I have been married x 2, the first time in the church and the second not. What do I need to do? And how do I tell that part of my brain to be quiet when it says you were first married 40 years ago and he has remarried so why bother? I find it hard to remember most of the marriage, of course that could be a defense mechanism. Then do I have to have my 2nd one annuled also? Any help would be greatly appreciated. Thank you, jan
Great question! Many people puzzle over this same issue. Here's the deal...
The Catholic Church assumes every marriage is valid unless proven otherwise. If you were married in the Church the first time and especially if you both were baptized, the Church assumes you have a valid marriage unless you allow them the opportunity to determine if the marriage wasn't valid afterall. There are many reasons why this might happen. So, your second marriage is not recognized as a valid marriage because you were already bound to your first spouse. Therefore, you would not need a second annulment unless your first marriage was proven to not be valid.
Don't confuse "valid" with "real." The Church does recognize that two people stood before witnesses, professed vows, lived together and started a family. They had a real relationship. But it may not have been a valid union in the eyes of God. The annulment process helps determine what happened.
I encourage you to apply for the annulment process because you will experience much healing through it. Here are some articles I've written about the annulment process that I hope you find helpful in answering your questions:
I will keep you in my prayers.