Greg went through a horrible divorce eight years ago. His wife left him and their children and it was devastating to the entire family. Greg worked hard to help himself and his children heal and part of that was getting involved in social activities so they would not feel so isolated. He joined a single parents’ group at his parish where there were lots of activities for the kids and the parents. They began feeling comfortable, being accepted by others who had walked in their shoes.
Greg struck up a friendship with one of the single moms there, and within a month, they were involved in a whirlwind romance. Neither one of them had gone through the annulment process, but they were both so convinced of their love for each other they decided the annulment process was too long and they didn’t want to wait. Many of their friends strongly cautioned them against continuing their relationship without seeking an annulment, but the idea of not being with each other 24/7 was out of the question. So their plan was to get married, move their families into the same home and after they were settled, go through the annulment process and have their marriage convalidated at a later date.
The sad part is less than a year later, Greg and his new wife divorced. They had both been so blinded by their emotions they couldn’t think logically. Now, they and their children had to endure another divorce and more devastation. This, my friends, is a true story and one of many. This is why it’s so important to go through the annulment process before you date.
In other articles I’ve written, we’ve discussed the technical side of the annulment process and now, I’d like to talk about the emotive side of the annulment process.
There are still so many people who won’t consider doing this and even those who just completely ignore it altogether. Some of the top reasons (and actually the most honest reasons) people have given for not going through the annulment process are:
- I don’t want to have to revisit the pain of what happened
- It takes too long
- I don’t care what the Church says, I’m going to be happy on my terms
I Don’t Want To Revisit The Pain: This is a perspective I understand very well because that’s exactly how I felt as I was filing my first round of paperwork. I had perpetual indigestion in the days it took me to fill out my questionnaire and talk to my witnesses about theirs. But I realized something as I mailed my paperwork back and began the process of waiting; no one had ever asked me those significantly important questions. I was suddenly grateful and sad at the same time. I was grateful because I had an entirely different perspective on what happened. I was able to accept the truth about everything. Where else would I get that kind of healing? Then, I was sad for all the people who never get the chance to experience healing and growth like that because they refuse to go through the process. All I can do is keep trying to convince people it’s a good thing.
It Takes Too Long!: I’ve known many people who end up in unhappy second marriages because they weren’t interested in taking the time for the annulment process. According to Jennifer Baker of the Forest Institute of Professional Psychology in Springfield, Missouri, fifty percent of first marriages, 67 percent of second and 74 percent of third marriages end in divorce. Read more here.
I contend that the primary reason this happens is because one or both spouses have not properly healed from their divorces and have not worked to improve the areas in their own lives that contributed to the demise of their first marriages. Assuming nothing is going awry with the tribunal, ex-spouse, or anything else that might get in the way, I don’t think it’s too much to ask to wait for the process to be complete before jumping into a new relationship. As a matter of fact, it should be most people’s preference.
I don’t care what the Church says, I’m going to be happy on my terms: Well, okay. I guess we can see where that will get you based on the information above. This mentality probably played a role in the breakdown of your first marriage so the question here is, do you really want to go through another divorce?
I hope you will take these points to heart if indeed you are dating or have plans to remarry without going through the annulment process. There is so much good and so much happiness that can be yours by taking the right steps before you get involved with someone else. As always, you can send me your comments or questions at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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