Ed and Molly were both starting over, at least when it came to dating and relationships. They had each suffered the ending of a marriage gone bad, and its subsequent annulment by the Catholic Church. Now, the question, was where to begin the rebuilding process.
“When you’re older, it’s hard to find people,” said Ed, who was 37-years-old at the time he joined CatholicMatch. “It’s hard to find Catholics who go to Mass. The Internet seemed like the best way.” He heard of the site through Relevant Radio, as did Molly, and created a profile.
Ed was still taking things slow. He chose not to date for a year and a half after the divorce. His first seven months on CatholicMatch were spent just passively looking at profiles. “I found that healing,” he said. “I realized there were normal people out there who wanted the same things I did.”
The first foray into correspondence led to a long-distance situation, but when they met in person, the spark wasn’t there. It persuaded Ed to stick with searches in his own area around Milwaukee. He just didn’t want to spend several months prepping to meet someone and have it not work out again.
He connected with Molly. She was the same age, and had a busy life of her own, with three children from her previous marriage. On their first date, they took a two-hour walk through a park. They talked about what they wanted out of life. There was both personal compatibility and physical attraction. And in the spiritual realm, it turned out they both had a devotion to St. Josemaria Escriva. “I knew she was special,” Ed recalled.
The couple still stayed conservative in their approach, and remained open to the possibility that God might be calling them to friendship, rather than romance. This was in the summer of 2012, and they decided to keep it casual and low-key through August. If things were still good then, it would be time to look explore whether something more serious was their calling.
Ed did not have children in his previous marriage, and he admitted to feeling overwhelmed by Molly’s trio. He also noticed God slowly taking charge. He felt fatherly instincts with much greater frequency. And he got good advice from a faith-filled friend who eased his worries about potentially being a provider. “God loves practicing Catholics who are open to life,” was the advice Ed recalled receiving. “Trust Him.”
Trusting is easier said than done when one is in transition, and Ed was facing just a situation in life. A financial analyst, he was changing jobs, but everything worked out for him in the end. And after he met Molly’s kids in the fall of 2012, their relationship just kept deepening. “
A moment together in prayer was a foreshadowing of what was coming. They were praying the Rosary together, and it seemed to Ed that the phenomena of being intoxicated with the Holy Spirit almost overwhelmed them. There was constant giggling and laughing, which soon led to discussion about a ring. Not long after, Ed sought out Molly’s father to ask for his permission to propose marriage.
This past Thanksgiving weekend, Ed was all set to propose. He had one problem—Molly was insistent on getting her house painted. It wasn’t until Sunday that Ed finally got her to agree to go with him on a hike after Mass. He took her to a local Lourdes Grotto. There was a time when neglect had resulted in this small shrine being desecrated with empty beer bottles laying around. Now it was all cleaned up. The Grotto was a favorite place of Lourdes and he saw its transformation as a metaphor for his own life.
“A place that was totally in shambles and now it’s vibrant and beautiful,” he said. It was here, in the presence of Our Lady of Lourdes, that Ed proposed and Molly said yes.
And how did the couple spend the moments after their engagement became official? They went back to her house, ordered pizza and resumed painting. Life wasn’t going to stop.
Ed and Molly’s journey to a new life together was anything but easy. Each found healing in the annulment process. “It relieved a lot of stress and anxiety,” Ed said. “It helped me realize I was free, I could go wherever God wanted me to go.,”
For her part, the annulment process helped Molly to see that she had done everything she could to make her first marriage work, but she was in a situation where the other person simply lacked the capacity to give. The process of the Church helped to bring about a real and lasting recovery for both.
What they both have now is new life. Ed and Molly were married this past June and recently concluded a honeymoon to Spain. She is now expecting child #4. “We reinvented ourselves at age 38,” he said gratefully. “God has been there.”