Understanding the "marital obnligation"

what I’ve always been taught is that “it’s a sin to refuse your spouse”

which I understand to a certain degree

but the way I learned it is a person could never say no, no matter what

is it seriously a mortal sin if a husband, for example, is too exhausted from work and says “not tonight”?

everything in my family works in the way where one person loses their temper to get what they want, so I havenot had too many positive models of true Christian marriage

and the closest thing I’ve ever had to a relationship was the same, he would lose this temper at me saying I did all kinds of things he didn’t like and when I asked what it was that specifically bothered him, wold get a response like “do you think I keep track of every irritating thing you do?”

I know the church teaches we shold comply with reasonable requests within marriage.

what’s considered reasonable? I’m not naturally a very intimate person so I think my ideas wold be a bit off. and of course, our current culture treat us all like sex-deprived crazed animals

could you guys help clarify? I’m sure I’m probably understanding it wrong, or have been told some questionable things

Isn’t it also considered a sin to lie to your spouse? I can’t imagine being in an relationship where my partner expected me to feel and be sexy when I’m not in the so-called mood. :mad:

The person can communicate that they are rather tired …and the other can say “ok”. No sin there. That is not denying but mutually agreeing to postpone things.

(though if they are in a near occasion of mortal sin …that changes things)

Either spouse can refuse the other, on occasion, for little or no reason. But as time passes, this refusal requires some reason, and the weight of the reason must be proportionate to the length of time.

A grave reason is needed to refuse marital relations for a long time, as the other spouse might be tempted to commit a grave sexual sin. Also, a grave reason is needed because certain weighty goods of marriage depend on marital relations, especially procreation and the strengthening of the marital bond by the union of the spouses.

I would not agree…would not put it that way.

Is there a “marital obligation” to have relations? Yes. Are there limits to the this obligation? Yes. Even some exceptions to the obligation (like the person is drunk or insane or has committed adultery etc etc).

And there can be mutually agreed upon postponements (aside from a near occasion of sin). One spouse may feel rather tired…(hence no sin…)

Also if one say looks at the older works one finds too it noted that while it is a grave obligation it can admit of parvity of matter (meaning there can be venial sin too involved…an example could venial be if it only briefly postponed by one of the persons once or twice (awaiting a better time for them) and no near occasion for mortal sin is present…but discuss this with ones confessor perhaps…)

Interestingly one such author notes -the grave obligation is when the person asks both “reasonably and seriously”…

And he notes that the request is not considered “serious” if made in the form of a desire rather than a definite will…

In any case the obligation is a serious one that can though* not be in effect in certain circumstances* (such as drunkeness etc) or which can be venial in others.

Ones confessor can advise in particular questions.

see 1 Cor 7:3 for the Scripture

+1

This advice mirrors what I’ve read in Moral Theology texts for confessors.

Yes, the so-called marital debt is a serious obligation.

Big surprise, that is not correct. I’m sorry, your formation seems to have been really poor. I see how you struggle and it breaks my heart.

No.

Well, the couple discerns this. Common sense prevails.

There are of course, objective criteria-- the spouse is not asking you to sin, you are not physically impaired, you have not severed conjugal relations due to infidelity or abuse.

A husband or wife doesn’t ask of a spouse what they cannot give. And a husband or wife does not deny their spouse what they have a right to receive.

How that works out in real life is all about give and take, and proper discernment. Prayer is essential.

While this obligation exists, as Saint Paul said, I would think that out of Christian charity, the most important virtue, a spouse should feel called on to refrain for that reason. After all, too, you should love the person you are married to. Though otherwise the obligation remains to the person you are married to.

Should?

Possibly.

But not necessarily.

Yes one should love that person and be very understanding etc.

But that does not mean that one should per se out of charity forgo marital relations for feel called to forgo such. See my post above for more.

ok, so let’s see if I’m getting it.

the spouse being asked can reasonably say no, once in a while, if the other is not really regarding their well-being and being selfish?

obviously, if one spouse is really exhausted or not feeling well, after a long day, common sense dictates that it would not even be a good time to ask.

but life’s experience has taught me otherwise, that people make selfish demands all the time, regardless of how the other person feels

And this my dear, is why you must discern any potential relationships with the opposite sex that might turn into a marriage prospect with great care. Rarely does someone change overnight from a charming, caring, selfless man into a self-absorbed, demanding narcissist. In most all cases, the signs were there long before the nuptials took place, but the woman chose not to acknowledge the behavior. You mentioned a near-relationship where he lost his temper at you and couldn’t even pinpoint what upset him. That’s the kind of person you need to stay far away from, be they a friend, acquaintance, boyfriend, or a family member. You stated people make selfish demands all the time. I think it’s time you made some new friends and got rid of the ones behaving like this. It’s not normal and it’s not healthy. Stay away from toxic Catholicism, too. You know what I’m talking about. The kind of things veteran members on CAF advise you to avoid in most of your threads.

For Heavens sake, marriage relations is not contractual. They are based on love. Love is always thoughtful of the other. If someone is tired or not in the mood, then patience and understanding is required of the spouse. Selfish demands do not make for worthwhile sexual relations, much less a happy marriage. There are no demand and supply rules in a loving marriage. Delaying is part of loving. Complete refusal is a sin.

There are a lot of arguments for the ‘askee’ to refrain, control themselves, offer it up, and love more deeply for the sake of the refuser. (Yes, there are times it is reasonable to say no)

But I don’t hear much about how the ‘refuser’ should offer it up and do the deed even when they don’t feel like it. And yet that is just as loving and self sacrificing. It works both ways.

If you find yourself saying no a lot, with no real reason behind it, you have a problem. If you are being refused for no real reason, your marriage has a problem.

Just saying.

CANON VIII.-If any one saith, that the Church errs, in that she declares that, for many causes, a separation may take place between husband and wife, in regard of bed, or in regard of cohabitation, for a determinate or for an indeterminate period; let him be anathema. [Council of Trent]

It is not intrinsically evil to refuse one’s spouse marital relations, whether on occasion or for some length of time. So it depends on intention or circumstances. Given a good intention, and the reasonably anticipation that the bad consequences will not outweigh the good, one spouse can refuse the other, for a time. But the longer the time, the weightier the reason needs to be, since as the time lengthens, the bad consequences increase (lack of procreation, danger of sin for the other spouse, etc.).

The wife is not a slave to the husband. She can refuse her husband, whenever it is moral to do so. And since refusal is not intrinsically evil, it depends on intention and circumstances.

Yes both spouses are to be generous in living out their marital life - including the marital act. There is yes an obligation -yes that is part of getting married this rite has been given - and yes there can be limits to it - but yes you are correct in that the other spouse too can “go against” their tiredness etc and not ask for a postponement…and also one often does not know of the other spouse is being tempted say to go against chastity or even in a near occasion of sin.

It is not a mortal sin for one spouse to refuse the other, on occasion, for any just reason, e.g. the spouse does not feel like it, or is busy with other tasks, etc. But as the length of time of the refusal increases, the weight of the reason needed also increases, since there is an increase in bad consequences to the refusal (lack of procreation, harm to the marital union, quieting of concupiscence, etc.).

The marital obligation is of grave weight overall. For the purpose of marital relations, the procreative and unitive meanings are of grave weight. But this grave weight does not imply that marital relations are required daily or weekly. Similarly, refusing one’s spouse on occasion does not harm the purposes of marriage and marital relations, and so it is not a grave matter.

Furthermore, it is contrary to justice and love between the spouses to claim that either commits a mortal sin by denying relations at any particular moment, in any and all circumstances, without regard to the will of each person. For though each has power over the body of the other, it is not the power of master over slave. Charity does not merely ask, but absolutely requires that each spouse consider the willingness of the other. So if either is unwilling, on occasion, even for a slight reason (e.g. doesn’t feel like it), it is not in the least contrary to the love of God and neighbor to refuse to pay the debt. For this type of refusal is merely a reasonable delay in payment, not an absolute denial of the marital rights.

Only when the refusal has a sinful intention, or reasonably anticipated bad consequences that outweigh any good consequences, is a refusal of the debt a sin, even a grave sin.

A slight failure to fulfill a grave obligation is never a mortal sin. Only a grave failure to fulfill a grave obligation can be mortal.

Again I note:

Is there a “marital obligation” to have relations? Yes. s.

Are there limits to the this obligation? Yes. Even some exceptions to the obligation (like the person is drunk or insane or has committed adultery etc etc).

And there can be mutually agreed upon postponements (aside from a near occasion of sin). One spouse may feel rather tired…(hence no sin…)

Also if one say looks at the older works one finds too it noted that while it is a grave obligation it can admit of parvity of matter (meaning there can be venial sin too involved…an example could venial be if it only briefly postponed by one of the persons once or twice (awaiting a better time for them) and no near occasion for mortal sin is present…but discuss this with ones confessor perhaps…)

Interestingly one such author notes -the grave obligation is when the person asks both “reasonably and seriously”…

And he notes that the request is not considered “serious” if made in the form of a desire rather than a definite will…

In any case the obligation is a serious one that can though not be in effect in certain circumstances (such as drunkeness etc) or which can be venial in others.

Ones confessor can advise in particular questions.

see 1 Cor 7:3 for the Scripture

Disagree.

Rather:

Is there a “marital obligation” to have relations? Yes. Are there limits to the this obligation? Yes. Even some exceptions to the obligation (like the person is drunk or insane or has committed adultery etc etc).

And there can be mutually agreed upon postponements (aside from a near occasion of sin). One spouse may feel rather tired…(hence no sin…)

Also if one say looks at the older works one finds too it noted that while it is a grave obligation it can admit of parvity of matter (meaning there can be venial sin too involved…an example could venial be if it only briefly postponed by one of the persons once or twice (awaiting a better time for them) and no near occasion for mortal sin is present…but discuss this with ones confessor perhaps…)

Interestingly one such author notes -the grave obligation is when the person asks both “reasonably and seriously”…

And he notes that the request is not considered “serious” if made in the form of a desire rather than a definite will…

In any case the obligation is a serious one that can though not be in effect in certain circumstances (such as drunkeness etc) or which can be venial in others.

Ones confessor can advise in particular questions.

see 1 Cor 7:3 for the Scripture

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