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How do you get a marriage annulment?

Jay Dee

How do you get a marriage annulment?

May 25, 2016

I received this question from our anonymous Have A Question page about a week ago: My wife and I are committed Christians, but have not yet been able to go all the way in our marriage. I believe that I should wait, but getting the

Anonymous QuestionI received this question from our anonymous Have A Question page about a week ago:

My wife and I are committed Christians, but have not yet been able to go all the way in our marriage. I believe that I should wait, but getting the time and getting into the mood and getting the conditions just right for intimacy is extremely challenging and actually, quite illusive. I went repeatedly to different counselors, but my wife has refused to go. I received conflicting advice from Christian counselors, so I searched for help on the Internet until I found your interesting site. My wife says that there is nothing wrong with her except that she just can’t do it because she is too small. Her doctor has apparently agreed with her and apologizes when conducting vaginal exams. My wife told me that sex doesn’t mean that much to her and that she can do without it in the marriage. I was stunned to hear her tell me that she doesn’t need it. She says that she loves me and doesn’t want our marriage to end, but this waiting situation is pressing me unreasonably. Enough is enough! I didn’t get married to remain a virgin. Have you ever posted a blog addressing the issue of annulling a marriage? How would one go about doing that? How would I prove a case of non-consummation when I don’t have access to my wife’s medical records? I am interested in reading about suggested guidelines.

So, firstly, I think you should go read the post on pain during sex and try to implement as many of those things as possible.  Then, we can address the anullment.

So, what is an annulment.  Basically it’s a do-over for marriage.  It’s not a divorce, where you admit the marriage failed, that you can’t work together and that you formally acknowledge you are breaking your vows.  Rather it’s asking that everyone, including the legal system, forget that you were ever married.  At least, that’s my understanding of it.  Honestly, I don’t think the practice should exist.  I think it candy coats breaking your vows by sidestepping the issues and saying that you should never have gotten married.

And you know what?  Maybe you shouldn’t have gotten married.  I don’t know, but frankly, it doesn’t matter.  The fact is you both stood up there and vowed to unconditionally love each other until death you do part.  And now, when things are difficult, when it’s “not what you signed up for”.  But we don’t say vows of “I promise to love you as long as you do x, y and z”.  That’s not what marriage is.  Marriage is the long term commitment to the unknown.  It’s saying, I love this person and will walk with them regardless of what comes our way, and sometimes what comes your way is from the other person.

Annulments are basically an attempt to cancel a covenant without acknowledging that you’re cancelling it.  It’s breaking a promise and then saying you never made that promise and you don’t know what their talking about.  It’s an open declaration that you don’t love your spouse, and never have, because the decision to live life with them is so unbearable, you want it to be like it never happened.  I think it’s worse than divorce.  At least in divorce you are forced to acknowledge that you failed.  Do-overs are what little kids get when they make a mistake.  Not adults.  Adults get to live with the consequences of their actions.

And what are you going to do if you get the annulment?  Find another spouse, get married, find out life isn’t what you expected in that marriage either, but because you’ve had sex, you’ll have to get a divorce.  This has the potential to start a pattern in your life of bailing on relationships when they get too hard.

So, what can you do?

She says she doesn’t want to lose you, that she doesn’t want the marriage to end.  Good.  Let’s put that to the test.  Have her read the post on pain during sex and start working towards a solution together.  If she won’t, then separate.  Find another place to live for a time and work towards reconciliation.  I’m not saying she has to have sex, but she has to be willing to at least take a step.  There are plenty of things you can do besides intercourse to have a sexual relationship in marriage.  Because she might be able to “do without it in marriage”, but frankly, that’s not a marriage.  So stop acting like it is one.  Move out, and when people ask why, say you are having marital problems.  I’m not saying air your dirty laundry everywhere, but I wouldn’t hide the fact that you’re separated.

But, I wouldn’t divorce, for two reasons: One, it closes the door for you both to reconcile, and if you can get through this, you will have a stronger marriage for it.  Two: It releases her from her obligation, just like you were trying to get out of yours.  She’ll never learn or grow if she’s allowed to continue being this selfish.  Frankly, you’re both being selfish and need to start living for the other spouse.  That is what you promised to do after all…  In a lot of marriage ceremonies, those in attendance are asked to hold them accountable.  Well, I’m not there, but I’m guessing all those in attendance don’t know about what’s going on. So, I’ll hold you accountable: live up to your vows, both of you.

Now, if you can get her to read this, this is what I’d want her to read:

You signed up for marriage. You promised to love your spouse, not in the way you want to be loved, but in the way they want to be loved.  Saying you’re okay with there never being sex in the marriage isn’t acceptable.  You cannot rightfully make that decision unilaterally.  In fact, the Bible specifically says you cannot (1 Corinthians 7:5).  Yes, I understand sex is painful, but there are other options.  Shutting down any chance of a sexual relationship is going to destroy the rest of the marriage because refusing to have a physical relationship is just as bad as adultery.  It’s a betrayal of your marriage bed (non-existent as it is to date).  You don’t need to jump right into sex, but you at least need to start making baby steps towards that.  If you want help, email me ([email protected]), and we can try to find small steps you can take.

And yeah, I think you should let her read this post, she needs to know how serious you are.  She needs to know that you’re considering forgetting the marriage ever existed.  She needs to know how big of a deal this is to you.

But, no, I’m not going to help you get an annulment, because I think that would harm you both more than it would help.  I’d much rather help you find a way to move forward, together.

Sorry if this was a bit of a rant, but I’m so tired of the blasé attitude towards ending marriage.  I think I get where God is coming from:

“For I hate divorce!” says the LORD, the God of Israel. “To divorce your wife is to overwhelm her with cruelty,” says the LORD of Heaven’s Armies. “So guard your heart; do not be unfaithful to your wife.” – Malachi 2:16

And I don’t think getting an annulment is any better.

What do you think?  Let me know in the comments below.

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55 thoughts on “How do you get a marriage annulment?”

  1. Mike says:

    I have never been asked that question, never had to deal with it. You have an interesting approach, you must be asked about divorce a lot, since you do have a bit of rant going on. I will have to read and think through that specific question a bit.

    One thought came to mind when reading this was: Your answer would give some couples reason to “try out sex before marriage” in order that this not be a problem in the marriage. So, how does a couple (groom here) make sure that sex is going to be a priority when they do get married without trying it out beforehand? I might have reconsidered my marriage if sex was not going to be in the vows.

    1. N says:

      Are you suggesting sex before marriage? I wouldn’t not ever. The bible says to flee sexual immorality. That’s why counseling before marriage should be mandatory. If not counseling you should talk about things such as sex in an open place as to where your are not tempted to be alone with each other. Say like on a coffee date. Sex should be on your discussion board before marriage as well as finances. Sex is one of if not the biggest thing in your marriage. No couple should go into blind. Read books about it before marriage. Discuss what you read again only in a open place never alone. That is to much temptation.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        Yeah, people always want to skip talking about the uncomfortable subjects…they’re rather just “do” sex instead of talk about sex.

    2. Chris Tian says:

      Why would you need to “try it out” first? In this man’s case the woman has already said she could live without sex so wouldn’t have been interested in doing that anyway.

    3. Jay Dee says:

      No, I don’t think it’s a good idea to try out sex before marriage, but I do think it should be discussed prior to marriage.

      And yeah, I get more and more questions looking for ways to get out of marriage every month.

  2. LatterDay Marriage says:

    My understanding of what an annulment is is rather different than yours. It is declaring that the vows made were not valid, or not finalized, not that any vows were broken.
    If a marriage is not consummated then the vows are not in force, you said words but you didn’t ‘shake hands on it’ so to speak and seal the deal. Likewise, annulments are usually given in a case where deception was used to get somebody to agree to entering into marriage, or if one party withheld information that would change the decision to marry. The vow then is not valid as somebody wasn’t able to give informed consent to be married.

    The person asking doesn’t say how long this has been going on, but if his wife is unwilling to even try to overcome the obstacles and have a sexual relationship with her husband there is no shame in him seeking an annulment.

    1. Chris Tian says:

      Yes. You’re right. I think Jay got this one wrong.

    2. Jay Dee says:

      A vow for a covenant marriage need not be validated, finalized, nor accepted. This isn’t a contract. Legally perhaps it is, but now how the Bible presents it. And I don’t think any of us have “informed” consent when we got married. The best preparation for being married is getting married.

      1. LatterDay Marriage says:

        It is true you don’t know everything when you get married, but if you were lied to, deceived, blackmailed, or coerced into making a marriage vow then it isn’t valid. Nor would there be anything just about forcing somebody stay in a marriage they were forced or tricked into.

        I think the real question is what makes a vow and vow? I would say just speaking words doesn’t cut it, you have to actually mean it for it to be a vow. If you don’t really mean it, it is not a vow it is a lie. If somebody goes through the motions of a marriage vow and refuses to give themselves sexually to their spouse, then it is perfectly fair to conclude that they didn’t really mean it. They didn’t make a vow they told a lie, and you don’t really have a marriage since they both did not vow so you have grounds for annulment.

        If they do consummate the marriage and there wasn’t any deception or force, then there was a vow made and annulment is not an option.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          So, I’d they had sex, then he meant it. But because they didn’t, then he didn’t mean it? I don’t think you can retroactively apply intent…

          1. LatterDay Marriage says:

            We mortals can’t look into a person’s heart, but we can see their actions. If they right off the bat refuse to participate in the defining aspect of what marriage is, it’s perfectly fair to conclude from their actions that they didn’t really mean what they said.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              I just read up on unsealing temple marriages in the LDS faith, so now I see where you’re coming from.

              Correct me I’m wrong, but the LDS church teaches that Temple Marriages are covenants ordained by God, and then they can be “unsealed” later on. So, therefore that means the church can cancel covenants ordained by God. So, in that theology, human covenants that are not ordained are must more easily cancelled I’d imagine.

              I disagree still, but I understand better.

              1. LatterDay Marriage says:

                I wasn’t drawing on that at all in this discussion actually, I was mainly going by civil law. I don’t see sealing and marriage as fully the same thing and cancellation of a sealing is not like an annulment.

                In some countries a temple sealing by itself is considered a legal marriage by the government but in some countries it isn’t. When it isn’t a couple has to get a legal marriage first then get sealed after. A couple can get a legal divorce but to the church they will still be sealed to each other unless the sealing is canceled.

                Most blessings of a temple sealing are conditional from the start, being together as husband and wife after this life is a blessing that comes only to those who honor their covenants. After judgement, if a couple is worthy and if they still wish to be together the sealing becomes final, but if they were not faithful or decide they do not want to be with that person any longer then they did not keep their part of the covenant and so they don’t get the blessings.

                Cancellation of a sealing is rare and requires the approval of the President of the Church or one of his two counselors. Typically it is done when person who is legally divorced but still sealed to a previous spouse wants to remarry and be sealed to somebody else. They have to explain their reasons, it is not a casual thing and not akin to annulment. Annulment means there never actually was a marriage in the first place.

                Christ told the apostles that “Whatsoever ye shall bind on earth shall be bound in heaven: and whatsoever ye shall loose on earth shall be loosed in heaven” We believe it is by that same authority that a couple can be bound together or loosed from each other.

      2. Chris Tian says:

        No marriage is not a contract but a covenant and in order for a covenant to be enforced there must be blood which is why in the old testament the husband and wife were expected to consummate and give the bloodied sheets to the girl’s father as proof of her virginity, that blood enforces the covenant and if you look at all covenants made in the Bible there is some kind of shedding of blood…which is why we are part of the new covenant of Christ through the shedding of HIS blood. At the end of the day the vows and the ceremony are just a lead up to the act of marriage which is sex, without sex there is no marriage which is why the whole issue of gay marriage is a nonsense. Two people can have a union but without consummation there is no marriage and it is not possible to consummate a gay union.

        So sorry Jay on this one you are wrong because you don’t fully understand what an annulment is, it’s not a “do over” for marriage in the slightest.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          No marriage is not a contract

          I find this statement incompatible with this one:

          in order for a covenant to be enforced

          So, respectfully, I don’t think I’m wrong. From my perspective, your position is not logically sound. I think we shall just have to disagree on this one.

          1. Chris Tian says:

            Why do you find the statements incompatible, they are both true albeit “enforced” may not be the correct word but I couldn’t think of a better one.

  3. Josh says:

    Like LatterDay Marriage, I think annulment has a place in cases where there is serious fraud involved, such as finding out after getting married that the person you married was already (and still is) married to someone else, or that Jane was actually born John and doesn’t have the expected plumbing… In other words, there are cases where the marriage was never valid in the first place and only was allowed at all based on massive deception.

    That said, I tend to agree with Jay here… the oath is sworn at the alter. There is no “handshake” required after you make a vow before God. This is taking something slightly out of context, but I think the concept presented still applies:

    “You also say, ‘If anyone swears by the altar, it means nothing; but anyone who swears by the gift on the altar is bound by that oath.’ You blind men! Which is greater: the gift, or the altar that makes the gift sacred?” (Matthew 23:18-19).

    The vow made at the alter before God is the important part, not the “gift” that normally comes later at the honeymoon suite. Don’t get me wrong, I do sympathize with someone who gets married with very reasonable expectations of sexual intimacy, and then has their new spouse deny that. I am just not sure that I would go as far as declaring the marriage vow “invalid” based on it. I mean yes, this is a pretty big deception entering the marriage, but I don’t think we’d be talking annulment if his wife disclosed $40000 in debts after the vows were made, and that’s a pretty big lie too.

    As to the reader: A couple of things:

    1) this wife should also be referred to here:

    http://tolovehonorandvacuum.com/2011/05/sex-hurts-tense-up-vaginismus

    (The rest of Sheila’s site is a great resource, but the author had this specific problem, so she’s an especially good resource for the specific issue)

    2) I’d be wary of deeper emotional problems. If a new wife claims zero interest in sexual union, it quite possibly speaks to deeper fears about vulnerability and intimacy, and those issues need to be worked on too if they exist. I have no visibility into this, so there may not be anything there, but I’d be wary enough to consider it.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      There may be a case in some of those very extreme and unlikely cases, but that’s not what we’re talking about here. Though, I’ll admit, I have trouble believing I could know someone well enough to marry them, but not well enough to know what gender they are… perhaps I’m being naive. It’s not something I have experience with.

      1. Josh says:

        I agree it sounds absurd, but if I am remembering correctly there was actually a story of that happening to a guy in Arizona several years ago… they even managed to be married for several years, with “her” having a headache to avoid being discovered. It blows my mind too, but I guess it happens. In either case, I more or less agreed with you. This isn’t one of those cases. 🙂

    2. LatterDay Marriage says:

      I would say applying those verses to marriage is taking them way out of context. It has nothing to do with marriage or sex.

      If a person is not making their vow in good faith, intending to actually BE a spouse in fact and not just in name, then it would not be just to bind the other person to them. Their vow itself was a lie and a deception and shouldn’t bind others. I think that if a couple agree ahead of time that it will be a sexless marriage and go for it anyway then they don’t have valid grounds for an annulment, but otherwise there is valid grounds for one. Just because there are valid grounds doesn’t mean it has to happen though. The question is coming from a case where there is a medical issue preventing them rather than refusal, but if she refuses to address the situation then I would say it becomes the same as her refusing.

      1. Jay Dee says:

        One sin doesn’t negate another. Just because she didn’t mean her vow doesn’t mean he is allowed to violate his. It isn’t a contract that was broken. They are unconditional vows.

        And I don’t see that using that verse in any context about vows is “out of context”. The point is, a vow is a vow, whether you crossed your heart, or crossed your fingers or did neither or both. That the context of a vow, the trapping regarding it (like whether or not it was consummated) are irrelevant. At least, that’s how I read it.

        1. LatterDay Marriage says:

          You keep talking in terms of breaking a vow, I’m saying there was no vow to break, that is the whole reason why there is annulment and divorce. Divorce: a vow was made and broke. Annulment: no valid vow existed. That is what those terms mean.

          A marriage is conditional on BOTH spouses pledging themselves to each other, willingly without deception or coercion or dishonesty. One person can’t unilaterally make themselves the spouse of another. It’s also conditional on both of them having the mental capacity to understand what they are doing, to be free of a similar vow to another, and to be of age to make such a pledge.

          When those conditions met, then there is a marriage and a valid vow that only ends with divorce, but if those conditions are not met there isn’t a valid marriage and no vow to keep or break, even if they went through the outward motions of a marriage ceremony. If some woman was kidnapped and forced at gunpoint into going through a marriage ceremony, would you really say that is a valid marriage and she must be a loyal and faithful wife to the man that did that to her, give him her body in the bedroom even though she was forced into participating in the marriage ceremony? Isn’t that legalism?

          Those verses were about one person making a vow to God, or giving a gift to God. Marriage is a vow that a couple make with God together, and each other, so those verses do not apply to this situation. And the vow/gift talked about there was only being used as context for teaching about how we should not revere symbols but what the symbols represent instead. It in no way is about marriage or sex.

          1. Jay Dee says:

            I’m saying there was no vow to break

            I don’t think we’re going to come to an agreement on this one. I don’t think a vow can be retroactively removed. Discussing hyperbolic scenarios of forced marriage is not really consequential to this discussion, because if it’s forced, then they didn’t make a vow, they just said a bunch of words. Now, you might say that this wife never really made a vow either, but she believed she was, so I don’t see that as the same thing at all.

            1. LatterDay Marriage says:

              I’m OK with agreeing to disagree, but please try to understand that I’m NOT saying a vow can retroactively be removed. I’m saying that in those cases there never was a valid vow to start with, just ‘a bunch of words’ as you said. It just wasn’t immediately known that that was the case. What somebody does shows what they really believe far better than what they say.

              1. Jay Dee says:

                I understand. My perspective is that “I didn’t know how hard it would be” or “I didn’t know marriage was going to be like this” isn’t an excuse to give up. I enjoyed to dialogue, I like having my beliefs challenged.

                1. LatterDay Marriage says:

                  I agree with that perspective. Thanks for once again engaging in a polite and thoughtful discussion.

  4. Really hurting says:

    While not quite the same situation, as my husband says he wants a divorce not an annulment, and our marriage has been consummated (barely), and we even have a child together (which is an amazing miracle in itself considering how little we had sex), but I wish we had even one person in our lives like you Jay Dee, who would hold my husband accountable to his marriage vows. And the irony? He is the one refusing sex, he is the one who has refused to provide for me financially since I’ve been too sick to work (meaning me having to borrow money to the point where I’m facing bankruptcy), he is the one who has withheld any sort of affection, any sort of support and so on. And more recently it’s turned to him being abusive verbally and emotionally, and very recently, physically as well.

    Yet not a single christian in our life will step in and tell him to “man up”. Everyone is quite happy to tell me to leave him, but no one offers any practical support as to how to leave (and my situation is quite complicated).

    Everyone, our pastor, elders, bible study leaders etc (as well as secular professionals) are all saying to leave him, but not one single one of them has had the decency to say anything to him about his behaviour! They are happy to say to me that what he is doing is abusive and I should leave. But they won’t say a single word to him, which just encourages him in how badly he treats me – their silence is taken by him to mean that they don’t see anything with how he is acting, rather than the reality which they know how badly he is acting but won’t confront him – in fact two of our church elders who I begged to help me with him outright said that unless he approaches them for help, they won’t say or do anything. I mean, I understand – unless he acknowledges he has serious problems, he won’t change and they don’t want to waste their time trying to help him when he doesn’t want help. But just because I understand, doesn’t mean I don’t think that it’s cop out by them. He won’t ever acknowledge he has a problem until someone other than me speaks up and says to him what he is doing is wrong and he needs to change. He won’t ever ask for help because he won’t ever see he needs help until someone confronts him.

    I know your response Jay Dee might also be to separate from him, but please don’t make me explain why leaving isn’t possible (I’ve already had to explain to three different people today why leaving is impossible unless they have magic answers to the complex issues that are preventing me from leaving). But even if I could leave, what then? He won’t ever change how he is – it’s a stubborn point of pride to him that he won’t change for anyone ever. I know God can work miracles in even the most coldest heart, but how long should someone have to wait? 5 years? 10 years? 50 years? death? To be honest, I think the first time he physically abused, that gave me the right to leave and not come back, just as the first time someone cheating does. But I also believe that just because someone physically abuses you or cheats on you, you can also choose to forgive and reconcile. But the longer he chooses to keep being abusive instead of apologising and trying to make amends and reconcile, the more I struggle to keep forgiving and keep reconciliation as a possibility.

    My question is why doesn’t anyone, not even pastors and elders, hold people accountable to their vows? Why is it easier to suggest a separation, which they know will end up permanent (and probably in divorce) than confront the sinning party in a marriage?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Why don’t they? Because it’s risky, that’s why. They’re afraid. It’s not a good answer, but I think ultimately that’s the reason. I mean, the Bible tells us to hold each other accountable, so, they must be more scared of the reaction to holding people accountable than they are of God’s disappointment.

  5. A.C says:

    You write that sexual refusal is like adultary but doesn’t Jesus say that a person can’t divorce lest it is because of adultary. So the question is when one of the spouses refuses sex, when does that person have the right to divorce? It’s hard because for example Jesus says that if you lust after a woman (or man )you have committed adultary in your heart. So for example if one spouse is looking at pornography and won’t stop , does the person have the right to divorce? Some would say yes, does this then also apply when one spouse refuses to have sex?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Right does not equal should. Jesus also said that God never intended for divorce to occur, but it’s only because of our hard hearts that they made a provision for it. Honestly, I think it’s the hardness of the heart of the forgiver that’s the reason. So, yeah, if you’re heart is so hard that you cannot forgive your spouse, then you may need a divorce. But, then what do you do with Matthew 6:14-15?

  6. Kay says:

    Like you, Jay, I don’t mean to be harsh, but why make the vow “for better or for WORSE” and then want to bail the instant things take a turn for the worse? Every single marriage has “for worse” seasons. That is WHY we include that phrase, because that time WILL come. Why did he think he would be exempt? Just because it happened sooner than expected doesn’t mean the vow didn’t count.

    I do acknowledge the level of hurt and betrayal he feels, though, and so that needs to be worked through WITH his wife and he cannot remain silent over what a big deal this is. Your point in this post is not “suck it up, pal, and learn to live with it.” No. This MUST be addressed and he needs to seek reconciliation in this area.

    That said, I don’t want any reader to misinterpret this post to mean that this wife just has to find a way to tolerate sex or at least appease him in some other way then. That is not God’s design for a sexual union. This couple should strive to do whatever it takes to find a MUTUALLY enjoyable sexual experience. It may not look exactly like what was expected. Maybe she will never be able to have PIV. They both will have to find a way to live with that if that’s the case (though I kind of doubt it, but you never know). They need to find ways to enjoy one another, whatever that ends up looking like. Sexual intimacy is for HER too. It sounds to me like she doesn’t understand what the meaning of sex is; it is not just physical… for EITHER of them.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      No argument from me. I 100% agree, it’s for both of them.

  7. N says:

    I just wonder what kind of doctor she is seeing as not to try and get help with this. Assuming that they have talked with the doctor. Him saying I’m sorry is not acceptable. For heavens sake his is a doctor. Also is she open to other “sexual play” or does she think any form outside of PIV sex is sinful. I suggest Intimacy Ignited. Well that was mention in the post painful sex. I feel his pain in this though. I wonder if she knows he is seeking annulment? That might help her see things. And how would she know sex is not important to her if she has never had it? That is my question to her. I mean does she like kissing, necking, touching, holding, loving, massaging, anything of the sort? I’m sorry I’m just having a hard time with her unwillingness to work on this. Maybe she is confusing what the doctor does on examination day with what sex will be like. For her trust me IT IS NOT THE SAME!!!! I hate going to the doctor for that time. It is not something that is pleasant but it is also nothing like being with my husband. Hubby is not a metal clamp, he is not some strange person penetrating me, I don’t have to cover my face with my husband like I do when the doctor goes down there, there is no nurses around and everybody looking down there. I think maybe she is confusing the two. Sex is not like going to the gynecologist.

  8. Chris Tian says:

    Maybe I have misunderstood something here but actually if the man has not consummated the marriage then he can rightfully get an annulment because he’s not actually married that’s why we call it “consummation” as in “finalised” so the marriage has never been finalised anyway and no he’s not just bailing because things have got tough, this is a real issue and it was actually very selfish of the woman to marry this man KNOWING she felt this way about sex, out of order! It’s as bad as marrying someone and then telling them you have a terminal disease or have HIV, this information should be disclosed BEFORE the marriage takes place so really this is marriage by deceit. I am also VERY against divorce and wary of separations as well even though I’ve had my own challenges and thought possibly separation was the answer but I realised that actually you’re just putting a gap between you and the person meaning it’s harder to work things out. So although I feel this way about my own situation I recognise every situation is different and this one is different enough to warrant a different answer and I think annulment is it.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Ok, so no sex = get an annulment, you’re off the hook, you’re vows didn’t mean anything.
      But if they had sex once and never again, your answer is “sorry, now your vows count”?

      1. Gilbert says:

        Actually it’s no sex = no marriage, sex once = marriage, take a look at David and Michel. Marriage is a covenant relationship that is “cut” in the sexual act, not in vows said. The idea of wedding vows is a Western Secular idea, not a Biblical one. A very pretty one, but there are no wedding vows prescribed n the Bible. Annulment isn’t a biblical term, but a secular term. In the Pentateuch no divorce would have been required if this person is telling the truth. Again I say “if.” I seem to doubt that you got all the truth in the “question.”

        1. A.C says:

          Exactly. Look I don’t think he should get an annulment. I think I should pray and ask God what to do and as you write we don’t know the whole truth, we just heard one side of it but it is still interesting to discuss this because in the end the question is, what is a marriage? As you said the idea of vows didn’t as I understand exist in biblical times. Here’s what I read about the wedding ceremony in biblical times in Israel:” The ceremony itself was called the Chuppa, which means “canopy”, and the bride and bridegroom would go under the canopy for all to see. They would then proceed to a room where she would remove her veil and they would physically become one in their marriage covenant with God. Afterward they would place the bloodstained garment out the window of the room, for all to see that she had been a virgin.” Ok, I know this is not the way we do it and I don’t think we should do it that way what I wanted to focus on is that the whole ceremony was about sex. It was in that moment that they really got married. It’s biblical , just read Genesis 2. Now I know there are exceptions, believe me I know but I think this shows that marriage is not built on vows but on the act of sex but this act that the devil and the world has Portrayed as something meaningless, as something you can play with this act is ,as I understand, so meaningful in Gods eyes that when finalized you have promised to love this person for the rest of your life, with the love that Christ love the church. So vows have become very important in western culture because sex doesn’t mean to people what it should mean. but in the end it is the act of sex that makes a marriage, a marriage.

        2. Jay Dee says:

          I disagree that the idea of vows, or a covenant, is a western secular idea. The Bible says that our marriages are a metaphor for God’s relationship to the church. God has made numerous covenants with his people throughout the ages, and, from my understand, that is what the principle is derived from.

          God always loves us, regardless of how we act or behave. He always works for our best interest, whether we accept it or not. He always is merciful to us and provides for us, whether or not we acknowledge Him. That is the basis of the marriage vow. That relationship is what is being represented. Sex, while I agree, is important, because it represents our unity with God (to be so close as to have one will), but it is not the start, nor what the relationship hinges on. Even if we don’t have unity with God, He still will never forsake us or leave us.

          And when we get married, and we stay married, that is the relationship we are portraying to the world, God’s covenant with us. When we break our marriages, in divorce, or annulment, we, in essence, tell the world that God’s covenant cannot be trusted. That’s why the Catholic church regards marriage as a sacrament:

          Like the other sacraments, medieval writers argued, marriage was an instrument of sanctification, a channel of grace that caused God’s gracious gifts and blessings to be poured upon humanity. Marriage sanctified the Christian couple by allowing them to comply with God’s law for marriage and by providing them with an ideal model of marriage in Christ the bridegroom, who took the church as his bride and accorded it highest love, devotion, and sacrifice, even to the point of death. – John Witte, From Sacrament to Contract

          1. Anonymous says:

            You need to do a lot more study regarding what oaths, vows contracts and covenants are. You also need to study the difference between western legal terms like annulment and the difference between biblical divorce and secular divorce. You are not a counselor, lawyer, nor a theologian. You did a good job dealing and annulments in generally, but they way you have dealt with people who have disagreed with you has demonstrated you are also somewhat immature in your walk with Christ.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              I appreciate your opinion. Of course, it’s always my intent to mature my walk with Christ, so I guess I’ll continue as I have been. Thanks for the encouragement though!

        3. Chris Tian says:

          Exactly Gilbert, you are correct and yes wow interesting about the vows! Think I’ll have to do a study on Biblical marriage. Adam and Eve never said vows when you think about it.

          Jay sorry, I do think you need to do a bit more study in this area, I have never ever disagreed with you so strongly but in this one you are 100% wrong sorry. xx

          1. Jay Dee says:

            That’s okay, you’re allowed to disagree 🙂

  9. Norah says:

    In Sternber’gs Triangular Theory of Love (1986) which proposes that there are three fundamental components of love intimacy (feelings of attachment or closeness), passion (feeling of physical intimacy mostly based on sexual attraction), and commitment (voluntary decision to love someone else and stay with with them.) Now that can go into greater detail but to suffice it to say Love is a choice and a deciding to stay with you and love you through this. It has to be on both parties in this situation. Her willingness to try and his willingness to stay. Psychology 1301

    1. Jay Dee says:

      That would be ideal, yeah.

  10. JaxStyle says:

    With a refusal of going to counseling and giving up on sex completely, I would dare to guess that the wife is avoiding confronting some emotional stuff, whether it be from the past or possibly even with her husband. Yes, she’s being selfish (they both are), but I think there’s more to it than just her being selfish. Fear? Emotional pain?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, could be, good point.

      1. JaxStyle says:

        With posts from last week and this one in mind, have you ever done a post focusing on reasons why wives lose interest in sex or why wives feel like they don’t need sex?

  11. crystal says:

    Reading this post made me a little sad because marriage in today’s society seems to not be respected as much as it is valued in the bible. It sounds like the wife needs to open up about something maybe a past experience or abuse if neither one are the issue Jay Dee is right there are ways to start slowly. Fingers, anal starter kits, lubes. Take your time so she can get used to it. Most important thing here is patience and communication and understanding this could be the enemy trying to break up your marriage. Don’t give up on your marriage, know God wants to bless both of you guys together I’ll be praying for you and your wife.

  12. Gilbert says:

    We only have one side of this story, but if, and I say “if,” (small word big implication) it is true then this is one of the few times an annulment may actually be proper. At present the marriage is a legal document only. The covenant was never entered to be later broken in divorce. The covenant was agreed, and proclaimed, but there has been a refusal to actually enter the covenant. However, this is only one side of the story, and just because something is permissible doesn’t mean it is beneficial. Also, the question is basically a legal question, and I don’t think you are qualified to answer those questions, at least not in this forum. You did a good job addressing annulments in general, but the question in my mind is, “Has the covenant truly been entered?” If entered it must be broken or honored, if not entered then we have a issue of false witness at the proclamation of the covenant. I have a great deal of questions, such has long has this been going on? What about this did he and his “wife” know before hand? Didn’t they talk about this in marriage preparation counseling/class? This also sounds like a classic case of too much focus on getting married rather than on being married. Hamlet may have had it right, “Get thee to a nunnery!”

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Didn’t they talk about this in marriage preparation counseling/class?

      Doubtful. Most pre-marital counseling is woefully inadequate, in my personal experience, as well as with those I communicate with.

  13. Lindsay Harold says:

    A vagina is designed to stretch to accommodate a baby passing through it. So this idea that she’s just “too small” to fit a penis is false. What she can be is too tight, but that has to do with involuntary muscle contractions when she tenses up during sex. It’s a condition called vaginismus. She has to learn to relax and it may take some time. They will need to go slow and learn to arouse her and then insert something small like a pinky finger, then work up to regular intercourse. She may also have some emotional pain or bad ideas about sex that cause her to tense up during sex that she will need to deal with.

    It is also possible that her hymen is thicker than normal and not easily broken or stretched out of the way (possibly in addition to vaginismus). In extreme cases, a woman might need a surgical intervention to cut or remove the hymen. However, this is rare. I would start with the process outlined above first and also perhaps application of a little olive oil to the area to help soften the hymen and encourage stretch and then seek medical intervention only if the problem is not resolved with this program.

    But the fact that she experiences pain and hasn’t been able to have intercourse isn’t necessarily a permanent condition. It can be worked through. They just have to be willing to do the work to find the root of the problem and resolve it. Perhaps just knowing that there is a way to solve the problem can be helpful, especially if she thinks she’s defective and simply can’t have sex.

  14. Suzanne Davis says:

    I agree with two points made about the wife. If she thinks that penetration by her husband will be like having a speculum inserted for a Pap smear, then there needs to be some I depth education about what intercourse is. If she is young enough, she might have had her first gynecological exam just prior to marriage. I do not look forward with great joy for my annual exam, but I know as a cancer survivor it is important for my continued. But thankly sex is a thousand times better than a speculum! And someone pointed out that the vagina is very elastic. Some of us women have delivered some pretty big babies! The vagina is actually potential space and it’s elasticity, or able to expand and elongate, is amazing. So there is no physical reason for this woman to accommodate her husband’s penis. But, as posited before, she could be experiencing vaginismus. Yes, the hymen may be an issue. Or the woman is very anxious, even scared of what sex is going to feel like. Patience and really good foreplay will help greatly.

    The husband reports the wife loves him but doesn’t need sex. From what I have been reading from many different sources, including this excellent ministry, is that woman often are not aware of whether or not they need sex. Sometimes being willing to spend some time – for fun! – in foreplay will find the woman does indeed need sex. Perhaps focusing on foreplay and exploring each other’s bodies will arouse the wife to where she realizes she is interested in some conjugal delight after all. When I was married, my husband would many times comment that I was horny by the way my lips felt when he kissed me. I never asked him what he sensed. I have a high sex drive and was almost always up for sex. We even had sex during my period, and I need to put my experience into the survey.

    I’m going to wade in briefly about annulments, and that from the view of the Roman Catholic Church. The Church recognizes one marriage for life. Should a Roman Catholic divorce, he/she will be considered an adulterer should there be a subsequent marriage. As an adulterer, the Roman Catholic cannot be married in the church, have the second marriage blessed, or take communion. There is a process one may participate in, that of annulment. This process has nothing to do with the legality of the divorce. The investigation is to determine whether a valid sacrament took place. This is a very detailed and time consuming process, which I found very helpful and cathartic. But I won’t go into it here.

    It gets very messy talking about annulment, There is the legal definition, requirements, and process. And if this young man is considering dissolving his marriage, he needs to consult a lawyer. Any process supported by and/or required by a Christian denomination, he needs to consult with his pastor. I am not aware of a Protestant equivalent to the Roman Catholic sacramental process.

    Now the interesting, and sometimes a little uncharitable, discourse on vows should be discussed separately from this man’s question. And there seems to be a general state of Christians picking and choosing which marriage vow they will honor. It’s not a smorgasbord! It is all or nothing. But as mentioned by Jay Dee, I believe, marriage preparation often is next to worthless. I have a “brother in love” whose wife has decided that she doesn’t have to be a wife in any sense because he, at 70, is beginning to experience health issues. She won’t cook for him, buy groceries, do laundry, watch TV with him, and certainly doesn’t sleep with him or have sex with him. If I were to meet this woman, someone’s going to have to hold me back. He still loves her and wants his marriage of 16 years to continue. But not this reader’s problem.

    That’s my two cents! Keep on keeping on, Jay Dee!

  15. CSI says:

    I am entering this discussion very late I know. But reading through this letters and replies, I think this young man is in a bad situation and your reply that he should never divorce, under any circumstances, is unjust. Look at his story

    > “I went repeatedly to different counselors, but my wife has refused to go.”
    She refused to go to any counselors. Refused any sort of help.

    >” Her doctor has apparently agreed with her and apologizes when conducting vaginal exams.
    “Apparently” agreed with her? So he was only getting the doctor’s message second hand from her? He could have actually recommended treatments, and she was concealing this from him!

    > My wife told me that sex doesn’t mean that much to her and that she can do without it in the marriage.
    She’s told him point blank she has no interest in sex!

    The wife here looks to be completely content with the status quo of a sexless marriage. Given that, why should she change? Reminding her of her duties, sending her books, quoting the bible to her, will all likely have zero effect. Separating from her was a good idea, but what if even this didn’t work? Must her then spend the rest of his life like this?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I take you to be my lawfully wedded wife, to have and to hold, from this day forward, for better, for worse, for richer, for poorer, in sickness and in health, until you lose interest in having sex.

      Perhaps those are the vows he should have taken?

      If marriage is supposed to exemplify God’s love for His people, then heaven forbid we ever leave our spouse merely because they aren’t loving us the way we want to be. By that mentality, God should have destroyed us all millennia ago.

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