Love, Joy, and Unpacking the Marital Debt (Morning Air)

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John Morales engaged with Damon Owens to discuss a topic that periodically stirs the pot on social media—the concept of “marital debt.” This conversation illuminated the often-misunderstood term, which, spoiler alert, has nothing to do with money!

Damon Owens, serving as the Executive Director of, brought his extensive experience—educating over 20,000 couples on marriage, natural family planning, and theology of the body—into a vibrant dialogue about what the “marital debt” truly entails.

As Easter ushers in a season of joy, Damon Owens emphasized the authenticity of joy as a fruit of love, contrasting it with happiness which can often be superficial. Diving into the heart of the matter, he elucidated the term “marital debt” through the lens of St. Paul’s teachings in 1 Corinthians 7, where Paul discusses the mutual conjugal rights of husband and wife. Damon highlighted how this scriptural mandate isn’t about authority over one another’s bodies but rather a mutual obligation to love, reflecting the profound sacrament of marriage.

Damon passionately argued that the essence of marital intimacy transcends the physical, embodying a renewal of wedding vows and an expression of deep, spiritual union. He clarified that while the term “marital debt” may suggest a transactional relationship, in reality, it refers to the reciprocal gift of oneself to one’s spouse, which is anything but transactional.

Damon also tackled the practical aspects of marital challenges, advising against viewing one’s spouse as a “debt collector.” Instead, he advocated for a compassionate approach to marital intimacy, recognizing the need for mutual respect and understanding, especially when one spouse may not feel up to fulfilling this “debt.”

Damon took a deeper dive into the objective and subjective dimensions of marital love, stressing that the commitment made at the altar fundamentally changes the couple’s reality, spiritually and cosmically. Yet, it’s essential to navigate this union with a personal understanding and respect for each other’s unique, irreplaceable selves.

In moments of marital discord or when one spouse cannot fulfill their part of the marital debt, Damon Owens stressed the importance of addressing underlying issues—be they emotional, physical, or spiritual—through prayer, counseling, and therapy. These supports can aid couples in deepening their intimacy across all dimensions of their relationship.

The marital union is a reflection of Christ’s perfect love for the Church, a divine mystery that married couples are called to live out daily. 

Jake Moore serves as a Digital Audio Content Producer for Relevant Radio®. He is a graduate of Franciscan University of Steubenville, and is passionate about classic movies, Christian music, young adult ministry, and leading this generation to Christ through compelling media. You can listen to more of his podcasts at and on the Relevant Radio® app.