Is it a sin to get a tattoo?

My wife and I are practicing Catholics.
On a recent Friday afternoon, my wife told me she had an appointment for the following Wednesday to get a tattoo on her wrist. We discussed it a little bit. She indicated it would be a reminder for her to “love unconditionally”. Both of her sisters had a tattoo just like it. I begged her to reconsider urging her to try drawing with a marker on her wrist or getting a bracelet to see if it would actually help her. Then Wednesday came. Again I begged her to reconsider. She went and got the tattoo.

She keeps her wrist covered and positions it so that the children and I don’t see it, which seems considerate. But I feel betrayed. Everytime I see her, I see the things on her arm to cover up her tattoo which isn’t really any less painful than seeing the tattoo itself. I told her how I feel. While she says that she is sorry that I’m hurt by it, she is not sorry for getting the tattoo. She now says it was a “little thing she need to do for herself”

While this does not appear to be breaking any commandments, I can’t help but wonder if what she did is sinful. But I may be confusing it with my pain and wishing it was sinful to console myself. Is this a sin against our marital vows or against the Catholic teaching of male headship in marriage? Maybe I just suffering from an inflated case of wounded pride.
If it is sinful, is there any material I could read and encourage her to read to inform both our consciences?


Although you didn’t feel comfortable with your wife getting a tattoo, she did nothing immoral. Coloring one’s skin, whether it is with a marker, a pen, makeup, a patch-on tattoo, or a real tattoo, is not intrinsically evil. It is the message or image that one puts on his or her body that is subject to moral evaluation. In your wife’s case, there is nothing immoral with the message, “love unconditionally.”

I would encourage you to read the following article by my friend and fellow apologist Matt Fradd:

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