The question of marriage

I would appreciate it very much if someone could answer my question. I am living with a man who is Catholic. Everyone believes we are legally married, but we aren’t. I would be perfectly OK with getting married legally, but both of us have been married previously and my “husband” only considers marriage by a priest to be the real deal. I am in class at his church investigating the possibility of converting to Catholicism. I have been baptized in another church and I have been a faithful follower of Christ for 3 decades. I’ve never lived with anyone without benefit of marriage and I very much dislike doing this now. My “husband” has gotten annullment papers for both of us from our priest. I am fine with getting my previous marriage annulled by the Church, but I am told this could take as long as a year and a half. Recently, I have been investigating this issue and it seems that there is the alternative of getting married by a priest if my husband receives his annullment from the Church (which our priest assures us is a virtual certainty given the circumstances of it) and we do the “mixed marriage” alternative where he declares he will remain Catholic in spite of our union. No children would be involved as we are both past that time in our lives and neither of us can have any more children anyway.

I just want to have a clear conscience and I don’t. I don’t like living a lie, but I also don’t like the idea of my husband not being able to receive communion and feeling guilty and horrible. The only reason I agreed to this was that my partner said he wouldn’t be able to take communion and it would kill him. I care very much for him and I wouldn’t want him to sacrifice like this. However, every day we live together without marriage is a blight on my conscience.

Could someone please tell me if there is an acceptable Catholic alternative to waiting a year and a half for my annullment to take place?

A mixed marriage is not living a lie. I’m having a problem when obedience to the church is sacrificed ( cohabitating) for obedience to the Church( insisting on a priests blessing of the marriage you minister to one another.)

As far as receiving the Body of Christ (Holy Communion) is concerned, yours and his current living situation would bar him also.

Now, when it comes to remarrying, I am not perfectly certain that in all circumstances, it would exempt a Catholic from the Eucharist.

If anyone can elaborate, please do so, but the best possible source would obviously be the Church.

He can’t marry you in the Church unless you are both granted annulments since in the eyes of the Church you are both still married to your ‘exes’.

Once you both are granted those (not a given, in spite of what the priest may have said, but your boyfriend obviously has good grounds) you are both free to marry and you may do so without converting to Catholicism - unless you truly want to do so. Mixed-marriages happen every day but both must be free to marry, not just the Catholic.

You’ve stated that your conscience is bothering you and that should tell you everything you need to know about your present situation. I know it would be difficult but you have the option of changing the situation you’re in. Move out, petition for a decree of nullity and, if/when you are granted one, get married the way your boyfriend knows to be right.

A dispensation for disparity of cult (mixed marriage) does not change the fact that your first marriage still requires examination by a tribunal, as does his, at the same time. Yes, it will take some time, but that is what needs to be done if a valid marriage is to be pursued. :wink:

you cannot be accepted into full communion with the Catholic Church through her sacraments unless and until the marriage situation–as well as anything else in your life that has become an objectively sinful habit–has been resolved, confessed and absolved in sacramental confession. this advice applies only to this poster, and is what I would say if you came into my office inquiring about RCIA and gave the facts as stated. I would then of course refer you to the priest who would interview you in depth, and your husband, both together and privately, to ascertain all the facts (most of which are none of my business, I just teach the class and to the paperwork).

There are too many variables and unanswered questions to satisfactorily advise an individual here. You both have to meet with the priest and make sure he has all the facts: baptismal status of both parties, all data on existing and previous marriages or relationships, baptismal status of ex-partners, children, etc.

Your husband is bound by Church law and at last seems to be making a good faith effort to bring his life in line. You are not bound except by natural law, which of course you already recognize and you are already experiencing discomfort with the conflict of your situation and your own Christian beliefs. This disconnect will not be resolved until you end whatever in the situation separates you from God, and it is the priest who will help you discern precisely what that is, how to conduct yourself during the time this is being resolved, and how to proceed, in orderly steps.

It is unlikely you would be advised to separate if their are minor children to be considered, but you and your husband might very well be advised to live continently until such time as you can be married in the Church. Do bear in mind that until all the facts have been investigated–and it takes as much time as any investigation–there is no guarantee either or both of you will obtain a decree of nullity. Make sure to get concrete advice from the priest, or ask him to direct you to someone from the tribunal to help you, in filling out the interviews.

Welcome Home! once you have made the first step, you are on your way, and it is a step by step journey, marked by prayer every inch of the way. Let God control the timing as you work to understand, accept and do his will.

I’m sorry, just re-read and saw there are no children involved, which will simplify matters at least in one way.

Like everything else, it takes as long as it takes. You also have to operate on what your own concsience is telling you now, and you have a very good active conscience, and the discomfort you are feeling comes from the grace of the Holy Spirit. Neither of you will be truly happy, together or apart, as long as you persist in a situation that separates you from the fullness of God’s grace. Bless you both and we will be praying for you.

It’s a very serious problem for Christians to cohabitat without the benefit of marriage. It’s just not permitted.Scripture is clear on that. I think your conscience is telling you this is true. Listen.

Scripture is also clear about marriage being permanent with the exception of “invalid” (porneia) marriages. We cannot be married to more than one person. So you need to find out if you guys are actually married to those exes. I pray that is not so.

There’s no way around it for a Catholic.:gopray: For you both.I understand it’s a tough road.

You are correct that if the decrees of nullity are granted then you may marry in the church without your becoming a Catholic.

Hi Palmer Penny
The others are correct. The only alternative is marriage outside the Church followed by marriage inside the Church after annullments. I think that is a mistake however it should not be hidden from you. Your Husband would remain under penalty just the same. He is to remain celebate until he is in a valid marriage (same for everyone). Btw- as you were married outside the Church your annullment is usually easier - defect of form, and lack of prep. The time passes anyway so try to hang in there.

It’s a very serious problem for Christians to cohabitat without the benefit of marriage. It’s just not permitted.Scripture is clear on that. I think your conscience is telling you this is true.

… yours and his current living situation would bar him also.

Where in scripture does it state that two people of opposite sex cannot live in the same building? Pre-marital sex is one hing, adultery because they are both still married is one thing, but cohabitation? Where is that? What makes cohabitation, on it’s own, a mortal sin? If you’re going to claim “scandal”, I would like a full explanation, not just the word.

…dispensation for disparity of cult …

If she was baptized validly, she needs a Permission for a Mixed Marriage, not a Dispensation for Disparity of Cult, no?

I have been investigating this issue and it seems that there is the alternative of getting married by a priest if my husband receives his annullment from the Church (which our priest assures us is a virtual certainty given the circumstances of it) and we do the “mixed marriage” alternative where he declares he will remain Catholic in spite of our union.

You both need annulments, regardless. Once (and if) both marriages are annulled, how you are married (Mixed Marriage, etc) depends on your status at the time of marriage. If you’ve been received into the Church before the wedding, you don’t need a permission to marry. If you’re received into the Church after the wedding, you need a Permission for a Mixed Marriage. In such a case, obtaining the permission isn’t lying because you actually do intend to allow him to practice his faith (in fact, you are not only allowing him to remain Catholic, but you’re probably strengthening his faith, which is above-and-beyond what is asked).

If he was in the process of conversation to protestantism, or you secretly wanted him to become a protestant and planned to convert him, that would be a different situation.

A few things in your post are unclear.

You say you are in RCIA, but it seems like maybe you are only considering converting in order to get married in the Church. A non-Catholic is not required to convert in order to marry a Catholic. I hope you will consider converting because the Catholic Church holds the fullness of truth, but not under the wrong assumption that you have to in order to get married.

Next you ask about getting a decree of nullity and whether there’s another way around that called “doing the mixed marriage thing.” I think you have gotten enormous amounts of bad information. If you were to remain a non-Catholic and seek to marry this man in the Catholic Church you would still **both **have to be declared free to marry. In other words, whether you are Catholic or not has no bearing on the process that must be completed. You would still have to get a decree of nullity.

Now, on to the topic I consider the most troublesome. This supposedly Catholic man who considers getting married by a priest the “only way” is committing the sin of living with you and having sexual relations with you and LIEING to people that you are legally married.

To me he sounds like a big loser that is manipuating you and having you act against your own conscience. Otherwise, he would treat you with respect, not have moved in together without marriage, and would be honest with you and with others.

If he is insisting on a church marriage while he is simultaneously shacking up with you he is not much of a practicing Catholic. Sex outside of marriage is also something that bars him from the Sacraments until he stops having sex outside of marriage and goes to Confession.

Personally, I’d separate from him (move out or have him do so) and think **clearly **about this relationship and what YOU want without all the guilt, secrecy, lieing, and living in a sinful situation.

If he respected you, he would not be treating you this way: sleeping with you while unmarried, having you sneak around and lie about your marital situation.

If, after getting some distance and clarity, you still want to marry this man then I suggest you move forward with seeking a declaration of nullity for your prior marriage and he do the same.

Once you know the status of that situation (remember, the Church might find one or both of your marriages to be valid and that would mean you could NOT marry at all) then consider whether you want to marry him. Also, pursue RCIA if you want to become a Catholic, not to please him and not to get married.

Don’t put all your eggs in his basket until you know with certainty that both of you have received a decree of nullity and can get married validly.

I should correct that. It’s not “how you are married” but rather “what your marriage is considered” and based on that consideration, what approval to enter into marriage is necessary.

Most of us are adults here. We know what is meant by cohabitation.The majority of us are assuming there is sleeping together going on. If it wasn’t it would have been explained. Non married people living in the same single family household is problematic in numerous ways. It’s a near occaision of sin. The sin of scandal. Poster said everyone thinks they are married. There is the difficulty of maintaining chastity and purity. We are to leave our parents and join with our spouse. Granted in our culture we might take some time in a home of our own or one with friends but it isn’t really acceptable to live with someone of the same sex. There is more to it than just the sex.

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