What can a wife do when her husband says he never loved her?

If a husband realizes that he does not and never did love his wife, what is the wife to do? She does not want to have relations with him because he doesn’t love her. The husband was not in his right mind due to psychological disorders for which he sought treatment. Should she get an annulment? They have four adult children. He is no longer Catholic.

As gut-wrenching and hurtful as is the husband’s announcement, his statement that he “never loved” his wife does not constitute grounds either for divorce or an annulment. It also may not constitute grounds for denying the husband his ordinary right to marital relations. If possible, the wife might try to attribute his announcement to the fact that he has been treated for mental illness and that his announcement may not reflect how he has always felt but his current mental anguish.

I do not mean to diminish how awful it must be for a wife to hear this and how difficult it undoubtedly would be to share physical intimacy with a man who is lying by his actions in the bedroom. The marital act is a physical expression of the love and gift of self between a husband and a wife. For a man to demand marital relations when he has expressed that he never loved his wife is to demonstrate his willingness to lie with his body. Even so, the ordinary right a husband and wife has to marital relations is one that cannot be refused without just cause. Whether this constitutes just cause for a temporary halt to marital relations is something the wife should discuss with her confessor or spiritual director.

But, in any event, it is important for married couples to remember that marriage is not all moonlit dinners and bouquets of roses. The icon of marriage is the Crucifixion of Christ and that means that marriage will at times entail great suffering and sacrifice. The wife should do all that she can to fight for her marriage, because in so doing she may be cooperating in the salvation of her husband’s soul.

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