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Every single time we fill out an “official document” we are asked the marital status question: are you married, single, widowed, or divorced?” It would seem like everyone wants to know if you are MSW or D. Why do people always ask that question? Why is marital status so important? The answer is easy, but not always as easily accepted.

As members of the Catholic Church, we believe that marriage is a Sacrament shared between a man and a woman that happens only once in your life-time. When the Sacrament is conferred between the man and the woman they promise a life-time of devotion, faith and loyalty. They promise before God and to God that they will love and honor one another all the days of their life. The sacramental nature of marriage demands that the marital status question be asked.

Following are brief descriptions of the impact of the answer of the marital status question for each of the possible responses:

Married: a valid, sacramental marriage between a man and a woman is a marriage blessed by a priest or a deacon, in which both parties were free and able to celebrate the sacrament with the full and treasured intent of spending the rest of their earthly lives together.

Single: never in a sacramental marriage; eligible to enter into a sacramental marriage.

Widowed: either the man or the woman in a sacramental marriage has died; the remaining widow/widower may be free to enter into a sacramental marriage.

Divorced: divorce is a legal breaking of the legal contract of marriage; the man and woman are not free to enter into another sacramental marriage.

There are also other conditions to MSWD:

Annulment: the sacramental marriage is declared null; the man and woman may be free to enter into a sacramental marriage.

Married: once married, a person is never single again; the status of divorced or annulled is reported if the choice is made to leave a sacramental marriage.

The Columbus Catholic Connection: To become fully aware of the diocesan policies for planning your wedding, please visit the Columbus Diocese website:




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