Skip to main content

Sex and the Married Woman

2/3/2009 - 03:38 PST

(Page 3 of 3)

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

Previous Page  1 | 2 | 3


Ask, Knock, and Seek  , US
Cheryl Dickow - Editor, 248 917-3865



sex, marriage, theology of the body

Rate This Article

Very Helpful Somewhat Helpful Not Helpful at All

Yes, I am Interested No, I am not Interested

Rate Article

1 - 10 of 11 Comments

  1. Hmmm
    2 years ago

    First off, I enjoyed reading this article, so thank you for this.
    It's important to remember that God is the binding force and centrality of a Catholic marriage and that the goal of both husband and wife is holiness. From personal experience, talking to Catholic friends of both genders and observations, young Catholic men are pressured into repressing their sexuality (save it for marriage), which leads them to the assumption that once they are married, it can run wild. Women are so bombarded with external references to them as unhealthy sexual objects that their desire to be loved is unfulfilled. When you put these elements together in a marriage, it can cause a rift, which seems to be picked up in this article. A word that I haven't seen used, and surprised at that, is communication! The man and woman have a responsibility to their marriage and God to communicate; without this, the goal of holiness and Heaven is practically unattainable. Men despise begging for sex and women despise being objectified. If they communicated with each other in an honest manner, they are saving themselves from many misunderstandings, and enabling themselves to have a much more enjoyable time in the marital bed. Another word that I would've like to seen used is sacrifice. There are times where your wife will not be in the mood or your husband desires your intimacy (or vice versa) in which case, sacrifices have to be made, bothways! Sex is a beautiful thing. God made it, He knows! It takes two and if husband and wife communicate and make sacrifices, their marital intimacy escalates.

  2. carise
    2 years ago

    Finally! Something about sex and the fact that it is good in a marriage! There's tons of protestant sites/blogs specifically about sex in marriage and there are none that are Catholic! It's nice to at least find an article on it.

  3. GKelly
    4 years ago

    Wow. This raises many questions for me re: the author and angle of the article. Pro-marriage, pro-women? Not sure, though I do see the underlying subtle point I believe was intended. Nonetheless, I was insulted.

    I read through the gentleman's reply. I hear you, though I pray divorce is not the solution (hear me out). Once the overwhelming fatigue from motherhood, the body changes from hormones and childbirth, and then the poor body image from weight gain really settles in, being in the mood is very difficult no matter what. However, as others mentioned, finding other ways to get the mood started is an essential role for the husband (but yes, it takes two to tango). It's the getting started that can be an issue for a wife/mother. Being overweight or having other health or body image issues can really make sex seem unappealing. Still, allowing
    a marriage to become sexless is not "loving" toward the other, not considerate, and really not fair. The sexual consideration goes both directions, absolutely. Maybe this is what the author wanted to say but then somehow took a detour? And amen to those who brought up some other food for thought on why a woman might be turned off and the "duty" of a husband.

    And, that lawn analysis was completely insulting. House chores are not on the same plane as intimacy.

  4. sts
    4 years ago

    Same goes for emotional intimacy. If he/she is not getting it at home, he/she will try to get it someplace else. Hopefully, he and she in each marriage will BOTH want to be aware and satisfy each others needs, regardless of what they may be.

  5. carriedaway
    5 years ago

    Maybe I'm interpreting this wrong, but if not having sex with husband causes him to have an affair, then what about before marriage- how did he control himself then (I guess because once you start it's harder to stop :S ).

    Also, I agree that husband has a duty to help put the wife in the mood. If women are to respect the guy's needs he is to love the woman by helping her be emotionally available for sex.

  6. Rick Barbano
    5 years ago

    Are you sure you read this article? I mean, did you really READ it? Its not not about a " chore " or " duty " on one persons behalf, its about equal responsibility to the marriage. A sexless marriage is a useless marriage and any marriage with a compulsive partner demanding sex at all times then someone has a problem. Unfortunately my wife has vocalized many times that sex is not important to the marriage and hypothesized " what if she could no longer have sex" ? Then what kind of sex can you no longer have? And she doesn't have it that tough. I do the laundry, clean the kids rooms, strip beds, clean dishes, vacuum carpets, wipe down hand prints, dust window sills,tv's,tables, work a fulltime job, do the yards, maintain the vehicles, play with the kids, do homework with them, bathe the kids, keep the finances, maintenance on the house. So there is NO WAY she could be too tired to have sex for the sake of sustaining the marital bond as well as meeting your partners level of ecstasy with other forms of sex. My point is when the sex stops, why should I care about her identity any more? If she chooses to sleep on the couch, divided from me and the bed and in full view of the children, then the marriage has failed. My male co-workers are wondering where these women are that have husbands that are not " in the mood ". We just don't understand why a man can't be in the mood. If it is an ailment, well then it works both sides of the fence.
    I've lost contact with my wife. There is no interaction even on a civil level even with day to day responsibilities and the animosity, defensiveness has divided us even further.
    I can understand how a marriage can fail either sexless or infidelity. Myself only having sex twice in the last 18 months has left me with a very low opinion of my wife. Divorce is not a question of if it happens, but " when ".


  7. D
    5 years ago

    If he doesn't get it at home he'll get it someplace else.

  8. The Mrs
    5 years ago

    My own husband would disagree with the notion that sex should sometimes be a duty for a woman. If I am not in the mood, the last thing he wants is an effort on my part to give him gratification at the expense of my own. The last thing he wants is for me to associate our lovemaking with a chore. He is far more interested in finding out what exactly is on my mind, and correcting the problem so that I can relax and get into a more intimate frame of mind, so to speak. It could be that I am too physically exhausted from cleaning the house, taking care of the kids, and so on. Rather than mope around or spend 45 minutes begging, he'll try to come home early the next day to help out around the house, or just to give me some time to talk, or drop the kids off at our parent's so we can just spend some time alone having an adult conversation. He would never, ever use the possibility of adultery (in his heart or otherwise) as a scare tactic to get me to perform my "duty". In fact, we believe that the moment something as sacred and loving as sex becomes a "duty", then it defeats the purpose and cheapens it. One could just as easily argue that sex workers are doing their employment "duties", and are not really "in the mood" as well. The minute I'm turning this most intimate act into a duty, with the same level of interest as a sex worker, what does that say about how I respect my husband, or even my marriage for that matter?

    I realize for many women, the threat of adultery is a very real possibility. I realize that doing one's "duty" becomes a habit all too often, and in many cases I've seen female friends turn their intimate lives into little more than a "duty", with all the enjoyment left out of it. If you keep turning an act of love into a chore, how long before loving your husband in other ways is also done with false enthusiasm and a sense of obligation rather than genuine love and affection? I've seen it happen among some friends over the years. One co-worker crying at her desk because she "had to have sex" with her husband the night before. In fact, her husband made her perform this duty almost daily, regardless of what time of the month it was, how she felt, if she was in physical pain, and so on. Where is the line between doing one's duty and marital rape, exactly? And her marriage didn't start off this way. She, like many women, would admit that from time to time, she was too stressed or simply not in the mood. Her husband's response was to get mad, and negotiate a "dutiful" response from her. Over time, this "duty" became an expectation whenever he felt like having some physical gratification. The more she performed this "duty", the less she respected her husband. At present, their marriage is (what appears to me, at least) an arrangement of selfishness and broken hearts, with no respect for one another, let alone themselves.
    I hope the day never comes where making love to my husband is on the same level as cleaning the toilet! He deserves better than that. And so do I.

  9. joy
    5 years ago

    i totally agree with Zee. lame argument. sorry women don't really have the little blue pill to help make sure they can "perform their duty." plus, statistics show that most women have it harder reaching orgasm, while some never experience it at all. If that were the case with a couple, wouldn't it then explain the lack of interest in sex from the wife. And if it truly is a duty on both sides, then you failed to also tell men in this article that they have a DUTY to help their wife enjoy the act more.

  10. msg
    5 years ago

    I thought the article was spot on. God wants us to be happy in our blessed union and being happy takes work from both wife and husband.

Leave a Comment

Comments submitted must be civil, remain on-topic and not violate any laws including copyright. We reserve the right to delete any comments which are abusive, inappropriate or not constructive to the discussion.

Though we invite robust discussion, we reserve the right to not publish any comment which denigrates the human person, undermines marriage and the family, or advocates for positions which openly oppose the teaching of the Catholic Church.

This is a supervised forum and the Editors of Catholic Online retain the right to direct it.

We also reserve the right to block any commenter for repeated violations. Your email address is required to post, but it will not be published on the site.

We ask that you NOT post your comment more than once. Catholic Online is growing and our ability to review all comments sometimes results in a delay in their publication.

Send me important information from Catholic Online and it's partners. See Sample

Post Comment

Newsletter Sign Up

Daily Readings

Reading 1, Hebrews 9:15, 24-28
This makes him the mediator of a new covenant, so that, now ... Read More

Psalm, Psalms 98:1, 2-3, 3-4, 5-6
[Psalm] Sing a new song to Yahweh, for he has performed ... Read More

Gospel, Mark 3:22-30
The scribes who had come down from Jerusalem were saying, ... Read More

Saint of the Day

January 26 Saint of the Day

St. Timothy
January 26: Born at Lystra, Lycaenia, Timothy was the son of a Greek father ... Read More