Is Masturbation in Marriage Wrong?

Is Masturbation in Marriage Wrong?

For some reason I’ve received a rash of emails this week from women who are at their wits’ end. They’d like to have sex more regularly. They’d like to feel intimate in their marriages. But their husbands seem to prefer masturbation to sex. And several women have told me, “my husband says that it’s not a sin if we’re married and he’s just thinking about me. He tells me I can’t complain.”

I beg to differ.

Then there are others who write saying: “my wife always refuses sex, and I don’t know what to do. Is masturbation in marriage wrong if you’re just really desperate?”

Two different, though perhaps related, problems. Let’s try to tackle them and figure this out!

First, sex is supposed to be mutual.

God made sex to reflect the longing that He feels to be united to us. So He put inside of us a longing to be united to our husbands, and He put inside our husbands a longing to be united to us. We want to feel that kind of intimacy, that kind of true “knowing”. We want to be joined.

Now sexual pleasure is all wrapped up in that, but our actual need is for intimacy. Intimacy is expressed through sex, and it affects all aspects of our being: physical, emotional, and spiritual. Each enhance the other. So sex that encompasses all three is the best. Sex that is only physical is shallow. And, perhaps ironically but not surprisingly, sex that feels the most intimate also brings the most physical pleasure. They’re all intertwined.

And you can see why if you look at how God designed men and women differently. Men make love to feel loved; women need to feel loved to make love. It sounds like a recipe for disaster, but the result is that for a woman to get her deepest need–for connection and relationship–met, she has to reach out and meet his needs for sex. And similarly, for him to get his need for sex met, he has to reach out and meet her need for connection. So for a marriage to work, we have to see outside of ourselves and be selfless. We have to think of the other person first. We have to become, in essense, holier.

When sex works as it’s supposed to, we both start to look more and more like Christ.

None of this is to say that women don’t enjoy the physical side of sex, or that men don’t enjoy connection. It’s only that our approach and our emphasis are different. In essence, men have just as much of a need for connection as women, and women have just as much capacity for sexual pleasure as men. But we approach things differently and we want things differently.

What happens if a person decides that they want to short circuit all of this and focus on their own sexual needs? That puts a chain reaction in place that looks like this:

1. He/she decides to masturbate.
2. He/she starts to see sex solely in physical terms, and not in terms of intimacy and connection. Thus, sex loses its deeper meaning, and, ironically, the ability to experience the height of sexual pleasure is also compromised, because for both men and women, physical pleasure is greater when spiritual/emotional intimacy is also part of sex.
3. He/she starts to focus on his/her own needs instead of the spouse’s needs. The spouse becomes incidental.
4. The urge for sexual release is taken care of, which means that he/she no longer has to reach out and meet the spouse’s needs. The impetus to become selfless is gone.
5. The couple starts to live parallel lives, but separate lives.

It’s a very dangerous road to go down.

But what if the chain of events doesn’t look quite like that? What if you’re the one whose spouse is refusing sex, and it looks more like this:

1. Your wife refuses sex.
2. You start to feel desperate.
3. She gets upset with you bugging her for sex all the time.
4. You masturbate for release, so that you can at least stay civil towards her and try to be loving.
5. You feel dirty and disconnected.
6. The couple starts to live parallel but separate lives.

In this case, masturbation may look like a gift: I’m doing it so that I won’t have to bug her so much. But here’s the problem with that: what you’re really doing is allowing a sinful, bad situation to continue. It’s not right for a spouse to refuse sex. It really isn’t. I’ve written a whole bunch about that, but these may help:

What does “do not deprive”, from 1 Corinthians 7, mean? (a three-part series; here’s the last one, but there are links to other two)

What to do if your spouse withholds sex

Are you a spouse or an enabler?

Here’s the issue: God gave us our sex drives so that we would be drawn to each other. That uncomfortable feeling of not having intimacy is so bad that it forces us to work on our issues and to improve the relationship.

When you masturbate, you short circuit that process.

But what if there’s really nothing you can do? What if you’ve tried everything and your wife still refuses sex? Get her to read this post I wrote for men to show their wives about what sex means to them. But if things are bad enough, you may have to go to a counselor or pastor or third party, or insist that she talk to someone with you. Refusing sex in marriage is not okay, and doing so is wounding her, too. She’s closing herself off from intimacy. If you masturbate, rather than dealing with the actual issue, then in a way you’re perpetuating it, too (I’m not blaming you; I’m just saying that dealing with the problem, as hard and uncomfortable as that may be, is worth it).

Then there’s another issue: the more that you masturbate, the more that you become separate with your wife, and you will continue to drift apart. That’s not healthy. So even though it’s perfectly understandable, I’d really say that dealing with the reason that she’s refusing sex, and trying to rebuild your sex life (with my 31 Days to Great Sex book, for instance), is a better route to go.

Is masturbation in marriage always wrong, then?

Not necessarily, as I’ve written about before. If both know what each other is doing, if you do it together, if secrecy isn’t part of it, it can be a part of play (as long as it does not replace sex). But if a spouse is masturbating in order to lead a secret life; if a spouse is masturbating to get sexual release instead of doing the necessary work of growing the relationship; if a spouse is masturbating because sex has become all about my needs instead of meeting my spouse’s needs, then masturbation will always weaken the marriage, not grow it.

What should be our response?

Whether your spouse is the one who is masturbating to avoid sex, or you masturbate because your spouse refuses sex, you must talk to your spouse about it. Ask if you have done anything to contribute to the problem. But then make a line in the sand and say, “it stops here”. We are going to work on this together. I will be sexually available, but you must also be sexually available to me. I want to work on how to make each other feel great. I want to work on our connection. I want to work on making sex into something explosive, not just a transaction or a release. I want us both to experience all levels of intimacy in marriage.

And if your spouse refuses to listen, then I’d talk to a mentor couple about it. If he’s the one masturbating, in essence he’s cheating on you, because he’s meeting his sexual needs with someone else (himself). He’s becoming sexually single, rather than married. And that’s just not right. And if your wife is the one masturbating, or refusing sex, you may very well need a third party to help you address this, too.

What do you think? Have you ever struggled with this? Leave a comment (anonymously if you need to) and let me know! (note: if you’re going to leave an anonymous comment, don’t use an email address that’s linked up to an avatar, or your picture will show anyway!)

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Comments

  1. Masturbation in marriage is stealing. You are stealing from your spouse. I am forever grateful to our pastor who spoke on Satan’s Sex Ed and part of that was on masturbation. It changed my outlook and therefore my marriage.

    • That’s a courageous pastor! That’s great that he talks about the things people actually deal with.

      • Here is a like to our podcasts/sermon player. It is a 4 part series for married couples, single people and 2 others. I am not sure how to link the exact sermon but if you search under Subject and then Sex Ed, it will come up.
        http://www.maryvillevineyard.com/sermonplayer/

        • Cool! Thank you, Brianne. I’m sure many will find that helpful.

          • Hey Sheila,
            Sorry about this comment being kind of a long time after the post. I generally don’t read christian blogs on sex and marriage (especially those blogs directed at women), since I’m not married, and not a woman. But I’m getting married pretty soon and someone gave one of your books to my fiance so I looked you up to see what theology about sex she was about to be taught. I’ve read the Bible and am aware that it says nothing explicitly about masturbation, but I’m with you that at the very least it’s unhelpful and even harmful in marriage. But I’ve also noticed you never seem to say anything about masturbation for single people, and when writing about masturbation, it seems like you always seem to tag the phrase “in marriage” onto the end of the word “masturbation”.
            Personally, I’ve found masturbation very hard to not do (as a single guy in his early twenties). Also, I’ve had a hard time formulating an idea about the morality of it that I feel I can support with biblical texts. My question is this: do you think masturbation is wrong for single people? (sorry if you’ve addressed this in another blog and I just haven’t found it)

            **SIDE NOTE: I’m sure anyone reading this comment will be (rightfully) highly skeptical of my motives for asking. For all you guys know, I just want to validate my own behavior from an intellectual point of view to ease my conscience. So let me explain where I’m coming from: I used to look at porn when I masturbated. I absolutely believe this is wrong. It’s been a long time since I’ve last done that, however. These days here’s what my struggle looks like: I dislike that I masturbate regardless of it’s morality. But the male sex drive is kind of like having an itch that just gets worse and worse until you scratch it – so I don’t scratch and I don’t scratch (so to speak), but eventually I find myself lying awake in bed at 3 am because I woke up in a state of extreme arousal (and super groggy on top of that), but unable to fall back asleep because I feel like I’m gonna crawl out of my skin if I don’t get some relief. This is exactly how I masturbate the overwhelming majority of the times I do. I don’t ever use porn, and although I don’t really expect the average reader to believe me, I can honestly say that I don’t fantasize. I just want the sexual tension to go away and to fall asleep again. This usually happens once every 4 or 5 days. I’m open to the idea that masturbation for single people might be wrong or that it might be okay, but have yet to be convinced either way. It’s only a month till my wedding, so this issue has an expiration date in a sense, but I was wondering what Sheila has to say about it, since my bride to be will be adopting a large portion of her theology on sex. And of course, I’m still trying to figure out what to do about all this for the next month. Also related: my fiance DOES know about all this. She said it doesn’t bother her for now, but she’d rather me not after we’re married. Heck, I’d rather not ever, but sometimes the internal pressure feels unbearable.

  2. Anonymous says:

    It’s so interesting that you wrote about this. My husband and I just had a discussion about this a couple days ago. Our relationship has had drastic changes in the recent past and the old us both had issues with this. We both did it but neither of us knew the other did. What we were discussing the other day was the way now that we no longer “service” ourselves, the intimacy in our relationship has had to grow because we are now completely dependent on the other to meet our needs. How vulnerable and trust building that is! Great article Sheila, I can say first hand it is harmful to relationships and needs to stop.

  3. You shouldn’t be surprised about the questions readers email you. You actually tackle the hush-hush issues. I know you receive a lot of negative feedback, but I appreciate that you talk about this. I am not a big fan of taboo, so thank you:)
    Jennifer recently posted…33 Things About MeMy Profile

    • Thanks, Jennifer! I’m not a big fan of taboo, either. We know people are struggling with this stuff, so shouldn’t we talk about it rather than leaving it to our culture?

  4. ButterflyWings says:

    I love this blog but have to disagree on one thing: “Men make love to feel loved; women need to feel loved to make love.” My marriage is proof this is only a generalisation not applicable to everyone. My husband isn’t really interested in sex. More than once a week, he even finds it a chore. He could quite happily never have sex again and he’d still feel loved. I, on the hand, don’t need to feel loved to have sex – in fact, part of the reason I don’t feel loved a lot of the time is because he won’t have sex and constantly rejects me.

    He’s not masturbating or viewing porn. He is however a gaming addict and it’s killing our sex life and in many ways our relationship. He spends all night gaming, so spends very little time with me or our daughter.

    I think if he were masturbating and saying he only thought of me, that I could understand – at least I would feel like he desired me. But the total lack of interest in anything sexual worries me

    • Yes, you’re right, sometimes men do have very low libidos. I’m sorry you’re walking through this.

      An addiction to gaming can absolutely lower his libido, though. Again, I’d really encourage you to find a good church where you can get plugged in, or get a mentor to walk through this with you. I know you’re geographically isolated, but we aren’t supposed to live alone, and you do definitely need some support. I’ll pray that you’ll get it!

      • ButterflyWings says:

        We’re lucky to have a great church here. Or at least hubby has a great church – it doesn’t quite feel like “mine” yet. He’s been attending for three years, and while I’ve visited here a handful of times when visiting here previously, I’ve only been living here two and a half months. It’s a really good church and very welcoming. Just feeling a little isolated because I’ve really struggled with ill health since moving here (much much colder than where I’m from), and haven’t been able to get to church every week. Hoping things will pick up soon though. And we’ve been going to a great bible study group through the church too.

  5. Anonymous says:

    My jaw just about dropped when I saw this post. My husband and I were talking about this just last night after watching the ‘The #1 Key to Incredible Sex’ portion of Mark Gungor’s ‘Laugh Your Way to a Better Marriage’ with some other young couples. I thought the session was good and funny, but little did I know how convicting it was to my husband. He let me know that he had been struggling with masturbation on a regular basis. I thought he had a low libido…but in reality he had just already taken care of business by the time I got home! I know this is something we’re going to have to work through together, and I’m so glad it came up so we can address it. Do you have any tips on how to work on this as a couple?

    • Wow, what a revelation (and a discussion) for you both to have!

      As for other resources, have you worked through the 31 Days to Great Sex yet? That’s a great book to get you both communicating about sex, and talking in a low-stress way, and then working on what sex really means–how it’s intimate on multiple levels, and not just physical. The problem with masturbation is that it makes sex into something purely physical. This can help you reclaim the other areas. You can get it here.

      I’m also working on another ebook called “How to Make Love, not Just Have Sex” which will talk about how to reclaim that intimacy when sex has become self-focused.

      I hope the 31 Days book helps you, though! I know this is really tough, hearing this. But honestly, think of it as a victory. Your husband was in bondage, and it was in the dark. Now it’s out in the light and you can really work on it. That’s a good thing, and I think God wants to do a great thing in your marriage with it. This could be a wonderful turning point.

    • Love Mark Gungor’s take on this and he’s soooo right there for the guys! Kudos to your hubby for courage to talk to you!

      • Anonymous says:

        You’re right, he’s so spot on – and I had no idea! I think it’s so easy for women to trick ourselves into thinking our husbands are the exceptions to the rule. I’m so glad he told me and we can work through it, now.

    • Sounds like my situation. My husband admittedly masturbates daily while constantly rejecting me. What does a wife do when a husband refuses to acknowledge it as a problem and refuses to talk about it?

      • Anonymous says:

        Maybe you could find a way for him to watch that DVD series with you. The way Mark Gungor discusses it is so clear, and had a major effect on my husband’s perspective. It would be a good, neutral way for it to come up without you directly accusing him, or telling him he’s wrong.

  6. ButterflyWings says:

    Just wanted to add…. thanks for a great blog post. Hubby and I just had a discussion on this topic. I think we pretty much agree on our views on it, but it’s great to have a catalyst to actually talk about it in depth. Before we’d only talked about it very briefly.

  7. Thanks for this post! Eye opening. Going to share with husband and see what happens, as we are not active per his directions.

  8. anonymous says:

    What about if your husband is military and gone for months at a time?? And he knows you do it?

    • That’s really a tough one, and before I answer, let me just say thank you to both you and your husband for the sacrifices you have both made on behalf of the rest of us!

      I did comment on that in this post, because I know it’s a big issue for many people. In that post I was talking more about is it okay if both spouses know about it? In this post I was talking more about the secretive aspect, and I do think that’s different. So go on over and read that, and it may help (and the comments are useful on that post, too).

      • anonymous says:

        Thanks for the appreciation! It is nice to hear. There is acutally a T shirt that I thought was funny (but I would never wear) that said “sexually frustrated for your freedom.” Ha ha.
        On the other subject, I will say that I have a very strong sex drive. My husband is gone months at a time. No less than 6 months at a time. He will have 2 weeks of R&R, then gone 6 more months. I NEVER imagine myself with any other man than him. I do not read any type of erotic material. If I read a mystery or other non Christian book and it has sex scenes I literally skip over them. I love the Lord and I try to serve him every day. I have never felt guilty about my thoughts because they are always of my husband. And he is fully aware of anything I do. I just didn’t know if the actual physical act was wrong. My husband admits to it as well and I would rather him do that than turn to some lonely female soldier. When he is home we are all about each other and have zero problem being with each other. We have been married 18 years next week :)

        • Honestly, I think there’s a lot of grace for situations like yours! Keep the communication open, keep having fun when he’s home. I pray that he’ll be able to be home more regularly soon. That must be exhausting!

          (P.S. I love that T-shirt!)

          • anonymous says:

            Thanks! I hope so too..And we are about to move from Germany back to the States. (off subject) so we are exhausted! Whew!

          • Mark Gungor also addresses this … and yes the military thing is different than when they are home! lol … I often forget that my non-military friends aren’t always as open about their sex lives as my military ones! :D I mean come on, we all know what’s going on when Daddy comes home! ;) Blessings from another military wife to you!

          • some friends bought me the “Sexually deprived for your freedom!” shirt and I was so embarrassed … lol

        • ButterflyWings says:

          Anonymous try not to feel bad about it. It is one of the sacrifices of military life sadly. Masturbation itself is not wrong – it is only wrong when done for selfish reasons and when it takes away from a marriage. What you do obviously is not taking away from the intimacy of your marriage and is helping you both make the best of a tough situation. I wouldn’t be surprised if it actually helps the intimacy of your marriage because you are not building up (sexual) frustration about your spouse being away. I do believe that military wives (and husbands) do it as tough as their spouses in some ways. *hugs*

  9. I love that you aren’t afraid to speak the truth, even when it might step on toes! My husband and I whole heartedly agree with what you wrote today. Thanks for writing it!
    Megan G. recently posted…celebration, adoption style!My Profile

  10. Anonymous says:

    I was masturbating for about 10 of the 20 years that I was basically refusing my husband. How shameful. There were lots of issues going on. I no longer do that and our bed has become a marriage bed again! God is good!!
    I found I could bring myself to orgasm quite quickly…..not at all now. :( I struggle with feeling like I don;t deserve orgasms. And my husband is not as energetic to try (new things) to help me get there. He is one happy camper these days. The emotional intimacy is great but the physical is somewhat lacking.
    I really would like to work through 31 Days….but for some reason, I am nervous. And we really only have the weekends, because of his schedule.

    • Oh, how wonderful that you’re over that big hurdle and that you’re working on your intimacy now! That’s great.

      It sounds like you still have quite a bit of healing to go through, though, and the biggest bit of healing is accepting God’s forgiveness. He does not want you to punish yourself over this. He has already paid the price; you don’t have to keep paying it. If you feel like you don’t deserve to be happy and fulfilled, then you’re saying that Jesus’ sacrifice wasn’t enough (I’m not trying to be harsh; I’m just trying to show you that you really can move forward).

      Remember, too, that it is a gift that you can give your husband if he can make you physically respond. But you’ll never physically respond if you’re carrying around guilt or still seeing yourself through that prism. You’ve apologized to God, you’ve apologized to your husband, you’re rebuilding things. That’s great!

      Now you just need to learn how to respond to him. The 31 Days can help, but I understand feeling nervous. Rest assured that the book isn’t 31 days of racy sex challenges; it’s more 31 days to go deeper in intimacy. There are some racier challenges, but there are also challenges to get you talking and opening up; to get you flirting again; to get you understanding your body.

      If you have to do it over a few months instead of one month because you only have weekends, that’s perfectly okay, too! The main thing is to start talking, to give yourself a break, and to just HAVE FUN! Over time your body will likely start to respond, but it may take some work and some vulnerability on your part to open up. :)

      • Anonymous says:

        Thanks Sheila.
        You’re right about me thinking Jesus’ sacrifice isn’t enough if I still struggle with guilt.
        Full confession: I have not confessed to my husband yet.
        He has mentioned that he thinks I am not really trusting, letting go. I think he’s right and I think I must confess to him. It’s probably because of that guilt.
        Oh, God, pls strengthen me!

        • It sounds like your husband can sense there’s something holding you back. Honestly, confession can bring such freedom to both of you. That doesn’t mean he won’t be hurt initially, but in the end, the increased intimacy is worth it, and you know you’ve done the right thing.

          God, give her strength to do the right thing, and give her grace to achieve true intimacy and true FUN with her husband!

    • Anonymous,
      I too can bring myself more easily to orgasm and I timidly admit that I do no occasion pleasure myself without my husband’s knowledge. I am able to orgasm with my husband manually or orally, although never through intercourse, but when it doesn’t happen with him I start feeling that perhaps I don’t deserve it. Gratefully, my husband desires to help me achieve orgasm each time we make love and I would say half the time I do, but unfortunately, like you, my husband’s work schedule does not allow time other than the weekend for making love. And then I’m lucky if we make love more than just on Saturday mornings which is his favorite time which only makes it harder to achieve an orgasm, because I feel so much pressure knowing it will be another whole week before we make love again. I’m then left feeling very frustrated and sad, and sometimes just feel like I need the release. I’m a higher drive wife and I have discussed my need for more intimacy with my husband, and he has really tried to make it happen, but again, with his work schedule the only time is the weekend.
      I’m trying to work through how to let go and not care about orgasm as much and just try to enjoy the moment, especially when I read how orgasm is not, nor should be the ultimate goal of lovemaking. And although I believe that is true, I still don’t feel like it’s complete without it. I think part of that may be because our infrequent lovemaking, and I wonder if we made love more often and I knew it wouldn’t be so long in between, I would also feel that an orgasm is no big deal each time.
      Anyway, I just felt I could relate somewhat to your comment and wanted to share my thoughts. :)

      • I can relate completely. I can’t orgasm through intercourse, only orally. And, frankly, that takes so long that I feel bad asking for it every time. I know *I* don’t like to have to perform oral sex for half an hour or so at a go- it’s hard work! So then I feel pressured to get there quickly, which makes it harder still.

        I think it’s easy for people who are able to get there to look down on masturbation and say that you need to find satisfaction without. The release matters. When you get all hot and bothered and then don’t get to go over the edge, it is supremely disappointing and can build a resentfulness in the marriage bed (especially when he seems to get there every time).

        My husband does what he can for me, but when oral is out (due to time, cycle, whatever), we’ve hit the compromise of me stimulating myself during sex. That is usually enough to get me there. Not always, but more often than not. And he really seems to enjoy the show.

        • Dana, I think what you’re talking about is different–you’re talking about involving him in it, and it’s not a secret. I would put that in a different category! And I would also really reassure you that you CAN teach him to do the same thing you’re doing to yourself, it just does take some time and some vulnerability!

          The problem I have is when it’s in secret, it’s solo, and it’s depriving the spouse. That’s not right. If you’re incorporating it into an activity you’re doing together, I’d say that’s different. :)

        • Dana,
          That is part of my problem too, taking so long even through oral. My husband gladly wants to please me orally every time which is a blessing, but I start feeling bad that it’s taking so long and I will often just let it go and let him finish. And as you said, frustration and resentfulness then set in, especially when he typically has no problem getting there and then I know it’s going to be 6-7 days before we make love again. So later in the shower or possibly the next day I will bring myself to climax just for the release of the pent up frustration.
          Guess it’s time to fess up to my husband, but it’s so hard to admit, I feel so guilty and when he is happy with only once or twice a week I figure nothing will change in the frequency and it will still be a “problem” for me. :(
          .

        • ButterflyWings says:

          Dana very few women are able to orgasm solely through intercourse. There is nothing wrong with you “helping hubby out” as long as it’s something you do together

      • Hi Aimee,

        As a HD wife, I feel you. With Sheila’s permission, I will recommend a blog dedicated to higher drive wifes. It has been very helpful for may healing process. The site is http://spiceandlove.wordpress.com/

        • Thanks Ebony, I found SpiceandLove blog a while ago. It has helped, at least for me to realize I’m not alone in desiring more intimacy than my husband. And she was encouraging to me to communicate my needs to my husband for more intimacy. It helped in that he did not realize how much it affected me to have so little intimacy. For him it’s no big deal to just make love once a week. But as I have stated, our “problem” with adding more intimacy is because of his work schedule, not because he intentionally denies me. If he didn’t get up at 2am and got to bed by 7pm during the week we would probably make love more often. And yes, I have tried going to bed earlier with him, but it’s hard when there are teenagers in the house and honestly, my husband is just exhausted all week long with his long work hours.
          Anyway, thanks for the blog suggestion.

          • ButterflyWings says:

            Aimee is going to bed for just a little whilte (and locking the door!) for a brief while before your husband falls asleep possible?

            My husband and I keep very different sleep times because I was a shiftworker for 15 years so I often only get to bed an hour or two before he wakes up. I have tried staying up a few hours longer (partially because he prefers morning to evening for sex anyway) but found that for health reasons I just can’t do that. So instead I go to bed for half an hour when he does and even if we don’t have sex (sadly we only seem to do that once a week because he has a very low drive) one of us holds the other til he falls asleep.

            I understand the teenage thing – I have a “tween” who may as well be a teenager and we learnt what happens if we don’t lock the door so we’re very strict about locking the door. But teenagers are pretty good at not wanting to walk in on mum and dad (the whole “ew, yuck” factor) and will get the hint and not even knock unless it’s an emergency.

            It hasn’t led to us having more sex, but it helps me feel at least less rejected spending that time together every night holding each other and hubby loves it. I think he honesty prefers it to sex. Actually I know he prefers just cuddling. But either way, it does help with the feeling of intimacy. And it would also help you get sex more if he truly doesn’t lack the drive.

            After, I get up, do my housework, chase my daughter to bed, check emails, watch some tv sometimes and wind down and then head to bed myself later. It will be harder once I go back to work (hopefully very soon) and I be home when he goes to bed on work nights, but any nights spending time together is still good.

          • This is my second marriage and it’s my two sons, ages 18 and 21, that live with us. So, it’s a little awkward saying at 6pm that I’m going to bed or just slip into the bedroom, kwim? One time I did tell them I was going to get a shower and put on my pjs, and went in when my husband went to bed…that worked out pretty well, but my “shower” turned out to be over a 1/2 hour and my youngest son actually texted me to see if I had gone to bed! LOL On a few occasions, my husband has gone to bed a little earlier than usual and then I will wake him up when I come to bed, but even then I feel kind of bad because I know how tired he is and although he doesn’t complain, I feel bad for taking too long to orgasm knowing he has to be up by 2:30am! It’s just been hard to make it work during the week for sex and going 5-6 days in between is so hard for me!
            We are getting away to the coast next weekend and I’ve been thinking how that may be a good time to really talk this all out. Let him know how strong my desire is for him and how I want my only pleasure to come with him. Hopefully just talking about it will be enough for me to be able to handle less sex or maybe we will be able to find a way to increase it.
            I’m so grateful for Sheila’s post and all the comments.

          • ButterflyWings says:

            Aimee I know exactly what you mean! It’s my second marriage too. I have an 11 year old daughter and I was horrified the night I snuck off to spend time “alone” with hubby and heard my daughter loudly announce to her friend on the phone “my parents are having sex”. Not a lot puts me off enough to not be able to keep going but that definitely did it!

            After that I just sat down with my daughter and had an age-appropriate chat about how married couples have sex because they love each other and that it’s normal and good when you’re married but not when you’re not married. But even though it’s good, that it’s really embarassing to sticky beak, and even more embarassing to tell your friends your parents are off doing it.

            Since then, we haven’t really tried to hide it and she’s been on her best behaviour. Thank goodness she’s still at the stage where she thinks all sex is gross and that even kissing is gross so she deliberately ignores us when we’re in the room together with the door shut (we sleep fully clothed so generaly leave the door open if we’re not having “fun”).

            Would it help to have you or a man in your church they respect to have a talk with them about how sex in marriage is something important and special and you and your husband need that time together and that you don’t want to gross them out, but could they just accept that’s what you’re doing and ignore it while it’s happening.

            It sounds like your husband is probably too tired for sex every night, I know mine says he is, but he cherishes just having me come in and lie down with him until he falls asleep. Maybe you could do that. It doesn’t totally make the desire for sex go away, but I find it does help to have that physical connection even though it’s not sexual at all.

            Good luck with your weekend away :) Praying for you.

          • Thanks for the suggestions, ButterflyWings, but I think in the case of my boys being older than your daughter it might just make it all that much more difficult and awkward. Obviously, they know we have sex and I admit when we first got married over a year ago it took me a while to relax and realize it was okay to fool around when the boys were in the house. Now I’m very relaxed, probably more so than my husband, when it comes to us making love when the boys are in the house. :)

            I like your idea of just laying down with my husband until he falls asleep and because he can fall asleep so quickly I wouldn’t be gone very long! LOL

            I’m looking forward to our weekend away…then i won’t have to worry about making a little more noise for fear the boys will hear us! ;)

  11. Anonymous says:

    This is very timely. I am on the flip side of this though. I don’t struggle as much anymore, but I masturbated for years. It started in early childhood and I kept on for almost 20 years. I never told my first husband about it and I have been feeling the need to tell my current husband about it. For me, it became such a regular thing for me that unless I do it, I don’t ever reach and orgasm. My husband keeps asking me what he is doing wrong and how he can meet my sexual needs, but I am ashamed and embarrassed to let him know my secret. I was just thinking of sending you a message when I saw this post. Is it possible that frequent masturbation can decrease ones ability to reach an orgasm through sexual intercourse? Sorry if this is TMI, but I really would like to get feedback.

    • My heart goes out to you, and let me just say this: secrets eat away at you. I know it’s hard, and he may not take it well if you tell him. But in the long run your intimacy will be so much better. You’ll just feel closer because you’ve allowed yourself to really become vulnerable to him, and that does matter!

      As for whether it’s possible to make orgasm more difficult, yes, it is. Many people find this, especially if sex toys are often involved. The simple fact is that you know your body better, and so you can pleasure yourself better. And then your body gets used to more exact and direct stimulation.

      That being said, it does not mean that it is impossible; not by a long shot! What you’ll find is that when you concentrate on being closer and feeling closer, the physical will also feel more intense. You’ll have to learn to listen to your body in different ways, and you’ll have to learn to communicate to your husband exactly what you want him to do, which is also difficult. There are some steps in this in the 31 Days to Great Sex, as well as in The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, to learn what feels good again. But I know it’s a struggle, and healing does take time. But I’d advise you to pray hard about it, and then open up to your husband. I know that’s scary, but I do think God honours it when we go that one level deeper in our honesty and intimacy.

      • Anonymous says:

        Thank you so much, Sheila…our marriage has had a rough start. My husband also had dealt with pornography in his past and some of our marriage. It’s taken counseling and a support group for me to even get to the point that I WANTED sexual intimacy again. So now I can’t help but feel it’s my turn to expose my secret as well. I’ve told him about your books and he has been on to me about ordering! lol I will do that soon. Thanks again for tackling subjects that many won’t. God bless!

        • This is something I’ve dealt with too, also since childhood, and was utterly freaked out to tell my then-fiancé about — but it was so good, and has been really amazing to be able to be honest about my past and to feel more honest just because of not keeping one secret. It’s so good to not feel like you have to hide! And to be loved. You can do it! I am saying a prayer for you right now.

    • rachel moore says:

      It can be much harder to achieve orgasim when you masturbate because the feeling is different with a toy or etc than with your spouse I know if I personally do it too much then when having sex with my husband I can not reach orgasim

    • ButterflyWings says:

      Anonymous have you tried giving your hubby a hand to help you orgasm? There is nothing wrong with working together to get you to orgasm because you’re doing it for his enjoyment as well as your own.

      • Anonymous says:

        No, but I really want to. I guess I’m just so afraid of what he might think. I plan on talking to him this weekend about it though. Our sex life is hurting because he is obsessed with being able to please me (which he does, but he doesn’t see it that way if I don’t reach orgasm through intercourse). I’m ready to tell him everything and hopefully make a new start and work on all areas of intimacy. Thanks!

  12. “In essence he’s cheating on you, because he’s meeting his sexual needs with someone else (himself).” Amen. Couldn’t agree more…with the whole thing. Excellent thoughts on this.
    Alecia recently posted…My ConfessionMy Profile

  13. Anonymous says:

    Have you addressed husbands with ED before? I love my husband and he loves me, but we no longer have any type of intimacy because of this. He tried for years, and sought medical help but (in my opinion) didn’t seek enough help. I want this part of our marriage back but he seems content that he can’t, and frankly we’ve both just settled.

    • I haven’t written a big post about it, but I think I should. I’ve received some really detailed emails about it recently, and I do want to help with this one, so I will definitely put it on my editorial calendar!

      • Anonymous says:

        I’d love to read what you have to say. And would be happy to give you input on our situation privately if you are looking for specific situations to comment on.

    • While I would certainly check out physical ailments that contribute to ED, I would not rule out other causes.

      Until last November, I was concerned about my DH’s low drive and inability to maintain an erection. I was very, very close to booking an appt for him with our family doc, as I was concerned about ED/ his cardiovascular health (you know, clogged arteries don’t only affect the blood vessels around the heart!). There is a family history of diabetes, which can contribute to ED as well. We were going *weeks* at a time without sex…and I got to the point of waffling between trying to initiate/get things going, and feeling badly for him, suspecting a physical problem, so *not* initiating because I was concerned he would only feel badly for not being able to respond. We are only in our 40’s, and 20 yrs married, so a little young to be going thru ED! Since our four kids have been school-aged, I have tried to be very available – to only decline when there was a significant problem – migraine, heavy flow, etc – so I knew it was not a psychological issue from being turned down repeatedly! I never suspected him of any infidelity, and he works from home, so I was pretty sure there had to be a physical issue.

      Well- when I, after a lot of prayer and preparation, broached the topic of an appointment to check this out, expressing my worry about his health and how badly I wanted to see this looked into so we could move on to ‘dealing with’ the problem, he confessed to secretly using porn and masturbating daily, sometimes more than once daily. No WONDER he couldn’t keep up with me!! This was an addiction I learned he struggled with early in our marriage (it began in early adolescence), but I thought it had been dealt with… I was pretty shocked, but this time, for some reason, was not particularly crushed, thankfully (unlike the first time I learned of it, within the first six months of our marriage).

      He has been working thru materials found on settingcaptivesfree.org and reading resources from yourbrainonporn.com , and we have kept open dialogue about it every step of the way. We are not feeling particularly connected in the church we attend, so finding someone to be an accountability partner has been a struggle, but he has not used porn or masturbated since December 1 – coming up on 5 months now. Because he travels for work (about 1 week in 4) we discussed at some length what boundaries to set in place when he is away, and so far, things have worked out well. Fortunately for both of us, the porn he was looking at was ‘only’ stills – no video, nothing but ‘plain vanilla’ porn. I do not mean to minimize the addiction by any means – but this addiction so often progresses to more intense, more graphic, more novel situations that it was a relief to hear his brain was not rewired to be stimulated by some of the incredibly perverse stuff that is out there.

      As a woman, it has been vital to my well-being to keep my mind firmly fixed on who I am in God’s eyes, not simply my value to my hubby. I *know* this is not about me. This is selfish, and an addiction, pure and simple.

      My husband is a wonderful man, devoted hubby and caring father and he has expressed that my support and commitment to working through this together – without condemnation or ‘punishment’ (by withholding myself) on my part – has made a huge difference in his ability to withstand the pressure to look online for porn. He recognizes that this is a particular weakness that the devil has taken advantage of in his life, and and that Satan would like nothing more than for him to cave in to the pressure. We have also discussed other ways that he might find himself tempted, which we are sure will crop up especially as he begins to feel like he has this particular area ‘under control’. Satan will keep chipping away at him, and he can never let down his guard.

      In light of some of the other comments here, perhaps looking at a gaming addiction as similar to porn might be helpful – the brain responds similarly to these sorts of stimulation, I’m told.

      I’m sorry this has become so long – but hopefully there is something in my story that will be helpful to someone else…

      • Thank you, Kris. That was really helpful. And I’m so glad that your husband has come through the other side! Yes, I would agree that gaming addictions work in very similar ways, too.

      • ButterflyWings says:

        Definitely all addictions share pretty common features. I think with my hubby it’s secondary to depression (not that is an excuse for it – depression is never an excuse for addiction or other selfish behaviour). I share your frustration about not doing enough about it. I know my hubby is depressed, and he did go to a doctor but “just keep an eye on it” doesn’t help it. Today was a public holiday so hubby has a day off, and I’d gone to bed especially early with sleeping tablets last night so we could spend the day together. We haven’t had any time together for more than a week because every night I’ve been out late (around 10pm late), he stayed up gaming literally all night and then went in early to work, and every night I was home (because I have given up my usual activities like going to the gym which I’m supposed to do for my medical problems), he stayed at work late and then went straight to bed – as in literally walked in the door, did not even say hello and walked straight to bed and got in.

        I had gone to bed more than 8 hours earlier than I normally do last night so that we could spend today together and he still won’t get out of bed 22 hours later. He’s not sick. just depressed and tired. but STILL won’t agree that something is wrong and go to a doctor or counsellor about it.

        Today was supposed to be special. We were supposed to be spending the morning just the two of us, were supposed to have a special afternoon out with our daughter (that we’ve been promising her all school holidays – this is the second last day of school holidays and the only day he has been available) and he and I were supposed to go play a sport we do together tonight (or usually do – he hasn’t been in 3 weeks as he’s been too tired from gaming marathons). I’m at my wits end.

        I know he can easily walk away from the gaming – he does when he’s not depressed. But it’s the depression and refusal to do anything about it that’s breaking me. We haven’t had sex in over a week, and because I give him a break from being asked during that time of the month, today’s the last day before we won’t be having sex for (at least) another week.

        I spent the whole 8 years of my first marriage alone because my now-ex husband was a drug addict who would spend all the first years of our marriage with his druggie mates (when he wasn’t at work, but only worked 2-3 days a week for most of our marriage, when he bothered to get a job), and then spent all the last few years of our marriage when not at work with his mistresses (and told me he was with his druggie mates). Now instead of a drug-widow, I’m a gaming-widow.

  14. Honestly, if it hadn’t been for the physical release provided by masturbation, I probably would have cheated on or divorced my wife years ago. From the very first day, our marriage was a sex and passion free existence that continued for almost two decades. Words can not describe the pain, misery and loneliness.

    For me, masturbation was a pressure release valve, nothing more, nothing less.

  15. I can’t remember where he said it, but I like the way Douglas Wilson put it: masturbation is bad theology. ;-)
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  16. Anonymous says:

    Thanks very much for this post. This is a difficult topic and there is certainly not consensus within the Christian community on this.
    I struggle with a porn addiction that at times had me downloading and maintaining a huge collection of images with the attendant masturbation that it would entice. Periodically, guilt would properly overwhelm me and I’d do a massive purge. Sooner or later, I’d slip and start to build up a collection again eventually do a purge. It’s been a very long time since I had a huge collection. These days when I get the urge, typically I look for something completely safe, not porn at all and enjoy that instead. I have a flickr account where I keep the filters turned on, though this is an effort at times. Beware of flickr though. There’s an awful lot of adult groups (really porn) that have lots of misguided people. Mind you, there’s plenty of terrific groups that I frequent but won’t name since that would likely identify me to anyone who knows me.
    I have had an accountability partner but didn’t share with him as much as I should have. I realize I will never be free of this but every day is a step closer to more freedom and every time I refuse to indulge I get even stronger for the next time.

    My current struggle is just trying to keep on track, to not go looking for garbage which I do so easily. I don’t smoke or steal or engage in other sinful behaviours, but the habit of looking makes slipping so easy. I also have to regularly remind myself of things to help me stay on track. I have a huge list of things I read on a regular basis to help me stay on track and work on my recovery from an abusive childhood and a few abusive relationships. I’ve also had therapy. The lies we tell ourselves to justify our addictions are astonishing. She does know that I’ve struggled with this but not the extent. As far as I know, she’s never struggled with solitary masturbation like I have.

    Intimacy has always been a struggle. My wife loves sex but I struggle with wondering if she’s getting as much as she wants. Even she doesn’t know. When I hear people say they make love every night or 5 times a week I feel guilty that at best, we’re intimate 3 times a week. I know every couple is different and that if her needs are met or exceeded, I need not feel guilty. Without too much detail, she is almost always very satisfied when we are intimate.
    What also impacts it are lingering feelings of unworthiness. I don’t feel like I deserve sex. I feel guilty for wanting sex and terribly guilty when I desire my wife. I buy books but reading through them is enormously difficult. My wife read your ‘girls guide’ book and we’re both slowly working our way through ’31 days’. I’m also reading ‘The Fantasy Fallacy’. I suspect this will simply take persistence and effort so I no longer hear or seldom hear a voice screaming at me that I’m not worthy. This unworthiness extends beyond sex and into career success and other things people would take for granted when they ask for them.

    I realize none of this justifies sin. We’re adults and we have to deal with our situations in an adult fashion. If we see we need help, we get it. Fortunately, there is grace which covers a multitude of sins and God isn’t out to trap us but to free us.

  17. So many thoughts on this! One thing I recently heard that hit home for me was telling my husband that I wanted ALL of my orgasms to be HIS. But it’s been a hard habit to break for many of the reasons above, including lack of intimacy in our marriage for nearly 15 years. I am a very high-sex drive woman, and my husband was not. He also has ED. While I don’t think I’d have cheated, it may have helped me from going that way. Thank God we have restored our marriage (see my blog for more on this), but we are rebuilding trust little by little. I think that TRUST is the central issue of orgasm for women. Even as we have rejoined in our marriage bed, I have had a tough time reaching orgasm as I’d like to (and as I know I can–I’m multi-orgasmic, g-spot and all). It does take longer to climb there though, especially in your 50s. I have begun using vaginal hormone creams to restore lubrication and elasticity; we need lubrication for good sex; and I am trying very, very hard not to self-stimulate unless it is part of our lovemaking and he’s been unable to get me there. My latest challenge is to work on orgasm with him in the driver’s seat. I am learning that as my trust grows, and as we find a compromise point in what turns us on sexually, I’m able to achieve more orgasms by his hand (but still in a minority of our couplings). I am telling him more about what works for me and exhaulting with loud joy and compliments to him whenever it happens (“look at what YOU do to my body!” or “See how what you did made me wet…” I’ll exclaim. I know he likes hearing that. Each of us has different buttons. If we’ve been masturbating a long time, we are the sole pilots knowing how to make the plane take off! We need to gently guide our husbands so that they can take over the controls. Easier said than done.

    On a seperate but related issue: For those of us who are taking a very long time to reach climax, is there any harm in using toys–together? Someone suggested to me that my husband using the toy on me still puts him in control of giving me my orgasm… and perhaps less frustration with taking a long time…
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  18. I am thankful you aren’t afraid to speak about these topics. These are issues that people deal with every day. And most churches do not speak on marriage let alone some of the topics you dare to speak on!!

    Another good resource for your readers is Mark Driscoll’s “Real Marriage…” He goes into very detailed about what is okay in marriage and what is not. It is also a good marriage tool not only for sexual intimacy but also spiritual intimacy in marriage. He takes Song of Songs and really explains it well! I would highly recommend this book to anyone.

  19. I am sorry Sheila, but masturbation is ALWAYS wrong and sinful! I would never ever recommend it even over the phone with your spouse! Sex is not just for connecting with one another as a couple, but for procreation purposes. We are to always be open to life. Of course, I am Catholic and I don’t agree with some Protestant views, like contraception. But, that is for another blog. Masturbation is always always always about self-love! If it were purely about just release, then having sex with just anybody at any time would be ok. Why not let your husband do it with a prostitute when you two are separated, if the release were so awful important? God calls us to sacrifice too, and sometimes that means sacrificing the release. That just sounds so animalistic to me: the “need” for release. Honestly, there is no need. It is a desire that can be dealt with in other holy ways, perhaps through exercise or just letting the desire pass. I mean don’t teens feel the desire to release too? What do you tell unmarried teens? No one will die without releasing. It’s surely not like the need to eat or sleep. At any rate, here is a link on what Catholics believe and why and I hope some day you can see that masturbation is ALWAYS wrong, no matter what! http://www.beginningcatholic.com/catholic-teaching-on-masturbation.html

  20. You could say that all sex is animalistic and selfish then? As long as the two are ok with masturbation over the phone it could be a great substitute while apart! I never thought if this… But I might now consider it. My issues are I feel guilt even having sex while married. This might help me!

    • Mimi, I’m not entirely sure what your first sentence means, so I don’t know how to reply, but I would say that having sexual feelings is absolutely fine. I’m so sorry that you feel guilt about having sex, and I think walking through WHY you feel that with your husband may be more productive. Have you ever worked through the 31 days to great sex? That begins with exercises just about talking and reframing how we see sex, and perhaps if you could verbalize that with your husband that may help?

  21. Sheila,

    Please check out Mark’s post (4/23 at 9:07pm). I am with him and rely on masturbation to stay in the relationship and can say that I may have cheated a long time ago without it.

    Re my marriage; our sex drives simply don’t match; I’m in great shape have a good sex drive, wanting to connect sexually 4 or 5 times a week. She on the other hand has virtually no sex drive at all along with the inability to reach orgasm which makes me feel terrible. (I’m normal sized btw so it’s not about that.) I initiate all the time but 95% of the time when she does agree to do it, it’s a chore for her. This is where I agree with your statement that men make love to feel loved; I have a very real need to feel loved. Sex is validating for me. and I’m not validated and loved as if it’s a chore for the other person.

    So, I feel guilty because I have the drive and great orgasms and want her to enjoy sex and just have her own orgasm, in any manner that will make her happy. I don’t need movie-sex where everyone is coming together, I’m realistic. I honestly would rather give physically (in all manners for hours please) but it’s turned down and she focuses on getting me there so she can move on.

    Re your posting subject of masturbation: If she wanted to have sex at my desired frequency level, I’d be able to walk away from masturbation entirely, even without her enjoyment of the sex. But again, I feel would feel guilty. Why? Because she’s doing it to please me and I’m just taking at that point. Here I am trying to feel loved and I end up with a partial win of simply having an orgasm. And I know I can give, give, give.

    So that’s where I’m at right now; I like the sex, but crave the higher connection that it all brings. It’s difficult for me, knowing that whenever we have sex, I’m the only one who can “get there” and again, I feel like I am taking. So masturbation plays a role for me.

    • Hi Rob,

      I totally understand how heartbreaking and frustrating your situation is. It is certainly NOT the way that God intended.

      That being said, I think what’s happening re: the masturbation is that you’re relieving the pressure valve, which does make you feel better. But by relieving the pressure valve you’re also taking away the need to make a radical change in your marriage.

      And marriages like this do need a radical change.

      Perhaps you have tried everything; obviously I don’t know your situation. But as you yourself know, this isn’t good for your wife, either. She was created for more than this, and she can’t see it right now.

      So just a few ideas, and perhaps you’ve done all this already. But if not, I hope it may help you, and perhaps others reading who are in the same situation.

      1. Share with her this post I wrote for men to show their wives about their need for intimacy.

      2. Don’t give up on learning how to bring her to orgasm (or on teaching her to let go, because often it’s we women who are blocked). This post and this post may help in that regard. This one‘s good, too. Make sex into something that she can enjoy and feel relaxed by.

      Speaking of that, incorporate other things into sex, like start off each sexual encounter with a 15 minute massage where you’re really pampering her. Talk to her while you’re doing this. Pray together about your kids (if you have any) first. Let sex be more than intercourse, and let it be more intimate, so that she can get some real benefits even if she doesn’t orgasm (massage is awesome!)

      3. If she refuses to explore it more, or just wants to continue going through the motions, seek out a counselor or a mentor couple. Talk to your pastor if you have to. You both were designed for more. Do not let more years go by in your marriage when you don’t experience that together. Will she be upset? Very likely. But change often upsets things. And you can’t get through to the other side without it. You need to show her that this really matters–not just because you want things better, but because you want things better FOR HER.

      4. Work on your friendship and pray together a ton. The more you pray together, the more sexual you will also feel towards each other. It really does break down walls.

      5. If she will, ask her to work through the 31 Days to Great Sex together, or get her to read The Good Girl’s Guide to Great Sex, which helps women reframe how they think about sex.

      If she has told you, “I just don’t want to talk about it, you have nothing to complain about, and everything’s fine”, then just keep pushing and ask to see a counselor (or go on your own). Living in a marriage where you aren’t experiencing real intimacy, and you’re masturbating instead, is not good.

      • Sheila, I think the points you brought up were great, but they don’t matter if it’s a one-sided issue. I’ve stopped brining this topic up because my wife just gets angry. We are seeing a christian counselor but it has had no effect, other than to our finances. I bought both the 31 days and Good Girls Guide, but she’s not interested in either. I’ve tried to make sex more about her by spending time touching and oral for her, but she’s not interested. She just tells me to hurry up and that oral is boring. I hope that since our marriage is young things will change, but I’m not holding my breath. After thinking about it, I think the biggest thing is, I would like is to feel like she is interested in things improving and actually working towards it. I don’t expect a miracle overnight, but seeing us try to make things better would be a huge step.

        • Anonymous says:

          I’m with the fellows on this one, and I’m the wife in the marriage! We have sex fairly regularly, but it is heavily one sided. Every time I’ve asked hubby to bring me to orgasm, he’s gotten upset and sarcastic. I’ve tried directing his hand and he yelled at me to stop it and pulled his hand away. So, I have to settle on when he wants to bring me to pleasure, which is far less often than I want, or even biologically need! I am actually sick in bed today because the hurt from this has manifested physically. I’ve tried talking with him, encouraging him, praising him, thanking him, hinting heavily, speaking plainly, and I’ve gone into counseling about it….at best, it went from a 3 year famine of him wham bam thank you ma’am-ing me to every so often he’ll initiate taking care of my needs.

          There are nights I can’t sleep because the desire is so strong. There are days I can’t concentrate because I want him and an orgasm so badly. I get moody, irritable, sick….and the only release is to masturbate and I hate doing it. And yes, it is in secret, because every time I’ve tried talking to him about it, he doesn’t want to talk about it. So, he knows I masturbate, but he doesn’t know how much and how often and when and where and why and how.

          He masturbates in secret sometimes, too. I’ve caught him several times and he hides it. That hurts even more because I’m always willing and eager to be with him AND he’s pretty much “used up” after he masturbates. I’m not. I could keep going.

          I’ve tried fasting from masturbating. I’ve prayed in so many ways for my husband and for myself to have a lower drive or no desire to masturbate while we’re working on this issue. I’m at a loss. I don’t know what else to do! He talks the talk, but doesn’t walk the walk. He says all the right things to people, to me, but doesn’t act on it. He needs freedom from whatever sexual bondage he is in. Only God can provide that and that is what I pray for.

          • Anonymous says:

            Adding that it cannot be normal for a man to not find pleasure in pleasuring his wife! It cannot be God-intended for him to find it unimportant for his wife to be as pleased as possible in bed. I certainly work towards him being as pleased as possible, but I can tell he holds back….I don’t know why. It isn’t porn. I have access to his phone and computer and he’s pretty much illiterate in technology, so I know he’s not looking up porn. He doesn’t sneak and I know his whereabouts. Low T, maybe, even though he can perform well enough and the frequency isn’t too bad…he can also hold an erection for quite some time and have multiple orgasms.

            *sigh* I just don’t know.

    • Anonymous says:

      Rob, I know your initial post was to Sheila, but I have a question if you don’t mind. Is your wife on birth control or hormones? When I was on them, they KILLED my sex drive. I even once told my husband that I didn’t care if I ever had sex again. Just a thought. Don’t give up on your marriage. Pray for your wife and trust God to change her heart. I really do feel for you!

      • Anonymous says:

        Sorry, this was supposed to be to Chris…I’m sorry!

        • Yes, this was the case for me too, when I went off them that totally changed for me, especially for about 2 weeks per month. I also felt a bit like that while pregnant or breastfeeding, but not as bad. Now for the 2 weeks per month, we have the opposite problem – my drive is through the roof, his is nowhere near it. But now I know how my hubby felt when I thought 3 times a week was plenty all those years, it’s not always enough.

  22. Anonymous says:

    Shelia, sorry if this is a bit unrelated, but some of the comments on this post about secrets & confessing to your husband made me think of it… Have you ever done a post on “faking it” (orgasm, that is)? In my experience, it’s something quite a few women really need to hear about in a forum like this. One thing that I’ve already learned in my short marriage is that honesty is CRUCIAL to a loving, passionate, mutually-enjoyable, God-honoring sex life! Lying or secrets of any kind between a husband and a wife (particularly when it comes to the bedroom) are never worth it, in my opinion.

    • No, I haven’t, but I’ve been thinking about it lately! I think many of us are carrying around “secrets” and we don’t know how to break through that and build real intimacy. But real intimacy can’t come without honesty. I really should write about this soon. Thanks for the reminder.

  23. Thank you for addressing this issue. My husband and I have been married for 21 yrs. Most of the marriage, he has refused. He is a wonderful husband and father is SO many ways. He works as a partner in everything…cooking, cleaning, all the kids care and needs, family activities and sports, etc. We are both Christians and raised in Christian homes. BUT, we have history of poor conflict resolution….he tends to be passive/aggressive and I tend to be more aggressive. We have sought counseling and attended conferences. We have prayed, studied over these issues regularly in our marriage. AND our conflict resolution skills are better but he suffers from poor self esteem either due to our earlier marriage difficulties and/or poor relationship with his parents…or??. Either way, our marriage works well as working partners raising our children in Christ centered home. BUT there is much lack of intimacy. Both of us discuss the issue but he is unwilling to seek personal counsel to change. The only way I know to deal with this is to focus on Christ, study His Word, and keep walking this road that overall is good but lacks much.

  24. Anonymous says:

    For all you ladies with tired husbands….I have found with 4 kids, and my husband waking early every day to provide for us all, it is often hard for him to stay awake until the “coast is clear”. But what I do is wake him, rubbing his back and when he stirs I let him know the kids are asleep. He has no trouble loosing a little sleep for us to have sex then. Have you all just tried waking him, instead of trying to make it happen when he is falling asleep? Or write a note on the bathroom miirror…Wake Me ;) They might not be tired all together, just the timing for right befire bed may be off. I have found after some rubbing of his back or legs in a sleeping slumber, its pretty hard for him not to accomidate me lol. Haven’t been turned down yet.

    • ButterflyWings says:

      Anonymous glad it works for you but it doesn’t work for everyone. If I woke my husband up for sex he’d go nuts. I’ve asked him to wake me but he never does. And even if he tried, he wouldn’t get far. I take medications for health reasons and once I have my night time meds, within half an hour, he wouldn’t be able to wake me, let alone have sex. Some guys have plenty of time and opportunities but still aren’t interested.

  25. So as long as masturbation isn’t in secret… it’s ok? The reason I ask is because I (and many women) have some serious issues, when I married my husband 12 yrs ago… I was very inexperienced and the little “experience” I had was either terribly painful or just felt nothing. My husband is the first man to make me want to have a sexual relationship, I have never wanted anyone as much as I have wanted and still want him. It was so amazing, and I finally understood how great sex was! Well, after our first child… it was sooooooo painful because she ripped me severely and it never healed right. Even to this day I still have issues. Sex is not always fun and exciting or enjoyable for me. Even with lube. I feel having been ripped and sewn back up that I’m even tighter than before and he is not a small guy in the first place. We have tried different things to help me. My doctor even prescribed a numbing cream, which helps but I still get torn during so I’m just in pain after it wears off. We have figured out together that it helps me by being really aroused… unfortunately, I’m not like most women and it is hard for me to get there. I’m super attracted to my husband, I think it’s mostly knowing that I’ll be in so much pain. I want to make love to him. I just find foreplay very hard. I have severe medical issues also and that pain contributes. Other than kissing and caressing I can’t really do foreplay. My husband is a salty person and him touching me on the inside burns. Oral is just plain painful because of the Vulvodynia (vaginal pain from trauma or childbirth) and I have severe TMJ so I can’t do it back anymore. I’m at a loss on what else can be done. He has always said to pleasure myself (which I thought was gross for the longest time) so I started doing it and thinking about my husband. We found that when I pleasure myself, it helps get me more aroused to want to make love to my husband and not worry about the pain. The more I pleasure myself the less it seems to hurt. But I don’t do it in front of him, it gets him way too excited and then it hurts a lot or we have to stop. I do it before he gets home and jump his bones as soon as he walks in the door (depending on the time) or make sure I go to bed with him every night. We sleep naked, I feel it helps us stay close and if he wakes in the middle of the night and wants me or vice versa, it will be easier. My husband gets up around 3:30a so we go to bed at 9p even though I usually can’t sleep. I like to go to bed with him because it gives us a chance to connect, whether it’s sexually or just laying in each other’s arms for a bit. After we make love or just go to bed, I read on my Kindle or play games until I’m tired… so it’s a win win. Anyways, I’m sorry to hear some of these stories and hope that you all are getting the help you need. God Bless you all! Thank you Sheila, you truly are a God send for me and my marriage!

  26. My question is this my sex drive is alot higher than my wife we have a good relationship and the sex is great but sometimes I want it more, and she doesn’t so when she isn’t in the mood and I am I would masturbate in the shower, I see it as a release and only think about my wife when I do this, I never deny her sex when she’s interested, we are both in our mid 40s, i feel bad and guilty at times when i do this act, I masturbate usually once to twice a month , we’ve talked about it on several occasions but it hasn’t changed or left either of us with hard feelings toward each other, I feel guilty because I always wwonder if I’m sinning buy committing this act? We both are born again Christians also

  27. I did not read every single reply, but I did not see even one detractor. I wonder if you block them. I will just say it this way. I’m grateful when people are happy and find what they genuinely believe or know is deliverance from anything. So I am not here to argue. I do, however, offer an alternative opinion from what I have seen here for the sake of others who may feel the same way as I do. Or, even to encourage others who are to trying to be thoughtful about such things.

    I am not a counselor, but during my graduate and post-graduate days, I did take psychology and counseling courses, and I have tried to be a thoughtful person over the years. My husband and I (Christians both) have been extremely active in various Christian venues, including churches, and we still are. We are avid Bible students and teachers and we encourage others in the same. We have been wonderfully and happily married for over 20 years.

    Now . . . the deliverance we received years ago was from all of the so-called “Christian” blanket condemnations of masturbation in the name of the Bible, God, church, and true spirituality. As thoughtful and studied Christians, we reject this position. In addition to other types of sexual engagement and play (with each other only–I’m not talking about extramarital anything), in our case we freely engage in masturbation with each other, and also in private–all of it by mutual consent, agreement, and even encouragement. We play games with it, we celebrate it. It is one way we express our love for each other. Anybody who says that this can’t happen is mistaken.

    The whole “bad Christian” guilt-trip was the greatest thing we ever overcame with each other. There are not only plenty of studies showing positive aspects of masturbation, our own marriage of 20 happy years is a testament to it. We have absolutely no hesitation to pray about masturbation as a “wonderful, God-given gift” any more than any other type of sex in marriage.

    Can people misuse masturbation? Well, of course they can. Just like anything can be misused. Masturbation is not a sin any more than brushing your teeth. On the other hand, as good Christians, we can all probably find a reason why brushing our teeth is immoral–maybe because it simulates oral sex. . . or even masturbation itself. Yes! That would work. “Avoid anything that appears evil.” Tooth-brushing is now banned! (By the way, my husband and I can neither one stand oral sex. We don’t think it’s wrong. We just don’t like it.)

    It is our opinion that Christians need to come to their own conclusions about all of this stuff. If they are not comfortable with it, they surely should examine the reasons. If they think it is wrong, they should not do it. For ourselves, we decided years ago that life is too short and painful to listen to well-intentioned Christians make up new laws about something that is not even a biblical topic, and then to effectively legislate that, in the privacy of my relationship with my husband . . . what we can and can’t think or do. We both reject this.

    We encourage Christians to be more thoughtful about such things.

    I appreciate your effort.
    I feel no obligation to comply when Christians overstate things in pursuit of a good cause.
    Thank you.

    • Heather, thank you for your thoughtful comment.

      If I can summarize, what you’re saying is this: “Christians have added to the law and are outlawing things the Bible doesn’t even speak about. We should celebrate this gift instead!”

      I do think that’s a valid perspective–though it’s not one that I share–but I find it interesting that you didn’t deal at all with the arguments that I did make in this post. I laid out very clearly why masturbation can harm a marriage. I never said “God says don’t do it, and there you go!” What I did was show the psychological, emotional, and spiritual ramifications for running to masturbation instead of attempting to work things out with your spouse.

      I just find it curious that you didn’t really address the post at all, but rather just the topic. I actually spoke more about masturbation here, and linked to that post in this article (along with a variety of other posts that elaborated on my position). Again, I think you’re reacting to what you think I’m saying, rather than what I did say, because I’m not sure that you read the article itself. But perhaps I misunderstood.

      • ButterflyWings says:

        Heather I follow where you’re coming from and pretty much agree. I’m not a fan of masturbation for the same reason you’re not a fan of oral sex. Only rarely do I find it enjoyable and only when hubby falls asleep after initiating foreplay and not carrying through and it’s more of a “well you started and didn’t finish it and I will feel physically ill if I don’t” and I actually do get physically ill if hubby initiates something and doesn’t finish things for either of us. For some reason, him having an orgasm (and me not) physically satisfies me, but getting started and going nowhere is painfully unsatisfying. I disagree with a lot of the arguments for a blanket ban on masturbation and I know hubby does it and I don’t have a problem with that – my only disappointment is he hides it from me, even when I walk in on it, he pretends he was doing something else. It’s not the masturbation that is the problem, it is the hiding it (and in his case, I think it’s detracting from the little sex drive he has).

        I wouldn’t even normally share all of this much but after him starting foreplay and then rolling over and going to sleep, I don’t even have any interest anymore. I think his constant rejection has finally killed my sex drive altogether.

        • Heather says:

          I’m sorry to hear about this distance between you and hubby, BFWings. I don’t want to be interfering on this board so I’ll just say that I agree with you that the cause of the problem is not mb per se but something else, something deeper. (In other words, just forcing a “stop” to the mb would not solve the problem). It is certainly possible that if the two of you got together and found the cause of the growing distance that the mb might actually diminish or even stop. But this is just my opinion. If it were me, I would not let this glide. I’d try reaching out to him first. And I would guess that Sheila agrees. I’ve spoken up enough. These issues are all very personal.

          • Butterflywings says:

            I wouldn’t say there is a growing distance. He’s been like this our entire marriage. Sex just isn’t a big deal to him. He’s happy with once or twice a month. I’m still initiating at least once a week but mostly it goes nowhere. I don’t have the heart to try.

          • Butterflywings says:

            The distance isn’t growing. In fact over the last few months, we are probably closer than ever. The only real problem between us is his lack of interest in sex and it has not changed during our entire marriage. The only thing has changed is I have given up pushing the issue and resigned myself to sex only once or twice a month.

      • Heather says:

        Sheila, I did read your post: several of them. And I read a lot of the replies, as I said. I just now read them again. I’ll reiterate: I appreciate what you’re trying to do–help people.

        I simply disagree with your approach. I did respond to your message, even though I did not take it on a point by point case. (No need for that, really.) The truth is, it would be difficult for anyone to read this page and not get the overwhelming feeling that masturbation is wrong, sinful, psychologically damaging, marriage destroying, and even filthy–except maybe in a few cases where it might be ok. The whole “going down that road” argument gets brought in, and the Bible gets used, not to claim a law, but simply to show that “good people just don’t do such things.” You are articulate and passionate and all the good things a writer should be. And I commend you. And I think you should alter your argument instead of repeating the standard Christian line. (Which I think you do repeat.)

        Like you, I am simply stating my opinion. Since we all know that we can have intercourse with our husbands and still sin (the mind is a marvelously secret place, isn’t it?), why don’t we focus on heart and mind issues instead of physical ones. Teach people about heart and soul, let them make up their own minds about intercourse, fellatio, masturbation, using mirrors, or oils, or hot tubs, or the back seat of a car, or anything else. To be honest, I think one of the reasons Christians have such a problem with such things is because of all of the restrictions that some Christian teachers and preachers have created about such things. It is complete overkill, and my husband and I stopped listening to it years ago. And we are the happier for it.

        I think we would do better to encourage Christians everywhere, married or single, to give your heart to Lord, and then use that heart to decide for yourself about all of these intensely private questions. Thank you, Sheila, I’ll not bother you further.

  28. Anonymous says:

    I’m curious to know what it means to masturbate while maintaining a good sex life in your marriage. My husband and I have been married for 6 months, but together for 9 years. Keep in mind we’re only 24 and 26 so being in this relationship means having an explosive sex life, as I would call it, and also having the ability to masturbate. I’m not necessarily a god fearing woman, but I also believe to do right by your husband. We have both talked about this and he has admitted to masturbating. I am guilty of the same. We have sex roughly 4x a week but recently bought a new toy. It’s not that it feels better than him but that it feels different and I guess I’m
    intigrigied by that. Is there something wrong in feeling sexually attracted to said toy when your husband is sleeping and/or has a long day ahead of him and can’t focus in sex at the moment? I will admit, I will tell him about this but I’m curious to know if he’ll be offended even though he has masturbated as well.

Comment Policy: Please stay positive with your comments. If your comment is rude, it gets deleted. Any comment that espouses an anti-marriage philosophy (eg. porn, adultery, abuse and the like) will be deleted. If it is critical, please make it constructive. If you are replying to another commenter, please be polite and don't assume you know everything about his or her situation. If you are constantly negative or a general troll, you will get banned. The definition of terms is left solely up to us. Sheila Wray Gregoire owns the copyright to all comments and may publish them in whatever form she sees fit. She agrees to keep any publication of comments anonymous, even if you are not anonymous on this board.

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