Lusting For Your Wife


Growing up I was around a lot of different denominations of Christians. We all agreed that sex should wait until marriage. And we needed to promote chastity. And there were promise rings and chastity bracelets and all that jazz. Those are all good things. But in that same sentiment was something that missed the entire point.

Everyone said don’t have sex before Marriage. And it stopped there. It didn’t take it to the next step and ask what the proper role of sex is within marriage.

There was this assumption that as long as sex was within marriage, then anything goes. It viewed marriage as this place to live out any sexual desires or fantasies one may have. And it was all good with God. And it was all healthy.

So we had a lot of teens with raging hormones who simply thought they needed to 1) restrain their lustful impulses until marriage and then 2) redirect them at their wife (or husband).  While this may seem like a better alternative to sex before marriage, in many ways it still misses the beauty of sex all together. Further, it can breed many sexual disorders that are then carried into marriage later in life.

Here is a proper definition of Lust:

An inordinate desire for or enjoyment of sexual pleasure. The desires or acts are inordinate when they do not confirm to the divinely ordained purpose of sexual pleasure, which is to foster the mutual love of husband and wife and, according to the dispositions of providence, to procreate and educate their children.

So – let’s be clear.  Not lusting does not mean denying the pleasure of sex. It means having the proper orientation of that pleasure. It should be something that fosters the mutual love between husband and wife. It should not be something either spouse abuses as a means of their own personal gratification. I fear this is all too common within marriage these days – even among so-called good Christian marriages.

When we lust for somebody we objectify them as an instrument of our own, selfish pleasure. We use them. If we truly love somebody we will never use them like this. This goes against the very meaning of the sacrament of Marriage.  So we should not be lusting for anyone, least of all our spouses!

That’s why it is not good enough to only say “don’t have sex outside of marriage.” We must give people the full picture of God’s plan for sex. It’s not a legalism that says “don’t do this” or you’ll mess things up. That misses the point. It’s a liberty that says if you want the fullness of life – “live this way.”

That’s what John Paul II’s Theology of the Body has begun doing for our sexually confused culture.  It’s revealing ever more clearly the beauty of God’s plan for sex.  It’s awesome.  And when people actually embrace it and live it they are finding that – “Ya know what?  I guess God did know what he was doing!” Duh.

34 comments Add comment

Jessica February 9, 2009 at 12:10 pm

Funny you should make a post about this, I was just looking at the book “Holy Sex” by Gregory Popcak (sp?) on amazon.

Cade_One February 9, 2009 at 12:27 pm

This is also a timely post for my life as well. God Bless.

Roseanne Sullivan February 9, 2009 at 1:19 pm

Pope John Paul II was once roundly mocked by the media for saying that a man should not lust after his wife. Within marriage, there are boundaries too.

Good point.

Ed February 9, 2009 at 3:29 pm

As we delve ever more deeply into the ToB, we see ever more clearly that to misunderstand sexuality is to misunderstand who we are, and that includes misunderstanding the Church, Christ’s mission, and God.

In _Heaven’s Song_, Christopher West points out that we should not find it surprising that the liturgical chaos of the past 40 years would coincide with the sexual revolution. Nor should we find it surprising that both things seem to be righting themselves at about the same time.

Servant of God John Paul the Great, ora pro nobis!

Michael February 9, 2009 at 4:32 pm

“Love can’t wait to give, Lust can’t wait to take”
Christopher West

L February 9, 2009 at 4:33 pm

It’s also important to note that many people view the term “lust” as mere sexual attraction – which couldn’t be further from the accurate definition. Sexual attraction is a gift from God!

However, we must make sure and distinguish (as Pope JP so eloquently discusses in Theology of the Body) between “eros”, or erotic love, and “agape”, a Greek word referring to unconditional, spiritual and selfless love.

The Pope teaches that in marriage, “eros” (this sexual attraction) is perfectly OK – but that it risks being “degraded to mere sex” if it is not balanced with spiritual or divine love founded on the teachings of Jesus.

As married people, we must always remember that one perfectly balances the other. Great blog post!

Kirsten February 9, 2009 at 9:07 pm

I think it is also very interesting to note that while lust seems often attributed to men, that women sometimes ‘lust’ in a different way. If lust is the objectification of a person for ones own pleasure, then you could take it a step further and say that women can lust in a emotional way while men frequently lust in a physical way (although either sex can do either). The desire to ‘use’ another person is always wrong or ‘lustful’. So, women who ‘use men to meet their emotional needs are just as guilty as men who ‘use’ women to meet their physical ones.

Good blog post, BTW.

Marya February 9, 2009 at 9:47 pm

“Holy Sex” by Gregory Popcak is a great book. Haven’t read it all, but great so far!

dominik February 10, 2009 at 7:31 am

Our culture, in the poverty of its vocabulary, has lost the distinction between erotic love and lust. Erotic love, a good and beautiful concept, expounded on in B16’s Deus Caritas Est, has almost disappeared as a cultural idea. Lust, like all evil, is just a good corrupted — lust is the corrupted form of erotic love.

Our culture, unfortunately, has so nearly replaced all instances with ‘erotic love’ with ‘lust’ that it has almost forgotten that an uncorrupted form even exists.

I’ve found JP2’s idea of marriage as mutual self-gift a wonderful tool for illustrating the difference between authentic erotic love and lust. As Christopher West said, “Love can’t wait to give, lust can’t wait to take.” One gives gifts, one does not take them.

dominik February 10, 2009 at 7:34 am

To continue with the ‘mutual self-giving’ theme:

Catholics see sex as a mutual gift of self between spouses. Through the language of their bodies, the husband tells the wife “I am yours,” the wife tells the husband “I am yours.”

As a gift, it is necessarily permanent. It’s more than impolite to give a gift and then ask for it back. It’s also exclusive — you don’t give someone a gift and then take it back and give it someone else — the original recipient would rightly be aggrieved at such a turn of events (“Hey, you said that was mine!”)

While all of marriage subsumes this gift of self, sex forms the act — the sign — signifying the gift. Sex is a physical expression, in the concrete language of the body, of the mutual self-gift that the husband and wife made to each other in marriage. The human reproductive organism consists of two persons: a man and a woman. Their union thus not only signifies their mutual gift of self to each other, but also serves as a creative act, a procreative act that generates life. Thus sex is both unitive and procreative, or in vernacular alliterative, both babies and bonding.

L February 10, 2009 at 2:03 pm

Interesting comment, Kirsten! Very insightful!

John February 10, 2009 at 6:34 pm

@Kirsten – I second L’s note above. Excellent point!

Anonymous June 2, 2009 at 11:03 am

What if your husband gets very angry at you when you start your menstrual cycle or is angry if you get sick and don’t feel like having sex. I’m dealing with a husband who gets very angry and takes that out on me if he doesn’t get it when he wants it. But it’s usually about 4 times a week, and I’m still called a prude. He says that he cannot go to sleep if he doesn’t have sex. So, if we can’t have sex, he doesn’t want to cuddle or touch me in any way. I have a disorder called endometriosis which causes sometimes painful sex and another condition where I bleed a lot (every two weeks and it lasts 8-10 days). He is very angry with me over my conditions that I have and I feel the anger and it hurts. He acts like the bleeding is in my control because he says that I started the period to spite him sometimes. I don’t understand why I’m blamed for something out of my control. I’m on the verge of getting a hysterectomy to save my marriage. But it’s still possible for me to have more children. That’s the only reason I haven’t done it, but he is against having more children. What do I do?

Lucy March 10, 2010 at 9:17 pm

Dear Anonymous,
The Bible says that wives are to sub-mit to their husbands. That means to come under his mission–sub-mission. What is his mission? To love his wife more than his own body. Your husband is showing that he loves his own body more than you. Allowing your husband to treat you in sinful ways is not helping him on his path to Heaven. I hope he will agree to counseling.
I will send a prayer request to the grotto in Lourdes on your behalf. :)
Jesus never abandons us even when others do!
In Christ,

Sage June 3, 2013 at 4:08 pm

Dear anonymous, you are being mentally and emotionally abused by your husband. Get some help please. If he won’t go for counseling with you, prepare to leave him and be very careful.

Artie June 2, 2009 at 6:18 pm

In regards to the Anonymous post. This is a difficult situation and I would advise that if you do not have a spiritual advisor get one and talk about this with him/her.

Holiness in marriage is difficult to maintain when one is not on the same page as the other. A priest once told me in regards to a similar issue like this with my wife is not to tug her and drag her on the issue, but to gently hold her hand and show as much love as possible and teach her the truth of what the Church teaches on the issue.

I actually learned from the situation myself.

I do not know the dynamics of your relationship, but it appears that your husband has a difficult time with chastity in marriage. (the virtue which firmly inclines a person towards the right use “or non-use” of the sexual faculty)

Do you pray together as a family? If not start doing so, the fruits of prayer in the family are awesome.

Do you talk to your husband about the situation? If not I would start but be delicate to the situation, he may not open up that moment but it takes time.

St. Josemaria writes: “We all know from experience that we can be chaste, living vigilantly, frequenting the sacraments and stamping out the first sparks of passion before the fire gets started. And it is precisely among the chaste where the most clean-cut men from every point of view are found. And among the impure abound the timid, the selfish, the hypocritical and the cruel—all characters of little manliness.” (The Way, No. 124)

John R. June 24, 2009 at 12:02 pm

Dear Anonymous, Your situation is certainly difficult, but not beyond help. The man must have some qualities that attracted you in the first instance. My ex suffered immensely with the same malady. She finally had a hysterectomy under doctor’s orders, but she was past child-bearing age. Maybe you could bring up the idea of counseling to him in a gentle way. I would recommend that you seek a male counselor, for your husband’s sake. Then he couldn’t say of a female counselor: “She’s just on your side!”. Perhaps your man needs to learn that you can’t push a string, and he can get more of his “stuff” with a dozen roses and love than he can with a bulldozer! It sounds like some basic, selfish immaturity on his part, which a counselor could point out. Sometimes just getting older does the trick, but I don’t think he or you can wait. Please tend to your medical needs immediately, and maybe have your doctor talk to him about your situation. I will pray for both of you.

Edgy DC July 24, 2012 at 11:17 am

I would beg you to seek counseling.

My wife has a similar condition, and it has put great strains on our marriage — not because I would ever insist on being gratified when she’s in discomfort, but because she’s dishonest with me about when she’s uncomfortable, trying to ignore her discomfort for my sake.

It gives me no joy to cause my wife pain. Our sexual encounters too often lead to tears. What a waste of the love we have for each other.

I try and convince her that she doesn’t owe this to me, that we can find other ways to express our oneness and grow together in our marriage, and if a time comes for sex, fine. But not for the joy of one and the suffering and sadness of another.

Best wishes, Anonymous. You’re a brave person, and you and your husband are in my prayers.

Jesse October 6, 2009 at 7:53 pm

This one is great. The info is great for all of us.
As of this time i am struggling with this so called lusting for your wife. And it is really hard for me. May be you can help, I am a father of three and my wife delivered the kids through ceasarian way. The doctor suggested us to stop birthing although she said that for now ceasarian can now go up to fifth times birth.
Me and my wife don’t want to go for ligation or vasectomy.
Is ligation or vasectomy against the law of the church?
Anything you can possibly suggest is highly appreciated.

Thank you.

Susan Peterson October 6, 2009 at 8:14 pm

First, medical stuff:
It might encourage you to know that Ethel Kennedy (wife of Robert) had eleven C sections.
A few women have actually delivered vaginally after having three C sections.
It depends on the health of your wife’s uterine tissue. Good nutrition can help.
Moral theology stuff:
Tubal ligation and vasectomy are considered wrong by the Church. For one thing, they are mutilation of a healthy part of the body and destruction of a bodily function. For another, when they are done for permanent contraception as they usually are, they constitute an attempt to make the marital act sterile “in anticipation of the act” and this is wrong.

Medical stuff again: Natural family planning really can work. You need to be working with a teacher and having someone help interpret your wife’s charts. There are places on the internet with all sorts of information about who does this locally, and there are even places where you can send in charts and get help in learning to interpret them. If you REALLY need to avoid more kids, you might need to use a strict version of NFP, avoiding intercourse until
several days after ovulation.
So don’t give up, but start looking into finding everything you can about Natural Family Planning. There is Couple to Couple League, Billings Method, Creighton.. if you Google those it will help you get started.
Susan Peterson

Jesse October 7, 2009 at 7:44 pm

Hi Susan,
Thank you so much for your advise, it gives me strength.
You know what all my co-workers advised for ligation and it gives me a feeling of dismay for not one of them supported my plan not to go for it because all I know is that, it is against the law of GOD.

Once again, thank you Susan.

I’ll research more on NFP and find someone to guide us in our locality.

Keep up the good works and more power to you.

Please include us in your prayer that i may overcome this Lusting for my wife. I am really struggling how to move on.

Matthew Warner October 8, 2009 at 12:17 am

Jesse – thank you for reaching out on here. And Susan, thanks so much for the great advice!

The good news, Jesse, is that (despite your coworkers and whatever other popular attitudes) there is lots of hope for you! DEFINITELY check out some NFP classes and really learn how to do it. It’s a wonderful gift.

Also, I would recommend (if possible in your area) that you find an NFP-only OB/GYN for your wife and you. They can work with you on the NFP and can often more knowledgeably asses your wife’s health and steps you can/should take regarding future children. Such a doctor has usually done specialized work and certifications in these kinds of issues. ANd unfortunately, even many of the best doctors out there have not been educated in regard to NFP…they just don’t know any better because they’ve been fed the same assumptions by society and have disregarded some moral issues involved.

And finally, don’t forget to pray. Prayer is the most powerful weapon with anything we are struggling with. And never lose hope.

Sarah March 24, 2010 at 4:03 pm

These posts are really amazing to read…and I’d like to share a excellent website for finding a pro-life ob/gyn:

It’ll take you to the American Association of Pro-Life OB/Gyn’s, you select your state, and it shows them by city. I’ve gone to 2 excellent docs off this site and currently LOVE my OB doc (she’ll be delivering my second child this September). She’s a devout Catholic with 8 children of her own…so good hunting for a new doc!

Jesse October 8, 2009 at 11:24 pm

Hi Matthew,
Thank you for the support. It really helps knowing that there are many like you spreading the good news.

I’ll try to find an NFP OB/GYN also.

Keep up the good works and more power to you.

Your site really helps, like me struggling and seeking for guidance.

Once again, thank you very much.

Robert Colquhoun December 22, 2009 at 6:45 pm

God and sex are the two most popular topics on the planet. There is perhaps the greatest misunderstandings on both of these topics… a good understanding of sex is a great opportunity for evangelisation….

johnathan March 22, 2010 at 10:25 pm

I can only say in my own life that the begining of that definition is true “An inordinate desire”. My desires were only ordered by me, my self and I before I started grasping what the church taught on sex in marrige. I can’t say I ever knew anything different before I came home to the Church. But now with “Theology of the Body” and all you folks echoing the truth I can never live the way I once lived. I don’t claim to have it perfect yet but God is changing my selfish ways towards my wife to selfless ways slowly but surley.

Sarah March 24, 2010 at 12:22 pm

Great post… I love how JPII’s Theology of the Body communicates God’s design for sexuality in such a beautiful, positive way. That is the Christian life after all.. “The Way” … not just “The Don’t Do This or That… ” :) I think young people also respond much better to the positive truths than merely the “Okay, now you have to be different than the rest of this naughty culture… ” That message, while true in its own way, can get exhausting.

Also, weekly, I get letters from Christian couples suffering from sexual sin within marriage… whether it’s pornography or other forms of lusting. We desperately need to spread the truth of lifelong chastity!

Catherine June 1, 2010 at 8:31 am

A friend just sent me a link to this blog, and I love it! I’ve been catching up on some of your older posts, and I found this one and just HAD to get my two cents in!

It is definitely true that saving sex for marriage and then using, not abusing, the marriage bond within marriage is SO important for our social, psycological, and emotional well-being (besides the obvious and well-stated moral reasons above), yet we cannot forget the serious reprecussions caused by the attitude of everything-else-but-actual-sex. Some teens are told “no sex until marriage” but then not properly directed with regards to boyfriend/girlfriend situations, staying out late, holding hands, necking, hanging out at the beach scantily clad, etc, etc, etc. “But we aren’t having sex …!” Right?

Wrong! Just because they aren’t actually “doing it” doesn’t mean that they haven’t become emotionally – even physically! – attached to some lesser degree, and this will cause problems and can lead to lust. I’m not saying teens should never be allowed to talk to the opposite sex, or interact – actually, learning how to properly interact will help avoid these temptations later in life – but the “everything BUT” can only be considered an occasion of sin fabricated by misguided and misguiding adults, who need to teach their children the difference between not having sex (but doing everything else) and living a positively chaste and pure life.

But in this Twilight culture where the hero lusts – yes, it is lust! – after the blood of some girl, sits above her bed and watches her sleep at night … and then moms promote this as a “chastity” book because they don’t actually get into bed together … ? Wait, what’s wrong with this picture … ?

(Ok, admittedly, I have never actually read the books – so shoot me – but I’ve heard enough to make me cringe each time I see another ad or commercial! – but I digress …)

… the point is, we need real heroes, pure heroes with pure intentions to promote a positive life of purity – and as they say, a girl’s first love and a boy’s first hero is Dad. Just as charity begins at home, so does chastity. The teens of this generation are the adults of the next; they need to know, they want to know the truths and morals of a Catholic culture.

… and I can’t find a way to wrap this up without sounding cheesy, so … sorry for the rant :) thanks for listening!

Brett Salkeld October 12, 2010 at 9:42 am

Just the other day, when I signed out of hotmail, there was a link with advice for “maintaining lust in marriage.” What they meant, of course, was maintaining sexual desire in marriage, but the culture doesn’t understand the difference here. That’s why John Paul II was mocked. What the culture heard was him railing against sexual desire. If they only knew . . .

From a pastoral point-of-view, I think it is worth pointing out that, for most of us non-saints, lust and healthy desire rarely exist in unalloyed forms. It is not the case that on a good day my goal is simply to give of myself and on a bad day I aim to do nothing but take. Human relationships are much more complicated than that. One thing that can be difficult for women, for example, is understanding how the natural fluctuation in their desire for physical intimacy is not just an indication of being dominated by biological impulse. That desire needs to be integrated in the broader relationship, but it does not need to be overruled. (Thanks to Kristen, by the way, for mentioning other, distinctively feminine, aspects of this topic. Too often this is a man-centered conversation.)

The pastoral point here is not to despair if you notice (or think you notice) some hint of selfishness in your sexual relations. The ability to recognize this is in itself a grace. We all need to cooperate with grace, however haltingly, on our way to Christian perfection.

mrs. bob cratchit June 11, 2011 at 7:51 am

Well said. No wife wants to feel like a prostitute!!!

Maria May 17, 2013 at 4:21 pm

Anonymous – I think nutrition can heal all or most of those symptoms. Try organic red raspberry tea, it is known to heal the uterus ( and unrefined virgin coconut oil also has some healing benefits (whole foods) and a good pro biotic as well, as well as a good fish oil or cod liver oil. Also you can try holistic doctors to help you thru all of the illnesses many women in their 40s or 50s encounter. Eat clean foods, take out sugar and flour products. Eat farm fresh eggs and meat as well. Also take the stress out of your life, and exercise. That’s the route I’m going and it seems to be helping, tho it is a process.

34 comments Add comment

Previous post:

Next post: