. Ask your pastor and local chapter of Retrovaille for help.



In March, not too long after our 10th anniversary, my wife suddenly told me she wanted a divorce. We were also drifting apart due to some very stressful circumstances over the past few years. It's good that you recognize that you have made mistakes (as I did), and you're willing to change. However, a wife in that state of mind is not just going to accept and "I'm sorry, I'll try harder". It took years to wear down the intimacy and trust, and it may take years to build it back up again. I talked to a couple friends, including one who had been a victim of divorce himself, and the best advice he gave me was "be bold". Don't be afraid to take drastic measures to save your marriage; you're like St. Joseph, defending the family when it's under attack.

I researched a few marriage mediation/reconciliation programs, one of which cost thousands of dollars and required a 6-month time commitment (still cheaper than the cost of a divorce), and I told her that we weren't going to throw our love away without giving it a chance. If we're going to invest that much time and expense in a divorce anyway, look at the other options first. When she saw it in that perspective, she agreed to a Retrouvaille retreat. We were lucky that there was one only a week or two away, although we did have to drive 5 hours. That was the turning point which gave us another chance. By no means did it solve all our problems, but at least it showed us clearly what the problems were, and gave us tools to start working on them. It's a long process to bring intimacy back into a marriage. But if she's not willing to risk one weekend, then for the rest of her life she'll always wonder what could've happened. Even if the couple is no longer living together, Retrouvaille can help. As another poster said, you're still married in God's eyes. Being separated from your wife against your will is not a sin, but you must still treat her like your wife as long as she lives.

It sounds like your situation is fairly similar to what I went through, so feel free to write me personally.


Wow, Abraham, I admire the steps you took to save your marriage, at a time when it seemed hopeless. May God bless your efforts with much grace!


this is a question for you and your priest in confession.

broad general answer. a Catholic who is the innocent party in a civil divorce he did not initiate is not commiting a sin, and it is not even a sin to initiate the divorce if it is the only legal means to protect his rights and those of his children, although divorce is always objectively sinful and grave matter. Even if one were to deliberately seek a civil divorce for no reason other than wishing to end the relationship, that sin would not mean one was excommunicated, but like all mortal sin would be absolved in sacramental confession and one’s return to the Eucharist. A divorced Catholic may receive communion on the usual conditions–having confessed all mortal sin etc. What he or she may not do is remarry or even enter into a romantic relationship unless and until the invalidity of the first marriage is established in the canon law process.

Meanwhile the Catholic in the troubled marriage has the duty to do everything in his power to get counselling or whatever it takes to save the marriage.


I am going through civil divorce now as well. I am so sorry to hear this. Just wanted to add the advice is good and I will keep you in my prayers.


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