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Dear DM: Do I participate in the Cheater’s Catholic annulment process? – Divorce Minister


This one is a doozy so bear with me.

Long story short, I was married for 10 years to a guy I had known for 20 (grew up together). Thought we were happy in the marriage, before uncovering his infidelities (Ashley Madison accounts, hours of pornography each day, hidden Snapchat account where he sexted dozens of women, multiple affair partners, one of whom he impregnated and at least one of whom slept with him at our apartment). Lots of abusive and controlling behaviors. Tried the RIC for 3 years until I realized he was never going to change. Divorce final as of last August.

Ex contacted me today. In less than a year divorced, he has found a new victim to marry. And, bonus, she’s Catholic – so he needs an annulment to be allowed to marry her. To me it feels like meta-gaslighting – let’s pretend that the whole marriage was essentially a sham spiritually from the start. He notified me that the archdiocese was essentially going to investigate the marriage and I could choose to cooperate or not.

I know you have been through something semi-similar before and wanted to reach out to you for your thoughts. I’m not Catholic and know nothing about this process. I read online that the Catholic Church grants ~90% of annulments. Seems like a no-win situation – don’t engage and essentially by silence agree with the gaslighting, or engage and get revictimized. I realize that the marriage itself wound up being this awful thing but it was real to me, and we didn’t enter into it as a couple lightly (even if he conveniently forgot his vows mattered ~3 years later). I am very much religious (he supposedly was as well) and married with the intent of being married for life, and I fought hard to try to save the marriage on my end. The annulment part feels like a personal blow. Unsure if it even makes sense to engage in this especially if the Catholic church is more than likely going to essentially say the marriage was never real before God. Insult to injury for sure. If you have any thoughts or encouragement I would be very appreciative.

-Indomitable

First, I want to acknowledge that you shared quite a list of abusive, sinful actions by this man in your marriage. Glad to hear that you escaped that destructive and abusive relationship!

Now, you wrote:

Ex contacted me today. In less than a year divorced, he has found a new victim to marry. And, bonus, she’s Catholic – so he needs an annulment to be allowed to marry her. To me it feels like meta-gaslighting – let’s pretend that the whole marriage was essentially a sham spiritually from the start. He notified me that the archdiocese was essentially going to investigate the marriage and I could choose to cooperate or not.

It stinks that he has resurfaced like a floater in a toilet bowl unwilling to get flushed away. However, these characters are like that sometimes.

This situation about the annulment is multifaceted:

First, let me talk about what I understand as an evangelical clergyman with Catholic friends who understand the annulment process. This process is strictly ecclesiastical.

Archdiocese is looking to see if the marriage is sacramentally valid. This does not mean you were never married if they grant him an annulment. It simply means the Catholic Church found some sacramental flaw that invalidated the marriage sacramentally in their eyes.

I am not sure if that makes you feel better, yet the stakes aren’t as high as saying the marriage never happened.

Now, as far as outcome is concerned, I do not know. It likely would end in an annulment being granted based on his infidelities if my memory serves me right. However, I cannot say with certainty as I am not Catholic.

Regardless, I would discourage basing your decision regarding participation on the outcome as that is to attempt to control him and his future. It is best to not engage in that sort of behavior.

As long as you are engaged in this process, you are still tied to him. I would recommend not engaging in the annulment process for that reason alone. You stand to gain nothing but more heartache.

Might they rule in favor of the annulment? Sure.

But their ruling does not change the facts about your marriage–namely, you valued it and were sincere in your marriage vows. Plus, it does not change the legal facts that it was a marriage in the eyes of the state. Whatever they rule regarding its sacramental validity, these facts remain true.

We do not control what others say and do. This includes the archdiocese. However, we DO control what we think and believe. You can decided what narrative you choose to believe in this.

Hope this helps!

-Pastor David (aka DM)

Republished with permission from www.divorceminister.com.

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