At my three year old daughter's suggestion that her stuffed cat and my son's stuffed bear were married, I got out my 1962 missal and performed the nuptual rite for them. The cat and the bear manifested their consent; the marriage was declared and blessed by yours truly. Within a few minutes thereafter, though (before there was any question about consummation), my daughter was very upset about the marriage and wanted the cat and the bear "unmarried."
So what's protocol here? And what of my daughter? When I explained that Christian marriage was indissoluable, she cried. I can't just unmarry the stuffed animals, can I? I don't want my three year old daughter thinking that divorce is a quick and easy option, do I? I suppose I could call a tribunal and declare the marriage null for defect of form (for starters, they weren't valid matter, and I don't happen to have orders or jurisdiction for marriages). But of course, my little tribunal wouldn't have proper jurisdiction either, so the declaration of nullity would be itself a nullity.
My daughter is rather upset, but I fear that this is a turning point in her moral and spiritual growth. She needs to learn about the permanency of matrimony. She understands that Mrs. Curmudgeon and I can't be "unmarried," but if I give in on these stuffed animals, it's a chink in the armour, right?
Oh, what to do, what to do!!! If I refuse to declare them unmarried, she'll continue to cry. If I do "unmarry" them, then any doubts or worries she may have about Mrs. Curmudgeon and me will be my fault, and any rash marriage she might make (God forbid) will be my fault, traceable back to this fateful night when she was three years old.