Obligation to sex if married?

I really need an answer to this dilemma I’m having.

Can someone either explain or post Catechism and/or scripture supporting this recently brought up subject (in Catholicism only(very important) that a woman must not deny sex to her husband?

I want to look the written words over, like I said, Catechism and Bible please.

Because of my own personal problems in life, which we all have but simply different in it’s own ways, I feel that the last of what I am holding onto regarding faith and hope in the Catholic Church hangs in the balance of this outcome.

Thank you for all (name removed by moderator)ut. I really do appreciate your support. I can’t believe I’ve somehow over looked it before.

When a couple marries, they make a vow to try to have children. However, if a life problem, such as financial or infertility problems arise, then you break no vow. But do not have sex just for the pleasure or desire. Sex is a beautiful thing in nature, but the world has demented it as lust and pornography.

But in short, sex is only for married couples(Male and Female), whos goal is to procreate.

So like if a woman decided she never wanted to have sex with her husband again, would there be a problem with that and why?

(You summed things up nicely and neatly, thanks)

Hi Zundrah,
Yes married couples are supposed to have sex together. To withhold that kind of affection can hurt your spouse. There may be special circumstances, but in general you’re supposed to do that. It’s a part of being married.

Okay thank you. Is it considered sin to refuse flat out?

Do you mean always or just sometimes?

Could you answer for both instances please? I really want to know.

Here’s a bible verse, like you asked for:

1 Corinthians 5Do 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. 6This I say by way of concession,* however, not as a command. 7Indeed, I wish everyone to be as I am, but each has a particular gift from God,* one of one kind and one of another.a

I don’t think there’s going to be a straight answer to your question. It depends on a lot of things. Certainly if you are separated from your spouse or if you know they have a disease or if they are abusive or if you have a psychological problem with sex, things like that would be good reasons to not have sex with them. I don’t really know enough about it to give a good answer, so I’ll stop posting now. I just know that its an expected part of a normal marriage.

Okay, thank you very much.

Yes, one has an obligation to have relations with one’s spouse. That is what one promises when one promises fidelity.

This command is based in Scriptures:

1 Corinthians 7:1-4
Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” But since sexual immorality is occurring, each man should have sexual relations with his own wife, and each woman with her own husband. The husband should fulfill his marital duty to his wife, and likewise the wife to her husband. The wife does not have authority over her own body but yields it to her husband. In the same way, the husband does not have authority over his own body but yields it to his wife. Now for the matters you wrote about: “It is good for a man not to have sexual relations with a woman.” Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer. Then come together again so that Satan will not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.

The Church confirms this teaching. See Casti Connubbi, particular paragraph 25:


Summa Theologica, St. Thomas Aquinas:


Yes, it is a very serious sin to withhold the marriage debt from one’s spouse. Note, it is BOTH spouses who must fulfill their marital duty, not just the wife.

While it is a serious obligation, it is not an absolute obligation. Serious illness, for example, might be a reason to forego sexual intimacy for a specific time. If someone believes they have a serious reason, other than the normal once in a while things like not feeling well or something, they should discuss it with their spouse and with their priest for spiritual guidance.

What does it mean by the highlighted;


  1. 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.


The second link, the literature uses too many substituting words. It’s like an ocean of jargon. But I think I’ve grasped the general idea of it.

Our obligation stems from both the virtues of Charity and Justice.

I suggest reading about these virtues in the Catechism.

This is a little misleading.Sexual relations,regardless of the age of those involved,must always be a unitive act,the giving of oneself to the other.It is o.k. To have sex and enjoy it,as long as it is not self centered.:slight_smile:

JD is a little confusing…

When a couple marries, they make a vow to be OPEN TO LIFE. A married couple can also certainly have sex for pleasure, while being open to life. They do not have to try to get pregnant each and every time they have sex. In fact, NFP can be used to avoid fertile times if the couple has a good reason to avoid getting pregnant.

If you are being abused in any form, whether it is verbal or physical, then it is NOT a sin to not engage in sexual relations with your spouse. Does anyone on this forum really believe that a person should have sex with your spouse if you are being hurt in any manner? I suggest you talk with a priest who is well versed in Canon Law and maybe even psychology from a Catholic perspective. :confused:

I am by no means an expert on the subject, but IMHO, “withholding” sex is very different from not having sex every time your husband wants it.
If your husband, for instance, wants sex every night-because that’s “what’s DUE to him”, he is no longer acting in the role of a “husband”…he is acting in the role of a master of an object. I think the goal of the Catholic teaching is not so much that a woman must relinquish her body to her husband on command, but rather, that BOTH partners should want to please the other more than themselves…(not just in a sexual manner, in ALL areas)
This being said, if the wife is refusing sex to her husband, ALWAYS and forever, with no thought of what is in the best interest of the union, then she is in the wrong and I would assume that to be a sin. If the husband. however, is treating the wife as an inanimate object that MUST give in to his sexual desires, then the sin belongs to him.
I am sorry if I have only further clouded this issue for you, and if I have then please disregard as I am absolutely not an expert. I pray that you will find the answers you are looking for. The teachings of the Catholic Church are not meant to make a woman subservient to her husband, but rather to unite the two persons into one inseparable bond.

The issue at hand is why you or your spouse would chose to deny the other. If the reason is selfish there is a lack of unity in the marriage. On the other hand if a spouse developed a health issue the oppose spouse should accept celibacy as a need for unity in the marriage.

I don’t think the question is about spouses being open to life. I think the question is about saying no to intimacy to a spouse just in general. I think it came up because of this thread.

Wife’s aversion to intimacy. HELP.


The marriage act should be supported by a pure love that reflects the love of Christ for his Church, and as such should reflect and attitude of self-sacrificial giving. This is a simple reality, but is easily complicated by the joining of two sinners into a covenantal relationship. This relationship states that ‘I will be there, and I will be there for you.’ It is an unconditional covenant to the person, reflecting Christ’s covenant with His bride, the Church. It is not an ‘I will be there for you, if you are there for me.’ As we learn to live and love, God uses marriage in a profound and wholly unique way to make us holy for himself. To deny the means of grace in marriage is ultimately a display of a lack of faith in God and a lack of love for our spouse. Keep the faith, sister. This wonderful relationship crafted by God is at its best when undertaken as He purposed it.

In response to your question regarding Paragraph 25 of Casti Connubii:

Please read and consider the previous paragraphs quoted below, as they give some clarification of #25.

  1. Nay, that mutual familiar intercourse between the spouses themselves, if the blessing of conjugal faith is to shine with becoming splendor, must be distinguished by chastity so that husband and wife bear themselves in all things with the law of God and of nature, and endeavor always to follow the will of their most wise and holy Creator with the greatest reverence toward the work of God.

  2. This conjugal faith, however, which is most aptly called by St. Augustine the “faith of chastity” blooms more freely, more beautifully and more nobly, when it is rooted in that more excellent soil,** the love of husband and wife **which pervades all the duties of married life and holds pride of place in Christian marriage. For matrimonial faith demands that husband and wife be joined in an especially holy and pure love, not as adulterers love each other, but as Christ loved the Church. This precept the Apostle laid down when he said: “Husbands, love your wives as Christ also loved the Church,”[24] that Church which of a truth He embraced with a boundless love not for the sake of His own advantage, but seeking only the good of His Spouse.[25] The love, then, of which We are speaking is not that based on the passing lust of the moment nor does it consist in pleasing words only, but in the deep attachment of the heart which is expressed in action, since love is proved by deeds.[26] This outward expression of love in the home demands not only mutual help but must go further; must have as its primary purpose that man and wife help each other day by day in forming and perfecting themselves in the interior life, so that through their partnership in life they may advance ever more and more in virtue, and above all that they may grow in true love toward God and their neighbor, on which indeed “dependeth the whole Law and the Prophets.”[27] For all men of every condition, in whatever honorable walk of life they may be, can and ought to imitate that most perfect example of holiness placed before man by God, namely Christ Our Lord, and by God’s grace to arrive at the summit of perfection, as is proved by the example set us of many saints.

  3. This mutual molding of husband and wife, this determined effort to perfect each other, can in a very real sense, as the Roman Catechism teaches, be said to be the chief reason and purpose of matrimony, provided matrimony be looked at not in the restricted sense as instituted for the proper conception and education of the child, but more widely as the blending of life as a whole and the mutual interchange and sharing thereof.

  4. 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.


I hope this helps:

From scripture first of all, 1 Corithians, chapter 7, verse 3-4

Let the husband render the debt to his wife: and the wife also in like manner to the husband. The wife has not power of her own body: but the husband. And in like manner the husband also has not power of his own body: but the wife

The following online resource is a great post vatican II catechism with an Nil Obstat and an Imprimatur , twotlj.org/G-2-9-E.html

It does a really good job explaining it:

f) Spouses should cooperate lovingly in marital intercourse. St. Paul teaches that spouses have an obligation to engage in marital intercourse:

The husband should give to his wife her conjugal rights, and likewise the wife to her husband. For the wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does; likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. Do not deprive one another except perhaps by agreement for a set time, to devote yourselves to prayer, and then come together again, so that Satan may not tempt you because of your lack of self-control. (1 Cor 7.3–5)
Paul’s formulation makes it clear that the obligation is mutual; in this matter, husband and wife are entirely equal. The reason is that in marrying, the two become one so truly that neither may regard his or her body as exclusively his or her own.174

Like all other affirmative obligations, this one has limits, and it must be understood correctly. Nobody can have an obligation to do what is wrong, and so there is no obligation to cooperate in intercourse if the couple morally ought to abstain, whether to avoid pregnancy or for some other reason. Again, the obligation is to engage in marital intercourse, and so there is no obligation to cooperate if contraception is used, or if one’s spouse cannot engage in a human act, for example, due to alcohol or other substance abuse. Furthermore, as will be explained (in H.2.a), an adulterous spouse loses his or her right to marital intimacy.

If either party wishes for any reason not to have marital intercourse, the other manifests love and strengthens marital communion by complying with that wish, and so should abstain without resentment. At the same time, not every reason for abstaining is so morally compelling that it would be wrong for the couple to have marital intercourse if both are willing. For example, if one spouse has a serious disease that might be communicated through intercourse, the protection of the other’s health is a reason for abstinence, yet the immediate contribution of chaste intercourse to marital communion can justify risks to health, even serious ones, especially if the alternative is prolonged abstinence. Consequently, assuming the couple do not have some additional reason (such as responsibilities to their children) to protect health, in such a case they may agree to have intercourse and accept the bad side effect of risk to health.175

g) Unreasonable refusal of marital intercourse is a grave matter. As has been explained, each spouse’s right to intercourse has limits, and usually when either is reluctant to have intercourse, the other should not insist. Still, sometimes a spouse has no justifying reason for being unwilling to cooperate. Such unwillingness can be motivated by anger and hatred, an unreasonable desire to avoid offspring, the manipulative use of marital intercourse to compel compliance in other matters, excessive preoccupation with other activities, and so on. Sometimes, too, one spouse without good reason travels alone or stays away from home for some time, thus depriving the other of the opportunity for marital intimacy. In all such cases, when the spouse deprived of marital intimacy makes it clear, by saying so or in any other way, that he or she desires it, the other should cooperate lovingly, and refusal is a grave matter.

The wrong of unreasonable reluctance to engage in marital intimacy admits of parvity but, like other injustices, only in cases in which, typically, the one who suffers the wrong considers it insignificant: for example, because intimacy is not denied for long and the unreasonable motive is not ill will but only some understandable weakness.

Of course, sometimes the spouses disagree about whether a refusal of marital intercourse is reasonable. Then both should try to find a harmonious solution, but if that is impossible, the spouse deprived of desired intimacy must remain faithful. Moreover, such a spouse should be tolerant, for even when a denial of intimacy is plainly unjustified, physical force, psychological coercion, nagging, and resentment are both incompatible with marital love and ineffective for obtaining the loving cooperation required for true marital communion.

to be continued: