The Healing Properties Of The Annulment Process


Christ Figure

Getting through a divorce can seem like walking on a bed of red-hot coals that seems to never end. There’s always something else to exacerbate the pain and suffering of losing your marriage; custody trials, financial struggles, immature behavior on the part of your ex-spouse. And your emotions that rear their ugly heads seem to be present every moment of every day, which makes it only natural to wonder if you could ever be happy again. Will I always feel this way, or will it ever get better?

The good news is that it will get better. There is a light at the end of the tunnel and you will see it in time. But what will make a huge difference in the amount of time it takes for you to see that light is dependent upon what you do between now and then. And so I strongly encourage you to consider beginning the annulment process to help you heal.

There are so many myths and misconceptions circulating out there about the annulment process which make many people decide they want nothing to do with it. I find this very sad because there is so much opportunity for healing that is being missed. True, the annulment process is only obligatory if you want to get married again, but it’s important not to look at this as just a tool; something you have to do if you want to remarry. There is so much to gain from going through it, if you approach it with a heart that is open to seeking God’s will, desires healing, and is ready to grow as a result of facing the truth of what happened head on.

Some of the benefits of this process, for example, are:

  • Taking a bold and honest look at what happened in your dating relationship, engagement, and marriage, and accepting the truth about what happened. Being able to admit that both spouses made mistakes and bad decisions, even if one spouse was the one who cheated or abandoned the family. This takes a lot of courage, because so many people today have that victim mentality and blame all the bad things that ever happen to them on someone else. A victim is never happy. A victim will never experience real personal growth. It takes real courage to admit your mistakes, especially mistakes that cause something so devastating as a divorce. That being said, taking a hard look at what happened and accepting whatever role you played in the demise of your marriage becomes a source of humility, strength, and peace of heart.
  • Learning from your mistakes. The only way people become wise (outside of being given a great grace from God) is through experiencing the trials of life, fighting through them and coming out the other side where you can look back and see it all from a different perspective. The annulment process helps you become wiser as it helps you understand the poor choices you and your ex-spouse made and be prepared to make better choices the next time around.
  • Learning to trust in God. At a time in your life when trust is at an all-time low, it’s important to begin turning to God for answers and guidance. What is it that you want? What are you praying for? God wants you to come to him with all your cares, worries, concerns, hopes, dreams, and desires. But just asking for help is not what builds trust, believing that He will take care of you and work these circumstances for your good is the key. The annulment process helps you build your trust in God by offering you the opportunity to understand the outcome is out of your hands, and in His. If you can accept this and be truly docile to God in whatever the outcome is, you will walk away with great inner peace, knowing whatever happened was God’s will.
  • Gaining complete confidence in the direction you take in life. By the time you receive your decision, you have been able to close this chapter of your life and lay it aside as you embark on a completely new chapter. No matter what the tribunal decides – whether you are free to marry or are still considered married – you now have a clear direction to take with many possibilities to find happiness.

If you are wrestling with the decision to go through the annulment process, I encourage you to do so as soon as possible so you can experience the healing properties it offers.

Please send comments and questions to asklisa@catholicmatch.com or follow me on Twitter at @lisaduffy.






7 Comments

  1. Ann-1007504 October 17, 2013 Reply

    I read this article because I am so confused to see how many members list their marital status as “Annulled.” When I was raised in the Catholic church, there was no such status. When I met my husband, now deceased, in 1960, he was recently divorced after a one year marriage. He was catholic, his ex-wife non-catholic and they married in the catholic church. She ended the marriage after one year. When he pursued an annulment, he was denied. It was stated he would need a large amount of money for secretary fees to do paperwork, etc. He could not afford it. We met and subsequently, against my catholic upbringing, were married. It lasted until he died this year, almost 51 years. We still raised our children in the Catholic faith.

    During those years, I know there have been many changes in the church. I guess my dilemma is wondering about this drastic change in the church’s teaching. After hearing all the details from my husband, one priest we talked to before our marriage supported our decision to marry. So many people said we were
    living in sin but we did not feel that way. We had a long, loving, fruitful marriage and I have to say I am glad we followed our hearts.

    Thank you for the article,

    Ann

  2. Lisa-727959 October 17, 2013 Reply

    Hi, Ann,

    Thanks so much for your comment and explanation of your situation. I am sorry to hear of the loss of your husband.

    None of the Church’s teachings have changed, but there has been a dramatic increase in the number of annulments. I believe this has happened because people do not prepare for marriage well at all, if they at all. Couple that lax attitude toward the sacrament of marriage with a paganistic society and the result is a huge number of marriages that never should have taken place. Hence, the rise in annulments.

    And the terms “annulment” and “annulled” are misleading, too, because Christ taught only death could dissolve a marriage bond. So, in the annulment process, the Church looks at whether or not there was a sacramental or valid bond to begin with and if there wasn’t, they issue a decree of nullity (annulment).

    I can’t speak for tribunals and their operations 51 years ago, but these days the cost of an annulment is reasonable and varies from diocese to diocese – normally about $500-$600 dollars. Most tribunals don’t charge at all if you have a financial hardship.

    I hope these explanations help you. I will keep you in my prayers – Lisa Duffy

  3. Terri-838897 October 18, 2013 Reply

    Lisa… Thank you for this article, as it comes at a time for me when I have been seriously thinking about the annulment process. I agree with you wholeheartedly that this process will aide in the healing process and in helping one find closure in heart and soul. I was in a 32 yr. marriage, never thinking it would end in divorce, and being the cradle catholic that I am, turned to God for my peace. I felt like I would of never survived that kind of pain without His guidance and loving arms. More than any other time in my life, He made His presence known to me through people He put in my path, and remedies to often difficult situations He sent my way. Blessings to you on all the great work you do here…. Terri

  4. Pasquale-992005 October 20, 2013 Reply

    I intend to seek an annulment. This dialogue was very helpful and encouraging. Thank you.

  5. Dean-880211 October 20, 2013 Reply

    Thanks for this article, I am currently going through the annulment process. I have to say I was a little discouraged about some of the process. I’m not crazy about the way the Decree is worded. Lack of due discretion on the Petitioner, makes it sound like I was the one at fault. Maybe I didn’t know what I was getting into but I was committed to the marriage and would have remained committed if she didn’t ask for the divorce. We had our first child out of wedlock which was the biggest factor in my decision to get married. So I admit I felt pressure to do what I thought was the only right thing to do, get married. I have decided to proceed with the annulment because I want to have the option to get married in the church again. Hopefully I will make better choices the next time.

    Dean

  6. Diego-959656 October 23, 2013 Reply

    Hi Ann, very well explained: The Church doesn’t “make null” anything, maybe the wording is not entirely clear in English, She declares the marriage null or invalid from the begining.
    I went through the process at Los Angeles Archdiocese and the decision in paper is very clear: there was or there was not a valid marriage (in my case there was NOT) and at the light of facts, through the declaration of both parties and all witnesses, counselors and experts the Tribunals makes a judgement of nullity, it does not “dissolve” the marriage.
    Regarding our intentions when we request the decision, we cannot go like we request a divorce, this is not the right Catholic intention. We expect a decision and we have to be honest in our testimony. I didn’t use a lawyer because I went with the open mind to accept the decision of the Church no matter which it is.
    A piece of advise: do not start dating or looking for someone before the final decision. Remember that until a “null” verdict is reached and ratified by the Court of Appeals, you are canonically married and you will be committing adultery if you date a woman even if the decision ends up the way you expect or want. Also, if the decision ends being against your wish, you will be deceiving the other person because the Church will not marry you.
    I hope this helps you, Dean. Be patient, God’s will is always the best for you.

    Diego

  7. Lissa-956941 August 21, 2014 Reply

    The process, while quite an undertaking, was enlightening and has laid a foundation for my understanding about what a sacramental marriage is, and isn’t. I believe many would benefit from the process and its healing. Upon receiving my annulment decree last spring, I felt such gratefulness and freedom. Transformative.

Post a comment