Checking the Box

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

Originally posted 2014-10-29 06:00:36.

Please note: I reserve the right to delete comments that are offensive or off-topic.

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9 thoughts on “Checking the Box

  1. ” Its benefits can extend far beyond releasing you and your former spouse from the Sacramental bond. ”

    If the sacramental bond is real, no annulment may be granted. An annulment is the recognition that the sacramental bond never existed.

    • The Catholic Church assumes all marriages are valid and Sacramental, until, and unless, proven otherwise. So, until you actually receive an annulment, you are bound to your (Sacramental) marriage. So, since an annulment releases you from the marital bond, it also confirms that a Sacramental bond no longer exists. That determination can only be made after that fact. Before an annulment, the parties are bound to a valid, Sacramental marriage.

  2. Thanks Vince,
    For helping us understand the depth
    Of an Annulment really means.
    It’s only now I can say I truly get it after so many years ?.
    Thanks for inspiring us.

  3. I have recently gone through the annulment process and I was the one who was fighting it. I ended up prevailing (if that is what you want to call it). But I understand your view as far as moving on with maybe somebody else, but if you were truly prepared to get married the first time and you entered that bond with your now ex wife. How can you ask for that to be annulled? A lot, of what we go through falls within the boundaries of “for better or worse,” although we try and take the next step towards annulling the marriage, because we want to move……………………..I’m not sure that is the intent of the process.

    • Rob,

      Thanks for your comments. You make a great point about the permanence of marriage. Marriage takes *both* parties to make a valid marriage. If something was not valid with the consent, then no valid marriage existed. You can be fully prepared and have every intention to honor your vows for life, but the other party must have given a valid consent as well. The annulment process looks at exactly that to determine if valid consent took place at the time the marriage vows were exchanged. If the Tribunal (guided by the Holy Spirit) finds evidence that valid consent was not given by both parties, the marriage is deemed invalid. Annulments are only required if you feel called to get married again. If not, it is not required. Many people find it to be a very healing process, whether they ever get married again or not.

      Live Abundantly,
      Vince

  4. Wonderful post. It also underscores why it so much more meaningful to obtain an annulment before you “need” one, because you want to remarry. Getting it for the right reason is such a valuable part of the healing. Thank you