Spouses and Mortal Sin


The topic of spouses and mortal sin came up a long time ago before I got married, and I just wanted to hear others’ opinions on this.

If one spouse is committing a mortal sin, but the other spouse doesn’t know what it is, but knows that it is happening (and it is more than just a one time incident), should this spouse just remain unknowing and pray for his/her spouse who is committing the mortal sin? Or should he/she know?


Your question doesn’t make any sense to me.


**I think spouses should be open and honest with each other about mortal sins, especially if it affects the other spouse in any way (pornography, adultery, masturbation, ect.)

Does that help? :confused:


IF you are referring to a situation where one spouse is using some form of artificial birth control, even though the other spouse is against this practice, the situation has been discussed, try this forum also family life. for instance, wife is taking the pill even though the husband objects, and he may not know for sure if she is still taking it.

No, the spouse is not guilty morally, unless he encourages, abets, enables, approves, and allows the sin for his own benefit. He is obligated to remonstrate and set good example in Christian charity. If you are referring to something else, it is not clear from your question.


Generally speaking mortal sin is a matter for confession–to a priest–not to a spouse.


I think this has more to do with sins such as masturbation and pornography rather than artificial birth control. To be more specific and more clear - here’s the situation:

A friend’s husband was committing the mortal sin. She knew because he would not go up to receive communion at Mass, and she asked him if he needed to go to Confession without asking for specifics, and he said yes. This was a fairly common occurence, but she felt that she shouldn’t pry and just pray for him and be the best wife she could be. So, that got me thinking…and the question still hasn’t left me. I’ve read that in instances where one spouse commits adultry, but stops the sin, he/she is advised to not tell the spouse because it would do more damage than good. Plus the sin is ultimately between God and that person. Yet, I know my DH and I are completely open and honest with each other (or I hope at least :slight_smile: ), so then I wonder if that situation came up, what I would do…


Yeah I’ve heard that recommendation too. I am not sure that I like that idea. Seems sneaky and dishonest to me. Like “Hey honey I just slept with my ex girlfriend, really enjoyed it, but won’t do it again, because I like you better, but I’m not going to tell you about it.” Then who’s to say that he won’t have thoughts of his ex during intimacy with his wife. I think that is just plain mean. :shrug:


If it came to, for example, a one night stand, which has been truly repented of and confessed in the confessional, the question would be:

Would he hurt the spouse more by remaining silent, or by telling her? In most cases, I think that revealing the sin to the spouse would hurt the marriage and make things worse.


IF the sin in question is adultery, I believe it is critical that the other spouse knows, for the following reasons:

  1. BOTH spouses must immediately be tested for STDs (even if a condom was used, as we know from research that they do not provide reliable disease prevention).

  2. A pregnancy test may be in order for the offending spouse (if it is the wife) or his mistress (if it is the husband). Again, even if a condom was used.

  3. A major marital vow has been broken, and the offending spouse is now no longer “one flesh” with his or her spouse only, but also with another person. That being the case, the non-offending spouse must have the right to abstain from the marriage bed until the adultery has ceased entirely, the relationship is mended, and the sanctity of marriage is restored.

Of course, all of this hinges upon whether or not the husband you mention is willing to disclose the nature of his sin, at least insofar as to affirm or deny adultery. I believe he owes it to his wife to tell her this much: is it, or is it not? It is absolutely her business.



She shouldn’t be asking him why he isn’t going to Communion! She’s jumping to conclusions on what the sin is, or if there is even a sin-- maybe he drank some coffee on the way out the door and broke the fast.

Whatever his reason, it is between him and the priest in the confessional.

Good grief do people have no boundaries or simple courtesy anymore!?!


Normally I do agree that we have no business asking why a person isn’t going to communion; however it sounds as though this is a regular occurrence for this man, and I can see why his wife might have cause for concern about habitual sin. If the relationship is open, there may be an appropriate time (likely not during Mass) to say, “Hey, honey, is everything okay?”


number one no family member even a spouse or parent has the right to question another about their spiritual status. No one. not ever. never. no.

number two, there is absolutely no way a third party (except the priest in confession) should ever have knowledge of this situation. a wife who would discuss her husband’s alleged mortal sin with a so-called friend has some serious issues of confidentiality and trust to deal with.


Been there, done that. xh stopped going to Communion. I said nothing. I prayed for him. I did what I was supposed to do. The problem with this scenario is that when one spouse is chronically in the state of mortal sin, it has effects on the family, on decisions made, on behavior… you cannot live outside of God’s grace and not have it affect EVERYTHING.

Eventually, spouse left the family, stopped going to church…
when he stopped going to communion regularly was the harbinger of worse things to come. It IS kind of the business of the spouse, since the two are supposed to be one flesh and one spirit.

I would view this with alarm if I were the spouse. :eek:

The particulars of the sin involved are between the soul in mortal sin and God. But the effects will be felt by everyone. You cannot be chronically spiritually dead and think that doesn’t have side effects in the marriage and family.


As someone who has been on the receiving end of such information (years back when our marriage was in trouble) I can tell you the kinder thing -if it is over and done with and will not happen again -is not to share it with your spouse. I know this freaks people out. It was long over and I could have gone through life without having that knowledge. I have forgiven my husband, but it took me a long time to work through.


I agree completely.


I have not recieved on several occasions, my husband has never asked me why. He would NEVER do that, nor would I ask him.

Have you ever read an examination of conscience? Don’t you realize that there are many things that this person could have done. AND MOST OF THEM HAVE NOTHING TO DO WITH HIS SPOUSE! Wow, I can’t believe that some of you folks jumped straight to “Adultry”. How sad is that? No wonder people would rather miss Mass than to show up and not recieve. All of you would judge them to be having an affair!


FIRST of all, let us keep in mind that the issue on the table is that of habitual sin. We are not interested in the occasional abstention from the Lord’s Supper. We all do that from time to time, and if we don’t, we probably should. But the OP was not addressing that issue at all, so let’s not get mixed up.

I agree that one should not jump to the conclusion that the reason is adultery. While I cannot speak for the other posters, for my part, I was merely answering the question of what is necessary in the case of adultery – whether or not the other spouse needs to know.

Also, if my own husband, who knows well the value of weekly, if not daily communion, all of a sudden quit going altogether, would I feel compelled to ask gently about a secret habitual problem? Yes, I would. And he, having dealt with such problems in the past (though I will not air his dirty laundry here), would readily understand my concern and would tell me outright whether or not I had anything to worry about.

Let us not forget that when one spouse is in habitual sin, the other is also affected. And if the wife in this case is not aware of any “problem” the husband is having at home (such as anger, bitterness, excesses, etc.), then she may well have cause for concern. At the very least, she ought to be praying and sacrificing for her husband, because if he’s not going to communion, he needs her spiritual help very much.


Just my personal opinion… but if my dh stopped receiving, I think I would ask him if there was anything I could do to help him in addition to praying for him. This leaves it open for him to tell me if he chooses, or not tell me if he chooses. It also gives me the opportunity to help my dh if he wants help… I would by no means ask why or what his sin was…


I was going to post, but actually the previous posters already said what I was going to say :slight_smile: I agree with the above :slight_smile:


Thanks for all the replies!

I feel like my original conclusion, as well as my friend’s, was the right one. She does pray for him daily and sacrifices, but hasn’t pried or asked about his sin. She asks him if he needs to go to Confession specifically to help his soul, and does not go any further from that. If this happened with DH, I think I would do the same. :slight_smile:

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