Marriage & Intimate Relations - Husband Denied


I am somewhat embarrassed to bring this up, but I am at such a loss as to what to do I am looking for my fellow Catholics to provide me some ideas.

My wife of 20 years has informed me that sexual relations are not important to her and that she was unwilling to engage in them with me.

I am a faithful catholic and I have no recourse other than prayer to get me through this.

Have any other husbands out there had to suffer this?

Ours has been a faithful marriage and we have several children. When I protested I was told that it was disappointing that “just being with her” wasn’t good enough for me.

If anyone can offer advice or encouragement as to what I can do I would love to hear it.

As background I love my wife tremendously and would do anything for her. I have not put on excessive weight; I shower regularly and spend time with my children. I share the housework equally with her. I go out of my way to spend quality time with her when the children go to sleep.


I would seek counseling; first with your Priest and then with a professional Catholic marriage counselor. If she won’t go, go yourself.

I hope you have luck with this.

God Bless and I will say a prayer for you.


She’s manipulating you with statements like this.

She did not take a vow to “just be with” you. She took vows before God to be your wife, and the Church clearly teaches that conjugal relations are a central part of marriage-- the Church teaches spouses are *not *to deny each other in this way except by MUTUAL agreement.

You need to seek counseling together with a trusted priest.


My wife is part of something called the “New Wine” program so if I could quote a trusted source document that specifically states “…not to deny by mutual consent” that would sure help.


1 Cor 7: 3-5

The husband should fulfill his duty toward his wife, and likewise the wife toward her husband. 4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife. 5 Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.


Saw this a while back from one of the regular Forumies and liked it so much I saved it. Unfortunatly, I did not save the name, so if this is yours please let me know so I can credit properly.

"During my last Confession to a most wonderful priest…I received the most glorious advice from him. He told me (as I confessed an argument my husband and I had recently) that you and your husband are one. You are no longer two people. If you wouldn’t think of hurting yourself, you shouldn’t think of hurting your husband. And visa versa. It isn’t about who is doing more or who should be treated this way or that way–you and your husband are one flesh…and must not live two separate lives, but view each other as part of each other.
I always ‘knew’ this, but his words pierced me…really, I thought I was going to cry. I now look at my husband in a whole new light–beofre I speak…I think, I am one with him…why am I competing? Why am I feeling the need to argue this or that point with him? We are mutually submissive towards one another…mutually respectful of one another–as we are one flesh, and should treat each other, accordingly.

Just wanted to share that, because I think it will make a world of difference in many marriages."


Is the bible a trusted source? The Church upholds St. Paul’s teaching regarding conjugal chastity:

1 Corinthians 7: 4-5

4 A wife does not have authority over her own body, but rather her husband, and similarly a husband does not have authority over his own body, but rather his wife.

5 Do not deprive each other, except perhaps by mutual consent for a time, to be free for prayer, but then return to one another, so that Satan may not tempt you through your lack of self-control.


Ke, do you know if this is in any current text such as John Paul II’s “Theology of the Body”?


Thank you.


Additionally your wife should read Casti Connubii, the encyclical of Pope Pius XI, especially these paragraphs:

  1. The second blessing of matrimony which We said was mentioned by St. Augustine, is the blessing of conjugal honor which consists in the mutual fidelity of the spouses in fulfilling the marriage contract, so that what belongs to one of the parties by reason of this contract sanctioned by divine law, may not be denied to him or permitted to any third person; nor may there be conceded to one of the parties anything which, being contrary to the rights and laws of God and entirely opposed to matrimonial faith, can never be conceded.

  2. By this same love it is necessary that all the other rights and duties of the marriage state be regulated as the words of the Apostle: “Let the husband render the debt to the wife, and the wife also in like manner to the husband,”[28] express not only a law of justice but of charity.


Has she brought this up with her gynecologist? Libido may diminish after 20 years. Menopause may cause dryness, painful intercourse and such. Sounds like she’s ripe for some of this.

No: It is not “enough” just to be with you.


I’d have to look and I don’t have that handy. TOTB probably addresses it in some way or another, but Casti Connubii addresses it directly.

Casti Connubii is a great encyclical of Pope Pius XI and it’s available online at the Vatican website.


Yes, I agree also that physcial and psychological sources for this lack of desire need to be investigated. A diminished libido is not unusual as we age-- but to reject your spouse completely is not normal.

Also, husbands shouldn’t make *unreasonable *demands on their wife-- but I don’t think that you are being unreasonable.


Oddly enough, this passage is NOT mentioned in JPII’s Theology of the Body teachings. In fact, the Pope seemed to focus more on the principal that people (particularly husbands) could not morally USE their spouses for their own sexual gratification. In the TOB teachings, intercourse is viewed as a free exchange of love between spouses. There does not seem to be room in the teaching for mandatory relations between spouses just because they are married to one another. As a husband, I can’t think of anything that would make her less in-the-mood than a command to submit to sexual relations for his gratification.

That being said, there can be a lot of reasons for your wife’s lack of interest. These can range from medical problems, to depression, to psychological problems, to difficulties in the marriage relationship. You need to figure out where the problem lies, and work on correcting that. If she has medical problems, encourage her to get them addressed. If she has psychological problems, support and love her through them, with the help of a counselor. If the problems are in your relationship then you have to deal with those as well.


To the OP…my guess is…this has nothing to do with spirituality, religion or anything of the sort. She has either 1) put on weight/fallen out of shape herself and feels self-conscious and utterly un-sexual and/or the routines of motherhood, including carpools, errands, homework, endless volunteer hours, games, practices, etc. have taken their toll and she is in a rut that has left her forgetting what it feels like to be your lover as well as your co-parent.

I suggest that you talk with her about both possibilities. Set aside some time where you can both get out and exercise. (walk, bike, hike to start) It will lower your feelings of stress and firm anything that might be sagging.

Second, plan a nice night out with NO kids. It can be simple and inexpensive if need be. Have a glass of wine and conversation. Reintroduce some romance and tenderness into your life. I can’t help but think she will respond.


In Vino Veritas and 1KE:

I am grateful for your taking the time to provide me with something to go to her with.

It helps to know that I am not being an unreasonable husband.


Island Oak:

She has never looked better, however, the part about the routines of motherhood and endless volunteer hours probably summerizes nicely what she said to me.

Here is the rub, I have asked her to stop being such an over the top volunteer. She can’t help but to volunteer when asked. Plus I have a pastor who likes to constantly ask her help out in the parish. (Sorry for venting).


Vent away, it helps. She may need a vent session as well. In fact, I agree that counciling is a great idea for you two. I’ll pray for your family.


So tell the pastor that his demands (don’t use that word) are taking too much out of your wife. Be her protector! Protect your marriage! We women LOVE it when our husbands love us as Christ loved the Church.

P.S. “Christ” will find someone else to do the volunteer work.


Vino, John Paul II also says that if the only reason a couple is having sex is to transmit life, then they may be in danger of using each other rather than loving each other (see Love & Responsibility p. 233).

Also, John Paul describes the “beatifying experience” of conjugal union as a foretaste of the joys of heaven (see TB, Dec 16, 1981 and Jan 13, 1982). In Love & Responsibility, by his detailed discussion of the husband’s responsibility - out of authentic love for his wife - to see that she achieves sexual climax (see Love & Responsibility pp. 270-278).

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