Thursday, October 20, 2016

Marriage Rx: Should I Boycott My Brother's Non-Church Wedding?

Question: My brother has fallen away from the Church and is getting married to his girlfriend outside of the Catholic Church. I know the Catholic Church will not recognize their marriage as such, but what is my reaction to this supposed to be? I have heard that some Catholics do not recognize the marriage and continue to call the married couple girlfriend and boyfriend. I feel this is severe but what does the Church teach us to do? Also, is there a sensitive way to approach this subject to subject to explain what he is doing? - Bernadette

Answer: You're facing a problem that confronts many devout Catholics today. Data suggest that a significant percentage (perhaps even a majority) of Catholics are choosing to marry outside the Church. They may not know or even care that the marriage is considered invalid without a special dispensation (or permission) from their bishop.

The Church does not tell us exactly how to RSVP. Good Catholics are free to disagree on this issue, and they often do. You have several choices open to you.

1. Boycott the Wedding. Some Catholics will refuse to attend the wedding in order to send a clear signal that the couple is doing something wrong. This "tough love" tactic may get results, particularly if the boycotter is a parent who has an otherwise strong relationship with their child. We saw many couples in our pre-Cana program who chose to marry in the Church mainly because of family pressure. If the family relationship is weak, however, boycotting the wedding may fracture it irreparably.

2. Attend the Reception Only. Another option is to skip the ceremony but attend the reception. Believe it or not, some guests might bail on the ceremony and skip straight to the canapes anyway. You have a strong reason to stay away from the "I dos." The ceremony itself is the "wedding," and if you attend it might look like you're condoning something that you're not. What happens afterward at the reception is just a party.

3. Attend the Wedding after Voicing Your Objection Privately. Part of what makes this issue so tricky is that the bride and groom probably have no idea what the fuss is about. Almost everyone seems to have forgotten about the beauties and graces of a sacramental marriage. They don't see any difference between a church wedding and a civil ceremony except for venue and cast of characters. Perhaps no one has ever told them. God may have just volunteered you. But to spare them embarrassment, you can keep your objection private and go ahead and attend the wedding and reception to show family support and unity.

How do you approach this subject sensitively? Rather than emphasizing the downside of a civil marriage, emphasize the upside of a Catholic one. As we say in our book The Four Keys to Everlasting Love, couples united in the Sacrament of Matrimony "are called and empowered to love to the highest degree, the degree that Christ loved us -- to forgive seventy times seven times, to do the humblest chore out of love, and to die to self in order to live and love for others."

They may not think that they need God in their marriage now, but when crisis hits and things seem humanly impossible, they may finally seek God for whom all things are possible. Tell them that God is waiting for them and will always wait for them.

*   *   *

We agree that calling a civilly married couple girlfriend and boyfriend seems severe and not likely to lead to a change of heart. They are at least legally married (an increasing rarity these days). Their situation can easily be resolved by asking a priest to convalidate the civil ceremony. It's never too late for your brother and his wife to grow closer to God. And if you stay close to them, you may play an important role in making it happen.


Want more tips and news about our Catholic marriage advice book? Sign up here for The Four Keys to Everlasting Love newsletter and get your downloadable thank-you gift.

1 comment:

  1. Hey there,

    How is your marriage going? Be honest…how is it ACTUALLY going?

    If you’re reading this e-mail right now, then chances are your marriage isn’t what it used to be… and maybe it’s so bad, that you feel like your world is falling apart.

    You feel like all the passion, the love, and romance have completely faded.

    You feel like you and your wife can’t stop yelling at each other.

    And maybe you feel that there’s almost nothing you can do to save your marriage, no matter how hard you try.

    But you’re wrong.

    You CAN save your marriage — even if your wife says she wants to get a divorce. You CAN rebuild that passion you felt for one another when you first kissed. And you can bring back that love and devotion you felt for one another when both of you said, “I love you” for the first time.

    If you feel like your marriage is worth fighting for, then do yourself a favour and watch this quick video that will teach you everything you need to know about salvaging the most important thing in the world:

    =>Save Your Marriage Now (VIDEO)<=

    In this video, you’ll learn the three critical mistakes that most couples commit that rip marriages apart. Most couples will never learn how to fix these three simple mistakes.

    You’ll also learn a simple, proven “Marriage Saving” method that makes marriage counsellors look like kindergarten teachers.

    So if you feel like your marriage is about to take its last few breaths, then I urge you to watch this quick video:

    Make Your Wife Adore You Again ==> Fix Your Marriage – Start Making HAPPY Memories<=

    You’ve got nothing to lose.

    All the best,

    -[[Ana]]-

    PS. Just take 3 mins to watch the video.. if you don’t, you may miss the one tip that could save your marriage. Click here: =>Transform Your Marriage in Minutes<=

    ReplyDelete