One day, shortly after I had started my annulment process, I was outside doing yard work. My thoughts drifted to the annulment and how I was anxiously anticipating its completion. I remember thinking that I was looking forward to getting my annulment so “I could meet someone more loving and more ’together’ than my ex.” I went on to finish my yard work confident I was taking the right step. Yet, as the day wore on, my confidence waned.
Later that evening, it dawned on me why my hopeful anticipation for my annulment had faded. Feeling somewhat ashamed, I had to admit to myself that I was applying for my annulment for the wrong reason. I was viewing it solely as a means to meet someone “better” than my former spouse. Instead of approaching it as the healing process the Church intended, I was looking to check a box and move on with my plans. It was then that I decided to put my annulment on hold. I knew I just wasn’t ready.
Going through the annulment process is a very important step in rebuilding your life after divorce. Deeply examining your courtship and marriage in all its often painful detail, helps you to understand with more clarity your decisions, your maturity level, your motives, your faith, and your ex-spouse. Coming to grips with these factors aids greatly in the healing process. It can also help you to more clearly discern if God is calling you to a future vocation of marriage. Using it simply as a Get Out of Jail Free card so you can press forward in dating relationships is cheating yourself out of the many benefits of the annulment process.
Too often, Catholics approach the annulment process as a knee-jerk attempt to undo the stigma associated with divorce. An annulment doesn’t erase your marriage or your divorce. Those are realities that need to be understood and accepted. The annulment process, when approached with an open heart and mind, can greatly help with this. Its benefits can extend far beyond releasing you and your former spouse from the Sacramental bond. This is why it is important to proceed with an annulment only when you are emotionally ready to embrace the process. This will allow God to heal you and guide you down the path to fulfilling His great plan for you, instead of you simply furthering your own.
Many are the plans of the human heart, but it is the decision of the Lord that endures. – Proverbs 19:21