question regarding marriage

I was baptised in a Protestant church, and I converted to Islam a few years ago, which I later left and became Catholic. I married a Catholic in a Catholic ceremony, after converting to Catholicism myself.

My question concerns the following. While a Muslim, I met a Muslim man on the internet. We never actually met in person, but we had discussed the possibility of doing so. He said that in order for us to meet in person, that we had to do a “temporary marriage” (often referred to as mutah or sigeh). I wasn’t comfortable with the idea and told him so, and also told him that I had no intentions of having a physical relationship - that we should just meet and get to know each other a little bit. He said that he felt that it would be immoral for us to meet and spend time together (even without physical relations) unless we did this temporary marriage, and put a bit of pressure on me, so I finally agreed, figuring that in the end, it wasn’t really any big deal, since it didn’t entail any kind of physical, marital relations and wasn’t a permanent, “real” marriage. Basically, the idea was to meet, spend some time toghether, see if we liked each other and maybe, if things went well, we would get married (for real) in the future.

Mutah marriage, or temporary marriage, is recognised by some Shiites. (If I understand correctly, it is not recognised by Sunnis and some other Shiites. They just consider any marital relations that take place in such a temporary marriage to be fornication.) These marriages have an end date from the beginning - the two people promise to “marry” each other for a fixed period of time: one hour, one day, one year, etc…it is clear to both parties that the marriage will not be permanent, and the “vows” that the parties make reflect that. It can be arranged by two people, without any civil or religious authority, without witnesses, without paperwork, and without going to a mosque. It can be arranged even over the phone, even if the two parties have never met. The marriage does not end in divorce - in fact, Islamic law does not allow divorce in the case of temporary marriages. They either “expire” at the agreed-upon end date, or, if one or both paries wants to end before that, the man “gives back” that remainder of the time to the woman.

He told me that we didn’t have to go to a mosque, or fill out any paperwork, or anything like that - that we could just exchange a few words over the phone, and it would mean that it was permissible for us to meet and spend time together. It would be technically permissible for us to have marital relations as well, but we didn’t have to - it wasn’t required. (And I was clear that I did not want to have any sexual relations - he was definitely aware of that, although he may have hoped that I might change my mind.) He called me and we exchanged some words over the phone. We didn’t yet have definite plans to meet - it was just something that we were hoping to set up fairly soon.

After a week or so, I told him that I wanted to end the temporary marriage early, and he called me again and we exchanged some statements over the phone, and it was over. We never met - I decided against it for several reasons.

This “temporary marriage” was understood at the outset to be temporary and not permanent. There was no intention to have marital relations, at least on my part. It was (obviously) never consummated, as we never met. There was no intention to have children. The marriage was not witnessed by any authority, either civil or religious. There was no paperwork produced, no marriage licence or certificates of any sort. Obviously, the marriage was not recorded - such an arrangement had no validity under civil law. According to civil law, I was single/never married until I married my Catholic husband. It was also not recorded in any mosque. I believe that only this man and I knew about it, and there was never intention to publicise the matter, or to share it with family and friends.

This man told me that he had been married once, in a “permanent” marriage, to a European woman who had converted from Christianity to Islam. That marriage ended in divorce. (I don’t know whether she converted before or after the marriage, to which Christian denomination she had belonged, and I don’t know if she was ever even baptised. However, I assume that this marriage ceremony was either civil or Islamic - I’m pretty sure that it did not take place in a Christian church of any denomination.) He told me that he had had temporary marriages with various women - I don’t know with how many, but it was definitely with multiple women.

It never occured to me that this temporary marriage could somehow be an impediment to my marriage with my Catholic husband - after all, I was legally single. I started to worry about it shortly before my wedding, and I mentioned it in confession, and the priest didn’t seem to think that it was a problem. I also mentioned it a second time in confession, after the wedding, and the priest didn’t say that it produced a problem. However, I realised that I forgot to mention both times that I was not a Catholic at the time that I arranged this temporary marriage, and I started to worry that that might change things.

Based on what I have written, I don’t need to ask for an annulment of the temporary marriage, right? I wouldn’t even have any documentation or witnesses to present! I could type up a letter or statement describing the situation - that is the only paperwork that I would be able to produce. I don’t know what happened to this man or where he is - we’ve been out of touch for years now and I don’t know if I could find him, even if I wanted to. (I never even had his home address.)

Could anyone give me some advice? I know that what I did was stupid, and I’m very ashamed of it, but it is done and I would like to put it behind me. My conversion to Catholicism was sincere, and it is really important to me to be in a proper marriage and in a state of grace.

Thanks to everyone for reading - I hope that this message isn’t too long or inappropriate.

Follow what the Catholic Priest say and stop thinking. Please.

Listen to your priest. Actually BOTH priests.

Do not bring this up again. You seem scrupulous here.

:thumbsup: Agree!

But I need to add that the whole “temporary marriage” thing sounds like a crafty way for people to have sexual relations and then go their own way when they are done. To be honest, it sounds like a bad, but deviously imaginative pick-up line from a singles bar. Listen to your priest!!

Thank you for the responses. I am very scrupulous - I always have been, in general, although I’m trying to work on it.

LightBound - I tend to agree with you.

This “Temporary Marriage” has, as you state, no legal or religious status- even within the subset of the branch of Islam that your suitor adhered to.

There is no doubt that it is totally null and void in the eyes of the Catholic Church. Only a marriage which is intended by both spouses to be “Forsaking all others, Until death do us part” can be considered to be valid by the Church.
Being able to demonstrate that one of those two clauses was not intended by one or both of the participants in a marriage is probably the leading grounds for anullment.

Anruari - Thanks for the response. So what you’re saying is that the “temporary marriage” is so clearly NOT a legitimate natural marriage that it isn’t even necessary to get an annulment (or decree of nullity) from the Church, right? (I was always under the impression that annulments were reserved for cases of marriages which seemed by all appearances to be real, valid marriages, but had turned out to be invalid after all, for different reasons. That is not my case, I believe.) I know, I’m being scrupulous! :confused:

If it will make you feel better, make an appointment to speak to a priest outside of confession time when you will have the opportunity to tell the entire story from beginning to end and hear what he has to say about it. I doubt you’ll get a different answer than what you’ve already received, but you will feel that there is no ambiguity about the situation and that you’re in the clear with your marriage.



Rita Rita
That would be my (inexpert) understanding of the cannon law of this situation. However based on your earlier posts it would appear that you have already had at least one Priest tell you that this was nothing to worry about.
If you’re really worried you could try to directly ask a specialist in cannon law - either through the AAA board on here, or one of the other cannon law commentators on respected internet fora. - or you could call your diocesan office and ask who to speak to. - I really don’t think it would be necessary. Don’t revel in scrupulosity

It would appear to me that the results of the priest(s) you have spoken to and everyone on here is unanimous: This is nothing to be worried about.


OP, I can understand your distress. I think you should go ahead and make an appointment with the priest you confess to the most often (if you have one) or whomever is convenient, explain the WHOLE situation just as you have, and get face to face spiritual direction on the matter. You may be scrupulous, but “just let it go” doesn’t help a whole lot when it is a strange or unusual problem like this. This “temporary marriage” thing is so off the wall different from how we Catholics behave, that I think some feedback would be a good thing.

It’s not valid, in any way, but still it wouldn’t hurt to just get confirmation of it after taking time to explain.

Look, the marriages outside the Catholic Church, from my point of view, are not valid. Why? Because the presupposition of those marriages is completely different: they admit divorce and ours no.

So, the state of mind of a couple who marries outside the RCC is totally different.

Moreover, here, we cannot see the fine details and you risk having bad advice. As for the priest there is a 2 way road, you dialogue with them. Here dialogue is difficult.

Moreover, they have Christ’s PriestHood Power. Not us, at least the ones who are not priests here.

Thank you again to everyone for your helpful responses. I really appreciate the time that everyone took to reply. I was almost too embarassed to post about my situation, but I’m glad that I did, as I feel much better.

When I brought up the matter in Confession, I mentioned it quickly, as there wasn’t time to go into the details. I’m glad to see that everyone, after reading the entire story, seems to agree with the priests that it isn’t really an issue.

I probably will take a few minutes to speak about it in detail with a priest somewhere when I can, but it can be difficult to arrange confidential meetings with the priest in my parish, so in the meantime, I’m going to finally stop worrying! :thumbsup:

Dont feel bad. Everybody has got their own dead-end streets from where one cannot exit without help. You did well to come here, and , If I could help 1 milimeter, I am happy.

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