I married a Baptist twenty-one years ago. I felt that he was more Catholic than my first Catholic husband. He was kind, thoughtful, loved family and children. I had a Catholic annulment from my first marriage but my fiancé, Tom, was divorced too, so we were married by a minister who was a friend of the family.
During our first twelve years of marriage, we both attended Catholic mass as a family and our two children went to Catholic schools. I went to confession about every month. During one confession to a priest that was in his eighties, he began asking me questions.
"Yes," I replied.
"Have you been married before?"
" Yes, but I have a Catholic annulment".
"Does your husband have a Catholic annulment?". I felt my heart drop.
"No, he's not Catholic," I replied.
"Your husband has to have a Catholic annulment, even if he isn't Catholic, for you to receive the sacraments". " I'm so sorry but I can't absolve you of your sins".
I had the deer in the headlights face. I just remember saying something lame like "okay".
"Have I shaken your faith?" he asked.
"No, I'm fine."
A packet would also be sent to his ex-wife with a questionnaire she could fill out, but it isn't a requirement that ex-spouses send it in. Some choose not to. The questionnaires then would be mailed to Archdiocese of Cincinnati Tribunal for a decision. It also cost $350. It took about five months for my husband to receive a Catholic annulment. We had our marriage blessed in the Catholic church on February 1st. I mention the date because three years later my husband became Catholic on February 1st. The annulment process and one-on-one time with a priest immersed my husband in the beauty of the Catholic faith setting him on his own journey, which lead him to conversion.I don't know why I didn't look into the rules of the Catholic Church twenty-one years ago. I did what my older sister did, when she divorced and remarried. I just thought those were the rules, but I never asked a priest about it. Some people get mad at the priest (in the confessional) when I tell this story, but he was doing his job and I am so thankful for it. At the time, I thought it was a test of faith. Later, I knew God was doing something else.
God wasn't testing my faith, He knew what was going to hit our marriage in a few years, so he set up events that would protect us. Because our marriage was blessed in the Catholic Church and my husband became Catholic we could both receive the sacraments. Which strengthened our marriage. I'm not sure if we would be married today had we not listened to the promptings of the Holy Spirit. I think about all the "what ifs". What if my confession was absolved, what if my husband didn't want to get an annulment, what if I became angry leaving the Catholic Church?
Tom and I have had many ups and downs over the years, and I am sure more are coming. What I know now is that with trust in God, holy obedience and the sacraments of the church, we can conquer anything.