Divorced But Not Annulled: How CatholicMatch Can Help


Divorced woman waits annulment

I remember what life was like before my divorce… I had the privilege of identifying myself as a married woman; a wife with a husband and a home. I was Catholic and proud to be one. I felt a calling to become an even better Catholic through my vocation to marriage. I was a normal part of my neighborhood which was filled with families. My nieces and nephews would come to visit and it always made me feel good that they called my husband “uncle.” It seemed I was doing everything right and could hold my head up high.

Then came the day when the label “divorced” was harshly slapped upon me. And believe me, it was a harsh slap.
 
The life I loved and recognized was gone. Everything had changed, and one of the most difficult aspects of these changes was the way people thought of me… oftentimes by people who didn’t know my story or had any clue what I had been through.
 
Many people find themselves in the position I just described. Some had no option but to divorce, and some had no say in their divorce. Regardless, they now have to rebuild their lives, which is challenging to say the least, and the annulment process isn’t always the first thing to follow.
 
Sometimes, other things must come first like settling in a new location or working through the details of child custody. Some dioceses even have a waiting period before you can file after receiving a decree of nullity. So, if you’re in this position, you become DBNA (divorced, but not annulled) by default.
 
At this point, it’s fairly typical that your new state in life becomes difficult and awkward. You might feel more comfortable staying away from other people because they might judge you or you might be tired of having to explain your circumstances. Maybe you stay away from social functions or no longer participate in your parish community. You might not feel like talking much to your neighbors or going to lunch with co-workers.
 
But you, as a human being, aren’t hard wired for this type of life. You need a community of peers that provide a loving and safe environment. Being a part of a community after divorce is essential.
 
Our society is built on families, and associations between families. Day to day, you are a member of different communities; sports leagues, parishes, PTA, business associations, book clubs, neighborhoods, etc. and they all play a role in forming who you are. 
 
More importantly, we are all created in the image and likeness of God (cf Genesis 1:27) and God is not a solitary being. Our Creator, Himself, is a community of persons; Father, Son and Holy Spirit. Since we are made in God’s image and likeness, it only stands to reason that we are creatures made for love and will always have the need to be a part of a community. Every person who reaches out to another, does so in imitation of his Creator.
 
God is not a heavenly hermit, so neither should we be hermits.
 
This is why Catholic Match is such a significant and reliable resource for single people, and has become a unique community for divorced Catholics. In their specific circumstances, divorced men and women are most in need of a place to reach out to others and have others reach out to them. Even if you are unable to have a romantic relationship because you do not have a decree of nullity, you still have access to a community of like-minded single men and women with whom you can connect and find strong, healthy social relationships. It’s part of the healing process, part of regaining your personal self-worth.
 
I encourage you to make the most of your membership on CatholicMatch and reach out to others who can support and encourage you as you move forward.
 
 





6 Comments

  1. Hi Lisa,
    I was very glad to see this latest story. I absolutely agree that one day you are securely married and I will say “respectible” and the next, totally disconnected from everything you used to hold dear. Additionally, in my case, as I tried to not be nasty, my former husband
    spewed venom everywhere which absolutely poisoned many of who I thought were close friends in our small town community. I am not trying to sound bitter as I finally have moved forward light years, spiritually, from before (and I got out of Dodge – don’t live in that awful small town anymore). It’s just that as you were saying that we should not “hide” and thus stay away from social functions, for me, the opposite was true. I found myself going to many more functions (social and otherwise) after my divorce, since my extremely abusive husband, who never wanted to socialize with anyone, could no longer keep me trapped in our home. But, even though he was awful, I so miss having a real home! I long for a truly great marriage! What really has been akward is trying to relate to other Catholics in any social setting or parish when you really don’t feel like one of them. I am divorced and alone! Everyone else is with their family. On a different note, I want to raise a good point that I wish could be addressed here. Before my annulment was granted, my dilemma was not knowing who was divorced and officially annulled e.g., “available”. Protestants don’t have any of these problems in their community. There is no stigma to being divorced there. Furthermore, if you happen to be Jewish and divorced, the Jewish community will openly try to play matchmaker for you because of their intense belief that it is not good to be alone. Finally, it has been my observation that alot of married Catholics don’t wear wedding rings! I have been embarassed a number of times because I struck up a casual conversation with a guy at church, or other Catholic function, who I thought was single (no wedding ring) and ten minutes into the conversation, the guy suddenly mentions his wife. It was really embarassing and I felt cheap – like the guy thought I was trying to hit on him when I really thought was that because he didn’t have a wedding ring on, he was single and I found him interesting enough to chat with. I am curious to see what you have to say about all of this. I do have a 13 year old daughter who keeps my time occupied – but I SO miss being married. It’s such an ongoing nightmare. I have a very close girlfriend (who was never married, is rather anti-Catholic and is also non-denominational Protestant to boot) and she has been adamant about “I can have a happy and fulfilling life without ever getting married again”. God forbid! She doesn’t understand what Catholic marriage is and should be. The big problem I think, is that I can’t somehow know which of the divorced Catholics in my community are truly available and I shudder at the thought that I am going to have to live out the rest of my life alone because of the stigma of being a Divorced Catholic (even though I am annulled). By the way, as an aside, I have had the most negative comments about being Catholic and Divorced from ignorant Protestants who cheerfully inform me that as a Catholic, I am not ALLOWED to get divorced. Fiinally, I know from attempting to date, that alot of guys might be interested in me but the minute they hear I have a daughter, they run for the hills. It feels like my life has been totally and permanently obliterated – all due to my original desire to live out my holy Catholic faith and be a good Catholic wife and mother. My daughter keeps telling me that she would love to have Catholic step-father. She wants me to get re-married. The hardest thing for me since my divorce five years ago has been to keep on trying to live with the hope that maybe God still has a happy marriage for me before I die, even though my every part of my formerly wonderful Catholic life has been demolished and we are only living in shreds now and also for the foreseeable future. How can I be a witness of faith, hope and love when my ability to actually meet a potential spouse is so cloaked in ambiguity because other Divorced Catholics have no “declared” status? Who wants to take on someone else’s kids (especially since my kid suffers from Asperger’s)? Ironically, before I became Catholic, I went through a rough patch in my simple, single life and after I made it through, I confidentially told an Evangelical girlfriend that God was never going to have to stick me in the belly of a whale, like He did to Jonah, to get my attention again. I think I will now have to eat my words because it sure feels like I am permanently stuck in the belly of a huge whale now! Thanks for listening! Lois

  2. We all have stories to tell or not tell. But I am very grateful to find this online community of faithful people to converse with. Divorce can be very isolating – the social circle I once had ruptured, the family, both immediate and extended, exploded to the four winds…a divorced person is left with the dust settling around them, wondering, “WHAT was THAT?” And, “Now what?” And, “Does anyone even care?” We care. God cares. For all our suffering, we can make it count in union with the Passion of Our Lord and Savior. Thanks be to God for our faith.

  3. I have been annulled for 5+ years after aving been divorced 13 years ago. I haven’t even had a real date and my prospects of remarriage would seem dismal at best. But I turned my whole life over to God because it appeared that I was not quite capale of handling it very well. So if He calls me to the married life He will provide my partner. If He has called me to the single life He will provide. I am reminded of Abraham’s Wife Sarah, and Mary’s relative Elizabeth, both of whom conceived in their advanced years. So I am confident that God has a plan and I just have to pray for the patience. Jonah found himself in the whale because he said no to God, not because he felt in there.
    Divorce is life changing and future doubting. But God never leaves us and He can turn ALL bad things good. He will work on us to prepare us for the mate He chooses for us and He will prepare our mate. But we cannot be too impatient and take the cake out of the oven too soon our it will not stay risen and it will fall in the center and it will not be a very good repreentative of who we are except impatient. Even with frosting on the cake’s facad or the stiff upper lip we end up living with when things turn less fulfilling, we find God with us. He was not to blame for our impatience but now is there for our strength and hopefully inspiration of prayer for ourselves and for our spouse. The cake can be pitched without consequence.
    It isn’t easy to “wait” or be “formed” or be patient while our prospective mate is “formed.” But it helps prepare us for time in which patience is all we can do and humility is our only reward. God is always going to be God and we are always going to be creatures. Only God can help us, because He made us, and He made us for a purpose. …thy will be done…not my will. Jesus even prayed in the Garden…if this cup can pass me by…but not my will but your’s be done.
    I was always told be careful what you wish for, you might get it. Be careful who you wish for as well may not be bad advise. Let God do it. I can’t speak to relationships with any authority but I can say I am a very happy man with or without a wife because I have God. What I can say with authority is that God never fails. When God gives you a job you are happy doing it. When God gives you a gift you are happy using it. I respectfully submit if and when God give one a spouse, they will live happily.
    May God Bless us all. May we all pray for HIS WILL and not count on our own.

  4. Praise the Lord this has finally been addressed, I hope and pray that many of our brothers and sisters are open to help, many do not understand the teachings of the church, let’s face it, it’s not something that is openly discussed, as a never married woman of 49 I often come across many men my age range that are divorced and not annulled, I don’t hold their divorce against them, it’s their not being able to enter into sacramental marriage as a result of their lack of annulment. Prayers for those who have entered into this process and those who are considering it. Remember you are not only blessing yourself but your future spouse.

  5. Marco-807734 November 14, 2013

    Please correct me if I am wrong but I struggle with the word divorce here… if someone has been validly married all along and then finds him or herself alone for whatever reason other than their spouse passing away, then that person is still married and always will be. Divorce is a secular term (much celebrated by our “DIY” Protestant friends who seem to bypass crystal-clear scripture teaching when things get uncomfortable) so therefore, shouldn’t the correct term be “separated”. An annulment states that the marriage was invalid from the beginning i.e. it never took place.

    As much as I emphasise with people suffering after the breakup of ther marriages but we cannot start to behave like Protestants and change God’s teaching when it becomes unbearable or inconvenient. That is why I don’t understand why most Catholics, following separation from their spouses, seek an annulment, even when it is clear that the marriage was and always will be valid and separation was caused by one or both spouses’ selfish disposition. Is it that separated people might speculatively hope that there was something in their marriage that made it invalid?

    • Divorce is the civil government term, and it is applied to the civil legal status of the marriage. You can be Catholic and divorced since the Church has no say in what the government does or does not allow. You can invent whatever terms you want for it, but there are legal and social realities defined by the term divorce that no amount of wordplay will alleviate.

      This conflict between the civil and religious status is somewhat the topic of the discussion. A person is between two worlds with this status; married in the church but without a good deal of the rights of marriage because your partner has hidden behind the secular status of divorce. But the article is not entirely about the conflict because within the people of the Church there are various levels of understanding of this status. Even your opinion shows only a partial level of understanding: we aren’t changing God’s teachings by acknowledging that civil divorce exists (render to God and Caesar, etc.) nor are we changing it by allowing the Tribunal to discover whether a true marriage existed.

      The reality is that most Catholics who are part of a divorce do not apply for an annulment. But before that reality is another one, which is that most Catholics who get divorced never even got married in the Church to begin with. Those Catholics who do apply for an annulment aren’t speculating about anything, because the speculators don’t feel required to ask the Church for permission to do anything. While Catholics who were civilly divorced by their spouse might have hope that there was something in their marriage that invalidated it in order to be allowed to re-marry in the Church, I don’t know that this is speculative hope. Speculating implies a result achieved without firm evidence, and while this may be a reality for some I don’t think it is the foundation of the annulment process. The North American Church says that most “speculators” are screened out early in the process, and that they never really get around to applying as it’s obvious they were validly married.

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