Can I make him get an annulment?
Our elder advises a letter writer who is caught between love and the Catholic Church.
I have been with this guy for two years. He was married before by the Catholic Church. Me and my family have wanted us to get married by the church but the annulment process to make his previous marriage annulled takes forever and there is always a chance that it will get denied. He did start the process but was upset that the forms he submitted got denied the first time. The priest told him he needed to add more information on why his first marriage failed. After that he didn’t try redoing it. We have argued about this and now he has officially said he doesn’t want to do the process. I’m not sure where to go with this. I think it’s important because my family will disown me. I love him but I also love my family. I need help. Should I overlook this and just get married by the court or stand my ground? If I stand my ground that means I will no longer want to be with him and that hurts.
Hello Sally, thank you for writing to us. I am not Catholic but I have had several friends who had to go through the annulment process and know how harrowing it can be. I did read about the requirements for remarriage in the Catholic Church before answering your letter.
From what I have read, the annulment process is pretty specific. There is some leeway under different conditions, but I am assuming you know and understand those conditions and they do not apply in your case. It isn’t unusual for the first application for annulment to be rejected so I would encourage your fiancé to gather the missing information and to try again.
Not being Catholic does put me at a disadvantage in answering your question because I have not been able to find out if you can still participate in the Church’s sacraments if you are married to a divorced Catholic. So, my thought process begins there. Knowing how important your faith is to you and your family, if you cannot participate in the sacraments, how will this affect you over time? I know you can raise your children in the Church, but you do need to consider the long-term affects for you personally.
I cannot tell you whether or not to ‘stand your ground’ and marry this man. I am sure that you have talked with your priest but if not, it might be helpful to talk with him and to also talk with any lay ministers your church has who you feel could give you some good advice. In the end, you are the only one who can determine what kind of sacrifice you will be making for whatever decision you make. If you marry, will you come to resent your husband for choosing not to try again to annul his first marriage? Will he come to resent you for your adherence to your faith and the fact that he can attend church but not be given any of the sacraments? Only the two of you can answer these questions.
I cannot imagine disowning my child over a faith issue. In fact, one of my sons has a very different view of faith than I do but I would never abandon him or my grandchildren over a matter of faith. I want to think that your family would feel the same about you and any future children you will have.
Perhaps you and your fiancé should delay marriage until you are confident in the path you should both take together, whether to go ahead with a civil marriage and then continue to pursue annulment, or to pursue annulment and then marry. I am really sorry that you are facing this stress in your lives. I wish the best for you and I hope that you are able to come to a decision that will give you peace.