Thursday, April 28, 2011

Married But Not With Each Other: A Call For Entries

(Apologies to Barbara Mandrell for the title.)

You are a single woman in your late twenties or early thirties, introduced to a gentleman at a party. You have seen him on occasion in a distant pew when you go to Mass. He is by himself tonight as well, near the buffet table, nursing a drink. He is handsome, well-dressed, and good humored, and you wonder why no one else is paying much attention to him. But for the moment, you don't care why. You are left to continue the conversation. You talk about how you each know the host(ess), your respective occupations, the weather, all in no particular order. And then you make the leap of faith.

"So, are you married?"

"No, actually, I'm divorced. She and the kids left me for the mailman some years ago. Haven't seen them since."

"Oh, that's ... terrible! (You pause, as he is rather matter-of-fact about it.) So, you've got an annulment, right?"

If he can be cavalier about it and say, "Oh, sure, got that a couple years ago," the conversation moves on, for obvious reasons. But what if it doesn't? What if he says, "Well, I tried, actually. Didn't have a case. So it goes."

After a very pregnant pause that lasts barely a second, you look over his shoulder at a completely blank wall across the room. "Would you excuse me, I just saw someone I know. It was very nice meeting you." He is also not stupid, of course, as you leave him at the buffet table; him looking at his watch, you listening to your biological clock.*

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Most written works -- no, make that damn near all of them -- about Catholics and divorce will at least assume the prospect that the failed marriage will be decreed null and void. They're handing such decisions out like candy, right? Never mind that it takes six to eighteen months and you end up tearing your guts out remembering things you thought you repressed for a very good reason. Be that as it may, a "petition for declaration of nullity" -- some are quick to point out that is what they're actually called, but people use a single word to save time, so get over it already! -- is touted as part of the healing process, the key to moving on in life.

But what if you can't? What if you don't? How do you move on without ... moving on?

If you are a Catholic man who is in this situation, who endeavors to be faithful to his obligations, and would agree to be interviewed, I would look forward to hearing from you, and doing a piece on that aspect of your life; how the marriage failed (the short version will suffice), how you learned that you did not have a case for nullity, how you learned to move on, social interaction, relations with women, assorted advice, et cetera. While I would certainly consider interviewing a woman, I am citing a preference for a man, because men do not bond with one another as easily as do women, thus are deprived of one avenue of solace. There is also less likelihood of having child-rearing responsibilities in common. Not having a particular interest in playing or watching sports is another plus, as that is about the only way most men ever bond, if you can call it that. Men with same-sex attraction cannot be considered. This is not a poor reflection on their particular challenge, rather that attraction to women is unlikely to be an issue.

There is no deadline for this, and you will remain anonymous throughout the process. This piece will only appear on the blog, so I will not get paid. (Like that's gonna happen here, right?) But if it is picked up by anyone who does pay, we will split the predictably paltry earnings, just to be fair. I'm keeping my day job.

I'm also not holding my breath.

* Actually, no, this hasn't quite happened to me. I tend to look for a better class of people. They're not always Catholic.

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