I am a baptized Christian (Baptist) who had my first serious conversation with a committed Catholic a few weeks ago & I have not been able to stop thinking about this since. I've been reading everything I can about the Catholic Faith & have come to some conclusions rooted in logic. For one, the authority of the Catholic Church is likely true. The arguments just make sense to me. I admit, I am still wrestling with a lot of issues, but if I accept the authority of the Church, then that means that it must be essentially doctrinally correct.
This presents many problems for me, from a practical & theological standpoint. I have looked at a few core beliefs and, again, they make sense to me, including the Churches position on marriage & divorce, as well as such topics as contraception. My wife & I were both married before. I've spent a LOT of time looking at various sites concerning annulments because I realize I would have to seek them out in order to become catholic. That said, I am reasonably sure that my first marriage would be declared null (I married the day after my 17th birthday, after a short courtship/engagement. She told me after our second intimacy that she was pregnant with another mans child. I was in love with the idea of love & really didn't know what I was doing. I lied to my parents that the child was mine so they would sign permission for the license & lied to the minister that married us. I married outside the church I belonged to because my actual pastor knew the truth & wouldn't do it. There's more, but you get the idea.) I do not think my current wife has as strong a case, although she had a much shorter marriage. I also doubt she will be willing to pursue the annulment process or become Catholic. My current wife claims to be a Christian & was baptized as a child, but has no interest in the church. I also believe she would be very judgmental of any attempt I might make to become Catholic. It would be almost like declaring an intention to become a Buddhist or Muslim or something. We have been together for many years and are close friends, still attracted to one another, with 3 children together. I met her while I was still with my first wife & she helped me get the courage to do what I had wanted to do since very early in my first marriage: leave her. I think that my current marriage is also not sacramental, since she was also married before & even if that was annulled, it began in sin & neither of us was committed to the idea that it HAD to be forever anyway. I now understand & agree with the catholic understanding of the Sacrament of Marriage & it kind of scares me. In my protestant idea of things, I have always held onto the idea that I could get out & start over if I really needed to. Now, that doesn't mean I believe in easy divorce. We have lived together too long & struggled through too much for that, but it was still an option. Honestly, if this marriage required convalidation, assuming annulments were granted all around, I'm not sure I could do that. I would want a partner in faith for life & I don't see my current wife filling that role, no matter how I might love her.
So, what should I do here? If I end up annulled from my first marriage & she is not from her first, would I be free to leave with the ability to remarry (no, btw, I have no one in mind & have never cheated on her.) If I seek an annulment & she does not, where does that leave me? What if both of us are annulled & they tell us to get convalidated & I decide I can't do that. Would that mean our marriage was not sacramental, e.g. null, in the eyes of the Church? I am also concerned about the effects on our lives in other ways, the children...finances, ect... all of which are exceedingly important.
I want to seek out God's will & do what's right & I'm confused & afraid. I don't want to risk my soul. I can see living a celibate life for some time, but I believe that I am called to marriage, not celibacy. I also do not see it possible to live as "brother & sister" as some apparently try to do. I really kind of feel like a jerk asking these brutally honest questions, but I don't know who to ask. I don't really know the local priest & I'm afraid to start the process until I decide for sure what to do.
What a mess!