The winter after my husband left I went on retreat. I had been going on retreats for the previous four years and though I was emotionally devastated, I knew I needed a safe place to start the process of putting my life back together.
Most of that retreat weekend passed by in a blur. Truth be told, there is not much that I honestly remember from the whole first year I was a single mom. Some things are seared into my brain with complete clarity, but most things exist in a sort of foggy dream-state.
I do remember with perfect clarity, sitting in Fr. Peter’s small office with a pile of tissues on my lap explaining heatedly that I did not see the purpose of beginning the annulment process. I intended to be married for life; I did not believe that I was somehow released from this responsibility. In fact, I still wore my wedding ring, weeks after my husband moved in with his new girlfriend.
Fr. Peter let me talk. And talk. And talk some more. I believe I spent about four hours in his office that Friday afternoon. Before letting me leave, he asked me one question: “Do you trust the Church?”
Of course I trusted the Church! I had committed to living as a practicing Catholic. If you ask my ex-husband, he’ll gladly tell you that’s one of the reasons why he left our marriage. He was absolutely right, I was not the same woman he had married. I had changed and was now a faithful Catholic. I was okay with that. He was not.
Fr. Peter explained to me: “If you trust the Church, you need to begin the annulment process and let the Church make the decision about your marriage. Whether this is a sacramental marriage or not isn’t up to you. Let the Church have her say and then you will know for certain where things stand. Otherwise, how will you know what to do?”
This truth helped me to begin the process of constructing the foundation of my new life. If you are rebuilding after a divorce and don’t know what to do about an annulment, then I encourage you to look to the healing power of the Church.