EWTN Catholic Q&A
Marital intimacy withheld
Question from Joe on 06-02-2013:

What is a husband to do about physical gratification when his wife had a affair 13 years ago, but didn't tell him until 2 years ago, and now refuses to share her body with him? Even after he has verbally and prayer fully forgiven her over and over. He continues to express his gratitude and love for her. Helps at home with kids and chores after his hard day of work. She's a stay-at-home mom homeschooling one child 10 years old. She says she doesn't love him anymore and will move back to her home area, 1400 miles away, in two years with the youngest child. I'm desperate for intamacy with her but afraid of rejection "again and again." Should I divorce her for the reasons of adultery and abandonment? I have tried and tried and tried, prayed and prayed and prayed, for her and for myself. I've gotten to a point where I'm starting to become disgruntled with God for not answering.

Is masturbation allowable in a case like this?

Answer by Catholic Answers on 06-04-2013:


As sympathetic as I feel for the situation you've described, masturbation in this situation would not only be self-abuse but it would also be a form of adultery. You would be engaging in that which can lawfully only be shared with your wife with yourself. That means that you will have engaged in exactly the same sin you were hurt by your wife committing.

I urge you to seek marriage counseling from a Catholic or Catholic-friendly marriage counselor. If your wife will not agree to go with you, go yourself. You can either get counseling or a referral to a counselor in your area from the Pastoral Solutions Institute.

Michelle Arnold
Catholic Answers