Saturday, November 19, 2005

The Marriage Question

Finally, a lull. The family and I went to a wedding today. My brother and his wife renewed their vows. It was so sweet. My sister-in-law wan't Catholic when they married, so they didn't have a nuptual mass. She converted shortly after their first child was born, and has wanted a "do-over" ever since. So, on the 15th anniversary of their meeting, it was done. Their oldest son served the Mass, their other 6 children escorted their mother down the aisle, and when the two of them exchanged their vows, they really knew what they were saying. *Sigh* quite lovely.

My husband and I want to renew our vows next year. We switched from the Roman Rite(Western) to the Romanian Rite (Eastern) last year. At the time of our wedding, neither of us felt completely engaged in our vows, as we were too nervous and felt a little on display. Now that we have a better idea what the vows are for, and to be able to participate in the beautiful Eastern Rite wedding ceremony, we are going to renew on our 14th anniversary. Here is a question for you all. When you got married, did you have an appreciation for the truly covenental bond that you were undertaking, and a trust in the unbreakable union you were entering? A conversation over at Caelum et Terra about annulments has unnerved me a bit regarding the indissolvability of Catholic marriage. (There are 97 commets at this time, so if you want to read it all, allow some time). This has led to the question (regarding the high numbers of annulments) too many anullments, or too many invalid marriages? Does anyone really understand the gravity of their vows, have an appreciation for the life of service one has undertaken, or are most looking for their own happiness? Not a couple I know hasn't struggled with their marriage. At what point do you investigate annulment? And why did people in previous generations stick out unhappy marriages, rather than use the possibility of an annulment when things seemed unbearable?

I am working on a response to these questions, incorporating many of my own life experiences. I will post my response tomorrow, detailing my initial faith formation (SSPX), my marriage ("regular church"), our church hopping (indult masses, SSPX again, various independent chaples, and local churches, and finally, our current Romanian Catholic church), and my recent studies of Eastern Chrisianity and Theology of the Body. I feel a convergence of many things slamming into my soul at this time, and that there is a common thread - one of headship, authentic authority as a servant, and the place of the intellectual vs. the spiritual life (i.e. head vs. soul). Stay tuned, as this will more than likely take many installments.

But first, back to my question - too many annulments, or too many invalid marriages? and can anyone know at the time of their marriage if it is annulment proof?


Blogger Mairin :o) said...

I think couples are woefully unprepared and are completely ignorant of what marriage requires. No one ever says how hard it is. Popular culture pushes what I call the 'tissue' marriage: Don't like it? Not happy? Toss it out and get another one.

I think my husband and I knew the gravity of what we were doing. Still, I didn't know how hard it was going to be.

We taught a marriage class for 9th and 10th graders preparing for confirmation this past spring. We used many resources and learned a lot ourselves.

Even though the couple written about on the linked website seemed 'perfect' no one ever knows what goes on in someone else's house.

November 19, 2005  
Blogger Possum Pearl said...

Although I am not Catholic, to answer the question... Pappy Jack and I were both very aware the vows we were making in front of God and "all those witnesses". I do, however, believe that there are some people that get married against the will of God and that may be the reason the marriage is an unhappy one. Did this make any sense?

November 20, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

When a couple gets married, no matter what age, we never really understand what it will be like. In a very short time, we can all agree it definately never is what you "think". Personally, I believe that there are too many annullments due to people giving up on their mate. We say "I do" for life, not when it gets hard, or when someone falls ill. Being married is the toughest job I have ever done. My advice to everyone who is married: renew your vows every day-in private-tell yourself you will do everything for your husband...the kids will follow suit. Marriage is based on a selfless love. Think nothing of yourself- who has the time who really cares for others anyhow? You knew you were getting into marriage- and to be a true woman, is to do everything you can for your husband. Don't expect a 'thanks'- you won't get it often, if ever- do if for God- and He will thank you when it's time.

November 20, 2005  
Blogger Lori said...

I would have answered this sooner, but had to chew on it a while.....I think the three previous posts pretty much sum up both aspects of marriage.....are there too many annulments....probably, yes. And why is that? I think the church grants them more freely now, for one thing. Secondly, I do think some folks do not entertain what their vows actually mean prior to marriage, and for reasons too numerous to mention, but I imagine are obvious, cannot follow them through in the marriages and like everything else in this world today, it's viewed as one more disposable item........good you're sorry I got on that rant..........sorry.

November 22, 2005  
Blogger Renee said...

I appreciate all your replies. I find it interesting to contemplate whether our culture is influencing the marriage preparation, people's view of marriage in general, leniency in granting annulments, or truly some lack of ability to make a binding vow on the marriage day. All I know is something is terribly wrong with the state of marriage in our culture. For my husband and me, this is making us so much more aware that we must put contstant effort into our marriage. I will never take it for granted, and will do my utmost to prepare my children for what it is to be married.

:O) - I agree that marriage prep is lacking - most the preparation people have about marriage is from movies and T.V.

Possum Pearl - I don't think only Catholics expect marriage to last a lifetime. I agree a marriage in defiance to God's will is certain to be more challenging, but still, once one has vowed to God and spouse, I don't think God will withold His grace from them.

Anonymous - I agree marriage is a sincere gift of self. The trouble arises when it is selfish, either by both spouses or by one. Could a selfish motive when entering marriage make it invalid? Hmmm...

Ayekah - Not sorry about your "rant". I appreciate it, truly.

It seems we all concur that the vows are serious, and no one completely understands just how much it will require. But then, isn't that what a vow is for, to sustain our intention during unknown future situations? At what point does our lack of understanding nullify the marriage? How does one know when they are getting married if they or their spouse is validly entering this union?

November 22, 2005  
Blogger Lori said...

I'll bite on that carrot......I agree, yes, that the vow sustains our intention. IMHO....I don't feel lack of "understanding" is a reason for nullification. That absolutely doesn't make good sense, in light of my following statement.....perhaps part of the problem lies in poor, or no pre canon work. And I am not trying to lay blame elsehwere, but I have seen a couple of marriage take place, with pre canon, and I am scratching my head wondering what in the world the Priest was thinking......both of these marriages ended fairly quickly. Again, in response to your third question, I think the above applies as well. I am not sure how one could be completely sure of the validity. EOS Thanks for letting me blabber, you can tell I get a bit wound up on that topic!!

November 23, 2005  
Anonymous Anonymous said...


My husband & I discussed the "until death do us part" aspect of marriage both before and after our wedding.

We made a commitment that, thanks to the grace of God, we will keep.

The follow up commitment which we also consciously made, is a commitment to learn how to live happily together.

Many people assume that if they are married and unhappy, it is because they married the wrong person. The obvious solution is to divorce and then find the right person with whom one can be happy.

However, there is another possible response to unhappiness. What patterns of thinking and behaviour lead to unhappiness, and which contribute to happiness?

We will stay together, so we can not afford to be disrespectful of each other. We can not afford to hurt each other. We know that we will have to live with the consequences of our careless words and mutual faults. We have to forgive each other, or we will be miserable. We do practice thankfullness. We find that hearts full of gratitude make for a happy home. All this is possible through the grace that God gives us through the sacrament of marriage.

The greatest aid in living a happy Christian marriage is living faithful, Christian lives. Frequenting the sacraments, reading the Bible, praying both together and seperately are crucial.

Maybe it helps that my family's history gives me a comparison that I can use to determine what is hard.

Being left a widow with 10 children, the youngest a babe, was hard. (my grandmother)

Living through the depression was hard.

Leaving school at 14 because your family needed your earnings was hard.

Living through the second world war in Amsterdam was hard, especially the hunger winter.

Emigrating to a new country was hard.

Miscarrying at eight months was hard.

Being widowed in a foreign country with three young children was hard. (my mother)

In contrast, we have been blessed. We were blessed to meet each other so soon. (We were 21 and 23 when we married.) We were blessed with almost constant employment. We are blessed with good health, and with healthy children. Our extended families are a great blessing, including all the in law conections. Our children have been a constant blessing. Sure, there have been rough spots, for we are human. Yes there was a learning curve while we learned how to live together happily.

One thing I want to emphasis, having lost my father when I was seven and a half. Do not take the people you love for granted. Appreciate every day that you have with them, be grateful for every hug, kiss and smile. Use every opportunity to creat happy memories. Our time here is limited, so use it well.


December 01, 2005  
Blogger Renee said...

Thankyou for your beautiful response. I couldn't agree with you more.

December 01, 2005  

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