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.