Sex and the Married Woman
physical needs were just as real as her ailments and as time went on, and he could see that she was not going to make an effort towards the intimacy they once had – even if it would be different because of time and circumstances – and he began to question her love for him. His final, painful conclusion was that she no longer loved him and their marriage ultimately ended.
Surely blame can be laid at the feet of both husband and wife and yet there can be no argument that the husband’s need for physical love from his wife was as real as his wife’s need for abstinence at the outset of her medical condition. But once things began to change, there needed to be a renewed interest in their physical love for one another. Two very real Catholic teachings on marriage are important to understand when discussing a sexual relationship for husband and wife.
The first is to recognize that a married couple’s combined goal is to help one another get to heaven. This involves the day-to-day responsibilities that require patience, perseverance, and commitment to the union and the family unit. In addition, to achieve this goal, both husband and wife must be interested in the faith development of the other and not only support and encourage it but never become a hindrance to it.
The second is to recognize what we read in Matthew 5:27-28:
You have heard that it is said, “You shall not commit adultery.” But I say to you that every one who looks at a woman lustfully has already committed adultery with her in his heart.
In other words, a wife should be cautious and not put her husband in a position where he will surely have committed adultery in his heart, break the sixth commandment, and then fall into mortal sin. The husband still has his own responsibilities and obligations to keep himself from mortal sin but the wife should not become “Eve” in her marriage.
The great Jewish sage, Maimonides wrote:
No prohibition in all the Torah is as difficult to keep as that of forbidden unions and illicit sexual relations.
The knowledge that the physical intimacy that can exist between a husband and a wife is also something that can exist as an urge outside of that union has always been recognized. But just as it is recognized, it is expected to be controlled. Catholicism has long taught the virtue of self-control and it is completely reasonable for a wife to expect that virtue to be practiced by her husband. However, she should not put him in a position that the virtue becomes impossible to attain.
In the end, both a husband and a wife have duties or obligations to one another. The good Lord has made one of those obligations physical and sacred. It is meant for their mutual pleasure and continued growth as man and wife. It can be used as one part of an earthly journey where the ultimate destination is heaven or it can be misused and become a instrument of control or sorrow. For each to fully embrace the gift of physical love, both husband and wife are obligated to fulfill their duties with love, honor, and respect.
Note: Cheryl Dickow is the Associate Editor of "Today's Catholic Woman," the online woman's magazine launched by Catholic Exchange. Visit www.Woman.CatholicExchange.com
Ask, Knock, and Seek
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Cheryl Dickow - Editor, 248 917-3865
sex, marriage, theology of the body
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