Breaking Vows: When Faithful Catholics Divorce

“It wasn’t supposed to be like this.” That’s how divorce starts for the Catholic couples I talked to: hard-core, confession-going, Humanae Vitae-believing Catholic couples. Couples who know exactly what marriage is supposed to be.

One man I spoke with, now divorced, took Scott Hahn’s Christian marriage class with his theology-major fiancée. Another couple, now divorced, made the twin sacrifices of building a large family and allowing the wife to stay home — because, in the ex-husband’s words, “Simpleminded me, I looked at every sacrament as precious and worthy.” Two others, now divorced, helped at their parish and were sacrificing to send their kids to Catholic schools.

Another woman told me that, until recently, she and her husband published pamphlets on how to live a Catholic marriage better.

Nearly every married couple at one point or another faces deep disappointment. But unless there is abuse, Catholic couples have very few options when things get really tough. They can either struggle to get their love back or struggle to live without it. What they can’t do is divorce.

“Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law,” according to the Catechism (2384). “Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign.”

The grave sin of divorce infects everybody around it. It wrecks families and convinces society that Catholic teaching about marriage just isn’t practical. So why are so many committed Catholic couples doing it?

The D-Word
For most assenting Catholics — Catholics who reject the idea of legitimate doctrinal dissent — the mystique of Catholic marriage keeps them together. They refuse even to consider divorce an option.

So, for an assenting Catholic, the topic of divorce is usually accompanied by a question: What if our marriage isn’t even valid to start with?

Or, as Alicia stated it: “I’m too good to be divorced. Therefore this was not a valid marriage.” “As soon as you even talk about divorce as if it’s an option, you’ve taken your first step,” Patricia, an abandoned mother of five, told me.

When one spouse has dropped the D-word, a black cloud enters a home and hangs there, affecting everything. Close friends are consulted. One or both spouses will speak to a priest.

Still, the black cloud can be dispelled even at this stage, and often is, if the couple looks into the horrible consequences of divorce and decides they just won’t go there. There’s always hope. Until someone calls a lawyer.

“All it takes is one confused spouse who thinks that divorce will solve their unhappiness,” said Michelle Gauthier, founder of Defending Holy Matrimony. “When that one spouse visits a lawyer, they place the entire family in the hands of a hostile court system. Children become wards of the state, and all marital assets are controlled by the courts. It is truly a tragedy.”

Judy Parejko, Gauthier’s colleague and author of Stolen Vows, says it’s “the coercive system we have called no-fault divorce that pushes people in only one direction.”

One abandoned mother called me after getting a particularly offensive note from a court representative. “I get the feeling that there is this perverse patronizing that’s going on here,” she said. “They’re actually pleased to rip my family apart because they think I’m this mistaken ancient restrictive weirdo because I’m a loyal Roman Catholic.”

For a woman in her position, the feeling of betrayal is overwhelming. “It’s like the Church has let us go into the hands of a monster that is tearing our family apart, and the Church won’t intervene,” she said. “They just stand back and watch it happen. When I made my vows, I signed up for something different.”

The Size of the Problem
Some distinctions are in order.

The divorce rate among Catholics is reputedly the same as that among the general public, where about 35 percent of people who have been married have also been divorced. The couples I spoke with were very aware of the high Catholic divorce rate. The abandoning spouse in each took comfort in the thought that he was just part of a crowd.

But as with most polls that identify trends in the Catholic population, there’s less in that number than meets the eye.

The Barna Research Group estimates that 25 percent of Catholics who have been married have been divorced — that’s lower than the general population, but high nonetheless. But the group’s research also says that only 49 percent of those Catholics go to Mass on any given week.

So, what percentage of these divorcing Catholics are lapsed Catholics, and what percentage are committed Catholics? Barna doesn’t say.

In fact, no one knows exactly what the assenting-Catholic divorce rate is. Catholics sometimes cite the statistic that only 2 percent of married couples who use natural family planning (NFP) end in divorce, but investigate that and you’ll soon find that no one knows where the 2 percent figure came from.

Parejko said she’s skeptical about claims that assenting Catholics have a lower divorce rate. “I’ve seen that the problem is just as bad for Catholics, and even what I call devout Catholics, as the rest of the country,” she said. “I don’t see any protected category.”

Dominican Rev. Juan-Diego Brunetta offered one measure of how bad it is. He is a judge and defender of the bond at the marriage tribunal at the Archdiocese of Hartford, Connecticut, where he’s involved in hundreds of Petitions for Declarations of Invalidity of Marriage (the technical name for an annulment).

“My response can only be anecdotal,” he told me. “But in the cases I’ve handled, I would estimate that in somewhere between 5 and 10 percent, at least one member of the couple made an effort to know, study, or follow the Church’s teachings,” he said.

The president of a Catholic college known for its fidelity guessed that about 5 percent of the marriages of its alums end in divorce. Whatever the number is, it looks awfully high to Catholics who see their friends splitting up. And for each of the marriages that ends in divorce, there are plenty that walk right up to the edge.

“Catholics are falling apart left and right, orthodox Catholics,” said Dr. Phillip Mango, a psychoanalyst at the St. Michael’s Institute in Manhattan. “When I saw the Catholic marriages in this country that are hurting, I wasn’t shocked — I was saddened. Who is dealing with this? Who is dealing with this in a real way? Bible study is just not doing it.”

Pride and Individualism
Why is the problem of divorce rearing its head among Catholics right now? For the same reasons it’s plaguing everyone else.

Catholics can sometimes convince themselves that they aren’t part of the same culture as the rest of the world. But we’re all part of the culture of immediate gratification that doesn’t consider long-term consequences. We’re all individualistic rather than communal. Most of us have easily dropped relationships, even family ones, to pursue careers and comforts.

On top of that, younger Catholics, products of the 1970s and 1980s, are likely to come from broken homes, or homes bent almost to the breaking point. The crisis of fidelity affects us, too.

“We live in a culture in which everything is disposable,” said Gauthier, “including unborn children and spouses. This culture affects even the most faithful.”

But what about the Faith? Shouldn’t faith steel the assenting Catholic against the culture? In fact, it’s the other way around. Faith needs a culture to stay strong. Worse, a self-righteous faith can lull Catholics into a false sense of security, a new Phariseeism convinced that intellectual assent to the right doctrines — not our humility and God’s mercy — is what saves us.

“They think they know everything there is to know about marriage,” said Father Brunetta, “and when they get there and discover it’s not what they expected, they don’t know what to do. If we think the answer to the real day-to-day problems of our marriage is going to be found in a paragraph of Familiaris Consortio, we’ve missed the point of the document.”

Doug and Andie can relate. They met on the campus of a faithful-to-the-Magisterium Catholic school in 1989 when “Every Rose Has Its Thorn” was a hit song on the radio and Field of Dreams was in theaters.

Andie was a theology major, but it was Doug’s communications major that led him to full-time Catholic work later in life. They dated, got engaged their senior year, and took three kinds of marriage preparation, including NFP classes. They married a month after their 1992 graduation.

Doug had a full-time job in the apologetics movement. “I was surrounded by theology 24 hours a day,” he said. But while he and his wife overloaded on “Catholic stuff,” they neglected to develop an authentic spirituality.

“We went to Mass together on a weekly basis,” he said. “We did some spiritual things together that were part of the family life, not as often as she would have liked.”

Doug — who’s now an abandoned father of two — said that the troubles that tore his marriage apart came down to pride.

“Both of us became guilty of self-righteousness,” he said. “We both thought it was more important to be right than to be happy. And that’s a killer for a marriage.”

In retrospect, Doug says that marriage preparation gave him all the doctrinal answers but left him unprepared for the life that he would face. “I have learned a lot since then through individual counseling. Too many times, I will read something in a book only to look up to God and ask, ‘Why didn’t I read this five years ago?'”

Father Brunetta said that for many couples, “an overly intellectual approach diminishes the mystery that marriage is supposed to be. Before I got ordained I had a certain sense of what it was to be a priest. I thought I knew what it would be like, but I had no idea. A lot of it is experiential. It’s learned in the very living of it. If we’ve got it all figured out ahead of time, we might end up fighting against what our married life is teaching us.”

Patricia, abandoned mother of five, can relate. She and her husband made a deal that they would never share their marital problems with others.

It didn’t seem like such a bad plan. “You don’t want to be one of those people who gossips about their spouse and just complains,” she said.

But then it became something else. “You have an image that you portray to other people that you’re a good Catholic,” she said. “But to seek out and recognize how bad marriage problems really are, you need to talk about them.”

Patricia explained the phenomenon to me. Catholic couples “think that if you’re punching your time clock, doing your duties to your faith, God promises to take care of your marriage. But your marriage has a life of its own, and if you don’t do something about it, it’s going to fester and it’s going to explode.”

Whether you like it or not, she said, cultural forces will exert an influence over you, no matter how faithful you are doctrinally.

“Nobody can escape the fact that you only know what you grew up with — even if you have Catholic faith. So unless both people came from a really beautiful marriage, they’re going to come in with broken ideas.”

Doug said the same thing. He and his wife had a great opportunity to grow together, to balance each other out, in the complementarity of marriage. But that’s not what happened.

“I did not provide as much emotional support and encouragement as she needed because I was an introvert,” he said. “She did not trust me enough with major decisions and relied on her family’s input to chart our course.”

Instead of working for a marriage that helps balance their temperaments and better them, they’ve gone their separate ways. Now their two children are from a broken home.

The Abandonment Diagnosis
Ironically enough, faithful Catholics’ emphasis on doctrinal study can actually leave them vulnerable to high-minded doubts about their marriages.

“You see the same phenomenon with medical students,” said Father Brunetta. “As they study medicine, they begin to self-diagnose. Each new ache and pain is imagined to be an indication of the most virulent disease they know. Of course, precious few of them actually have spinal meningitis or pancreatic cancer. Normal aches and pains indicate life, not death.”

In the same way, he said, “There are tensions and struggles and difficulties that are normal in the marriage — these are signs of health, not invalidity.”

But the spouse who wants to jump ship won’t think so. He or she will search through the reasons some marriages are declared invalid. He’ll discover that for a Catholic who knew Church teaching on marriage, there simply aren’t any intellectual grounds for annulment.

“The bar is very low for what one needs to know to get married validly,” said Father Brunetta. “The Church law requires very little for a valid marriage. People playing all these head games about why their marriages are invalid don’t understand the Church’s teachings.”

The assenting, divorcing Catholic will eliminate them, one by one: Their marriage was heterosexual, neither one expected to have a partner on the side, they knew it was “until death do us part,” each expected marriage to involve sexual intercourse, and they knew that the procreation and education of children was one of the primary ends of marriage.

What about problems of the will? “A person needs to positively set his will against some aspect of marriage in order to invalidate the marital consent,” said Father Brunetta. “There would need to be an intention against children or fidelity or permanence, an intention against the good of the spouse or the sacramental nature of the marriage.”

To find a ground for annulment, the assenting Catholic will usually end up claiming that he was psychologically incapable of making a commitment to marry.

“Some people are not capable of marriage, because of some defect that is beyond their intellect and will,” said Father Brunetta, who works with petitions for invalidity all the time. People who can hardly take care of themselves. People who are hopelessly addicted to drugs or alcohol. But these are real mental conditions.

“Personally,” said Father Brunetta, “I think that somebody who enters into a marriage having studied and appreciated the teachings might suffer from something else when they find themselves knocking at the tribunal door. They expected marriage to be exalted, like the Book of Revelation, like the wedding feast of the Lamb. And when they find out that theirs is not like they imagined, and they are not prepared to grow together and work through normal difficulties in their marriage, they start looking for a way out. And they say, ‘Oh, I had a defect.’ But, you know what? If you have the wherewithal to figure out that you were so gravely incapacitated as to invalidate your marriage, chances are you’re not incapacitated.”

But the reality is that when a spouse is trying to prove his marriage is invalid, he can easily exploit the process.

Alicia, an abandoned mother of three, told me that her husband set out a simple test for whether his theory about their marriage was correct or not.

“His test of whether or not the divorce was ‘of the Lord’ was whether or not the annulment was granted. There are books out there to tell you what to write. He got one of those and filled out his annulment papers.

“To me, when the Holy Father came out in 1998 and reprimanded the tribunal boards for granting too many annulments, this is exactly what he had in mind,” she said. “This is what he had in mind with his January speech to the Roman Rota when he said we are supposed to assume that the marriage is valid until proven wrong.”

Divorce Support
Unfortunately, when couples turn to their parish priest for guidance, they don’t necessarily get the answers the pope is giving. They aren’t getting them from their families either.

Doug remembers how moving to Andie’s hometown brought him to the brink of divorce. “Once we got to Omaha, Andie started talking to her family more and more. Within a few months, all of them were discussing divorce and looking for the loopholes,” he said. “They were saying I can still receive the sacraments if I divorce my family. They were focusing on the Church’s teachings of what is allowed. The Catechism itself says divorce is tolerated — not permitted, ‘tolerated’ — but only under certain circumstances. Beatings, not caring for the kids, etc. You can’t just say, ‘This didn’t work out.’ But the Church doesn’t enforce this.”

The parish didn’t help Doug. “What really put a knock on my faith was that I kept turning to the Church saying, ‘Please help us! Please help us!’ But the focus seems to be on the acceptance of individuals in the Church after divorce. It almost seems as if priests do not want to address this issue because they are afraid of offending,” he said.

Frank, an abandoned father of four, had a similar experience when he was faced with divorce. “The different priests I talked to seemed very disinterested, which I found appalling. It was like talking to a wall when my wife and I talked to one priest. All he could say is, ‘I can’t tell who the victim is here.’ Another who was a more senior priest, he just talked about civil and legal matters as being completely segregated from matrimonial unions blessed by the Church,” said Frank. “The priests — it didn’t look like they had a clue what to do. They were so out of touch with the need to problem-solve.”

Do priests know how awful divorce is? Or is it that they just feel helpless?

“I wouldn’t want to hazard a guess about the motivation of particular priests in particular occasions,” Father Brunetta told me. “However, there is a perceived tension in pastoral work that is not always easily negotiated. It’s the false dichotomy that’s created between what is pastoral and what is doctrinal.”

He said that priests fall into the trap in one of two ways. “On one extreme there’s a sort of hyper-pastoralism, which becomes a constant placating of persons in distress. Here the priest will avoid doing anything that will make him the bad guy. Even, perhaps, at the expense of the Church’s authentic teaching on marriage,” he said. “On the other extreme is a doctrinaire spirit that can seem to be unaware of the real pain people experience in their day-to-day struggles with sin and failure and the fallen state of humanity.”

The battle in the Church doesn’t help, said Mango. Dissenting Catholics often won’t teach the doctrines that protect and guide marriage. Assenting Catholics, on the other hand, often won’t address the real pitfalls and messiness of marriage because they detract from the doctrines that are under such attack.

The Church needs to “get real,” Mango said. “As real as the enemies of the Church are getting. I have yet to hear a homily from anyone who says, ‘The world has infected the Church, so there in the back of the church are some pamphlets that direct you to where you can get help. There’s one on verbal and spousal abuse. There’s one on post-abortion healing. There’s one on homosexuality. There’s one there for Sexaholics Anonymous. They’re all free. Go and get them. I’ll be in the confessional.’ Not once. Instead, I hear, ‘Good morning. How are you? I think it’s time that we should perhaps love one another.'”

Sons of Adam
I must confess, I was surprised by the story assignment when I was asked to investigate reports that a surprising number of young, on-fire, faithful Catholics were divorcing.

But the more I looked into it, the more I realized that my surprise was part of the problem. After all, from the beginning, marriage has always been the center of a great battle. No one should blithely expect that he’s in a special class that is somehow spiritually protected.

A marriage was Satan’s first target in the Garden of Eden, and it was one of his preferred fields of battle through the Old Testament. The British schism in the Protestant Reformation began when a committed Catholic, Henry VIII, wanted to divorce his wife. And today, the battle over marriage rages on.

“There’s a demon out there that’s trying to claw and tear people up, and when he gets a divorce, he’s got a victory,” one abandoned wife told me. “It wrecks kids. It convinces the culture that these Catholics don’t know what they’re talking about. The devil’s way of destroying the culture from the very beginning was to put a wedge between the husband and the wife.”

How to fight back? The obvious answer is better marriage preparation.

“The Vatican is begging for eight sessions” of preparation, said Mango. He runs an eight-session marriage preparation program that includes family-of-origin issues, the differences between men and women, in-depth communication instruction, a look at the resentment a male-centered sexual life causes, and what a real spiritual life looks like.

Father Brunetta put in his vote for a future improvement to marriage preparation. “Canonists belong at the beginning of the process,” he said, “working with couples to understand what the Church teaches and what Church law requires for marriage. We need more canonists in marriage prep work for the health of marriages in the United States.”

But Parejko said that the Church also needs to change the way it approaches marriage at the back end, in the marriage tribunals.

“My hope has gotten bigger over time,” she said. “Now it’s that the tribunals will be transformed from annulment processing places to reconciliation havens.”

At any rate, something has to be done.

I asked one man what the worst effect of divorce has been in his life.

“My eleven-year-old son has taken a knock in terms of what he believes about God,” he told me. “We’ve taught him the Faith, but he thinks that sometimes God won’t answer prayers, because he prayed and prayed that we’d get back together again. And that didn’t happen.”

This article originally appeared in the July/August 2004 issue of Crisis Magazine.

Tom Hoopes

By

Tom Hoopes, former editor of the National Catholic Register and Faith & Family magazine, teaches in the Journalism and Mass Communications Department, edits The Gregorian speech digest and is writer in residence at Benedictine College in Atchison, Kansas. He is the author, most recently, of What Pope Francis Really Said (2016).

  • DJP

    I remember a national Catholic speaker talking about an experience that she had on a flight many years ago. This speaker met someone who was fasting next to her. It was a Friday during lent so this speaker was fasting as well.

    So this national speaker asked this lady sitting next to her, “what are you praying for?” She said, “I am a Satanist and I am praying for the destruction of the priesthood, for the destruction of marriages and for the destruction of chastity among the young.”

    This speaker was Sr. Ann Shields and she reminded all Catholics the urgency that we storm the heavens and pray for our priests, for our marriages and for our young people.

  • GB

    Kimberly Hahn’s recent books on marriage should be required reading for marriage prep classes. She successfully maintains the tension between being a ‘loyal’ Catholic and living in the nitty gritty of daily relationships. E.g., she observes something to the effect that some Catholic college students haven’t considered the fact that the laundry isn’t going to get done in an equitable way by simply saying a novena about it.
    Looking at any crucifix should pretty much apprise any ‘loyal’ Catholic of what their life is going to be…no matter which vocation they’re called to. No surprises there.

  • Unmarried 40-something Catholic

    Has anyone noticed an equally serious problem, which is that faithful single Catholics can’t get married? Especially those over 30. You can’t meet other Catholics, the Church does nothing, and the best you can hope for is some dubious online dating service that is run by creepy people.

    I think that many Catholic marriages that go bad are entered into by desperately longly single Catholics who think that particular match represents their only chance to be married, and that they will never realistically have another chance if they don’t take it. I know one Catholic marriage that went SPECTACULARLY bad for precisely this reason, and I am aware of several that I believe went bad for this reason also.

    I am not at all surprised at divorces among alumni of Catholic colleges known for their fidelity. People in those schools know that secular society is so hostile to those who wish to follow Church teachings on marriage and the family that they will mostly likely have to wait for years or decades to find a husband or wife if they don’t marry someone they met in college.

    We might have less trouble with Catholics divorcing if the near-impossibility of getting married for single Catholics didn’t make a plausible but wrong choice a now-or-never opportunity.

  • Unmarried 30 somthing

    I have struggled with decisions not to continue relationships with people that I did not believe were compatible with me. The struggle is, I’ve wondered if I made a horrible mistake and ‘missed the boat.’ (I probably have) The chances to marry a Catholic man are very few, and the stigma of being a single, faithful, Catholic woman are many. This article helps confirm that I did make the correct decisions. Sometimes Theology of the Body types romanticize marriage and sex too much. We need to still keep our feet on the ground.

  • Ann

    Aren’t annulments really a loophole?

  • Tina

    The article is correct that we now have a “culture” of divorce where we throw away everything. But the No.1 influencer of culture is law, and the introduction of no-fault divorce was the most powerful cause of skyrocketing divorce rates starting in the 1970s. The solution is to repeal that disastrous law which made permanent marriage a mere temporal agreement for all.

    Once marriage is redefined properly as a permanent agreement for all, and is enforced as such, you’ll see fast change. Divorce rates will plummet.

    Sure, there will always be some divorces, but the percentages go way down when the law both teaches and enforces permanent marriage.

  • Tina

    Some groups like MarriageNewsNow.com are out there advocating for the repeal of no-fault divorce. Hope that can gain steam.

  • Faith

    As someone who has been happily married to a nonCatholic for 20 years and whose in-laws were very happily married Jewish atheists for 40+ years before my mother in law died, I think the crux of a happy marriage might not lie in ‘compatiability’ or even in sharing the same faith. I think it lies in loving as unconditionally as you can. Unfortunately I think a lot of faithful Catholics have long checklists of what their marriage partner needs to be to measure up to their concept of what will be the perfect marriage for them. It is really a kind of anal retentive way to go about it! It also tends to be very judgmental. Always worried that the other isn’t measuring to your own expectations. That might be why unmarried 40 something is still longing for marriage. What you need for a solid marriage are two friends (a girl and a boy of course!) who are kind, responsible and enjoy each other’s company. You negotiate the many differences which are absolutely inevitable, you don’t expect your spouse to be the be all and end all for your emotional health (that’s what friends, family and confession are for!)and you forgive, forgive, forgive so that your partner will be willing to forgive, forgive, forgive as long as you both shall live. Loyalty and forgiveness are the key. Without the spouses bringing those two qualities to the union, the marriage is lost. I believe in the sanctity of marriage and the grace bestowed by the sacrament of marriage but if couples think that those replace the need for day to day loyalty and forgiveness, they really are setting themselves up for heartache.

  • What The Problem With These Term

    …Catholic Divorce; Gay Marriage; Homosexual Person? It seems to me that they describe a reality that does not exist from the Catholic point of view. Marriage is indissoluble; marriage is an effective, permanent union of one man and one woman; God creates the human person, male and female He created them. When we as Catholics are sloppy in our use of language, we can begin to believe in a reality that simply does not exist. I have seen all of these terms used in Catholic diocesan, even Vatican publications. Words do have meaning.

  • maureenmartin

    My grandmother went to a lawyer went my dad was a little boy in order to divorce my grandfather. I think my grandfather was a little out-of-sorts after returning from the war and had hauled off to find work in California. Anyway, the attorney talked my grandmother into not doing it, saying that the boys coming home from the war were having a hard time and to give him some time, and rethink getting a divorce. My grandmother took the attorney’s advice and my grandfather returned a few days later, very penitent. They stayed married until he died in his late ’80s. Overall, they had a good marriage.

    I have a friend whose mom wanted to leave her dad, but she could not find good daycare, so she stayed. That was over 20 years ago and they have a pretty good marriage.

    I think sometimes all a person really needs to hang in there is some kind of speedbump to keep them from making a rash decision. Unfortunately, in our society today there aren’t many speedbumps left. The advice and encouragement you give a person may be the other pro-marriage statement they ever hear, and it might make a big difference.

  • Still single and hating it

    The vast majority of all my serious Catholic friends are single. I can think of one, maybe two married couples under 50. There is something seriously wrong here. The only person I know who writes about this is Seraphic Single on the Seraphic Singles blog (now Seraphic Goes To Scotland).

    Anyone who has been to college since the 90s knows they’re in for a long wait if they want to marry someone who is 1) Catholic and 2) doesn’t want to sleep with you on the first date. With all respect to “Conditional Love,” a lot has changed since the hookup culture came to campus. You think it will be better when you graduate, but it’s a hookup world out there.

    Can InsideCatholic get Seraphic as a guest blogger?

  • Faith

    My generation invented the hookup! I went to all Catholic schools and I knew so many people who slept around, had abortions etc. It was a horrible toxic atmosphere on campus and nobody was talking Theology of the Body. There was no Jason Evert, No Christopher West, no one had heard of EWTN. You were just antiquated! Lots of people fled to Evangelical circles, actually. The ones that wanted to hang out with people who still believed in virtue because it was very rare on Catholic campuses back in the 70’s and 80s. Now I see a real change in the atmosphere. People are armed with intelligent, moral arguments for why one should live chastely. Look at the enormous number of people who attend the March for Life, for ex. They have these great youth rallies now. I’d never heard of this stuff when I was growing up in the late 70’s early 80’s.

    What I am about to say next is problematic I know. But from my own experience and from anecdotal experience taken from the many couples I know who are orthodox in living their Catholic faith and homeschool their kids, your spouse doesn’t have to be Catholic! In fact many, many people convert to Catholicism because they marry someone Catholic. I think that might be the number one reason people convert, isn’t it? From my own circle of friends: My Jewish husband and I(5 kids raising them Catholic; another Jewish/Catholic couple (this time the mother is Jewish; 6 kids raising them Catholic.) We’ve had a Buddhist/Catholic couple who were homechooling but now the kids are attending an Opus Dei school! We have several Catholic/Protestant couples, where either the Protestant spouse converted or the kids are being raised Catholic. The only divorce I know of was between a couple where the husband was an avowed athiest (and not surprisingly suffered depression).

    While I won’t say my own marriage doesn’t have lots of issues, some of which stem from a difference in faith, I think our marriage is happy and successful because we went into it knowing that we would have to work to keep it together. We couldn’t assume anything based on a shared faith. We had to be accepting and forgiving and open. I think dealing with these issues in a mixed marriage can be the refining fire that strengthens it. We are a solid team. I am so happy that I didn’t discount my husband automatically because he wasn’t Catholic. I thank God every day that he came into my life and that he has been such a blessing to me. We are raising 5 beautiful Catholic children together.

  • Ann Jean

    35 Years ago a very wise priest told us that marriage is a martyrdom. Over the years I have watched in puzzlement as couples we knew, who appeared to have so much more going for them as a married couple, many whom I secretly envied, split up and divorced. One common factor seemed to be the encouragement (discouragement is a better word) of family and friends to end the marriage. I would have fallen to the same influence if it hadn’t been for a strong faith filled father who kept the negative urgings of others, (my mother and siblings to name a few) at bay with his loving encouragement and support of the both of us, especially during very troubled times when most men would have felt it their duty to rescue their daughter from such a marriage. We are still not the “perfect” couple, but we are confident in our love for one another. And I try to provide the same support to my married children and their spouses when they are going through difficulties. Love is a decision, marriage is a covenant not a contract and never ever keep score.

  • Criffton

    Something I enjoy about my parish (FSSP, Traditional Latin Mass)is the realistic view on marriage as a sacrifice. Our priest is very clear in his homilies that marriage and spousal love involved renouncing your independence and taking up marriage as your own way of being united to Christ Crucified.

    Talk of sacrifice and suffering as being integral to holiness and growing in Love and humility is very common. The need to keep a close connection to the sacraments and prayer, as well as having strong spiritual life inside the family: enthronement of the Sacred Heart, use of sacramentals, house blessings and the like. Fr. Corapi once told a group of parents that their spouse is their hair shirt.

    Also, my priest and others in the order would insist on the importance of a proper hierarchy of authority in the family.

    The father is the head, and as such is charged with leading the family to holiness. Spiritually, he needs to be the leader, praying and fasting for his family. He has the authority and the responsibility to lead his family in spiritual and temporal affairs. Discussion is good, but the final decisions are his.

    Likewise, the wife has an obligation to support and obey her husband. She ought to defer to him except when sin would be involved. She has the right to expect the husband, in ruling the family, will put her good and the good of the children before his own.

    The example he gave one Sunday was the Holy Family. Joseph was the authority. He said Egypt, they went immediately. Jesus was obedient to both Mary and Joseph. Here you have God Incarnate obeying to human parents, and the Mother of God obedient to a sinful man. The pyramid of authority and the pyramid of dignity are reversed.

  • D.B.

    There is this conception of marriage, that we are looking for the “perfect Catholic Marriage.” No such thing exists….and having a doctrinal laundry list to weed out potential spouses will leave you a lonely person. Marriage is a sacrifice, and there is no “ME” anymore when you get married…it is “US”…I’m not saying one should totally negate themselves, but priorities have to be in order…

  • Karen

    Fr. Corapi once told a group of parents that their spouse is their hair shirt.

    This is distilled, perfect, stinking nonsense. A couple who believe that their marriage is a kind of penance will raise horribly twisted children who think marriage necessarily entails misery. I’ve been married 22 years and while not all of it has been wonderful, it certainly hasn’t been bad enough to qualify as a hair shirt.

    Seriously, if you want good, lasting marriages, encourage people to find others whose company they enjoy and forget moronic stuff like “the proper hierarchy” or other dimwitted checklist crap. Marriage is a long haul; make sure you’ve got comfortable and sturdy shoes for it.

  • Beth

    Good comment Karen, the talk of hair shirts and marriage hierarchy is not helpful for me. My husband refines me and challenges me to grow but I wouldn’t consider him my hair shirt. He is my companion, lover and friend and together we work on the good things and the very challenging things.

    From my point of view I see some orthodox ultra conservative Catholics who have had a profound conversion as adults and assume that all previous baggage is healed. Especially tramautic childhood issues need to be dealt with. We have to recognize
    the importance of psychological health and integrate it with our spiritual life. I have seen some marriages fall apart in part because this need is not met.

    For those of you who are single Catholics. If you are so specific that you will only marry someone who receives communion on the tongue or who graduated from an ultra conservative Catholic college then it will be harder than it already is to find a mate. My husband and I met long after graduating from liberal universities. Our faith is the center of our marriage. There are more faithful Catholic singles out there than you may know so hang in there.

  • Single guy, aged 45

    Amen on the hair shirt stuff. That is horrible advice. Marriage is not supposed to be a lifelong penance. It’s not primarily about perfecting or changing your spouse, and it is not about seeking out irreconcilable differences at the start so that you can have the privilege of suffering for the rest of your life. There are some basic choices you have to make at the start.

    I am a single Catholic man aged 45 who dated an Episcopalian woman for two years until it became totally clear that she would not ever consider RCIA, go to mass with me, or do anything remotely “Catholic.” She was a nice person, generically Christian, and said some things early on that I mistook as signs she might have some interest in the Church. It turned out I was wrong. She changed her mind. It doesn’t matter. We’re still friends. Our romantic relationship is long past at this point.

    All I seek in a wife is that she be Catholic, go to mass on Sundays, have a strong prayer life, and maybe even do daily mass on occasion. That’s not a doctrinal checklist. That’s a test of basic compatibility.

    I am disturbed at some of the comments on this list because they so typify what single Catholics hear from the rest of the Church on a constant basis. The message is: it’s not particularly important to marry within the Church, and by the way, if you want to start a family, you had better plan on looking elsewhere because you won’t get any help from us.

    This is the sign of an institution in grave crisis. All the demographic studies show that there has been a massive exodus from the Church of young people in their 20s and 30s largely over–you guessed, it marriage, family, and sexuality compounded by poor catechesis. The trickle of people who come in through RCIA nowhere near makes up for the loss.

    Later in life, people do return to some degree, but not many. And it is the next generation that’s a problem. At the suburban parish I attend, the religious instruction program must contend with ever-increasing numbers of children who alternate between two churches, come with only one parent, or show up randomly accompanied by neither parent.

    Single Catholics in today’s society face an enormous challenge. You just can’t meet other single Catholics in a social setting, except for periodic “singles events” that are horrible because they are one-off assemblies of desperately lonely, frustrated, unhappy people. The parish life and Catholic social networks which existed for our parents’ generation–though they were collapsing even then–are totally gone today. Rumor has it, it is worse on the women, but it is very hard on the men as well.

    If you want to marry another Catholic who actually goes to Church, other Catholics tell you “don’t be so picky–you shouldn’t have a checklist.” Or even worse, they say “Gee, aren’t all the kids doing online dating now?” Well, to begin with, highly successful professional people aged 30 and 40 aren’t college kids or recent graduates living in their parents’ basement. We don’t need to be patronized. Also: Online dating is never a substitute for meeting people in real life. It works for some individuals but it can also lead to dangerous and disastrous choices–which I have seen–if it is the only Catholic social life you have.

    We need to realize that Catholics filing for civil divorce is a bad thing, but Catholic singleness is a problem too. Catholic parishes seem perfectly happy to marry couples who say what Father needs to hear in a counseling session, even if the couple has been cohabiting for months and remains shacked up until their wedding day, which has certainly happened in my family. Meanwhile faithful Catholics who want to follow Church teaching are left out in the cold.

    A parish community composed of couples like the ones I just mentioned, or mixed marriages struggling to find their own equilibrium, and of priests who feel helpless to change anything, is basically going to be oblivious to the spiritual needs of practicing single Catholics.

  • John

    In over two years of post-abortion ministry, my wife and I have come to realize that abortion must be the single most pervasive destroyer of marriage. Catholics match the general population in the frequency of abortion, and the abortion rate nearly matches that of divorce. I can’t believe that it is a coincidence.

    The marriage preparation courses provided in our parishes NEED a component on post-abortion trauma, considering that a high percentage of the couples have abortion in their history. Unfortunately, many are in denial of this need. As one pastor in our diocese told us, “there aren’t any post-abortive women in my parish.”

    Abortion wrecks marriage and the Church has to confront that reality head on.

  • Susie

    Our culture needs to support the marriage. My sister in law’s mom used to let her “come home” to her whenever there was a quarrel. My mom, however, encouraged her to stay with her husband and kids and then would go over to visit and help her with the dishes and the beds, etc. She would also tell her son to be kind to his wife. Their marriage was never great but it did last for a time and there was joy in the children. Shortly after my mom’s death it broke up – when my sister in law left for her mother’s. One person who combines truth with practical charity can do a lot for a family.

  • Ann

    Re the comments about being single, If you know that you want to marry someone who is a practicing Catholic, why would you even waste someone’s time who is from another faith?

    I think when Catholics date people who aren’t Catholic, it is saying, I don’t care if you are not Catholic. You can’t be that surprised when they don’t want to be Catholic and go to RCIA.

    That being said, I do think that marrying a Catholic, no matter what their level of devotion, is always a better option for a serious Catholic than marrying someone outside the Church. Someone who was at least raised Catholic won’t see the Church as foreign, will attend Mass, and will be willing to raise the children Catholic most likely etc.

    I did not consciously choose a Catholic to marry (I was young and silly and in love) but he was raised Catholic and even though he is not in the place as me in terms of the Church right now, we are highly compatible because of our shared Catholicism. I am so thankful to God for that, because I wasn’t making conscious decision about Catholicism back then. Then again, living in the Northeast Corridor makes your chance of meeting a Catholic pretty high.

  • Ann Jean

    Fr.Corapi actually said “….some of you may be sitting next to your hair shirt.” It was a humorous comment made in the context of the Church’s de-emphasis on physical mortifications that were practiced in times past. The audience laughed they knew what he was talking about. Even in the most compatible of marriages there are times that a couple can try one another’s patience. No one here is talking about spending a lifetime of misery; that is antithetical to the idea of Christian marriage.

  • 31, Single

    I am wondering if (through the influence of Hollywood and the sexual revolution) we have created an idol out of love and matramony? I’ve grown up believing that there is a special someone out there whom I will fall in love with; and that person will fill a void in my heart that will bring happiness and peace for the rest of my life.

    Did this idea (right or wrong) come from Scripture or a culture opposed to Scripture? Could this expectation (which I’m sure many others may have) be setting our marriages up for failure? Are we placing unrealistic expectations on our spouses that we should be placing on Christ?

    My personal opinion is that our culture has perverted our understanding of love, and this is killing our marriages before they begin. We have come to expect from our spouses what we can only find in Christ.

  • Amy

    My experience with mixed marriages have been that it leaves the children confused about their faith and leaves them more vulnerable. How do you explain to your children that the Catholic Church is THE one TRUE church when one parent (whom they view as infallible) doesn’t belong to that religion?
    As far as the article goes, I wished I had read this a month ago before a friend of mine left her husband and seven children. She is a follower of the traditional Latin mass, wears a veil, skirts only, NFP and mother to 7 children (ages 12-20 months old). She recently divorced her husband after having cheated on him with another man. I tried for months to steer her away/off this course of infidelity/divorce but ultimately I failed. I agree that there isn’t help for couples who are on the rocks in the church.

  • Pat Delaney

    Tom (the author):

    This is a great article for the content it covers. But I believe you may be re-gifting as I remember the first time I read this.

    Now, to bring this thread back on topic:

    We all know that that a sacramental marriage vow involves the donation of self. But the neglected part of canon law, the part that has been woefully misunderstood, especially in the U.S., is that marital consent not only involves a vow to give away self in marriage. It also involves the simultaneous vow to accept the spouse with all of his or her human weaknesses. That is the really tough part about getting on in marriage.

    The true good of the spouses comes from a life well-lived in accepting those weaknesses and helping/forgiving/accepting that other person on their own path to holiness. It at this point that indissolubility is key. It keeps the marriage intact (rather than quitting) so the spouses can mature in their love for each other. It is only in faithfully loving the imperfect spouse, that the other spouse can come to understand the unconditional love the God has for they them self. In this way, that spouse too grows in holiness.

    This article touches upon the hardest cases. Marital abandonment through divorce. In the hardest cases, such as abandonment, adultery, and some minor forms of normal human sinfulness that can be difficult to live with at times: this can be especially difficult. In fact, many if not most marriages fail at this point.

    It is like contracting cancer or some catastrophic injury. For the faithful spouse this is a harsh crisis. Many are defeated. But some rise to the occasion as better and stronger in their faithfulness.

    Defective consent annulments, at least those that are not legitimate, are still a significant problem. But my impression is that the problem is gradually being addressed and receding rather than growing. Our late Pope, JPII, raised this issue repeatedly in his pontificate. But the church is growing in vigilance on this issue. Pope Benedict raised this issue again this past January in his most recent annual address to the Rota, and the Signatura has Cardinal Burke as the new Prefect to administer these things effectively.

    Just my two cents.

  • Ann

    Amy, that is very sad about your friend who left her husband, especially with all of the children involved.

    Do you think that the weight of trying to be such a “perfect Catholic woman” (veiling, skirts, etc) got to her and she rebelled or something?

  • meg

    Ann Jean – thank you for clearing up the Father Corapi quote. I had a feeling it was a humorous observation and that others were misunderstanding.

    31, Single – great observation. Keep it in mind when you are ready to marry. Some of the more modern thinking about Catholic marriage seem to promote the idea that marriage is intense complete passionate happiness all the time – these types of super-high expectations can lead to disappointment. Your relationship with your spouse, special as it is, is a human one and therefore imperfect.

    (BTW to all Catholic singles – 2 of my siblings and I all married over age 35. The marriages are rock stable and all produced lovely kids. Don’t listen to the scary stuff.)

    It also involves the simultaneous vow to accept the spouse with all of his or her human weaknesses. That is the really tough part about getting on in marriage.

    How true. I would add that pursuing perfect happiness on earth is a fool’s errand. It sounds boring but if you make your goal heaven – for yourself, your husband and your children – you will find peace despite other problems. And the idea of divorce seems utterly preposterous.

    Didn’t the Blessed Mother tell the children of Fatima, “I can’t promise you happiness in this life, only in the next?” This doesn’t mean you can’t expect any happiness, but pursuing happiness for it’s own sake is not the way to get it.

  • pray4families

    Truthfully my husband is my ‘hair shirt’. Viewing it like that helps me accept my lot and offer all to His glory! Not everyone is blessed with a stable,godly man!

  • linda

    I read with sadness about the Catholic marriages that are failing. There is such an incredible spiritual war going on to break up beautiful marriages. My daughter almost divorced. Lawyers were appointed and it was set to go. She is not even a practicing Catholic. I talked to her about saving her marriage endlessly. I talked to her about what was best for her little baby. I prayed non-stop, told God I would even accept a particular pain to prevent the divorce. I prayed many novenas. Amazingly, with God all things are possible. There was very intense hatred, name-calling; the husband had even moved out. She was abandoned. Through prayers, they are back together, and have had a another baby boy. Your marriage is a treasure; it’s not easy. Sometimes, our expectations of the other don’t meet. None of us are perfect on the day of our marriage; It doesn’t mean anything if you have read or attended Scott Hahn’s class. You have to accept each other totally; realize that we are like like clay being shaped in the Father’s image. You must forgive one another daily, bite your tongue and plow forward. If you consider your beautiful, you’d never divorce. If your spouse is stubborn, pray and have faith. All things are possible with God. Pray continuously.

    One last note- I know a couple who divorced. The two young boys never gave up on praying for their parents to get back together. Needless to say, the Catholic couple remarried, and they are back as family.

    The family is more important than your pride, your sensitivity, your personal desires and comfort. Pray for guidance and strength. If you have divorced, pray that you can be reconciled. All things are possible with God.

  • Robert

    I’ve been happily married for 5 years. There are days when things get boring/tough/etc…but I realize that I am not perfect and I should not expect perfection out of my wife. We try our best and pray that God will give us the strength. Praying is not everything though…you have to work at it also. I think sometimes people pray and expect to put no work into at all.
    It is no surprise that divorce among Catholics is increasing. Marriage is a blessed sacrament and the Devil would love nothing more than to see this beautiful institution ruined. We are also making the Devi’s work a lot easier — abortion, contraception, pornography, materialism, etc… I read where pornography is closely approaching financial troubles as the main culprit in divorce. Sometimes we hang ourselves with our own rope.
    Remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood. I pray for all married couples that God will protect them. I pray that all young people on the path to marriage will actively pray with their spouse (together) for God’s blessing and God’s will to be done.
    To those who divorce–I pray for you especially. I cannot judge your situation, I have never walked in your shoes. I pray that God helps you heal and I pray that God will bless your life down the road.

    God Bless

  • Magdalene

    I have been married for 33 years. The grace of my vows in the sacrament of marriage have kept me married. YES–there is sacrifice. Yes, there are crosses. Anyone who thinks there are not is mistaken. Our vocations always have crosses. But we married for life, until death do us part.

    I heard of a European Catholic town where the priest gives the newlyweds a Crucifix and lets them know there will be crosses but to bear them in union with Christ for they are the means of our sanctification.

    Only this morning I had to take to confession some issues in my marriage. But we go on.

    The saddest thing in the world is tha abandoned spouse and children and I have seen up close the devastation caused. Almost always there is adultery. Incredible lies and betrayal and then they get ‘annulments’!!! Like living the sacrament for years and having children somehow was not a marriage! The great travesty of the thousands of annulments handed out in the US gives us a terrible loss of faith in the family and devastates the children just the same as divorce.

    Lust, pride and selfishness are the most common causes of divorce as I have observed.

  • Margaret Cabaniss

    I heard of a European Catholic town where the priest gives the newlyweds a Crucifix and lets them know there will be crosses but to bear them in union with Christ for they are the means of our sanctification.

    Magdalene: I attended a wedding here in the States where the couple did this. They made their vows while both held the crucifix, which was then blessed and hung in a place of honor in their home. It certainly drives home the point that these vows aren’t simply made to one another, but to God.

  • Juan Oskar

    In marriage preparation, “Low Expectations” should be taught.

  • Marie

    To JDP; One of Bishop Sheen’s tapes has him telling that exact
    same story several decades ago, about the airplane satanist.
    Couples should habitually pray the rosary together, on their
    knees if possible.

  • CJ

    In my opinion, “more marriage preparation” is not the answer.

    Marriage is spiritual combat. You don’t fight spiritually by fighting like men do (i.e. by “addressing male-centered sexuality resentment”).

    Instead go to Christ. Especially in the Blessed Sacrament.

    Couples who pray and Adore together build a firewall around their union. Couples in trouble will see their situation improved if they both agree to commit to this practice.

    If you think I am wrong, try it yourself with your spouse or ex-spouse or future spouse.

  • Germaine Manuel

    Ladies (and Gentlemen), Have you ever tried avemariasingles.com? Check it out. It is the most serious orthodox Catholic singles site I have come across. It is run by a wonderful gentleman who truly cares about the members and is rooting for all of them. Give it a try. God bless, and good luck. If it is meant to be, it will happen, with the help of God.

    Best regards, Gerri

  • Germaine Manuel
  • Sandy

    A homily that was given at my friend’s Roman Catholic wedding several years ago has helped sustain my marriage of thirty-eight years. Both my husband and I are cradle Roman Catholics. This priest said that a marriage built on a “PROMISE’ will last forever. I never forgot his words.
    The “P” stands for prayer – the couple that prays together stays together.
    The “R” stands for reverencing Christ in one another. If you ar a baptized person in the state of grace, Christ dwells in you.
    The “O” stands for being open to life. A sacramental marrage makes us co-creators with God. This is accomplished by sharing our love with each other.
    The “M” stands for mutual respect. God takes two imperfect people and brings them together as one. You have a right to disagree, but so so with mutual respect.
    The “I” stnds for no I in a marriage. It is now you, we, our, or us.
    The “S” stands for Sacranmental grace received from Baptism, Eucharist, Reconciliation, Confirmation, and Marriage. all we have to do is ask for this grace in prayer and it is given abundantly.
    The “E” stands for eternity. This life is not about “Earth”. but about eternity. It is the responsibility of each spouse to help the other get to heaven.
    Marriage is a beautiful way to grow in and experience God’s love when it is Christ centered rather than “me” centered. Also, every Catholic home should have a crucifix in it and when times are tough, go before the crucifix and ponder Christ’s almighty love for each of us. Nobody promised a bed of roses without thorns, but living the “Promise” of marriage makes life a whole lot better.

  • Nate

    This article needs to clarify that civil divorce does not always equate to spouses excommunicating themselves from the sacramental life of the Church. Many civil divorced spouses remain chaste and faithful to their enduring sacramental marriage. Even the Catechism of the Catholic Church states that always a sad event, and even an evil, sometimes divorce does become the only reasonable or even necessary option in some instances.

    Civilly divorcing and remaining chaste their after is not the same as civil divorce aimed at another civil marriage outside of the Church.

    Obviously, if an anullment proclaims that the marriage never existed then the ex-spouses can re-marry in the Church.

    One poorly understood fact, even in my region of the United States among Catholics is that civilly divorcing does not always equate to sinning, let alone mortal sin.

    I am a loyal Catholic and know other loyal Catholics that have civilly divorced but now remained chaste.

  • a walsh

    Marriage was never on my top ten hit list growing up. I loved my independence & never wanted anyone telling me what to do. I had a great job & many secular friends & family who complained non-stop about their spouses.
    I dated many professionals who had tons of baggage. After a few dates I preferred to be alone rather than with them.
    I never believed in settling. I gave it all to God & felt if I was meant to be with someone I would & if not so be it. I never stressed over “finding someone”.
    I was 48 yrs old when I met my husband on a trip to Fatima. He was 44, & both of us had never been married, nor had any baggage. Neither of us ever planned to get married. Needless to say we both fell hard for each other & not wanting to live together in sin, we married a few months later. God is a major factor in our marriage. We always say there are 3 of us in our marriage. We now teach precanna in our parish & let me tell you many young people are so not prepared for this new life.
    One of the main issues I try to stress to our classes is that Satan wants to distroy our marriages. His job is to divide & seperate. Without God we are sitting ducks. We need to pray together everyday with our spouses & ask for protection. Going to mass together once a week just does not cut it. How can you cultivate any relationship with anyone on just one hr a week. If God is the center of your life everything else will fall into place. The evil one wants nothing more than to keep us so busy we not only forget about God, but we forget about each other. Look at the mess our world suffers today because of this.
    GOD TELLS US TO TRUST IN HIM & WE WILL NEVER BE DISAPOINTED. I KNOW FOR A FACT THIS IS TRUE.

  • Lis

    Just to throw this out there: what about marriages that have been affected by repeated abuse (physical, mental, spiritual, etc)? Repeated adultery? Repeated neglience? None of these belong in any marriage!

  • Clinton

    I think one problem is our over-insistence on feelings and pleasure in marriage. It is true that we need to be patient and marry someone who loves and fears the Lord. That said, we’ll never find the perfect person.

    In olden days, people didn’t sit waiting for Prince Charming who matched all the qualities they wanted. If they did, they ended up being bachelors or spinsters. I’m not saying we should compromise on our ideals or our faith, but like someone earlier said, If there’s someone you like and shares your faith and values and ideals, and you think you could live with them, you don’t need to wait another 50 years.

    However, the road after that is not easy either. You may love each other immensely, but marriage is going to be full of many hurts, and painful situations. Confusion, doubts, anger, pain – all these are more or less normal I think. We are human beings.

    A problem however I think is that we set our expectations too high. If we’re expecting things to be a certain way and have a certain kind of picture that we had or a dream we had as a kid, where we thought marriage would be this way, we’re living in a fantasy world. Our dream will never come true- because there’s 2 people involved. plus we’re defiling our marriage of the present by expecting our spouse to be something that they are not.

    In fact, marriage is an ordinary sacrament and it is in the ordinary that its beauty is reflected as it in turn reflects the beauty of Christ and the Church!

  • Sally

    I was able to hear a talk given by a Roman Curia Cardinal regarding fidelity to the Sacrament of Marriage.
    Here is what I think is the best statement yet made regarding this topic.

    He said:
    “If you have a math problem that you do not know the answer to,
    you don’t burn the math book to resolve this problem”

    This same Cardinal also gave another talk titled”
    “Judas’s betrayal of this vocation”

    Need I say more ?

  • sccdc08

    Has anyone noticed an equally serious problem, which is that faithful single Catholics can’t get married? Especially those over 30. You can’t meet other Catholics, the Church does nothing, and the best you can hope for is some dubious online dating service that is run by creepy people.

    I think that many Catholic marriages that go bad are entered into by desperately longly single Catholics who think that particular match represents their only chance to be married, and that they will never realistically have another chance if they don’t take it. I know one Catholic marriage that went SPECTACULARLY bad for precisely this reason, and I am aware of several that I believe went bad for this reason also.

    I am not at all surprised at divorces among alumni of Catholic colleges known for their fidelity. People in those schools know that secular society is so hostile to those who wish to follow Church teachings on marriage and the family that they will mostly likely have to wait for years or decades to find a husband or wife if they don’t marry someone they met in college.

    We might have less trouble with Catholics divorcing if the near-impossibility of getting married for single Catholics didn’t make a plausible but wrong choice a now-or-never opportunity.

    I remember the difficulties of meeting Catholic Singles well. My husband and I met and married late. He had not bee practicing his faith for almost 20 years, so our marriage prep and wedding were Catholic, but we’d do somethings differently now. It wasn’t until our son was two that he started to attend Mass with me. He went to confession for the first time since he was a teen 3 years ago, and has returned more frequently now that our child is going.

    Catholic marriage is a long rode. We need to be willing to evangelize, and be evangelized. That’s were my marriage is now, after 11 years. God willing, we will make it in spite of the hurdles.

  • a walsh

    As far as abuse goes look at the saints like St. Rita. She accepted her cross for her husband’s conversion & her sons souls. People are not taught that one of the most important things in a marriage is to get your spouse & children to HEAVEN. NOT HARVARD. If you ever want to get back at a spouse,Pray for their conversion, it hurts. Also if you walk away from one cross, you will surely get a larger one.

    In Medugorje all get married on the cross. Their divorce rate is ZERO.

  • james

    Titus 2, vs :11,-15 “For the grace of God our savior has appeared to all men, instructing us, in order that,rejecting ungodliness and worldly lusts, we may live temperately and justly and piously in this world; looking for the Blessed hope and glorious coming of our great God and Savior, Jesus Christ”… Our Blessed Mother stated this as well to the children at Fatima when she said that she couldn’t promise them happiness in this life but they will have happiness in heaven. “In this life you will have tribulation” Jesus told His followers. The question is will we follow Him all the Way to the Cross if necessary? Will we pray for the Grace of Final Perserverance? “He who perserveres to the end will be saved” Jesus said. If we love only those who love us, when the romantic flames are brightly lit, what credit is that to us? Even the heathen do as much.”For the sake of your sorrowful passion,Lord Jesus have Mercy on us and on the whole world”.

  • Mary

    Lis, the Church does not ask us to continue to dwell with a spouse while he or she poses an ongoing grave spiritual or moral threat to us and/or our children. On the other hand, sin, even serious sin, does not invalidate a marriage. If a sacramental marriage was validly contracted in the first place, it cannot be dissolved. The bond is permanent, until death do the spouses part.

    What Canon law suggests in these circumstances is a temporary separation, always with the aim of eliminating the danger and restoring the marriage. Even in the case of adultery, the offended spouse is encouraged to pardon the adulterous partner and restore family life. And if the grave threat to the moral or physical well-being of the family cannot be eliminated, then a permanent separation may be a regrettable necessity.

    It’s not light reading, but see the relevant Canon Law here:
    http://www.intratext.com/IXT/ENG0017/_P44.HTM

  • Rose

    There are so many things on here to think about. Too many people go into marriage with blinders on or stars in their eyes. The laundry and dirty dishes are there every single day, they don’t disappear when the “I do’s” are pronounced. Young people can focus too strongly on the wedding and not enough on the marriage after that one day. My husband and I broke up after six years of dating and reunited after 11 months apart. We jokingly say we had our divorce first but truthfully, it was a perfect opportunity for us to realize that we belonged together. When he proposed, I distinctly remember saying it wouldn’t be easy but could be a lot of fun, which surprised him as I didn’t say yes right away.
    Marriages are under more stress today than ever before. Perfectionism is part of the problem, we are inundated with ‘perfect’ pictures of ‘perfect’ people and there is no way any of us can be perfect here in this world. If you go into marriage expecting perfection from the other person, you will be sorely disappointed. One of the saddest things I ever heard was from a friend who came home from the honeymoon disappointed because her new husband didn’t measure up to her expectations. He was just being human but she was upset that he didn’t fulfill all her romantic dreams — and she likely didn’t tell him what those dreams were.
    After 21 years of marriage, I realize that my husband isn’t going to read my mind, he’s not going to solve all our problems and we aren’t always going to agree. But we do love each other still, just in a more mature way than we did at the altar.

    The best advice given on here bears repeating: DON’T KEEP SCORE! One of my co-workers told me that right after we got engaged, and it was among the best little comments I have ever heard about marriage. He actually said “Don’t start keeping score until after the first anniversary” and by the end of that first year the habit of not keeping score was totally ingrained in us. We either let the little things go or we brought up those little annoyances and laughed about them before they became such a big deal that we couldn’t laugh at them.

    Incidentally, I am Catholic and my husband is not, yet he realized at the outset that it would be best to choose one faith for our kids and he said it would be best to choose Catholicism as I practiced my faith and he did not. That was his very first sacrifice and he’s stood by it all these years. I do not pressure him to convert and he supports the spiritual part of the family by going to Mass and standing by me as I guide the children through their faith training. I am well and truly blessed.

    So my advice is this: have your divorce before you marry by spending a serious amount of time apart. If you find someone else in that time, then the first person was not the right person for you. But if no one measures up to the reality (don’t fantasize that person A is perfect, remember the flaws you saw) then Person A is likely the right one for you. It isn’t often that simple, but it worked for me. We didn’t expect perfection, we don’t keep score and we went into the marriage thinking it was going to be “OK”, not the answer to all our problems, and it’s been wonderful for the most part.

  • Therese

    I have seen Catholic people who were told to go to Alcoholics Annonymous, Al Anon (for friends and family memebers of alcholics) or other such groups that were helped. Others have had their marriages torn apart by members who were divorced, or did not like the Catholic Church and/or gave poor advice when giving advice is not part of the programs. Others tried to proselytize members into their particular churches, even though that is against the policies of these programs. So one needs to watch out as to the kind of sponsor one gets in such programs–that they are not anti-Catholic, but are faithful Catholics.

  • Rose

    There are so many things on here to think about. Too many people go into marriage with blinders on or stars in their eyes. The laundry and dirty dishes are there every single day, they don’t disappear when the “I do’s” are pronounced. Young people can focus too strongly on the wedding and not enough on the marriage after that one day. My husband and I broke up after six years of dating and reunited after 11 months apart. We jokingly say we had our divorce first but truthfully, it was a perfect opportunity for us to realize that we belonged together. When he proposed, I distinctly remember saying it wouldn’t be easy but could be a lot of fun, which surprised him as I didn’t say yes right away.
    Marriages are under more stress today than ever before. Perfectionism is part of the problem, we are inundated with ‘perfect’ pictures of ‘perfect’ people and there is no way any of us can be perfect here in this world. If you go into marriage expecting perfection from the other person, you will be sorely disappointed. One of the saddest things I ever heard was from a friend who came home from the honeymoon disappointed because her new husband didn’t measure up to her expectations. He was just being human but she was upset that he didn’t fulfill all her romantic dreams — and she likely didn’t tell him what those dreams were.
    After 21 years of marriage, I realize that my husband isn’t going to read my mind, he’s not going to solve all our problems and we aren’t always going to agree. But we do love each other still, just in a more mature way than we did at the altar.

    The best advice given on here bears repeating: DON’T KEEP SCORE! One of my co-workers told me that right after we got engaged, and it was among the best little comments I have ever heard about marriage. He actually said “Don’t start keeping score until after the first anniversary” and by the end of that first year the habit of not keeping score was totally ingrained in us. We either let the little things go or we brought up those little annoyances and laughed about them before they became such a big deal that we couldn’t laugh at them.

    Incidentally, I am Catholic and my husband is not, yet he realized at the outset that it would be best to choose one faith for our kids and he said it would be best to choose Catholicism as I practiced my faith and he did not. That was his very first sacrifice and he’s stood by it all these years. I do not pressure him to convert and he supports the spiritual part of the family by going to Mass and standing by me as I guide the children through their faith training. I am well and truly blessed.

    So my advice is this: have your divorce before you marry by spending a serious amount of time apart. If you find someone else in that time, then the first person was not the right person for you. But if no one measures up to the reality (don’t fantasize that person A is perfect, remember the flaws you saw) then Person A is likely the right one for you. It isn’t often that simple, but it worked for me. We didn’t expect perfection, we don’t keep score and we went into the marriage thinking it was going to be “OK”, not the answer to all our problems, and it’s been wonderful for the most part.

  • Gab

    If the man is found to be mentally ill after marriage, and children, then what? In some cases the woman would have to be the spiritual head.

  • Mary Ann

    All you young people looking for a partner in this day and age….oh how difficult it must be. Thank you Sandy #37 for sharing great advice “Promise”. It is so true and Magdalene for those 3 words that sum up the difficulties that break up a marriage, ” Lust,selfishness and pride ” that’s so important and let me add always being able to share thoughts and desires. And why do I say this well 50 years is our pretty good track record wouldn’t ya say. Pray for each other every day.

  • Maggie

    Perhaps we should all look at how family life functions within the very conservative Jewish community. The Rabbi is the most important person to go to, in order to address many issues of their faith. It is he that the woman and or man must go to for help – like it or not. The Rabbi in a way is the heart-beat of how to live a holy life. It is a very interesting way of living. But one needed espeically in today’s society. And, oh yes, the Rabbi is the one who teaches religion, not some lay person.

  • Passerby

    Go to Catholic do’s: the new movements, conferences, retreats, … help out at youth things … walking pilgrimages … fundraising …

  • Liz

    Sometimes, when the abuse is too great to bear and you have exhausted all avenues, and you’re watching your children suffer and looking at you with an expression that says . . “Do something, mom!” . . . you know it’s time to divorce. Best decision I ever made . . . My divorce saved my children.

  • Ann

    I still don’t get the whole annulment thing. We all know people who got them, even famous and semi-famous people, who didn’t have any real reason that the marriage wasn’t valid in the first place. They are a huge loophole.

    And then if you don’t get an annulment the other option to be remain chaste for the rest of your life or until the person dies?

  • Ann

    Regarding spiritual heads of families:

    I feel like women are the true spiritual heads of marriage. We are the ones who make sure everyone goes to Mass, gets to CCD or other religious ed, make the sacraments, etc. I don’t know one husband who takes the lead on all of this. Of course, it probably all won’t work very well if the husband is not on board, but spiritual head? That’s a strong term. I’d prefer complementary spiritual partners.

    There is a reason in Judaism that religion goes through the mother!

  • Phil

    I see single people speaking up for a change. It is very embarrassing and awkward to be single. It is like you are not part of society and yearn to be a member of the “club.”

    For the first time ever, just a couple of weeks ago, I heard a priest at mass mention single people looking for their spouses in the intercessions at mass, in between the usual intercessions for the poor, the homeless, the sick, the elderly, our elected leaders, and our service people overseas.

    Now, I have been going to mass all my life and I am probably one of the older people on this board. It was the first time I had ever heard a priest say let’s pray for the single people who want to get married. First. Time. Ever. Could not believe it. How come this is not a standard prayer we say at least a couple of times a year?

    I have friends in evangelical churches that make a big deal out of helping their single churches find eligible Christian women and men find partners to marry. There is a Hispanic Pentecostal church down the street from my house that actually advertises this. It’s almost like come to our church and you’ll be married. Wow.

    Over the years, I have been struck by my Protestant friends and even some Jewish friends who wanted to help me find a date. I went on some very nice dates and met some very ladies but they weren’t your run of the mill, plain vanilla Catholic like me. I asked Catholic friends for introductions and none of them ever did anything. Deep down, this has bothered me for years. Why can I date all the Protestants I want but never date a Catholic? It doesn’t seem like I am asking too much. I went to grade school at an Evangelical private school because there was no Catholic school in my town. Our Protestant friends are fine folks, but I want to marry a Catholic.

    I have tried online dating. It’s okay, but it’s like being on a computer at work. It seems to me there are some things for which we need a human community–and prayer. A small step, for all you parish priests reading this blog, would be to pray for single people during mass. Just once in a while would be plenty. The occasional homily won’t hurt. People will get the point if you do such a homily once a year. Just a suggestion. Let’s everyone pray about this. Thanks.

  • Mary

    I received an annulment from my first marriage. I went through a very difficult separation and divorce and the annulment process was actually healing in some way. We had a small child too but this does not affect the process. I am now happily married, with two more children…my husband is Catholic but I have brought him back to the Church. Our marriage is a work in progress, not easy at times, but having the same faith, I think, is so important to me. I am glad I was granted an annulment and having been there I am glad no one dissuaded me from seeking one (once I knew, my marriage was over) and I feel I could never judge who ‘deserves’ one or doesn’t….

  • CC

    I stopped reading the article when it seemed apparent that the author was attempting to discern among the “good” vs. the “bad” Catholics… I’m pretty sure that only God can judge this and/or the individuals’ situations.

  • Gary Keith Chesterton

    Well, this was a hell of a depressing article. Thanks a bunch.

    The Catholic understanding of marriage has been infected by the world, as other commenters have said. We’re in the world, yeah, and we’re affected by it.

    As Our Lord said, watch and pray.

  • Pheonixmom

    Among my friends, I am one to be the one with the strict Catholic Mom & Catholic Granny. I was that obedient child who would get a few academic awards, too. I believed that there is someone perfect for each person out there. Catholic Marriage is the only way I decide it should be. I guess that was the wrong turn. As a person interested in technology at that time, I am close to being a nerd, underneath. I met other guys at work that were not Catholics but we went along well as friends but I have put up the sign that ‘until friends we can ever be’. I met my husband through my friend and we has so dashing at that time, and proposed immediately. I assumed a lot of things about him. One sign I should have taken seriously as a NO was when Pope John Paul II was in our country, we were on a date that day. I heard about it on TV and I said let’s cut this date and chase his motorcade. At the end he was so pissed off. Next was when we were about to be married, there were some guys popping around me but of course, I considered this as a ‘piece of cake’ tempatation laid out in front of me.
    Five years after marriage my husband’s company closed down so he had to confess to me this on-line gambling that he hid so well since I was pregnant with our baby. The amount was so huge, I can’t believe I was so stupid not to know. Before that was an issue that I lost my second pregnancy due to my health deteriorating. 3 months before I learned I was pregnant, I asked him that I want to quit this job since the schedule is burning me out. He insisted that i do not because his salary alone was not enough to pull us through. I had no idea at that time. Note that in the 2nd year of our marriage, I asked what was his new salary and he snapped at me for being ‘greedy’ for his salary. After that first confession, I jpined this Charismatic community more so to get him the proper Catechism or Spiritual teaching he needs to grow up. For 3 years after i was glad to say again I am happily married inspite of how my in-laws are pushing in thorns into this marriage. A time I was framed up by them, but I let go of this if it will bring my husband to know the merciful & just God. But after 3 years, another wife was an instrument to help me know that something was going on somewhere as our husbands were colleagues. Then an anonymous email was sent to a number of us wives whose husbands were having this promiscuous activity recently. Now I realized where I got my sicknesses and my bladder infection whic was only UTI previously. I ran to the hospital to get a complete check-up if I was clean. My husband, being a chessmaster also, calculated well his answers to me when we had our open forum. But I was able to crack some truths out of him because I got inputs from some reliable sources & friends. But then and there, I knew in my heart, the love has died finally. I alled it quits. A nun mediated between us and gave us a time for healing for my hurt, and for him to realize what he has done. After all these, I cannot find that love anymore. I can’t believe it but I know when it was gone. Forgive 77 times, yes, I am at peace now but the love was gone. It went away simply gone. Of coruse now that he was exposed, he does not want to go back to the community. But now he is being very tamed and just the opposite of what he really is. I felt the abuse and the capacity of what he can do and it scares me really really high. NOw, here is an advocate of Insoluble Catholic Marriages whose own husband is the person she wants or needs to run away from for the sake of her sanity. Yes, I am contemplating divorce, annulment, but am afraid, knowing the person my husband is, he can go violent and stop giving money for me & our daughter’s livelihood.
    FOr you singles out there, you were spared of a hurt that could have numbed you for life. But don’t worry, marrying late is better than marrying the wrong person. Socialize in a moral manner continuously. YOu will find your pond. Be proactive in church activities. Church is not for the timid only, but for the strong ones actually.

  • Mary

    How intersting that I read this article, the day after my husband and I returned home from a Catholic based workshop to try and save our marriage. We have been married for 33 years.
    We have seven children, and grandchildren, our marriage was literally coming apart at the seams, it had been for many, many years.
    We attended a weekend Catholic based workshop called “Retrouvaille” (a French word pronounced Retrovi)No, we did not want to attend nor inconvenience ourselves, it was a last ditch effort. I knew I was going to leave anyway, at least I could tell the kids I tried eveything.
    On Mother’s Day of this year, I had finally decided to leave my husband, no, there was not another man, never was, who in their right mind would want another relationship like this? But neither of us could deal with our disfunctional relationship anymore, and it was destroying our children. Yes, a divorce would have been worse, but we were in so very much pain, we did not care.
    A friend told me about “Retrouvaille”.
    After an intense weekend workshop with “Retrouvaille” teaching my husband and I that thare are four stages to marriage 1.Romance 2.Disillusionment 3.Misery 4.Awakening. With moving testimonies of the healing of failed marriage relationships, worse than ours, and so much more. We learned much about ourselves.
    We have decided to stay together, and to work on our marriage with the tools taught to us. This was not a weekend of pleasure and relaxation, it was extremely sobering. Both of us knowing that this will always be a work in progress, with the correct tools.
    I highly recommend “Retrouvaille” even if one thinks it is too late. I did, so did my husband.
    I have found that the saying, “With “GOD” all things are possible” is true.
    You can google “Retrouvaille” for more information, testimonies and contacts, if you don’t hear back right away, keep calling them, I did.
    A weekend with “Retrouvaille”? I will gaurentee this much, you WILL NOT be sorry that you tried.
    Even though this is Catholic Faith based, people of all faiths are welcome to attend.

  • JSL

    Marriage is a sacrament of the Church; divorce is an institution of the secular state. In order for the state to grant a divorce, the state must first recognize the marriage. It does so through the marriage license. No license, no marriage, no divorce.

    “What therefore God hath joined together, let no man put asunder.” (Matthew xix, 3-6)

    The true betrayal (at least in the U.S.) lies in the Church’s acquiescence to the state’s meddling in the administration of its sacraments. It is outrageous that the Church would permit the state to demand that a couple obtain permission from the state – a license – in order to partake in a sacrament of the Church. What’s next, a license for Confession or Holy Communion? The precedent has been set, so don’t be surprised if it happens.

    If “separation of church and state” can be used to eliminate prayer from public schools, it certainly could be used to eliminate state meddling in the affairs of the Church and the administration of its sacraments.

  • Pheonixmom

    Dear Mary of message62, thank you for your sharing. i do not mean to negate your point but that is what I did here, joining the Charismatic Community, as our priest said, I was the wife who literally dragged her husband to attend this seminar that focuses each person’s relationship with God. Husbands & wives were shepherded together. WIth a lot of prayer warriors helping us out, my husband did not quit and we finished the seminar. I think that it touched him because he made himself available for the next Marriage Encounter held by the community. A chance for all couples to start with a clean slate. To my mind he was ok at that time afterwards. A year after i had the opportunity from my company to have a seminar in Europe. THe management was considerate to let me bring along my husband & my daughter and I made sure I booked for an extra trip to Lourdes. Each ones of us needed the Baths. After the baths, my husband’s face transformed,funny he said that smoke came out when he was dipped and he let out a big shout. I knew something was released. But less than a year after those bliss and blessings, that was the time he started on the new forms of addictions , I guess.
    The shock to me was that this man was able to do those ‘activities’ even as they were already ‘renewed’ children of God. It is a shock to see this reality and that the shocking part is that it is my husband.this scary reality is right in fron of me. The flesh must be very strong in him, much stronger than me. I do not know how to face a person who does not fear his God. I am one who never says die, in a challenge. But here, I can say I give up in this fight.

  • Micha Elyi

    Women are the biggest part of the divorce problem. They’re the ones most often initiating divorces with lame excuses, only a miniscule fraction of divorces are due to betrayal or beatings (which women do as often as men).

    If the rate at which women inititate divorces suddenly fell to the rate at which men do, the divorce rate would plunge by half or more overnight. As has been pointed out, Catholic women in America are not likely to be different in these ways from other American women.

    Mr. Hoopes tip-toed toward reality by mentioning some of the many men who are abandoned in marriage by the woman. The typical editorial on the topic of divorce ignores the men wronged by women and is foolishly feminacentric in emphasis. Women only appear to be the majority of victims due to divorce because women do the most complaining. Women who complain are rewarded with sympathy, help, and sometimes special women-only privileges. Men who complain are usually called whiners and wimps, told to toughen up, and cast out.

  • Seraphic Spouse

    There’s an old saying, and I think it should be applied to all annulments that have already been granted: Roma locuta, causa finita.

    This means, “Rome has spoken, the matter is decided.”

    Every person who applied for an annulment and got one has already been judged, and often quite painfully. Strangers, often strangers who have no firsthand knowledge of marriage, e.g. nuns, question you, tape your answers, question your witnesses, tape their answers. It can be a healing process, but it can also be intensely painful.

    Once upon a time, the judgement of the Marriage Tribunal was good enough for other Catholics. But unfortunately there is now a trend of second-guessing the Marriage Tribunal and therefore Catholics with annulments. In short, if you weren’t in the marriage or in the Marriage Tribunal that examined it, you don’t know anything about it. As for the “abandoned” spouse, it is a question of “he said, she said”, isn’t it?

    Some marriages were simply not meant to be. If a pious Catholic recognizes that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are not and never were part of his/her marriage, it is better for that Catholic to throw him/herself on the mercy of the Church than to lose his/her soul.

    And I agree absolutely with the abused Arizona Catholic woman above that it is much better to marry the right person much later in life than to marry the wrong man in your 20s.

  • Chris

    As a childhood victim of 80’s divorce I really understood this article and whilst reading this article revisited the effect that divorce had on my childhood.

    I prayed that my parents would not get divorced but unfortunately my prayers were left unanswered.

    Instead I ended up with great step parents. I pray for everyone here that we all find healing from this awful experience. What I didn’t like about this article is the way that Priests were discussed. Being a Priest or a Nun is in my opinion the hardest job that one person can commit to and we should remember that.

  • Pat Delaney

    I’m amazed at the number of commentary posts this topic always generates. It’s kind of a raw nerve for most U.S. Catholics.

  • Ann

    Are annulments ever denied, as long as the couple endures the process?

  • Ann

    The Catholic understanding of marriage has been infected by the world, as other commenters have said. We’re in the world, yeah, and we’re affected by it.

    There have always been miserable Catholic marriages. The only difference is people didn’t leave, but that’s was not necessarily a good thing.

    Much of the time because women didn’t have a means to support themselves and they would be outcasts and homeless if they left.

    As much as I don’t like the current divorce rate (believe me, I’m the victim of a selfish 80s divorce of my parents),I think we have to be careful that we aren’t glorifying the past either.

  • 30-something

    ‘Ladies (and Gentlemen), Have you ever tried avemariasingles.com? Check it out. ‘

    ‘Go to Catholic do’s: the new movements, conferences, retreats, … help out at youth things … walking pilgrimages … fundraising …’

    God bless you all for the advice, but please keep in mind that those were the first things we’ve tried . . .for years, and years, and years. I’m on 15 years of being a single Catholic woman. And my choices to not marry people have not been due to a ‘checklist.’ That’s rather insulting. I have not married men who I did not love, was not attracted to, and yes, after PRAYER, discerned that they were not the man to marry.

    While it is lonely, stigmatizing–being called selfish, only doing it for my career (????) etc., it’s a lot better than being divorced.

  • Pheonixmom

    Seraphic Spouse, I checked you website… May GOd bless You and your spouse…May the Holy Spirit be your guide as you set on your new phase in life.

    SINGLES- We had a guest speaker in our community one time and she shared her time when she was still single. She had good friends and a community to discern for her the direction she should take at that time she was 18. She had a good start in life. WHat she did was she served God in the activities of the Charismatic Community she was in… doing outreach, or projects, whatever they were. She got tired of it too, but she still continued because she knew GOd wanted her to continue on, and on… and on. A boyfriend comes but no, not the right man. SHe said when she had her wedding, some guests mistook them to have it as their second marriage because of their age. I think she was so blessed not make a mistake earlier in life to jump into Marriage that is not shall we say in God’s will. By looks, she is above average so it was sort of strange to the eyes of the world. I think putting into profitable use for God’s will your time and purpose will put you in track to that person that you should bump into at the right time. Pray for discernment, that I learned the hard way.
    If there is stagnation, pray to God what is it He wills.

  • Marie

    As a Catholic Abandon mother of 6, going through all of this, this article really hit home to me. i come from a large Catholic family, in which i have no support, or encouragement to work out my marriage from no one. Divorce seems to be the only option with everyone i know. Pushing for an annullment. never once have i heard forgive him. Now that he wants to come home, i am conflicted in what to do. i wish there was one person in the Church that would support a reconcilation with him. my heart tells me to forgive, but my head & all the voices in my head tell me to divorce him. i didn’t get married before God, brings 6 blessing into the world to raise them in a broken home. my children are all very young 9yrs-4months old). i am being pulled in too many directions. I just wish there was someone out there i could cry out too HELP US SAVE OUR MARRIAGE & FAMILY!!!

  • Pheonixmom

    To Marie- I think, if there is still love left in your heart, why will you push for Divorce? YOu seem not convinced that Divorce is the solution for you. But if there are some traces of irresponsibility here, i hope you are not being blind to your situation. Your local Parish Priest should be able to help you. In the end whatever move you will make, you will be responsible for it. YOu decide to save the marriage or go for the divorce, whatever the outcome is, you claim responsibility for it and won’t go blaming those people who gave their advices.

  • Tina

    I only saw one post about Retrouvaille.

    Does anyone else know someone or has had any experience with Retrouvaille?

    I was considering it for my own marriage.

    God help us, it is not easy being married in a society that promotes the idea that adultery, abortion, divorce, are all ok…

    thanks for the article.

  • Mary

    Please, let me begin this commentary with “Peace of Christ to all” regardless of faith or marital situation.
    If I at all come across in this commentary to anyone, as anything other than the desire to share the great gift I know that GOD has given to my husband and myself, please forgive me, I do not mean to be otherwise. Also, no, I do not know more than anyone else, and no, we are no more loved nor favored by our Wonderful Father, GOD, than any of you are.
    “Retrouvaille” we now know, was a last chance for us. My husband was as miserable as I, I absolutely would not have believed this for a second. Before our weekend with “Retrouvaille” I only saw MY misery, yes, I know now that it was terribly selfish.
    “Retrouvaille” is, and was in NO way, shape or form, a marriage encounter. It was just the opposite.
    It was a rude awakening, for both my husband and I. NO ONE had to tell us, NO ONE did tell us. By Sunday evening, we knew.
    It broke our hearts, to discover that WE, I repeat, WE had caused so many, so much pain. We discovered that we could not heal anyone, undo the damage that we had caused, without healing ourselves first. This will take work on our part, healing individually, together.
    We were destroying the inner peace of our children and anyone else in our paths. Deep in the center of both my husband and I, we knew it…you just know.
    I did not drag my husband to “Retrovaille”. I asked him in anger, he angrily responded that he would go, only once. As I said, I needed ammunition, so I could tell our children that it was me, who tried everything. I knew this would not work.
    My husband was as mentally and physically drained as I was. I am sure now, that it was a grace from GOD. Someone was praying for us, as we no longer were.
    I am ashamed to admit that it was the two people our grown and younger children trust more than anyone on earth, myself and my husband, who shattered their way, their peace, their security, their hope. Our youngest heard about the 54 day Rosary novena, and went into battle, he was praying it, almost always alone.
    He heard Father Corapi once say that “Your Rosary is your weapon.” So he went into spiritual battle, praying his Rosary for dad and mom.
    We love you dear children, more than you could fathom, with all of our hearts. We just could not see anymore, beyond our selfish selves.
    I do not know, for anyone else, what path you are on, or what road you will choose. I will say with love and peace of Christ to you, with all of my heart, “Retrouvaille” may or may not save your personal marriage, but it will positively open wide your eyes, prayerfully your hearts. I hope and pray for you the chance that we were given.
    I would not share my personal story with you, if I did not believe this.
    To very dear Michael Elyi. You are correct, about it being many women who initiate the seperation, and divorce proceedings. But please know Michael, that it takes two to get there.
    I am just as guilty as my husband with my own faults, maybe more so. I did not see fully my faults and bad choices. Nor did I hear my husband’s cries for help, I could only hear mine.
    Please pray for our new and continued growth in peace, true love and sacrifice for one another.
    I once heard Father John Hardon, one of the greatest Catholic theologians of our times who is now deceased, comment many years ago “The family is symbolic of the Cross, it is supposed to be this way, as it is our road to Heaven.” (Not verbatim, but this is what I remember him saying)
    Maybe it is what kept us barely hanging on by a single worn and frayed thread, this very long ago, very faded memory.
    May God bless all of you abundantly every moment of every day.
    Truly from the depths of my heart.
    Peace and joy to you in Christ,
    Mary

  • Martha Dancy

    Life is what you make it! Our main goal in life is to get to heaven. If people are unhappy single, it is because of a bad attitude toward life. If a person has tried to meet the right person for them and has not met that person in spite of attending every singles activity imaginable, then that person’s road is to remain single and do constructive things for others. Get out of the poor me syndrome and don’t listen to the people who make you feel bad. You make your own happiness in life. I believe in leaving everything in the hands of God. If it is meant to be, it will be, if not, then lead a good Catholic life and be happy being the best friend to another, the best teacher or the best in your job, whatever, and be happy that your life is not being destroyed by marrying the wrong person and being verbally abused by that person.If we don’t get what we want, then we have to change what we want into something else that can be positive. God knows our needs best–better than we do.

    A single 71 year old Catholic who is not unhappy!

  • Cindy

    It takes three to make a marriage work. I have found that when I am having difficulties, I will ask God to take care of it. And He does.

    When one has the force of heaven behind them, they are in a much better position to succeed.

    I think that we are living in one of the most evilest times in the history of mankind, therefore, we must do more than the minimum.

    My husband and I attend daily mass together, we do an hour of adoration once a week, we pray the Divine Office every evening together, we pray the rosary together on first Saturday. We also, pray the Chaplet of Divine Mercy daily. I am fortunate, many women do not have husbands who want to pray.

    Women have always been, in my lifetime, the spiritual head of the family. Perhaps it was different in St Joseph’s time. Sadly, most men fail, fail, fail in this area, their main attention is the TV set, sports, or other expensive hobbies.

    I waited for my husband a long time. I dated other men, but it didn’t feel right, it was not God’s will. I met my husband when I was 43 years old. It was a martyrdom waiting…

    So for all of you who are single, know that there is a crown in heaven waiting for you, because in these times, it is difficult to remain faithful, however, there is no other way. Remain faithful. Marry the one whom you feel that The Lord is calling you to marry. Don’t marry just to be married, these things never work. It reminds me of the reading today about entering the narrow gate.

  • Mary

    Please, please contact the closest “Retrouvaille” to you. This can be googled. Do not be discouraged if there is not one close to you, they will put you in touch with someone who will start the helping process. If you do not get a call back within a day, PLEASE contact them again and again until you do. Also, please read my just posted commentary to Pheonixmom.
    I promise, you will not be sorry for trying, no matter the outcome.
    God bless you.

  • Bill Sr.

    On Christian Marriage and Family Life

    No marriage can succeed without a clear understanding of the purpose of such a union in the first place. Let

  • Bill Sr.

    This kind of dedication and effort unfortunately are not common traits among most people today. We have become so obsessed with personal gratification that we have no time or patience or even the thought of satisfying anyone else

  • Laura

    Judging by the comments, this article seems to have struck a chord in many people, including myself. It is unsettling when we see any couple divorcing, let alone a couple that appears to believe and practice their faith. I appreciate the thought-provoking comments left by so many readers from all walks of life. I did have a couple of other thoughts I wanted to share.

    Any couple who are experiencing significant difficulties should (as so many have said) bolster their prayer life, receive the sacraments regularly, and look for other faith-based help

  • Liz

    I posted a comment this morning and it never made it on. Hum . . . . . I wonder if it wasn’t appropriate?

    Oh, well. . . my point was that very few people are discussing the children and their needs . . . as a responsible parent, if there is abuse of any kind happening within a marriage the parent must put an end to it . . . sometimes divorce is the ONLY option.

    Love does not always “conquer all.”

  • Peter

    Those in second marriages with former spouses still alive soon painfully realize the meaning of

  • AMG

    Marie,

    I read your plea for help. Please, please, no matter how wrong your husband is, earnestly seek reconciliation if at all possible. Pray hard, fast, go to Retrouvaille, seek a wise Catholic counselor. Do whatever it takes, even when it hurts, to preserve the marriage. Do it for your children’s sake. I am in my twenties, one of ten children, my parents married for decades, and we are all watching my parents’ marriage fall apart because of my mother’s refusal to forgive. I can’t tell you how much it hurts, and I have been gone from my parents’ house for almost ten years. If there is anything in your power to save this marriage, do so. My prayers are with you!

  • Unmarried 40-something Catholic

    ‘Ladies (and Gentlemen), Have you ever tried avemariasingles.com? Check it out. ‘

    ‘Go to Catholic do’s: the new movements, conferences, retreats, … help out at youth things … walking pilgrimages … fundraising …’

    God bless you all for the advice, but please keep in mind that those were the first things we’ve tried . . .for years, and years, and years. I’m on 15 years of being a single Catholic woman. And my choices to not marry people have not been due to a ‘checklist.’ That’s rather insulting. I have not married men who I did not love, was not attracted to, and yes, after PRAYER, discerned that they were not the man to marry.

    While it is lonely, stigmatizing–being called selfish, only doing it for my career (????) etc., it’s a lot better than being divorced.

    I want to make these comments in the spirit of charity that is appropriate for this forum. I am sure that online dating works for some people, which means it is not totally useless. But I believe that it does not work for most people, and on balance, it is a net negative. I can’t tell you the number of older married people I meet who say there can be no possible problem for single people seeking spouses — “Haven’t you tried online dating?” Yes, we have tried it. No it does not work for the vast majority of people. Some services tell you it is only an introduction service and cannot make up for for meeting in real life, which is true. But I have come to believe that online dating is worse than nothing because it is a cop-out for the rest of the community. See — there is online dating. Now as a community we need to do no more. No introductions, as Phil mentioned — boy have I had that experience. No invitations to dinner, which is how my parents met, though I know my father engineered the introduction and my mother certainly found a reason to show up. I have heard priests say that online dating is superior to meeting in real life because you are not distracted by having a real person in front of you. Hello? That’s the whole point of dating. It’s about real people meeting in person. That’s what today’s singles miss. It doesn’t happen. In a healthy social environment where online dating is one of many options open to you, I think it is actually very constructive for people to “meet” first by exchanging long letters which their spiritual director reads reads first. But I think that online dating as practiced by many Catholics today, who have no specifically Catholic social life otherwise, just leads to a bunker mentality that says there is no one else out there for you except for the person you happen to be talking to by email. As I said in my original post, such a bunker mentality can lead to some very bad choices.

    So online dating, sure. Let’s keep it is an option. But let’s not pretend it solves the problem or absolves Catholic parishes or the broader Catholic community from its responsibility to support an environment and culture in which single Catholics can get married. And also, never, ever under any circumstances tell a single Catholic that online dating is the answer. Most of us have tried and been disappointed. We know about it. Thank you. Don’t bring it up again. Being told to try online dating by a stranger after we have been doing it for years just makes the pain of singleness so much worse.

  • J

    This is a great article. The comments are even better. We as young Catholics do need to be heard. I’m tired of going to mass and not seeing anyone my age. We deserve better. Our Church Leadership needs to know we deserve better. And finally, we need to work towards a better tomorrow for the young people of our church. A community that builds true community. A community where Catholic heroes are showcased, where committed marriages and families are honored.

    We’ve created a Facebook group called:
    Catholics AREN’T Lame

    We’d be honored if you joined us. Together, we are a rag-tag group of 200+ people who support each other, pray for each other. We are slowly working to highlight the problems that young (18-45) Catholics face. With greater numbers, we can mobilize and advocate to our diocese to support Young Adult programs. Additionally, we can also advocate to focus on the TRUE spiritual growth of families. Divorce is a horrible evil, second only to abortion. It must be stopped!

    The enemy is strong, but we are untouchable with God on our side.

    Pax

  • Crux Ave

    As a single person, I, too, have tried online dating and I agree this is not the answer to finding a good spouse. It may work for a small majority, but there is just something about being IN THE PRESENCE of another person that speaks volumes about who the person is. Too many singles seem to treat online dating like online shopping. Enough said.

    I’m wondering if anyone has any opinions of matchmaking (not online). If a single person trusts his/her parents or other people who know the single person well, would it be so awful to ask them to find the single person a holy spouse? Isn’t the divorce rate very low in those countries where matchmaking is the norm? I think marriage and dating are so romanticized in our culture that people end up very disappointed when their lives don’t turn out like a script of a romantic comedy movie. Anyway, I’m just so frustrated in finding a spouse that I’m tempted to resign myself to having my parents pick a husband for me. Am I crazy??

  • Elle C

    If you are blessed enough to find someone to love and be loved by and you marry, you need only remember the LOVE. Always remember the LOVE! That is enough and all. Love makes room for forgiveness, mistakes, weaknesses, differences, spilled-milk, misunderstandings, being taken for granted, not always being listened to, sickness, changes in personality, body-shape, moods, jobs. Love makes room for poorly cooked meals, forgotten anniversaries, schedule changes. There is room in LOVE for babies, laughter, time alone, time away, time-out. LOVE offers no excuses, but is often excused for wrongdoing, stupidity, sinfulness, selfishness. LOVE also finds the goodness, the joy, the memories, the praises, the gratitude, the reasons for being together. LOVE forgives, looks for the good, helps out, knows everything will be different tomorrow, prays for the beloved, always hopes. LOVE is enough. This is what I’ve learned after 40 yrs. of marriage. It’s not about what religion you belong to, but how you personally live out yours, and yours alone. Then, marriage is a true reflection of Jesus.

  • Marcia

    There’s an old saying, and I think it should be applied to all annulments that have already been granted: Roma locuta, causa finita.

    This means, “Rome has spoken, the matter is decided.”

    Once upon a time, the judgement of the Marriage Tribunal was good enough for other Catholics. But unfortunately there is now a trend of second-guessing the Marriage Tribunal and therefore Catholics with annulments. In short, if you weren’t in the marriage or in the Marriage Tribunal that examined it, you don’t know anything about it. As for the “abandoned” spouse, it is a question of “he said, she said”, isn’t it?

    Some marriages were simply not meant to be. If a pious Catholic recognizes that the fruits of the Holy Spirit are not and never were part of his/her marriage, it is better for that Catholic to throw him/herself on the mercy of the Church than to lose his/her soul.

    When the quote used here is used, it means the Magesterium, the Holy Father and the Bishops of the Church speaking on matters of Faith and Morals, infallibly.

    Tribunal decisions are not infallible. They can, and have been appealed by either party, and verdicts overturned. They can also be re-opened should overwhelming evidence be found that the verdict was in error.

    Both JPII and BXVI have referenced (disapproving) the high numbers of Null verdicts many times in their words to the Rota, and elsewhere.

    As for the phrase ‘abandoned spouse’, no, it isn’t a matter of ‘he said/she said’. When one spouse leaves and becomes the Petitioner of a civil divorce (unilateral, no fault, forced divorce) against the wishes of the other, the one who is named Respondent is the abandoned spouse. The Catechism clearly speaks of this situation:

    2384 Divorce is a grave offense against the natural law. It claims to break the contract, to which the spouses freely consented, to live with each other till death. Divorce does injury to the covenant of salvation, of which sacramental marriage is the sign. Contracting a new union, even if it is recognized by civil law, adds to the gravity of the rupture: the remarried spouse is then in a situation of public and permanent adultery:

    If a husband, separated from his wife, approaches another woman, he is an adulterer because he makes that woman commit adultery, and the woman who lives with him is an adulteress, because she has drawn another’s husband to herself.

    2385 Divorce is immoral also because it introduces disorder into the family and into society. This disorder brings grave harm to the deserted spouse, to children traumatized by the separation of their parents and often torn between them, and because of its contagious effect which makes it truly a plague on society.

    2386 It can happen that one of the spouses is the innocent victim of a divorce decreed by civil law; this spouse therefore has not contravened the moral law. There is a considerable difference between a spouse who has sincerely tried to be faithful to the sacrament of marriage and is unjustly abandoned, and one who through his own grave fault destroys a canonically valid marriage.

    As for the final statement in the comment above:
    St Monica, St Rita, Catherine of Aragon, Elizabeth LeSeuer and many others throughout the history of the Church would perhaps disagree with you, as they lived the vows they made in spite of tremendous difficulties and lack of ‘fruits of the Holy Spirit in the marriage’, and did not lose their souls, but even gained the salvation of their spouses (and children) in many cases.

    A marriage that is troubled, does not continually show evidence of the ‘fruits of the Holy Spirit’ is not evidence for Nullity.
    Ending up in civil divorce courts does not equate with invalidity, nor even ‘prove’ anythng other than one person’s power to end a marriage simply by signing the papers beginning the process.
    Adultery itself also does not mean the marriage is Null.

    Those who have gone before us and are now recognized as Saints (canonized by the Church) offer us examples of living their vows in spite of ‘bad’, ‘troubled’, ‘difficult’, ‘unhappy’ marriages in obedience to God, who tells us that He hates divorce (Malachi 2). In fact, Hosea is a book about a very difficult marriage that is in our Bible by the inspiration of that very Holy Spirit who gives us the Graces to help us in our vocation. That vocation has a purpose–the Salvation of both our spouse and ourself, for which we will be held accountable.

  • Barbara

    First of all, I am in my late 30’s, and still single. I agree with a lot of the posters, especially early on, about how hard it is for the Catholic Single to find others.

    A lot of churches here in the Tucson, AZ area have “Young Adult” groups, which I feel too “old” for. There are also Senior/Widowed groups–I’m way too young for these.

    If you’re in your late 30-s thru early 50’s, there is NOTHING for you to be ‘active’ in to meet others.

    I’ve already accepted the fact that I’m going to be single for a long time, especially since a medical situation I have will make it difficult for me to have children.

  • Ann

    RE: To Marie, Broken Hearted who wrote:

    Quote(73) Broken Hearted
    June 23rd, 2009 | 12:29pm
    As a Catholic Abandon mother of 6, going through all of this, this article really hit home to me. i come from a large Catholic family, in which i have no support, or encouragement to work out my marriage from no one. Divorce seems to be the only option with everyone i know. Pushing for an annullment. never once have i heard forgive him. Now that he wants to come home, i am conflicted in what to do. i wish there was one person in the Church that would support a reconcilation with him. my heart tells me to forgive, but my head & all the voices in my head tell me to divorce him. i didn’t get married before God, brings 6 blessing into the world to raise them in a broken home. my children are all very young 9yrs-4months old). i am being pulled in too many directions. I just wish there was someone out there i could cry out too HELP US SAVE OUR MARRIAGE & FAMILY!!!
    Written by Marie

    RESPONSE TO MARIE (and all readers of this article):

    There is someone out there whom you can cry to and He is listening….CHRIST …and He is saying go reconcile your marriage! I know as I have heard Him when 5 years ago I discovered that my husband of 21 yrs was having an adulterous affair…I was 8 mo.s pregnant with our 8th child (all kids under age 10 yrs.)…completely shocked, thought I had a good marriage, totally devastated, faith shaken and feeling lost…until I turned and meditated upon the cross. I did not tell anyone in my family or close friends

  • Micha Elyi

    To very dear Micha Elyi. You are correct, about it being many women who initiate the seperation, and divorce proceedings. But please know Micha, that it takes two to get there.

    I’m not buying a blanket application of the “it takes two” bromide. In a minority of divorces, maybe. Most often, it takes only one to begin thinking “I deserve more,” “I’m not in love anymore,” “I need to find myself,” and such. In two-thirds of divorces that one is the woman, as Dr. Sanford Braver found when each ex-spouse in the divorced pairs studied were separately interviewed.

    Legislation enabling unilateral divorce bloomed in the Women’s Liberation era. I doubt that was a coincidence.

  • Seraphic Spouse

    Wow. I sure hope no woman ends up beaten to death as a result of reading this comment stream and thinking, “Yes, St. Monica put up with abuse, I should too.” Being a woman of the fifth century, St. Monica had no choice. It was stick with Patricius, starve, or become a prostitute. We have better choices now. Not to spit on the heroism of St. Monica, but sometimes the most loving thing to do is to LEAVE AN ABUSER so that he might have a chance to save his soul through true repentence without contracting the sin of murder first.

    Tell you what. Leave the abuser, take your kids, take your bankbook and your passport. You don’t HAVE to get married again. But for your own sake and the sake of your children, get help and live in safety.

    As for the Singles, yes, it can be a lonely life. But better to be lonely and have your dreams than to be married to an abuser and have nothing.

    Personally, I’m not a hopeless romantic. I’m a hopeful realist, and this has served me well.

  • Lonely in Alabama

    I have been praying to be the father of a Catholic family since my twenties but that was twenty years ago. It’s very hard for me to accept that I will probably never have children of my own at this point since a woman my age is probably past the point of childbearing. I have been looking. Where have all the Catholic ladies been?

  • Pheonixmom

    Micha Elyi & Mary, Thanks for the survey you have mentioned from Dr. Sanford Braver. Would you know what are the statistics of women who answered :
    a) to stay alive to be with her kids til they grow up,

    b) to keep her sanity to be able to guide her child, knowing that it will only be enhancement of vices/selfishness/ dishonesty that will be expounded by the other parent

    c) knowing the other parent is dysfunctional therefore the other parent with the right mind will be the children’s hope to still grow up with discipline

    One SUnday, I suddenly hoped for cancer. WHy? because a natural death was the valid way to get out of the marriage. FOr a moment the idea was appealing to me. But the thought that my daughter will end up with my in-laws woke me up as I don’t want that family to produce another monster to unleash to the world causing pain, much more that it might be my daughter.

    One night gathering where the kids were brought along, coming straight from my work, my daughter went ahead there, brought by my maid. She was with her father that afternoon. SHe held a new book. One of the leaders there who always have a knack chatting with my daughter saw the book she was carrying. Her dad boughtit for her. It was a book for PRANKS. How to be a prankster. My friend was nearly aghast why my sweet daughter is carrying such a book. I had to say it was a new book from her father, shom she knows also. THe puzzled look still did not leave her face. I can only give her a sigh, like ‘yeah, I know’.
    I hope that wishing cancer for a moment is not a symptom of suicidal tendency.
    I mentioned before, I am not one who backs out of a challenge. Engineers at work, most of these guys are technical barbarians and I weather through it through praying the rosary everyday as i go to work.I finished my engineering course with no cheating in any exam. A lot of Honest to goodness low grades but proud of it. Funny how a topic sticks in your mind 20 years after or more. But this, up front abomination to our marriage, is not one for me. I cannot stomach it. My friends say I am a gullible person, well I always give the benefit of the doubt. But there is just one man in my life who is having a grand time exploiting my gullibleness. No more hopeless romantic here. Wish it was as logical as solving a calculus problem, will make you think but you have a concrete solution in the end. But of course it is never like that. Too tiring for my mind to be in a discussion where you have to be the role of the shrink as well for your husband just to make him give out answers. I am like the cross-examiner. WHy do I have to be like that just to get answers from a person? I went to an Ignatius retreat to find myself’s standing amidst all these.

    FOr you people who was able to use Retrouville to rewire your marriage, that is great. But not all have the same stories/ situation. In defense, Marriage encounter also has those elder couples who are willing to share their painful lives to the couples listening. Several talks and activities. Grand dialogues between couples. ANd it is presided by a priest that is trained, specialized for troubled Marriages. And there is a one year follow up on those couples. I know God is handling my case. Because the moment I discovered of his credit card debts, I prayed right away for strength. I just didn’t expect it to be much more than debts. EverydaY, i lifted up my case to HIM. Before a confrontation, I would pray for guidance by the Holy Spirit. ALso for intervention in case he gets pissed off and might do something blindly. SO yo think I know now where all the money went? No. ANd he makes sure that I have a job.

    FOr someone who commented that women actually starts to count their assets etc, thanks for the idea, maybe I will really start working on that. It seems I was wasting time all along thinking, reflecting, etc.

  • Martha

    I’m responding primarily to some of the single-oriented comments I’ve read here. I’m in my late 20s and single, and can empathize with the disappointment and concern being communicated in some of the posts.

    One of the posters recommends being open to a spouse from outside the faith as a possible solution. I was impressed with the post for the insight and wisdom it offers. Another post also impressed me with its stress on sacrifice and agape love as the vital components of a functional marriage. Getting back to the mixed-faith post– while I appreciate the notion that we Catholic singles should remain open to non-Catholics in our search, I would like to explain why this seems to be more of a challenge than even hoping for a Catholic…

    For folks like me, the question is about the quality of the morality in potential spouses, of course, but that this is most readily found in those who assent to the Catholic Church and her teachings. For myself, it isn’t that I refuse to consider non-Catholics, but that, without fail, every non-Catholic man I meet is completetly unsuited for marriage due to his moral and political views. Nearly automatically, he is lust-centered and unwilling to pursue a chaste relationship. This is a formidable snag that has led me to keep entirely to Catholic suitors, which have been nearly non-existent. If a good Catholic man is a rare gem to find, it has got to be even harder to find a good non-Catholic.

    What I see the person is really advocating in the mixed-faith post is that both spouses be truly Catholic, if we can accurately define Catholic as ‘life lived through agape love’. Yes–it is most important that the person live Catholicism than call themselves Catholic (most important for the integrity of the marriage and for the children anyway). The most important quality in a spouse must be an ability to serve with agape love. I’d venture to guess it is more difficult, not less, to find that outside the Catholic Church, because it is from Christ’s Church that all these graces flow. Still, we must be open, because we have to consider God’s plan for our potential future spouse’s life–and maybe that is conversion to the Church through the marriage.

    For those who feel called to marriage and are left discouraged, St. Josaphat, pray for us!

  • Karl

    Thank you, Marcia

  • Karl

    Thank you for your witness, Mary. You and your husband are in my prayers for your long marriage. Work hard, dear.

    Tell you husband this abandoned spouse beseeches him to WORK at forgiveness and to THANK GOD he has a woman like you who wants to WORK to preserve the most important vocation of your life.

    It is the vocation of each of you to work to ensure that the other grows in the love of Christ and to see that the other makes it to eternity with Christ.

    NEVER FORGET THAT. NEVER!

  • Miserable

    No one here is talking about spending a lifetime of misery; that is antithetical to the idea of Christian marriage.

    Maybe it’s not supposed to be, but it can be. Twenty-one years of marriage and benign neglect has brought me to the point of hoping to just survive until death. A Catholic man has no option but to grit his teeth and hang on to the end. Leaving, affairs, divorce and other empty forms of companionship aren’t available if he is serious about his faith.

  • Sheryl

    Better marriage preparation will not do anything for the tens of thousands of marriages that need help now. Fr. Brunetta says above that most people are capable of marriage. So when they made their vows to each other, they gave their word that they will be faithful for better or WORSE until death. And God will judge them on how they kept those vows–or didn’t keep them.

    The rosary is the great healer. I don’t think it’s been mentioned.

  • KatiePlusFive

    I’ve been happily married for 5 years. There are days when things get boring/tough/etc…but I realize that I am not perfect and I should not expect perfection out of my wife. We try our best and pray that God will give us the strength. Praying is not everything though…you have to work at it also. I think sometimes people pray and expect to put no work into at all.
    It is no surprise that divorce among Catholics is increasing. Marriage is a blessed sacrament and the Devil would love nothing more than to see this beautiful institution ruined. We are also making the Devi’s work a lot easier — abortion, contraception, pornography, materialism, etc… I read where pornography is closely approaching financial troubles as the main culprit in divorce. Sometimes we hang ourselves with our own rope.
    Remember, our battle is not against flesh and blood. I pray for all married couples that God will protect them. I pray that all young people on the path to marriage will actively pray with their spouse (together) for God’s blessing and God’s will to be done.
    To those who divorce–I pray for you especially. I cannot judge your situation, I have never walked in your shoes. I pray that God helps you heal and I pray that God will bless your life down the road.

    God Bless

  • KatiePlusFive
  • Mark

    I really can’t believe the posts here that insist people remain married if their marriage has failed. I am a Christian (although not a Catholic one) but I believe we all have the right to choose whether or not to stay in a marriage.

    “Till death do us part” is an ideal, but only that. We should try to live up to that. But if we can’t, it is likely healthier to divorce. Would you make lifetime vows to the company you work for? Even if that company mistreats you, ignores you, or does not fulfill its end of the bargain, would you stay with that company? Come on, folks, wake up!

    A marriage begins when two people want to try to build a life together. It ends, and rightly so, when one or both partners no longer feels it is best to stay in the union. I personally believe “till death do us part” should be removed from marriage vows, since to make such a vow to a person who may change as time goes on is utterly absurd.

  • Tanya

    My name is Tanya i live in USA where Divorce seems to be the other of the day,i was married to my husband Lawson for 18 years and we were living happily together with our 3 kids and all of a sudden their came this sad moment for the first time in my life i curt my husband having an affair with a lady outside our marriage before this time i have already started noticing strange behavior like he used to spend some time with us, comes home early after work but since he started having an affair with this lady all his love for his wife gone and he now treats me badly and will not always make me happy.I had to keep on moving with my life never knowing that our marriage was now leading to divorce which i can not take because i love Lawson my husband so much and i can’t afford to loose him to this strange Lady,i had to seek a friends advice on how i could resolve my marriage problem and make the divorce case not to take place and my husband live this Lady and come back to me again having heard my story my friend decided to help me at all cost she then refereed me to A spell caster named Priest Ajigar, my friend also told me that Priest Ajigar have helped so many people that were going through divorce, and also finding possible ways to amend their broken relationship. To cut my story short i contacted Priest Ajigar and in just four days after the spell was done my husband left the other lady and withdrew the divorce case all till now my husband is with me and he now treats me well and we are living happily together again all appreciation goes to Priest Ajigar i never could have done this my self, so to whom it may concern if you are finding difficulty in your relationship or having problems in your marriage just contact Priest Ajigar he is Powerful and his spell works perfectly,i am somebody who never believed or heard about spell but i gave it a try with Priest Ajigar and today every thing is working well for me and if you need his help his email is (priestajigarspells@live.com)

  • anonymous5555

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  • Profling

    There is too much emphasis on abandoned wives. What about men whose wives are adulterous and initiate divorce?

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