My divorce was finalized today. I filed on March 21st, and it only took four short months. That’s what happens when you haven’t really been living as husband and wife for over a year and you have no assets to fight over,only debts.
I don’t really know how I expected to feel today. At times I thought I would be throwing a celebration. As I approached the judge this morning, I just felt like I was going to throw up.
In some ways I’m relieved that everything is settled in black and white. The kids and I know what our legal rights and limits are.
I am slightly embarrassed. I am now a divorcee. My marriage failed. I feel a special stigma as a practicing Catholic. When we say “until death do us part”, we’re supposed to take that seriously. And I do…and I did.
I know that this is not what God wanted for our family. God wanted my kids to have two parents who were capable of loving each other in a sacramental marriage. That’s not what my kids got, though.
I truly believe that God was working in my life in the weeks leading up to when I filed for divorce. Even though He would have preferred the ideal, I believe God knew that the divorce was the lesser of the two evils that the children and I were facing. He put events and people in my life without whom I would not have had the courage to do what I was prepared to do in one last attempt to save my marriage or the courage to do what I had to do when it became clear that there was nothing I could do to save my marriage.
In some ways, though, the finalization of the divorce is just the beginning for me. Next up I will be meeting with my pastor to start the annulment process to determine if my marriage was valid in the eyes of God in the first place. Through documentation and the testimony of others I have to show that my marriage that we “thought to be valid according to Church law actually fell short of at least one of the essential elements required for a binding union”. I’ve heard it can take as long as 18 months for the determination to be made. (I still have a lot to learn about it.)
Part of me would love for the Church tribunal to discern that it never was a valid marriage in the first place. I think it would make the civil divorce feel more justifiable.
Of course, the biggest reason that most people want an annulment is that they would be free to marry again. Even though I know that I am not mentally or emotionally healed enough to have a healthy romantic relationship at this time, I’d be lying if I said I hadn’t thought about the possibility of marrying again. But frankly I am glad the annulment process takes awhile. It’s like God’s gift of more time to get my sh*t together.
On the other hand, I think about what would happen if the tribunal declared that my marriage was and therefore is still a valid marriage. That means that I am not free to date or marry anyone else until Ricky dies. If I were to do so, it would be considered adultery in the eyes of God.
I can see where some people would think it is sad that I would be damned to a “life of loneliness”. Of course, I’d rather be damned to spending the rest of my mortal life alone (although how can I ever really be alone with 5 kids?) than spending all of eternity separated from God.
I kind of wonder, though, what else God might have planned for me if getting remarried is completely off the table. Maybe God would have a better use for all of the time that would be spent maintaining a romantic relationship. Maybe God has a special way that he wants to use my time and talents for the glory of his kingdom once I am no longer busy raising children.
On the way to the courthouse this morning I prayed the Rosary. As I meditated on the Sorrowful Mysteries, starting with the Agony in the Garden and ending with the Crucifixion, I kept thinking about how my sometimes extremely insightful oldest daughter summarized her feelings about the divorce. She told me a few months ago that she wasn’t happy about, but she knew it’s what needed to be done. After all, “Jesus wasn’t happy about dying on the cross, but he knew it’s what needed to be done.”
I thought about how Jesus’ wounds didn’t disappear after his resurrection. They were still part of his glorified body. I know that there is a lesson in there for me somewhere even if I can’t put my finger on it right now.
So, on the way home I prayed the Divine Mercy Chaplet, asking God to heal me, my ex-husband, and my children (a recommendation my pastor made during my last confession). And I would ask that anyone who reads this post to please offer up even a small prayer of healing for my family.