If your husband or wife is cheating on you

One of my older friend is getting a divorce soon because he recently discovered his wife has been having an affair with another man, though the situation doesn’t involve me (as I am still too young to even get married), it does bring up a question to my mind.

If a Catholic couple is married, and one of the partner is having an affair with another who’s is not part of the marriage, what are the steps that need to be taken? If the partner who is cheating and refuses to cooperate, is divorce allowed as a last resort?

Divorce can be legitimate (and not sinful) if one party needs to protect themselves from the other party (physically, emotionally, etc.). However, neither party could remarry unless they received a declaration of nullity (AKA an annulment). If they did attempt a second marriage without an annulment, that would be considered adultery.

The best bet is for the couple to discuss the best course of action with their priest and a professional counsellor.

You have asked a loaded question…

First: Lets assume the marriage is a valid marriage.
Step one would be to attempt reconciliation… Which would mean a fair amount of marriage counseling, which would require the cooperation of both husband and wife.

If reconciliation occurs then there is no need for divorce.

If reconciliation is not possible, then there may be a civil divorce, which the Church does not recognize.
But since there was a valid marriage, neither the husband nor the wife could remarry because the Church would consider them still married

If one did remarry, that person (as well as the new spouse) would be living in mortal sin and also not eligible to receive communion in the Church.

Now, the spouse that did not remarry outside the Church would consider himself or herself still married and view the other as a spouse living in a state of adultery.

Second… Lets assume the marriage was not valid… This would be determined through the annulment process. If the annulment were granted, then both parties would be free to remarry, because the marriage was never valid from the beginning.

While reconcilliation is stronly encouraged, the wronged spouse has the right under canon law to “sever the common conjugal life”, provided that spouse is not condoned the adultery or committed adultery himself or herself. Civil divorce, though it does not dissolve the marriage, is sometimes morally acceptable when it is necessary that the force of civil law be used to achieve the just distribution of marital assets and the maintenance of the children.

Canon 1151 Spouses have the obligation and the right to maintain their common conjugal life, unless a lawful reason excuses them.

Canon 1152.1 It is earnestly recommended that a spouse, motivated by christian charity and solicitous for the good of the family, should not refuse to pardon an adulterous partner and should not sunder the conjugal life. Nevertheless, if that spouse has not either expressly or tacitly condoned the other’s fault, he or she has the right to sever the common conjugal life, provided he or she has not consented to the adultery, nor been the cause of it, nor also committed adultery.

Canon 1152.2 Tacit condonation occurs if the innocent spouse, after becoming aware of the adultery, has willingly engaged in a marital relationship with the other spouse; it is presumed, however, if the innocent spouse has maintained the common conjugal life for six months, and has not had recourse to ecclesiastical or to civil authority.

Canon 1152.3 Within six months of having spontaneously terminated the common conjugal life, the innocent spouse is to bring a case for separation to the competent ecclesiastical authority. Having examined all the circumstances, this authority is to consider whether the innocent spouse can be brought to condone the fault and not prolong the separation permanently.

Canon 1153.1 A spouse who occasions grave danger of soul or body to the other or to the children, or otherwise makes the common life unduly difficult, provides the other spouse with a reason to leave, either by a decree of the local Ordinary or, if there is danger in delay, even on his or her own authority.

Canon 1153.2 In all cases, when the reason for separation ceases, the common conjugal life is to be restored, unless otherwise provided by ecclesiastical authority.

Canon 1154 When a separation of spouses has taken place, provision is always, and in good time, to be made for the due maintenance and upbringing of the children.

Canon 1155 The innocent spouse may laudably readmit the other spouse to the conjugal life, in which case he or she renounces the right to separation .

It should be noted that a decree of nullity does not always leave either or both parties free to re-marry. For instance, if the impediment that rendered the attempt at marriage null were to be of a durable sort, then discovery of that impediment could stand in the way of another attempt at marriage. The decree of nullity would make note of that.

Marriage requires unity which is suspect at best, so you maybe looking at a civil marriage. Divorce is a civil process. Catholics are to counsel about whether a real marriage exists or only a civil marriage is present. If it is only civil meaning one lacks unity then the catholic has civil divorce combined with a church issued annulment which frees the two from each other

hope that helps

okay dokey thank you

‘You must therefore be perfect, just as your heavenly Father is perfect.’

Would you marry your significant other if you knew for certain that they would cheat on you?

We are made in the image and likeness of God and marriage also images the relationship of God with his people and Christ with his Church.

Think of it, God knew we would abuse the freedom he gave us yet he went ahead and created us. Think of the faithful God and his chosen people who were all too eager to chase after other gods: that’s what adultery is compared to i.e. the worship of a false god and vice-versa.

Christ restored the original meaning of marriage raising it up to a great sacrament. While it pains - a pain akin to that when a spouse dies - (it pained and cost God greatly to come and wash his bride clean) what joy one gives to God by imitating him till death do them part. What example to our generation when what we get from our stars is revolving beds. That pain (and faithfulness) offered up can do a lot of good, winning the very soul of one’s spouse and bringing to naught what the devil, the world, and the flesh had conspired.

I’m not saying divorce is A-Okay with everything, but sometimes there are circumstances that warrant it. I once knew a girl whose coworker contracted an STD because it turns out her husband was unfaithful. If in this situation, reconciliation was not possible, I can see why a wife would want a divorce as a means to protect herself, in that case from disease.

Can someone explain this “valid marriage” stuff more to me? Why would it be permissible to have a civil divorce but then the Church would still consider the couple married? That essentially places both parties of the former couple into sin, since neither one can remarry within the Church, and they are still considered “married” unless they had an annulment, but that would preclude that the marriage was invalid.

How does a marriage get “validated” or “invalidated” in the first place? I mean, as if it never happened, but how could it not have happened, especially if there was a wedding ceremony in a church and everything? Or does that have to do more with the sacramental nature of marriage?

Okay I’m done asking questions and and am headed off to bed…

The key here is separating the wedding ceremony from the state of marriage. The ceremony is a joint (one time) activity with the Church and the participants. Actions by church in the ceremony are referred to as licit or illicit if improper. Actions by participant’s in the ceremony are referred to as valid or invalid if improper. The Church grants grace which is the sacrament. The participants commit to a life of (1) unity which is (2) procreative in nature. The question at hand is did they live that commitment. Many commitments fail even though both parties intended to live that commitment. In the annulment process the issue is whether both parties are attempting to live that commitment, if so the Church refuses the annulment. If one or both parties have not lived in manner consistent with such a commitment then the annulment can be issued which changes the Church record on the sacrament. So for some easy examples a onetime affair would be looked at as a sin inside the married state but not consistent effort to deny a committed life of matrimony. Similarly a ceremony in which the participants separated and rarely spent any time together, often resulting in one spouse not even knowing where the other spouse is or has been for years would display a pattern inconsistent with a committed life of marriage so an annulment would be more likely. In the OP’s post they wrote “the partner who is cheating and refuses to cooperate” so the question is refusing to cooperate in what? If the answer is cooperate in a divorce because he wants to stay married that would lean hard to a finding no significant evidence of a lack of commitment. Similarly if the answer he is refusing to cooperate in living the marriage commitment then an annulment is more likely.

Hope that helps

Being civilly divorced does not always place a couple into a state of sin (though, I think perhaps it could if both parties were agreeing to divorce for some trivial reason). If they were to marry someone else, that changes the situation dramatically. It would be similar to a married man simply leaving his wife and moving in with another woman.

The Church presumes validity of a marriage until proven otherwise. I cannot imagine how She could do otherwise. You have to do some investigating before you can make that kind of call that a valid marriage was never entered into.

All sacramental marriages are valid, but not all valid marriages are sacramental. A valid marriage entered into by a man and woman who have both been baptized is automatically sacramental.

TexasRoofer may have just highlighted what I believe the Vatican views the annulment process in the US to the point that onlookers now call annulment the Catholic divorce.

My understanding of annulment is reviewing what was present (or lacking) at the time of marriage not after.

Please note as well that annulment starts after a marriage has broken down and a civil divorce has been issued.

Yup, that helps :slight_smile: Though I’m gonna have a mighty fine time ever explaining this to a Protestant though!