What to say to a friend - new (2nd) marriage


#1

My friend was married in the Catholic church and then divorced after a few years (one son). She said it was because he was verbally abusive. Now, about 10 years later, she married a guy at the courthouse. He is/was also Catholic (now says he is Buddhist). She is non-practicing...even says she is not Catholic anymore (that she is smarter than that :() I am not sure what to say about her marriage to her, if anything. I feel like she is expecting me to congratulate her, but I don't think it is something worth congratulating. How do I approach this? I want to be a good friend, maintain our friendship, but also want to be true to the faith. Ignoring the marriage is a recipe for disaster, but saying congratulations is not what is in my heart. She is also planning on a reception later this summer, and I feel weird about attending. Help!


#2

Perhaps you could say what I once said to a man who had married, divorced and re-married - "I'm afraid that I cannot congratulate you, since I know that you had previously married and I don't believe that you received a declaration of nullity." He was somewhat taken aback, but some months later he sent a message via a mutual friend that he was applying for an annulment!

Being a good friend means not shirking the truth, but stating it clearly, in a loving manner.


#3

She left the Church years ago and no longer considers herself a Catholic, so neither should you. Congratulate her on her new husband and continue to pray for them. If you don't wish to attend the reception, express your regrets and don't go. You don't owe any explanations.


#4

Once a Catholic; always a Catholic by nature of the indellible mark left by the Sacraments of Initiation.

In this situation I would quietly tell your friend that you believe God has a way of working things out although sometimes it may not be as we wish it to be. You wish her to be happy because you are her friend but you also wish her to be right with God should she ever wish to have a desire with the Church later in life. Because of this maybe she should keep an open-mind to starting the decree of nullity process. I believe this is the best way you can approach it as if your friend either does or does not do this she will need you. At least this way it has been said in a manner that preserves your friendship but makes your opinions known.


#5

"Best Wishes" might be a start. And lots of prayer and support for her.


#6

Much depends on how close your friendship is. Is this a casual friend from the workplace perhaps? Or is this a lifelong friend that you are very close to and share many things with?

I agree saying "I wish you the best" is a good approach if you do not think discussing an annullment is a good idea at this time. If she is "smarter" then the Catholic church then why would she care if they annul her marriage? Probably not now anyway.

Not attending the reception can be done easy enough, you probably already know that but are eager to keep the doors of friendship open. Prayer is really what is best at this point. Please take care.


#7

[quote="rasmussen, post:1, topic:247741"]
My friend was married in the Catholic church and then divorced after a few years (one son). She said it was because he was verbally abusive. Now, about 10 years later, she married a guy at the courthouse. He is/was also Catholic (now says he is Buddhist). She is non-practicing...even says she is not Catholic anymore (that she is smarter than that :() I am not sure what to say about her marriage to her, if anything. I feel like she is expecting me to congratulate her, but I don't think it is something worth congratulating. How do I approach this?** I want to be a good friend, maintain our friendship,** but also want to be true to the faith. Ignoring the marriage is a recipe for disaster, but saying congratulations is not what is in my heart. She is also planning on a reception later this summer, and I feel weird about attending. Help!

[/quote]

The comment "Best Wishes" that someone mentioned earlier seems good. I would be less inclined to make any negative comment about her marital status and more inclined to comment about her leaving the Church. I'd particularly be inclined to gently take on any comments about "being smarter than that." You may want to remain a good friend of hers, but she doesn't seem to have a problem with insulting *your *religion, (which was previously her religion too.) If she continues to make such remarks, I'd re-evaluate if a close friendship with this woman is worth maintaining.

It's one thing for your friend to choose to stop practicing the Catholic faith; it's another thing for her to consider herself "smarter" than those who practice the Catholic faith. Many people who practice the Catholic faith are smart enough to choose good marriage partners the first time we marry.


#8

Many people who practice the Catholic faith are smart enough to choose good marriage partners the first time we marry.

Be careful what kind of judgements you make. Not everything is as black and white as you make it seem.


#9

I have mentioned annulment before and she said that it is just another way for the church to take money from people and said it costs $1000 (I am not sure what it costs to do or if at all). I want to maintain a friendship because she has talked to me about faith and has questioned how I am so faithful and sure. I feel there is a good reason she is my friend. I already lost another friend because of her views on abortion/IVF and when that friend asked my opinion, the relationship basically ended...like I couldn't put my beliefs aside to support my friend. My opinion is that my beliefs are my beliefs. I don't ask them to put theirs aside...right?


#10

[quote="rasmussen, post:9, topic:247741"]
I have mentioned annulment before and she said that it is just another way for the church to take money from people and said it costs $1000 (I am not sure what it costs to do or if at all). I want to maintain a friendship because she has talked to me about faith and has questioned how I am so faithful and sure. I feel there is a good reason she is my friend. I already lost another friend because of her views on abortion/IVF and when that friend asked my opinion, the relationship basically ended...like I couldn't put my beliefs aside to support my friend. My opinion is that my beliefs are my beliefs. I don't ask them to put theirs aside...right?

[/quote]

In my diocese it costs $400. $50 to file, $175 at time of testimony, and $175 at completion. There are programs for people who cannot pay this so that they do not have to or can pay a reduced cost. It does vary from diocese to diocese as the money is to pay the staff of the Tribunal including the Canon lawyers.


#11

[quote="rasmussen, post:9, topic:247741"]
I want to maintain a friendship because she has talked to me about faith and has questioned how I am so faithful and sure. I feel there is a good reason she is my friend. I already lost another friend because of her views on abortion/IVF and when that friend asked my opinion, the relationship basically ended...like I couldn't put my beliefs aside to support my friend. My opinion is that my beliefs are my beliefs. I don't ask them to put theirs aside...right?

[/quote]

Yes, you have a right to your beliefs and to express them freely. If your friends don't allow that and suggest that their beliefs are more valuable then they are not your friends at all. It really is about mutual respect.
As suggested above, you can wish her well but not attend the reception. But be prepared to explain your position when/if she demands an explanation about your attitude to remarriage. It could easily end the friendship. Truth hurts and many people can't handle it.


#12

[quote="joanofarc2008, post:8, topic:247741"]
Be careful what kind of judgments you make. Not everything is as black and white as you make it seem.

[/quote]

:thumbsup::thumbsup::thumbsup:

It's really fun to judge people, but be careful. When I was living in my old apartment, I had a pregnant girl come over and spend the night.

Now, lets be honest, many people WOULD jump to conclusions. In fact, a "Catholic" did. She asked why I was :: gasp :: living with a pregnant woman!

I blunt and rudely told this jerk the truth-it was my sister, who was staying in my apartment because her husband was abusive, and she worried for her unborn baby. The look on that ladies face was priceless. Like a true arrogant person though, she never apologized.

So yes, judging people is fun, probably makes us feel better about ourselves, but it's probably not a good habit.


#13

Personally, I don't like to be friends with people who don't respect my religious beliefs. But I understand there is a bigger picture to consider and I suggest praying for discernment to God if you should be her friend.

But keep one VERY important thing in mind. If she finds out you didn't attend the receptions because os your religious beliefs, in the back of her mind, whenever there is out outing and her husband is with her in the back of her mind she will think 'Why is it you could not come to our marriage but you can come out to dinner with us? You Catholics are a bunch of hypocrites' Some secular minds work that way

Be prepared that whatever you do, will set a precedent for the future of the friendship

Now, something I find a bit odd (perhaps because you didn't mention it) but if you are friends with a divorced women, why all of a sudden a concern because she is getting married???? Did you not have that concern when she was dating?

CM


#14

Be careful what kind of judgements you make. Not everything is as black and white as you make it seem.

Best piece of advice out there.

We obviously don't know the whole story, so who are we to look down upon others like this. Congratulate her, wish her the best, if you don't want to go to the reception, politely decline.

There are studies and evidence out there that show that children who see their parents in happy marriages are more likely to have good marriages themselves, even if it is a second marriage. While it didn't work out for your friend, a positive marriage this time around may end up helping the son have a positive marriage the first time around.

If the husband was verbally abusive it was a good thing that she left, because what kind of an example would have that set for her son?

I would find it difficult to be friends with people who didn't respect me or my religion, but if it was I who was using it to judge them,push their buttons or attack them it would be fair game to for them to judge and ridicule me about it. But that's just me. It's hypocritical to judge others using religion as a basis for attack but not to accept the backlash from them.

God didn't just sit in the clouds lecturing the people on how to live, He sent His Son to show us. As Christians shouldn't we set the example, understand that not everyone will follow along exactly as they should (just as we don't) and look for the positives in them and the relationships we have with them? Jesus didn't condemn those who wouldn't follow Him - He had mercy on them and asked the Father to forgive them.

Rather than pushing those away who don't agree with us, shouldn't we keep them close, show them love and respect so that maybe one day they will see the joy of being a follower of Christ and join us? Does being Catholic mean we are an exclusive club - follow the rules or get lost? That kind of arrogant attitude pushes many people away, never to return with no regrets.


#15

[quote="rasmussen, post:1, topic:247741"]
My friend was married in the Catholic church and then divorced after a few years (one son). She said it was because he was verbally abusive. Now, about 10 years later, she married a guy at the courthouse. He is/was also Catholic (now says he is Buddhist). She is non-practicing...even says she is not Catholic anymore (that she is smarter than that :() I am not sure what to say about her marriage to her, if anything. I feel like she is expecting me to congratulate her, but I don't think it is something worth congratulating. How do I approach this? I want to be a good friend, maintain our friendship, but also want to be true to the faith. Ignoring the marriage is a recipe for disaster, but saying congratulations is not what is in my heart. She is also planning on a reception later this summer, and I feel weird about attending. Help!

[/quote]

You're under no obligation to attend a voluntary social event, nor should you be expected to explain your absence. If pressed say you have a prior engagement and refuse to elaborate. On the other hand, if you know how to get out of the office Christmas party without offending the boss and her secretary, please do let me know. :p

Now, please keep in mind that your friend did not (re)marry to thumb her nose at your religious beliefs. She had her own reasons to marry this man. Wish her the best in the most charitable way you can. If she presses you for further blessings, which she probably won't, but if she does you can then take that as an opportunity to share your Catholic beliefs about marriage and divorce and annulment.


#16

[quote="Joan_M, post:2, topic:247741"]
Perhaps you could say what I once said to a man who had married, divorced and re-married - "I'm afraid that I cannot congratulate you, since I know that you had previously married and I don't believe that you received a declaration of nullity."

[/quote]

I'm sitting here trying to imagine how I would react if someone had the nerve to say this to me. I think I'd be struck speechless.

I suspect you are feeling pretty smug about the fact that you were being faithful to your beliefs and that your were showing charity by chastising a sinner. Sadly, that's not the case. Your were just being a rude, obnoxious jerk.


#17

[quote="rick43235, post:16, topic:247741"]
I'm sitting here trying to imagine how I would react if someone had the nerve to say this to me. I think I'd be struck speechless.

I suspect you are feeling pretty smug about the fact that you were being faithful to your beliefs and that your were showing charity by chastising a sinner. Sadly, that's not the case. Your were just being a rude, obnoxious jerk.

[/quote]

Any suggestions on how to handle this situation that is obviously difficult for the OP? Surely, given that you attend mass, you understand why these things matter to us, smug faithful Catholics.


#18

Speaking from personal experience. Say nothing unless asked. I wish someone in my life would have spoke up when I thought I abandoned Catholicism to the gates of hell. No one bothered to help me understand even though I really tried very hard to understand. My faith was constantly on the line within my family, broken home, mixed marriage(s), bad priests, poorly formed clergy and poorly formed or ignorant Catholics, some dissenters. The quagmire was overwhelmingly so confusing that it was very easy for someone with a close belief of Catholicism to convince me I'm going to hell if I remained Catholic. Combine that up with many other factors, including isolation in the military, away from family and Catholic culture, you can end up with many falling away from God, not just Catholicism.

The Church leaders have not been impecible in getting the word out in past histories. Rumors like "we're not supposed to read the bible," for example are among the many off the wall ideas that someone perpetuated along the line. Fortunately today there are countless resources to learn our faith and defend it. We need to get this information out as best we can. It wasn't by a Catholic I came home but by a mishap remark that a non-denominational preacher made that lead me to Google three words, "ancient christian documents." Those three words changed my life forever.

You are right, I was Catholic all my life, yet no one bothered to teach me. Gradually over time I taught myself, however, insufficient. I was unaware of what programs were what, if they even existed. I called myself a Christian that happens to be Catholic. I believed the bible should be good enough for God to dictate so it should be good enough to know the truth from. The clergy must have assumed I grew up in a Catholic school or Catholic family that taught me the faith. But my dad did not teach me and my grandparents and aunts had their own life. I wish my grandfather would have taught me where my father dropped the ball. I wasted most of my life acting Protestant because I got more exposure to Southern Baptist, Church of Christ and some off the wall non-denominational Church rooted in some obscure multi-generational break off. Top that off with a mother that hates Catholicism and you get me.

Charity is best, but avoid appearances of approving. I have an aunt that has married by a JP and never received a declaration of nullity. She's far too emotionally distraught over the process. I have no doubts that it would be declared because I know the history and witnessed much of it. I tried to help, but now she will barely talk to me. I feel that I should have just kept my mouth shut. Trusting in God now to bring her home. The irony is that her new Catholic husband wants her to pursue it so that he can receive the Eucharist. What were they thinking?


#19

[quote="cmscms, post:13, topic:247741"]
Personally, I don't like to be friends with people who don't respect my religious beliefs. But I understand there is a bigger picture to consider and I suggest praying for discernment to God if you should be her friend.

But keep one VERY important thing in mind. If she finds out you didn't attend the receptions because os your religious beliefs, in the back of her mind, whenever there is out outing and her husband is with her in the back of her mind she will think 'Why is it you could not come to our marriage but you can come out to dinner with us? You Catholics are a bunch of hypocrites' Some secular minds work that way

Be prepared that whatever you do, will set a precedent for the future of the friendship

Now, something I find a bit odd (perhaps because you didn't mention it) but if you are friends with a divorced women, why all of a sudden a concern because she is getting married???? Did you not have that concern when she was dating?

CM

[/quote]

People bash Catholicism left and right in these parts and always proceed with "please don't take offense....blah blah blah" and though I could take offense and go and run and be with those just like me, I take them as teachable moments about the faith. It is very hard to have your faith questioned and I pray to God for the right words when this happens so that I can do a good job and possibly help make a u-turn in their heart.

I was concerned when she was dating and when she asked me what I thought about marrying him, I asked her about getting an annulment and strongly recommended looking into it and that is when she gave me the song and dance about the church trying to take people's money. I even directed her to a website for Catholics that are divorced (a good one that promotes the faith),

I am surprised by the comments of people that wouldn't be friends with those that don't respect Catholicism. Am I the only one that is surrounded by non Catholics that love to talk about why they are so great and Catholics are so bad. I love defending the faith and teaching people about what we actually believe and correcting their assumptions and errors. Like I said earlier, in my prayers, I just always ask for guidance on how to lead their hearts and what would make the most impact.


#20

[quote="Contra_Mundum, post:17, topic:247741"]
Any suggestions on how to handle this situation that is obviously difficult for the OP?

[/quote]

Certainly. As some have already suggested, send your regrets if you're not comfortable about attending, and extend your best wishes for a happy life together. And resist the urge to go all "Church Lady" on someone whose religious views are not the same as yours.


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