There is a true story where a couple just got married. Soon after marriage, the wife is diagnosed with certain illness by the doctor. To make it short, because of the illness, the wife is not allowed to have sexual intercourse. The wife, however, tells the husband if needed he can have sexual intercourse with other woman to meet his biological need.

In this particular case, if the husband has sexual intercourse with other woman, does he break the 3rd precept? Any source provided to back up the answer would be great.


4 Answers 4


It does not break the third precept if the husband has the wife's willful(not forced) consent. It's somewhat similar to kings having more than one queen.

Having said that, there is no such thing as a "biological need" regarding sexual pleasures. Water is a biological need, air is a biological need, food is a biological need as you cannot survive without them. You do not need sex to live.

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    Someone can become unhappy and mentally ill for not being able to buy his favorite car or not being able to pass an exam. That does not make it a biological need. Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 1:53
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    @SankhaKulathantille But I think the husband has to do it with a woman who are not in the list of "prohibited women". "Prohibited women" is a bit ambiguous, for example, one of them is women who are "protected by law". If the local laws prohibiting sexual intercourse outside marriage, do you think the husband is breaking the third precept? What does "women who are protected by law" mean?
    – B1100
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 6:54
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    @Dhammadhatu Lust is just a subset of craving. There are many other types of craving with the potential cause future births. In any case, pleasing one's craving does not count as a biological need. Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 7:16
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    @Dhammadhatu I do not promote having sex. I was merely answering the question. Your comments make very little sense regarding this question. Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 10:13
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    @Dhammadhatu I think your view is that [some] women need procreative sex (i.e. to have children) for their sanity's sake ... if you wanted to you could write that in your own answer; and add a reference too, to support that, if you know of one. And Sankha's view is, I think, probably based on a strict reading of the scripture, i.e. something like this answer (of Dhammadhatu's), or this answer (of Ven Yuttadhammo's).
    – ChrisW
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 10:21

This is the third precept in Pāḷi:

kāmesu micchācārā veramaṇī-sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi

  • kāmesu is a locative (“in”) form of the word kāma and means “sexual desire”
  • micchācārā consists of micchā, which means “wrong”, and ācārā, which is an ablative (“from”) form of ācāra and means “way of behaving”
  • veramaṇī-sikkhāpadaṃ samādiyāmi means “I undertake the precept of abstaining”

All the precept says is that one has to abstain from behaving badly in the matter of sexual lust. This is a pretty vague statement that depends on one's culture, and Buddhists from different cultures would surely disagree about what it exactly means.

That said, even a traditional Buddhist society could accept polyandry, so we can expect that most Buddhists would also accept the situation you describe, which can be classified as a form of polygamy.


It breaks the third precept whether or not there was wife's consent. Sexual misconduct include engaging sexual activities with multiple women...

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    Could you provide details about the tradition you are basing your answer on?
    – michau
    Commented Apr 24, 2018 at 10:08
  • Kàmesu micchàcarà verama; Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 3:22
  • Furthermore, there are only certain scenarios where sexual activity does not violate the third precept: 1. With an appropriate person, such as wife or husband; 2. Not knowing it happened (E.g. passed out)。 3. No enjoyment, even knowing it happens。 4. Lunatic。 5. In extreme pain. Back to the question, are "other" women an appropriate person? Are they prostitute? Or unmarried girls under parents protection? If yes, how could they be "appropriate" persons? Having said that, the key deciding point is whether the other woman is "Appropriate", NOT whether the "wife consents or not". Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 3:33
  • The three words “kāmesu micchācārā veramaṇī” are very general, while your answer is very specific. That's why I'm asking for sources of your explanations.
    – michau
    Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 8:05
  • The meaning of those words are very specific if you can grasp the concepts behind. If you have a difference of opinions, feel free to share your views. After then, I will consider sharing my sources, and so should you too. Commented Apr 26, 2018 at 9:51

I marked this question down because it is Dhammically illogical and appears to attempt to justify sexual promiscuity with Dhammic principles. If a man had moral Dhammic commitment to stay with his injured wife then why would the same moral man have uncommitted sex with another woman (unless the woman was a prostitute)? The question makes no sense at all. I think the only way to phrase this question properly is: "Husband has sexual activity with a prostitute with the consent of wife". There is one explicit sutta that literally condemns having sex with prostitutes (although I can't remember it).

For those with a superstitious bent about karma & rebirth, it is obviously due to the man's past karma he has this wife & thus his duty is to look after her faithfully. Possibly in a past life, the man was a sexual abuser of women, such as a pimp or pornography producer, therefore in this life he must look after this woman or otherwise have rebirth in the most severe hell. My guess it is the man's last chance at a 'human birth' before the earth opens up & swallows him into hell of fire.

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