1,563. Vows That Impede a Woman's Conjugal Rights

Hilchos Ishus 14:6

When a man takes a vow that renders marital relations with his wife prohibited, he is given one week, after which he must either divorce her and pay her kesubah or have the vow annulled. This is true even in the case of a sailor, whose conjugal obligation is only once every six months. This is because the vow causes his wife distress and gives her reason to despair. If he tells her, “Marital intimacy with me is prohibited to you” or if he takes an oath not to engage in marital relations, his words are immaterial. By taking such an oath, he violates the prohibition against making false oaths because engaging in marital relations is a Torah obligation for him. However, if he says, “The benefit of marital relations with you is prohibited to me,” it is a valid vow and he may not engage in relations with her because a person should not be fed (metaphorical) “food” that is prohibited to him.

Hilchos Ishus 14:7

A man is not permitted to withhold his wife’s conjugal rights. If he violates the law and withholds her conjugal rights in order to aggrieve her, he violates a Torah prohibition. Exodus 21:10 says, “Do not reduce her food, clothing or conjugal rights.” If he becomes sick or less virile and is unable to engage in marital relations, he is given six months to recover. This length was chosen because a woman need never wait longer than this for her conjugal rights. After this time has passed, she has the choice to remain married or for him to divorce her and pay her the value of her kesubah.