Wednesday, 9 November 2011

Divorce, Annulment, Remarriage

Polish sentence structure is so unlike English sentence structure that Google Translate cannot cope with it very well. Therefore, when I find out that someone has written something about Anielskie Single online, I go half-crazy trying to figure out what it is. The one solution is to get a native Polish speaker to read it to me, and they do not grow on trees.

Happily, there was one in the neighbourhood today, so I lured him in with doughnuts and got him to translate something written about beautiful, fascinating me. And we discovered that edited right out of this biography of former singledom was my divorce, annulment and remarriage.

Let's make this quite clear. I was divorced. I got an annulment. I am in my second marriage. If you have a problem in general with people who are granted annulments and remarry, then you have a problem with me. And I am sorry about that.

I am sorry about that because I think I have funny and interesting things to say and I would be sorry if someone lost out on the fun and the conversation simply because they think any divorced Catholic is not worth listening to. But I am also sorry about that because divorced Catholics are often treated like crap. I knew that when I got divorced, and you can bet the ink was barely dry on my divorce certificate when I was banging on the Marriage Tribunal door.

I didn't get my annulment to get married again. I got my annulment to end the fiction that I had been sacramentally married in the first place. I wanted freedom, not just the freedom to marry, but the freedom to be single, no longer tied to a non-husband in any way whatsoever. And of course I would not have married B.A. without an annulment, and he would not have married me. We're Catholics because we actually happen to believe the Roman Catholic faith.

It is obvious that the sanctity of marriage is in serious trouble. This is one of the reasons why I write this blog: to preserve the sanctity of marriage. People abuse marriage all the time, and in different ways. Some people mistake marriage for permanent-never-failing-romance. Other people mistake marriage for a Church-sponsored spouse trap. Still others use it as a vehicle to force others to say that their lifestyle is A-OK.

Therefore, I can understand why Catholics--especially European Catholics--are so frightened by divorced-and-remarried people. And I respect the fact that I would not be allowed anywhere near the microphone of an orthodox Catholic media outlet had I not been granted an annulment before I started to call myself single again, let alone married B.A. And I even see why the fact that I had a divorce and an annulment before I wrote my singles book was dropped from this particular bio: it was too complicated for that particular article, that particular magazine.

Life, however, is complicated. And I don't think it is helpful for the Catholic community to sweep complications under the rug and nail the rug down. We might all look wonderful and upstanding at Mass, whether beaming and clapping or bowed and silent, but we all are sinners, and we all struggle. One difference between people is that the more you have to lose, the smarter you are about keeping your mouth shut. When my pal X was Single, she would tell anyone about her latest crush object. When she was married, she told only me. (Yes, some married women--even respectable married women who love God, their husbands and their children--sometimes have crush objects. They also catch colds and the flu.)

I am no expert on ministry to divorced-and-remarried Catholics. The issues are horribly painful, pitting "being faithful" against "being welcoming." I understand that love sometimes means saying "No". I understand that receiving communion without being in a state of grace can actually harm a person. But I also understand that the divorced person so easily becomes a scapegoat. That makes me worry for divorced people, whether they are canonically single--as I was--or canonically married.

I understand why the divorce and annulment might have been dropped from my bio, but it makes me a little sad for the divorced-and-annulled all the same.


Lena said...

I think you offer a lot of wisdom. And some of that wisdom probably comes from that time-warp marriage. Somewhere I heard God can make you new again, and it's too bad other people don't allow you the same courtesy.

Keep writing.

Little Mary said...

I think a lot more people would be more charitable if they knew more about the church's teachings on divorce and anullments... particularly the whys and hows of how some marriages weren't really marriages to begin with (and how some bad marriages really were).

theobromophile said...

If you have a problem in general with people who are granted annulments and remarry, then you have a problem with me.

(Deep breath) A lot of the problem that people have with annulments is about children. As one of my Catholic friends ranted about the other week, one of his acquaintances is getting divorced and seeking an annulment - after having six children. I couldn't imagine this particular friend caring one whit about your situation, but was fuming over getting an annulment after six children.

Divorce is ugly when children are involved, no matter how amicably it ends and how hard the parents work to keep the other parent in their child's lives. Cradle Catholics always think of marriage as a Sacrament, which is a good thing, but sometimes fail to understand that every religion and every society in the world has some sort of system of matrimony because of the universal desire to protect children.

You didn't have children with your ex. (I hope that I'm not pouring salt onto any wounds; if so, I'm sorry and do not mean it.) Those of us who grit our teeth at divorce and do full-head revolutions at the thought of easy divorce and remarriage - however much we may love and be happy for the divorced-and-remarried in our lives, even our own parents - do so because divorce is an ugly, nasty thing to do to children. When divorce is often done without any consideration for the children involved ("Oh, it's better for them to see me happy!! than sad"), a lot of us grit our teeth in anger.

Before kids are in the picture, your marriage is between you, your spouse, and God. That's it. When the couple has kids, they are involved in the divorce - sometimes more emotionally than their parents - as is the entire society that has to help nurture those sad, broken children into productive adults, and hope that those children won't pass the same problems onto their own kids. So society tends to, justifiably, get up in the faces of people who divorce and remarry and flit about and say, "What are you DOING?".

The end of that long, long comment is: a lot of the pushback you are receiving has nothing to do with you, your situation, or any Catholic who marries a non-Catholic and gets divorced-and-annulled before children are in the picture. If you were to have the fortitude to probe into the minds of those who are being nasty to you over your annulment, you would probably find that their reactions to it, and to the degradation of marriage, have to do with children. It will come back to the kids.

Seraphic Spouse said...

Yes, I do see the distinction. Divorce is terrible for kids, unless it gets them out of a horribly abusive situation.

Annulments usually don't have anything to do with kids/not kids.

Emma said...

I would just like to respond to theobromophile.

When I was 16, and my brother was 13, we asked our mom to divorce our dad. We begged her. For almost a year.

We simply couldn't live like that anymore.

Seraphic said...

Emma, I'm awfully sorry your dad put you, your brother and your mother through the wringer.

theobromophile said...

Annulments usually don't have anything to do with kids/not kids.

I do not oversee gobs of annulments, so I cannot speak to frequency, but one of the bases for an annulment is that one or both parties never intended to have children. One of the (few, IIRC) ways to demonstrate lack of free will in the marriage is a shotgun wedding: a choice that would never have been otherwise made.

I would just like to respond to theobromophile.

When I was 16, and my brother was 13, we asked our mom to divorce our dad. We begged her. For almost a year.

We simply couldn't live like that anymore.

I would like to respond to Emma.

My parents divorced when I was two. One parents subsequently remarried to a person who deliberately made my life, and my sister's life, miserable - out of jealousy for our "golden" childhood. That marriage ended in divorce, too. Not sure if you think I had some sort of Leave It To Beaver childhood....

So I just have to ask: what's your point? Is it the equivalent of, "What about a woman who is raped and her child won't survive delivery because of this horrible birth defect"? - a way to use an exceedingly rare, heartbreaking situation to throw mud at anyone who dares to suggest that children can be and frequently are the victims of their parents' selfishness?

Just throwing this stat out there, because it is meaningful: non-biological father figures (mother's boyfriends or stepfathers) are nine times as likely to abuse her children as a father is. Women, too, are less likely to be abused by their husbands than almost anyone else. That doesn't even get into the parents who were never married when their children were born - two in five, these days - whose kids didn't even have the option of begging their parents to choose between a lousy marriage and divorce.

If not, I'm sorry, but it really sounds like it.