When do you stop pointing out Church teachings to someone who is living in sin?


#1

*Many of you on here know that my sister is divorced, never sought out the annulment process. She was married for nearly 30 years, she left…and was the initiator of the divorce. That said, when discussing the annulment process with her, at one point, she seemed like she was going to investigate it. But, she never has since. She is dating…not just dinners and movies…but she has become intimate with a few of the gentlemen she has been dating. I have been praying for her that she looks into the annulment process, because truthfully, as we all know, she should not be dating.

Yesterday, she sends me an email…that she ‘‘doesn’t know why God doesn’t send her a nice man…that she thought she’d be remarried by now.’’ (she has been legally divorced for 5 years)

What should I say in these circumstances?

a) nothing
b) tell her she shouldn’t be dating, since her marriage is still valid in the eyes of the Church (I have said this in the past, in gentle ways, but she doesn’t want to hear it)
c) wish her well in searching for a new husband

Since it was in email form, I chose “a”…to ignore it, and asked about other things. I have discussed this with her, but when does it get to the point where you come off as a broken record, or irritating to the other person? I just want her to see that she shouldn’t be dating at all, until she finds out if she was in a valid marriage. Her reasons for wishing to not explore it, is because she said that she feels it was valid, but that it just didn’t work out. That her ex husband would be insulted if she asked for an annulment. The conversations gets dropped for a while, and then it comes up again…we keep going round and round in circles. I can’t force her to do anything–I can only pray for her, and gently point out Church teachings. But, beyond that…what do I say, if anything, when she says these things about dating?

My opinion? She is NEVER going to remarry, or meet a decent man…because it’s not God’s will…how could it be God’s will if she STILL IS married? Should I say that to her? :o*


#2

Hmmm tough call.
I don’t think using the phrase “I don’t think it’s God’s will” is useful, though because that may irk her that YOU know God’s will vs HER, kwim? But, there may be other ways of wording it…

I would respond… as GENTLY as possible. I would say something along the lines of…

“I don’t think God is *keeping *you from a good man, but He may be *asking *you to do things in the right order. Things do fall in place and He leads us when we keep in the teachings of the church… so maybe it’s time to pursue that annulment? :shrug: I’m here for you no matter what and I’d be glad to help you along the way, so just let me know! I love you and totally want the best for you!”

Just a thought on the wording… HTH! :slight_smile:


#3

Whatever girl, I think since she is asking you why God hasn’t sent her a nice man, you have the opportunity to tell her (again) that he already did, that she is still married to him in the eyes of the church.

And keep praying for her. Maybe she is beginning to see that her past decisions haven’t been so good, and that she is turning toward God.


#4

I would just share with her that right before God gives us something really big and good, he usually asks for something for something really big from us. There are biblical examples, but I am sure you can even share some examples with her of your own life. God may be trying to send her a good man to marry but first he is asking her to sacrifice her own comfort for a bit and go through the annulment process. When she has surrendered to his will…she may find he gives her things beyone what she could imagine. I have learned this time and time again that when I feel God telling me to sacrifice something or give up something I really wanted (and drag my feet as I might)…afterwards, he then moves in to supply me with what I actually needed and it is so much more than what I could dream of wanting.
*disclaimer - I do not know the specs of her situations, so it may be that she does not qualify for an annulment and thus my part about finding a good man may be out of place. However, he WILL give her something and it will be his will.


#5

Hi whatevergirl! Sorry to hear about your sister…Maybe right now she’s in a different phase in her life where quidance is a must! Have you tried inviting her to meet with your priest? Try that, see if he’s willing to meet with her and guide her through the necessary process…I don’t know tell her it’s for you both or something that you both should see the priest?! And hopefully with him there she’d be willing to listen? You are doing the best you can hon, praying is a most powerful thing to do! My sister is still not married through the church, so many years going on 10 and still no church marriage, I feel sorry for her because of that but it’s her choice! My father keeps pushing all of us to marry through the church but we live so far from each other so many excuses you know?! It shouldn’t be like that…I know! But uhm, everyone does have their own excuses biggest one, “we don’t have the money right now!” But we all know the importance of a church marriage!

She has been married through the church even I know that is a sacrament unable to be broken unless a tribunal can see to it as an invalid marriage and only then can someone be free to remake their lives! I do hope she starts to “read the signs” about getting to the annulment process or something before it’s too late and she ends up getting really heart broken and really hurt! GOD forbid! :frowning: I will keep you and her in my prayers!

I know it’s hard to face the music when you are illusioned but she has to sometime and just hope it’s not when things are over whelming for her…GOD bless…Don’t give up and continue praying! Don’t stop talking to her either, be her support and continue guiding her…I think you are doing a great job!!!


#6

I think that your position that God won’t send her a decent man because she has not gotten an annulment really does not stand up well to me. It hits a bit of a nerve.
I left a bad marriage and married a woman who is the best thing that ever happened to me. We both had been raised catholic, but we both had left the Church many years earlier. We were married very happily for some 14 years before I finally applied for and was granted an annulment. We then had our marriage convalidated in the Church.

So you see that God, even though I was living a sinful life, gave me the most wonderful woman I could have ever wished for. God, and my family, especially my mother and Godfther were consisantly and prayerfully patient with me.

It is hard to advise you in the matter of your sister since I know that it hurts you deeply to see her living like this. The best advise I can give is for you to be “prayerfully patient” with her just as my loved ones were with me. When the subject comes up, try not to be judgemental. Remind her of the Church teachings and offer to pray the rosary or divine mercy chaplet with her. Try to use positive suggestions. Suggest that if she were to go ahead and get the annulment (assuming it is granted) she could go to a catholic dating website and meet decent catholic men that way. If she still resists the annulment, you could suggest something like “e-harmony” which I believe was started by a Christian man.

Those are just some random ideas. The important thing to remember is that which you already know. You cannot force her. You can only pray for her and encourage her in Love.

Peace
James


#7

*JRKH, but she shouldn’t be dating at all, if she is still married in the eyes of the Church. One doesn’t need to be a practicing Catholic for the ‘‘rules’’ to apply. So, suggesting to her eharmony…wouldn’t that be a bad idea?

Regarding your own marriage…I think anyone who divorces would say he/she was in a bad marriage. If it was good, why would they divorce? lol Not trying to debate you, your life is your life, but I don’t believe we are to date while we’re still married in the eyes of God, just because it makes us feel happy. It seems to have worked out for you, which that is good, but it’s not something I’d suggest for my sister to do…she is still married in the eyes of the Church. And she isn’t all that devout, but that doesn’t change the Church’s opinion of what she’s doing. :o

Okay, let me fill in some blanks. I met with my sister a few weeks ago, she was here on business…and we met for lunch. She told me she had recently met up with her ex, and apologized for hurting him. He cried, she cried…this is a major breakthrough, as my ex BIL was pretty cold to her since their divorce. That said, she asked him to play golf, but HE is involved in a longterm relationship and told her ‘no.’ She wasn’t offended or anything, but I think she regrets leaving him, now that she has had sufficient time to reflect. Okay, so I’m wondering to myself if that is what’s in the back of her own mind…and maybe subtly or not so subtly, she sabotages relationships with men, now. Could be. :hmmm:*


#8

I love this advice, I really do. I could see myself saying this…It would be my ‘style,’ I think…and I could see it getting the point across, but not coming across as preachy. Thanks EM! :hug1:


#9

Hi whatevergirl!! You mean you think your sister might want to get back with her ex but he’s in a long term relationship and you are afraid she might want to do something against his relationship to get him back? Or am I reading this wrong???:frowning:


#10

Yes, this is a great point, too. Thank you. You know, it’s hard to tell someone he/she made a bad decision in leaving someone. My sister and BIL raised me since I was ten, I witnessed most of their marriage, firsthand. I remember the fights, the degrading way my sister talked to my BIL, my BIL taking it out on his kids and me, and their horrible way of communicating. Eventually, after I married and was well out of the house, my BIL got into some serious financial trouble. My BIL also had two heart surgeries in a small window of time…my sister told me very recently that one of the reasons she lost interest in him and the marriage, is that it seemed like ‘he gave up on life,’ since having the surgeries. Gosh, just when you think your spouse is there to support you (through sickness and in health) he/she is heading for the door. Her kids are to this day, very angry over that aspect of her leaving. He was healed from the surgeries, but it wasn’t shortly after that, that she left. She told me that from having to take care of our mother, when I was little, she is weary of taking care of anyone else. She’s had it rough to an extent. So, I THINK that if they had stuck it out, went to counseling, (serious counseling)…they could have pulled out in a positive way, and remained married. I don’t think my sister likes be alone one bit, she comments about it often. I feel bad, it is one of those moments when you don’t have any idea as to what to say.

I tell her I’m praying for her always, she thanks me, but it’s hard, you know? She is openminded more than she ever was to the Church, etc…so maybe I just need to continue gently ‘‘reminding’’ her that she is still married, and that until she gets that in order, or makes things right with God on that front, the dating scene should be offlimits to her. I would say this in a kind way.

From a secular point of view, not sure what she’s looking for in a man. She is 54, she looks like a young 40-ish, but is a bit high maintenance. She meets men who from what I have detected, want someone who is just in the background…accompanies them to dinner things, parties, etc…not sure if these men are seeking a real relationship. Basically, the type of men she has been dating are the spitting images of her husband. :o*


#11

No, I don’t think she ‘‘wants’’ him back, but maybe regrets divorcing him. She sees the ‘new and improved’ version of my BIL…more active, dating one woman now for a while not hopping around, working out, etc…and perhaps, that is what is appealing to her. I find it sad that he wasn’t like that with her, though. But, then again, she was so overbearing, that maybe he felt he couldn’t do anything without her say so. :frowning: I think she now looks back and realizes that SHE was just as much to blame for their demise, as him. I actually have developed a relationship with my BIL…which I never had when they were together. He was very unhappy back then, I hardly EVER spoke to him. But, now, we email often, and my husband and him might go fishing together soon. I sometimes wonder if my sister caused him to feel angry, and if he caused it in her. Because she has changed, also.


#12

You know, if we could look at the particulars of what brought them together, largely, my sister was taking care of my mother…my mom was in bed a lot, suffering from clinical depression. Long before the days of Prozac and the like, there were days when she just couldn’t get out of bed. I honestly believe, had my father ‘‘permitted’’ her to go off to college, she would not have married my BIL. Wild guess, maybe. But, I believe this. She wanted to go to college, my father, very strict Italian man …said if she wanted to go, she had to live at home. My sister did not want to take care of our mom any longer. Enter my BIL, and they were married a year later. I was the flower girl, at six yrs old. So…to me, she rushed into something, just to get out of the house. I have a very different view of my dad…than she. Since her divorce, she’s made peace with all of this, that is why I firmly believe she should explore this…but, I think she is concerned that her kids will be angry with her. She is also concerned that her husband will be insulted, because he took the marriage vows very seriously. So, there you have it…grounds for annulment? Very possible…but, until she explores it herself, she’ll never know. It is very hard to go through life, with regret. With guilt. I think that is why she is not successful in relationships, because she is carrying so much guilt around with her.*


#13

[quote=whatevergirl;5869813"]JRKH, but she shouldn’t be dating at all, if she is still married in the eyes of the Church. One doesn’t need to be a practicing Catholic for the ‘‘rules’’ to apply. So, suggesting to her eharmony…wouldn’t that be a bad idea?

Regarding your own marriage…I think anyone who divorces would say he/she was in a bad marriage. If it was good, why would they divorce? lol Not trying to debate you, your life is your life, but I don’t believe we are to date while we’re still married in the eyes of God, just because it makes us feel happy. It seems to have worked out for you, which that is good, but it’s not something I’d suggest for my sister to do…she is still married in the eyes of the Church. And she isn’t all that devout, but that doesn’t change the Church’s opinion of what she’s doing. :o
[/quote]

Yell - Like I said your statement: "She is NEVER going to remarry, or meet a decent man…because it’s not God’s will…how could it be God’s will if she STILL IS married? " struck a nerve with me. Maybe you shouldn’t suggest a dating service. It was just a thought.
I might also relate that my wife was previously divorce and DID get an annulment yet was single for 25 years before we got married. Meeting someone decent is quite difficult because the, “Best ones are already married”. If they aren’t married the odds are there is a good reaon for it. This is true whether it is men OR women.
Anyway my initual reaction was to the idea that God would not send her someone good UNTIL she got the annulment. I think that this is dangerous thinking on your part.
First it is you projecting your thinking onto God.
Second it is eliminating the possiblity that God will eventually send her someone who IS decent and, through that person, lead your sister back to the church.
When all is said and done, your best bet remains - Love you sister. Pray for her, cry with her, and encourage her with words and examples.

Okay, let me fill in some blanks. I met with my sister a few weeks ago, she was here on business…and we met for lunch. She told me she had recently met up with her ex, and apologized for hurting him. He cried, she cried…this is a major breakthrough, as my ex BIL was pretty cold to her since their divorce. That said, she asked him to play golf, but HE is involved in a longterm relationship and told her ‘no.’ She wasn’t offended or anything, but I think she regrets leaving him, now that she has had sufficient time to reflect. Okay, so I’m wondering to myself if that is what’s in the back of her own mind…and maybe subtly or not so subtly, she sabotages relationships with men, now. Could be. :hmmm:

Sounds like you sister is doing some real growing. She has discovered that the grass is not as green on this side as she thought it would be, nor was it as brown on the other side as she thought. This is good and necessary for her spiritual well being. If she had remarried quickly in all likelihood she would not have appreciatedthat marriage either. She is now learning the sad truth that marriage requires give and take on both sides.

She may be sabotaging new relationships but in reality, as I said earlier, once one gets to a certain age, the pool af available partners is highly restricted and the pool tends to be a bit “Shallow”. It will remain so until the pool of “widowers” begins to increase. Sad but true.

I wish both you and your sister luck.
Pray for God’s will and also that He guide you in Loving helping your sister.

Peace
James


#14

I wish I could copy and paste this and send it off to her…this is very insightful, James. Secularly and spiritually. I have often thought that too…you know, she comments about the '‘walking wounded’ when talking about the divorced men she’s dated. :o Your wife was single for 25 years before meeting you? Oh my gosh, that is a really cool story, James. :o I didn’t mean to come across in a rude way, I know it probably sounded like that at first. I just know that God’s will cannot be found out of His Word, you know? Like, God wouldn’t tell someone to steal, because it goes against who He is. His commandments. Likewise, going against Church teaching in order to find God’s will, doesn’t seem prudent, in my sister’s case. Since she is bringing God into the mix…asking, why hasn’t God sent me a husband? Which in my thinking, God is not going to lead us to a spouse, when we’re already married. lol You know what I mean? Does that better make sense out of what I was trying to say earlier?

I agree with you about the grass is always greener, my husband said the same thing about her situation. That she exchanged one set of issues (no one is perfect), for another set…at least my BIL was an upstanding, moral man. Think she thought she could find THAT and then some…finding someone moral is not easy in this fallen world. Thanks for chiming in, by the way. :)*


#15

Having read through the your many responses and clarifiactions provides a lot of good information. the first thing that struck me was the fact that your mother suffered from clinical depression. It is entirely possible that your sister suffers from mental issues as well. This of course complicates relationships both for her and for those around her.

Seeing your exBIL blossom now that he is out from under your sister’s dominance does not surprise me at all. My family told me that they could immedialtely see a difference in me when I left my first marriage. It was as though a great weight was lifted. I felt it but didn’t realize it showed so much.

Keep your eyes and ears open and you will discover even more things that might help you help you rsister.

Peace
James


#16

OK yeah I was reading it wrong sorry! :frowning: Sometimes a break is all that’s needed for people to realize things…And I understand that she doesn’t want him back because of the hurt they both might have done to each other…I read in a Christian magazine that sometimes we like to blame our partners for our own mistakes and our own inability to be happy with ourselves…And everything that person does that irritates us makes us blame them even more for our misery… :frowning: Sometimes I did that with my ex, but it wasn’t just for my mistakes it was for my inability to get him to love GOD and to love his family… :frowning: But I know that I was as patient as possible for him to change and never did he do that…

Maybe she just couldn’t accept him how he was without saying something to him that caused him to get angry and feel manipulated maybe and now without that pressure on him he feels he can be himself and actually loves himself? That’s usually what happens a lot of times, people after separations and divorces end up speaking with inlaws a little more, just a breather for them I guess…

I feel so bad for your sister… I know that in my past relationship even if his family believes him and hates me and blames me for everything, believe me I know deep in my heart how wrong they are and how sorry I feel for them and may GOD bless them!!! LOL

I do hope she starts seeing the signs around her to pursuit in her annulment process…I would tell her better safe than not you know?!

I know that I had plenty reminding me of that when I came on here and they found out I was divorced, thank goodness I had all ready done the annulment process but still, I realized how important that step is!

I will keep you all in my prayers!


#17

*Yes, it was worth mentioning, I thought. BUT…she is also lighter…breezier, I think of her now. She used to be obsessed with cleaning, and perfection from me and her kids. But, she is so much more laid back. Clearly, they were unhappy together, but why? Could they have been helped? I think so…but they never sought counseling for very long. They’d go a few times, and quit. I don’t know, I can’t judge, I just remember that they were horrible communicators. Yelling, anger, namecalling…it was insane at times. Then, other times, it was peaceful and fun.

I don’t think my sister has any depression issues…BUT, I do think that whole chapter of her life as a child, affected her. Like it affected me, albeit differently. My parents died when I turned ten…my dad had cancer, my mom died in a car accident a year later. I remember only good about them, my sister has a darker memory of them. Again, she’s made peace, maybe if anything good could come out of her divorce, it’s that she has made peace with her childhood. :o But, she does have a short fuse with men. Very choosy…which is good, but she wants someone who does not exist. Only Jesus was the only perfect man, the closer she gets to Him, the better off she will be. My opinion. *


#18

We sometimes learn our lessons in a really hard ways. Some never do learn the lessons. Your sister is very lucky to have you in her corner and you are very lucky to have such an insightful husband.

Peace
James


#19

*Thanks for your thoughts JRKH…I’ve enjoyed reading your perspective. *


#20

WG, your sister has been through A LOT with the death of your parents and having to fill their shoes. Did she ever go through counseling at that point? It sounds like she might still carry some baggage from that experience, baggage which could have undermined her relationship when she married and which could undermine any future relationships. The way that she avoids looking into the annulment process indicates that she might be avoiding dealing with her past issues. She really does need to do this if she wants to move forward with her life.


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