Annul a 20-year marriage with 7 kids?

AnnulThrowback Thursday 5/26/2013

I ran into an old friend of my Mom’s a few weeks ago at the grocery store.  This woman’s husband left her 15+ years ago with 7 young children.  He left her for a younger woman and his relationship with the kids is estranged at best.

Embracing her in the store, we briefly caught up on all the happenings with her mountain of children and now, grandchildren.  The woman looked exactly as she did when I last randomly bumped into her: exhausted.  She had been working two jobs for over fifteen years, was uneducated, so she was making little money for hard work.  One of her daughters had a child out of wedlock and was living with her as well.  Barely able to make ends meet, this friend secured yet another 10 hour gig on the weekends to help raise the grandchild. Let me repeat:  she looked drained.

Through the ten minute conversation, she mentioned that the ex-husband was happily married, living in another state and hadn’t provided for the kids’ needs in many years.  Upset and distraught with the Catholic Church, she said her ex received the “right” to marry because he had the marriage annulled.

Just to clarify I asked, “how long were you married?”

“20 years.  7 kids.”

She continued to explain that after the divorce, the Catholic Church had not accepted her as a formal church member, since she was a divorced woman.  She was also forbidden to take communion.  This was especially painful to this woman, because she was a devoted Catholic – so devoted to the church rules that she did not use birth control – thus, the 7 kids.

Her eyes grew wet as I suggested she try visiting a non-denominational church where she would be lovingly accepted and could develop new relationships.  I emphasized that the “church” is a group of believers in Jesus…that Christianity is about a relationship with Jesus and believing that God loves you – just as you are, right where you are in lifeChristianity is not about being alienated by your Sunday worship center just when you need love and help the most.

It’s important to note that as someone who was raised in a liturgical church, I respect and admire all the tradition.  Although I spent 25 years in a liturgical church, I am no longer familiar with the rules, having been in a different church the last 20 years.  So, upon arriving home I looked up the meaning of annulment.  “To reduce to nothing.  To obliterate. To make void; invalidate.”

Divorce is painful enough all on its own. Do we need our church to require an expensive piece of paper authorizing that a marriage was voided in order to move forward in life? In order to participate fully in our faith?

Are we seriously “invalidating” a 20-year marriage for one spouse at his request, after years of painfully rejecting the other spouse by isolating her from the church she devoted herself to?  How does this mentally impact the children?

That afternoon I had a very clear understanding of Gandhi’s words when he said:  “I like your Christ, I do not like your Christians. Your Christians are so unlike your Christ.”

18 thoughts on “Annul a 20-year marriage with 7 kids?

  1. Hard to believe it is true… All parts of this story. I believe God is in us and with us, not in church or any other building. I am sure this woman is wise so she has to realize that. I believe in God or any other power, but I don’t believe going to church or giving to church money as it is so popular now helps at all or is needed. Well written story! 🙂


  2. Thank you for visiting my blog. On this friend’s story, what is missing is any note about an attempt at reconciliation, championed by the church first. If the husband left, he has no grounds for marrying again based on Jesus’ principles.


  3. Such a sad story. Such lack of basic human empathy.
    I can’t help but wonder why your friend did not seek civil legal advice. Surely there is a way to make the father support his children.


    • I think she could not imagine adding one more thing to her life and definitely couldn’t afford it. When this first happened, she still had little kids and had to work constantly. I would expect that people probably mentioned it to her, but she never did.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. so much of Christianity is shame based instead of love and grace based. I can’t believe he was given permission to marry the woman he committed adultery with. I am sure that marriage won’t work. If a loving wife and 7 children doesn’t keep you home, nothing will.


  5. Wow. How can any father do that to anyone, not care about his 7 children? Even if things don’t work out with your ex-partner, this is the part I can’t understand. But at least the children know they have a mum who does anything in her power for them!


  6. Hi 🙂 Great post! So sad for your mom’s friend! What a shame and I couldn’t help but to think how the word definition was “To reduce to nothing. To obliterate. To make void; invalidate., What a fine example that the actions of the annulment has done is fulfilling the definition…such a shame for her. Almost reduced her to nothing and then for the church to have treated her this way…It’s only by God’s Amazing Grace that she has made it through thus far!!
    I just found your website and happy that I did:) I started blogging this past January in hopes to encourage others in Christ. I want to invite you to checkout my website and if interested to follow me back:) I think that it’s important to support others on this site:) What a GREAT TOOL this site is for helping others to grow in their walk of Faith!! God Bless you and keep up all of your efforts for Him:)


  7. That breaks my heart. I’ve met the meanest people in church, and it never fails to hurt me again when I hear more of these stories. I can only imagine that it breaks Jesus’ heart too.


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