Today it is not unheard of that a marriage breaks up for one reason or another. Sometimes they were ill prepared; sometimes they can be immature, or pressure from within the family or a variety of other reasons. For a practicing Catholic as well several other religions the separation can be mentally hard. No one wants to hear he/she made a mistake, or is wrong. Frequently, people will just walk away or attend mass either continuing to partake in the sacraments or not or even change to another church if they have remarried or are cohabitating.
If you are thinking that you would like to stay close to the church teachings, you will have to go through the annulment process if you ever think you might remarry. I am going to write about this from my experience, and some of things I heard. There were hurdles that I had to overcome. First of all, it’s okay that you are not perfect. By that, I mean I was brought up that you married once for life. That was a huge deal for me.
Secondly, the idea of going in front of the tribunal court to discuss the marriage. Many people do not want to think they made a mistake and much less to sit in front of a “bunch of men” (priests) to discuss their life with their ex-spouse. It was easier for me when I got an annulment because of spousal abuse and other extenuating circumstances, which were also involved. Nevertheless, that did not make it any easier.
You see, when a marriage ends, although there may be a lot of flame throwing at each other, in the recesses of one’s mind, one questions, “Could I have done better, or what could I have done differently?”There is an immense amount of pain going on. Some feel as if they failed. Some feel anger and depression. Yes, some may experience happiness or a release from having to pretend that everything was okay. Each spouses has to deal with a wide range of emotions.
Then having to deal with the tribunal and filling out paperwork, where undoubtedly not knowing the answer can cause additional stress and pain because you are having to deal with something that you would much prefer to tuck neatly in some deep crevice of your mind where no one can find it. Taxing to say the least…
Another reason for going after annulment is difficult is the belief that it makes the children illegitimate. From what I understand of church teachings, that is not true. Moreover, truly in this day in age does it really matter to anyone except you what society thinks? You know who your children are. Be that as it may, you and God are the only ones who matter in my opinion.
Finally, the unknown…Going in front of the tribunal to discuss your marriage is scary, but to have them decide if your marriage was legitimate is even scarier. If the tribunal does not grant the annulment, then it means that you can’t partake in the sacraments if you are remarried, planning to remarry, or even cohabitating. At that point, you feel exiled, as if you have been abandoned. That is a hard consequence to take. As a Catholic, it is a huge deal. Sometimes, it seems it would be easier to deal with the unknown than to find out it is not granted. I would suppose that would be true for other religions which have an annulment process.
Anyhow, I want to discuss the process from my experience. This happened many years ago. I had to find two witnesses to speak on my behalf. My impression was that my local church spoke on my behalf as well. Not sure if that it is true or not…
My two witnesses and I had to fill out paperwork. And yes, it is true there is a request for a donation. I am calling it a donation because it isn’t necessarily required. I believe if you explain your circumstances that you may be exempt.
Now, don’t let this rile you up. I honestly do not feel that the process is meant to make anyone feel excommunicated. I believe they are trying to work with you in solving some of the issues, which may have occurred. I found it to be a catharsis, a release of feelings.
It took me three years to fill the paperwork out and not because it should have. It did because of me. I went over every question and methodically tried to answer each question that posed to the very best of my ability, being as honest as possible. I became aware of things I had never noticed.
I wanted to look at myself and know what part of this failure was mine. It asked about courtship and a variety of things. I would like to believe if I would have noticed the warning signs, realized how easily I was manipulated, and how little self worth that I had that maybe I would not have married.
My witnesses filled out their portion relatively quickly. The tribunal was waiting on me. I finally finished each question and sent it forward. The next step was to go before the tribunal. I do not remember that being bad at all. Several priests were there. They asked if what I had written was true. In which, I responded it was to the best of my knowledge. I remember them being kind and gentle, not accusatory. My ex was doing whatever he chose to do on his end. I do not believe he did anything.
I really would like you to know that if you want to get an annulment, do not to be afraid. I understand if you are. However, I really do not believe the Church wants to send anyone away. I know it is hard dealing with it all. But, maybe the Church can figure out a way in which it will not seem so intimidating, and can gently aid in the healing and reconciliation process.
I will try to post some links on the website page for your interest.