Are Catholic marriages (requiring annulments) that much harder to end than other marriages (requiring divorce)?
What if you’re in a case where a spouse reveals after some time of deceptive hiding that they’re not who you thought they were? For example, a known mental illness is revealed that has always been played off as something else previously, but comes out after immense pain and suffering? What if the spouse admits it privately but doesn’t admit it publicly? Are you more trapped in one kind of marriage than in another? I think the only way to get an annulment is to prove the spouse lied about mental illness before getting married which would require spouse’s active participation (basically a confession). If one can’t get this then, is one screwed? Is it still harder if the spouse is a woman or a man?
First, I hope this is hypothetical. If not, you have my sympathy.
Second, if one spouse is in danger (or if the children of the marriage are) due to the other spouse’s mental illness, the first step would be a legal divorce and whatever other means of legal protection are in order. The Catholic Church does not condemn such a step in these circumstances — in fact, I know a priest who actively helps abused spouses get out of their marriages and into safety.
Now for the annulment part of it. Without an annulment the couple is assumed to be spiritually bound for life, so neither spouse could remarry. But they could be divorced and/or separated. The annulment is only necessary if one spouse wishes to remarry.
In the case of serious deception — like a spouse knowing he/she has a mental illness but intentionally hiding that from their betrothed, which would lead the finace to unwittingly enter into a dishonest marriage — that is typically grounds for annulment. If the mentally ill spouse refuses to confess, other witnesses are allowed, such as the parents or other relatives of the mentally ill person.
Gender doesn’t matter.