From a reader:
Can ones marriage be valid if it is clear that impediments listed in
Canon Law were present at the time of the marriage (and continued to
be as well) ? If not valid, then can the couple agree on continence
and focusing their attention in their growth in holiness and the
proper rearing of Catholic children – and be in the state of grace?
You don’t give me much to work with here.
My best advice is, if you have the slightest doubt that your marriage is valid, seek out your parish priest right away and explain your concerns. If it is necessary, the parish priest/pastor can help you deal with the impediments there may be, or at least provide you with clear knowledge so that you can take the correct next step.
If there are children who depend on you, you have a natural responsibility to their rearing. In that case, if there is a problem with your marriage, you can remain together, but in perfect continence, until such time as the difficulties with your marriage are solved or your children are grown to a point where you can separate if necessary.
The point is: Don’t sit and wonder about this. Go to the parish priest and explain what your concerns are. Find out what can be or must be done.
This is a matter of your immortal soul and that of your spouse. The overriding purpose of marriage is to help you both get to heaven. Don’t put that in jeopardy because you are hesitant or embarrassed. It is awful not knowing what the situation actually is.
It may be that you are imagining problems that are not really there. There may be real problems. FIND OUT.
If your parish priest is lies than concerned to deal with your questions, or tries to brush off real problems as if they were not important, or tells you that something you know is wrong is not a big deal, or he is just moron, then find another priest or inquire from the bishop what you should do. But if he can explain the situation and tell you your situation really is okay, and what he says sounds kosher, don’t insist that there is a problem when there isn’t one. You can always ask for a second opinion, but usually the priest, if he isn’t a dope, will give you the right information to begin with.