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I have had a nightmare marriage. My husband has been condescending in non-stop ways. I have been henpecked and could do nothing right. He has disciplined me in front of the children. I feel he is oversexed and does not understand the word “No” in bed. I woke up the other night feeling like I was being raped. He thinks it is my Catholic duty, under pain of mortal sin. He is always telling me I need to do my duty. He is never guilty of wrongdoing. I am always to blame. I just don’t know what to do.

Actually, when a man demands sexual contact like this from his wife, he is the one committing mortal sin.

Now, that statement might shock a lot of people, but that’s only because they don’t understand the entire concept of marital obligations as described in the Bible.

Saint Paul describes the relationship of a wife and a husband as a reflection of the relationship of the Church to Christ—and this relationship demands mutual respect and honor. “Be subordinate to one another,” he says, “out of reverence to Christ” (Ephesians 5:21). Moreover, when Saint Paul says that wives should be subordinate to their husbands, he meant that wives have a noble and holy duty to their husbands in the same way as the Church has a noble and holy duty to serve Christ. Consequently, a wife does not owe obedience to her husband in the same way that a slave, out of law and duty, must be obedient to a master; a wife’s obedience in marriage is a matter of her respecting her husband in his responsibility as a chaste and pure spiritual leader of a holy family.

Hence Saint Paul also says that husbands must love their wives even as Christ loved the Church (Ephesians 5:25). Thus a husband has an obligation to treat his wife without bitterness (Colossians 3:19), to sanctify his wife, to cleanse her, and to present her to Christ without blemish (Ephesians 5:26-27).

Therefore, when a husband fails in his Christian duty to live with his wife “in understanding, showing honor” to her (1 Peter 3:7), his vows of Holy Matrimony become a spiritual failure, and he has no claim on his wife’s duty to him.

That is, if the husband blames and humiliates his wife, or if he reduces physical intimacy into lust, or if he is emotionally absent from the family, or if he shirks his responsibility as a father, then he clearly is not “nourishing and cherishing” (Ephesians 5:29) his family according to his Christian duty. So, as was said previously, he is committing mortal sin.

To demand sexual contact with his wife under these conditions is equivalent to making her into a prostitute. Prostitution is a mortal sin because it “does injury to the dignity of the person who engages in it” (Catechism of the Catholic Church, 2355).

Christ does not treat the Church like a prostitute. Satan, however, does treat his followers as prostitutes. In fact, the world—and the Church—is filled with the devil’s prostitutes. Therefore, a husband who violates his wife’s dignity by treating her like a prostitute in effect excommunicates himself from the Church and severs himself from God by such a grave, unloving act.


In a marriage where the wife is humiliated like a prostitute, the physical intimacy of the spouses is not a sign and pledge of spiritual communion, it’s a defilement of spiritual communion.


If, after you explain these things to your husband, he continues to place his desire for bodily pleasure above the welfare of his soul, the welfare of your children’s souls, and the welfare of your soul, then he has openly declared his renunciation of his baptismal vows. His state of spiritual blindness and mortal sin give you full justification to distance yourself from him physically, to protect your own soul.


 Read about lust in marriage

 Read about Jesus’ teachings regarding marriage


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Falling Families, Fallen Children by Raymond Lloyd Richmond, Ph.D. Do our children see a mother and a father both living in contemplative love for God with a constant awareness of His presence and engaged in an all-out battle with the evil of the world? More often than not our children don’t see living faith. They don’t see protection from evil. They don’t see genuine, fruitful devotion. They don’t see genuine love for God. Instead, they see our external acts of devotion as meaningless because they see all the other things we do that contradict the true faith. Thus we lose credibility—and when parents lose credibility, children become cynical and angry and turn to the social world around them for identity and acceptance. They are children who have more concern for social approval than for loving God. They are fallen children. Let’s bring them back.

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