Is Masturbation in Marriage Wrong?

by | Apr 23, 2013 | Uncategorized | 158 comments

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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 masturbation’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 harmful if you’re just really desperate?”

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

Masturbation in Marriage: Is it always wrong? Here are reasons why masturbation (at least in secret) can seriously harm your relationship.

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 essence, 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–through masturbation in marriage? 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 that God put in place for us to move towards closeness.

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).

31 Days to Great SexThen 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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Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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158 Comments

  1. Brianne

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

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

      Reply
      • Brianne

        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/

        Reply
        • Sheila

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

          Reply
          • George

            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.

          • Karen

            Question, what if your husband refuses sex refuses therapy refuses to talk to another company just refuses to touch you will have sex with you is masturbation wrong

          • Audie

            I have the same issue. There has been so many excuses. Ranging from ED to lack of libido to being assexual. I’m struggling with this situation so badly. My heart hurts every single day. Why does he stick around if he has no desire for me?

      • Louie

        My wife wants no relationship with me and committed adultery. I am a christian, I do not believe in sexual mental nor physical adultery. I love her still so much and I desire her still. She wants no sex with me let alone fix the marriage, so I think about her when I’m alone and I masturbate to her, so I wont make her angry when I try with her and get denied, is that wrong…

        Reply
        • Sheila

          Louie, I think what you’re going through is just so awful, and I’m so sorry! I think God totally understands your heart. But if I could suggest something–when one spouse is pulling away, sometimes our natural reaction is to be so scared of getting her more angry that we bend over backwards to be nice. And that’s not always the approach that will save the marriage. I’ve got a review of some books about affairs here, and I’d recommend especially that you take a look at Love Must Be Tough by James Dobson. So sorry you’re going through this again!

          Reply
      • ushika

        Hi,
        Since we are married its only once a week that we have sex,I az a woman wants it more Tha him, but because he gets very tired after work and all he refuses. However iv then masturbated cause he refuses, and he think that I will never be happy of what he gives cos I want sex more Tha just once a week! I feel I am a sex addict but just don’t know! Please advise me
        Iv spoken saying I want sex mire often than him, he agrees but he forgets as the days gi by!

        Reply
    • Louise

      I’ve been married 13mth now in that time I’ve daughter to my husband , but since then we don’t seam to have sex life wen we 1st met we had it like twice a day now it’s like once or twice a month but when we do , do it , it’s always when he’s had drink , he refuses me or doesn’t seem intrested I do no he watches porn so he’s sorted his self out but while he’s doing that he’s pushing me to the side I feel like he’s gone off me in every way , don’t get alone time as couple cos he works loads then we have his kids and mine when he’s day off he wants his time witch includes drinking really don’t know what to do any more

      Reply
  2. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      EXACTLY! Thank you so much for sharing. I’m glad someone who has walked in can confirm it.

      Reply
  3. Jennifer

    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:)

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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?

      Reply
  4. ButterflyWings

    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

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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!

      Reply
      • ButterflyWings

        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.

        Reply
    • sarah

      My boyfriend and I have been together almost a year now, the sex is slowly declining. While a man having a hobby or addiction to say gaming is very hurtful, you’d think you’d feel more desired by the thought of him pleasing himself to thoughts of you…but it’s just that all in its own.
      Take last night for example and the whole reason I found this post, I feel hurt and betrayed. I convinced my boyfriend to have sex,I did climax but he often has trouble to keep an erection so when he didn’t finish and he wanted to stop I said okay. Later on I’d fell asleep for a couple hours and I awoke to him standing in the living room where I’d been sleeping when I asked what he was doing he replied he had just come from the bathroom. I’d asked him if he masturbated and he said no but this morning when the alarm on his phone went off, I saw he had in fact been viewing porn. If the erectile dysfunction was the problem I’d be content and work on the issue and be more understanding, but how can I when he tells me he can’t perform but can to masturbate

      Reply
      • An anonymous wife

        I read this comment and felt I should reply, because something similar happened to me: I realised my husband was watching porn and masturbating a lot. When I discovered it, it was obvious he was ashamed but I was still very disappointed and unsure what to do. The more we talked about it, the more it seemed he had little self-control. We had never stopped having sex, but clearly that was not enough, and he had almost like an addiction. After going round and round in circles for weeks, or maybe it was months, my husband finally made a suggestion: instead of leaving him to masturbate, he suggested maybe I should masturbate him on a regular basis, so that I knew exactly what was going on and could kind of “regulate” his needs. At that point I was willing to try anything. We gradually worked out that by doing that between two and four times per day, his temptations could be controlled. And for myself, there is pleasure in knowing I have him in much better control, and he isn’t going to sneak behind my back to look at porn. I don’t know if every husband will accept this kind of solution, but I believe it can work for some people.

        Reply
        • David

          I hide from mi wife the last 3 years I was doing the same thing your husband did. But she cought me last night .i am so shamed she is very Cristian women oh I hate mi life now

          Reply
        • Mike

          🙂

          Reply
    • Audie

      I completely relate to this. Only difference is, my husband selfishly takes care of his own needs and never ever mine. I’m rejected and I’ve never felt so alone.

      Reply
      • Sara

        I have the exact same. It’s ruined our marriage. I don’t feel he’s the slightest bit attracted to me. I also just caught him in the act. I know he’s a narcissist and struggles with emotional issues. If I didn’t have children I would be gone as we’ve gone to so many counseling and therapies on his emotions needs them to yet catch him in the act.

        Reply
  5. Anonymous

    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?

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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.

      Reply
    • Holly

      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!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        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.

        Reply
    • Tonya

      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?

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        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.

        Reply
  6. ButterflyWings

    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.

    Reply
  7. HP

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

    Reply
  8. anonymous

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

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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).

      Reply
      • anonymous

        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 🙂

        Reply
        • Sheila

          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!)

          Reply
          • anonymous

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

          • Holly

            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! 😀 I mean come on, we all know what’s going on when Daddy comes home! 😉 Blessings from another military wife to you!

          • Holly

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

        • ButterflyWings

          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*

          Reply
  9. Megan G.

    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!

    Reply
  10. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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. 🙂

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        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!

        Reply
        • Sheila

          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!

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            Thanks so much Sheila!!

    • Aimee

      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. 🙂

      Reply
      • Dana

        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.

        Reply
        • Sheila

          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. 🙂

          Reply
        • Aimee

          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. 🙁
          .

          Reply
          • HappilyMarriedGuy

            Aimee, No need to “fess up!” As a happily married man of 15 years, I can tell you a couple of things: any man worth his salt knows that he will not always make his wife climax during sex. It’s the nature of the proverbial beast, and just the way we were created. Orgasms are the best form of stress-release there is, and sometimes it’s easier to make it happen on your own.

            On another note, a hubby performing oral on his wife can be just as satisfying for him as it is for you… every husband loves to please. It’s even better when his partner provides a bit of guidance – REALLY, don’t feel bad or selfish! When my wife and I were younger, I’d go down, but I didn’t really know what she needed to climax, and later in life (when we really started communicating about our love life and the prudishness wore off) sex became better for both of us.

            Having a satisfying sex life takes some work, and masturbation is part of it. In retrospect, when my wife and I started talking about our masturbation “habits” honestly and had some fun together, I observed what she liked to do on her own, and (her words)I became a much better lover.

            Don’t worry about frequency too much – life gets too busy to get busy sometimes. Give your husband some privacy, and take some private time of your own (innuendo intended.)

            While I agree with Dana – you can AND SHOULD teach your husband how to do what you like (and let’s face it, for a quick O, no one is better qualified for the job than yourself,) it’s not depriving your husband. In fact, if you are honest and tell him about it once in a blue moon (maybe a quick text message,) your frequency of love making will likely increase. Not to be raunchy, but if you ping your hubby during the workday and say something like “I was just buying a cup of coffee , thought about you, and I’ll be waiting in the bedroom naked when you get home” He wont be able to get that out of his brain. Just don’t say 🙂

            Don’t overthink it, and focus on owning your sexuality. Guys and gals who practice monogamy are more similar in sexuality than most people think. We all love orgasms, we all need to have a wank now and again, and if anyone tells you otherwise, they are lying!

            Final note: I understand that this is a Christian website, and i was raised Catholic, but if you and your partner don’t have any spice in your life (sexual and/or hot sauce both do the trick, but not at the same time, obviously) you’re not really living.

            Have fun!

        • ButterflyWings

          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

          Reply
          • Dave

            My question is, if women hardly ever climax by intercourse which is how our father intended for sex to be, why does this happen? Isn’t sex the only way he wanted it to Be? Why oral, vibrators and all the rest other than sex better? What if wife doesn’t want oral? What if she can’t climax with me? A vibrator is the only way. Not that I mind. I’m just wondering . My wife masturbates all the time when I go to work. Then at night is too tired for sex. Seems the toys are better for her than I can provide. Opens the door for ungodly fantasy. I’ve heard her call out another man’s name while doing this. Then acts much more aroused than ever had has been with me in 8 years of marriage. I’m hurt and she doesn’t really like talking about it.

      • Ebony

        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/

        Reply
        • Aimee

          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.

          Reply
          • ButterflyWings

            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.

          • Aimee

            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

            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.

          • Aimee

            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

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        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!

        Reply
        • Bethany

          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.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            Thank you for the prayer and comment too! It’s nice to know I am not alone.

    • rachel moore

      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

      Reply
    • ButterflyWings

      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.

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        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!

        Reply
    • Another Anonymous

      Dear Anonymous – I have had some of those similar issues, and believe that I understand some of what you are feeling. Another reason to share your difficulty with your husband is to relieve him of the fears he may be feeling. He may be worried that you aren’t attracted to him, or that you are regretting your decision to marry him in the first place. I believe that if you share with him that it is something that you have struggled with before, but that this time you want to really work together on the problem, he will be both relieved, and more than happy to help you!

      Reply
  12. Alecia

    “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.

    Reply
  13. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

        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.

        Reply
      • Anonymous Mama

        I would love information on that, too! My husband and I are still pretty young, but he has diabetes, high BP with CHF and all over body pain….to name a few. I have severe all over body pain and have difficulty moving. My husband has ED and has given up on any desire for sexual intimacy anymore. He refuses to tell his doc he has ED, due to shame, I think. I have decided to take care of my needs, myself, when I am able to. It has been years since we had intercourse. I miss the intimacy. I understand the tremendous physical pain intercourse created for us and how many days it took us to recover afterwards. Is it ok to masterbate in private?

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          Have you both looked at natural changes / diet for your health issues. I used to think all of that “granola” living was silly until I had my own physical ailments to deal with. I’ve stopped eating ALL processed foods. I now only eat lean organic meats, no dairy, added in A LOT of veggies and some fruit. I also avoid soy and anything with added sugar (even natural sugars like honey). It has changed my life. My naturopathic physician says I won’t have to be so strict forever, just until I heal. This may seem off topic but I think it could help with your overall health and quality of life.

          Reply
          • Sheila

            I’m so much like you! I went through something similar health-wise, and I’ve had to really change my diet. I can’t eat at restaurants now. As long as I cook I’m fine, but as soon as I eat out, I often encounter problems. So I’m much more open to what some of those “diet” people have to say now!

    • Kris

      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…

      Reply
      • Sheila

        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.

        Reply
        • Pame

          My Husband of 35 yrs. also prefers masturbation/computer porn than having sex. He even says he has ED,as he is hypertensive and is on medication. We have gone a full year without having sex. He doesn’t even touch me or doesn’t even seem to care if I’m sexually satisfied or not. He is a very educated man and has in the past love me unconditionally. Cared if I was satisfied. But for the past almost 26 yrs. he has changed. Since I became pregnant with our twin daughters, our sex life has changed. When I was pregnant he couldn’t touch my stomach. They were IVF and was our third try. So it was a much wanted and excited time for us both. I’ve talked to him about the lack of attention he shows me in bed. Nothing changes. He doesn’t even try to manually touch me. And if I have to beg it just doesn’t help the situation at all. He did go to counseling with me for a few wks. But would always talk about anything but our sexual problems! I’m ready, at 62, to get a divorce. I’m alone anyway. So why put up with him! I feel like I’ve wasted most of my life with him. Unhappily!

          Reply
      • ButterflyWings

        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.

        Reply
  14. Mark

    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.

    Reply
    • Megan G.

      I’m sorry, Mark.

      Reply
  15. Cindy

    I can’t remember where he said it, but I like the way Douglas Wilson put it: masturbation is bad theology. 😉

    Reply
  16. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
  17. DD

    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…

    Reply
  18. Crystal

    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.

    Reply
  19. Teresa

    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

    Reply
  20. Mimi

    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!

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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?

      Reply
  21. Rob

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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.

      Reply
      • Chris

        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.

        Reply
        • Anonymous

          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.

          Reply
          • Anonymous

            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

      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!

      Reply
      • Anonymous

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

        Reply
        • Kmaree

          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.

          Reply
    • Another Anonymous

      Hi Rob – In addition to Sheila’s great suggestions, you may want to see if your wife would be interested in a downloadable e-book that has been helping my husband and me “get on the same page” about the importance of sex -for both the husband and the wife- in marriage. I stumbled on the website around the same time I found Sheila’s. It’s called “Bonny’s Oysterbed 7” at http://www.oysterbed7.com. Her book “Unlock your Libido” has a reading for each week of the year, and has been helping us align our sexual needs to keep us more connected. That, and LOTS of prayer, not just alone, but with each other. God bless you both, and I honestly hope you both can use this to get closer.

      Reply
  22. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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.

      Reply
  23. H

    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.

    Reply
  24. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
    • ButterflyWings

      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.

      Reply
  25. Tristan

    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!

    Reply
  26. harold

    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

    Reply
  27. Heather

    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.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      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.

      Reply
      • ButterflyWings

        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.

        Reply
        • Heather

          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.

          Reply
          • Butterflywings

            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

            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

        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.

        Reply
  28. Anonymous

    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.

    Reply
  29. Salmon

    Is masterbation okay if it’s done while having sex with your husband or wife?

    Reply
    • Sheila

      I think if it’s part of the sexual act between the two of you, and it’s not replacing intercourse, there’s no problem. The issue becomes when it’s about secrets and getting sexual release elsewhere, or denying your spouse true intimacy.

      Reply
  30. littlewolf

    I am not a Christian, but found the article interesting. I am 25 and my husband is 31. I have to say that it is not always men who have a higher sex drive than their partners. At least 20% or more of women have a higher sex drive than their partners. I am one of those women with a much higher sex drive than her husband. We are both healthy and mostly in shape, our lives are not too stressful, and we have two children (4yrs. and almost 2yrs). (Side note: They sleep in their own beds now.) I LOVE sex and have sex both to feel loved and close to my husband and also need to feel loved to have sex with my husband…so for me it’s not one or the other. 🙂 99% of the time I’m up for sex…it’s my husband who is not always up for it.

    Reply
  31. Jaz

    What if my husband has physical reasons to refuse? Say a bad painful back that makes him feel exhausted almost everyday. Don’t tell me a doctor is the answer. He won’t go due to lack of insurance. I do masturbate alone. He knows. Just doesn’t know when. We do four play only at times but it’s not enough. Not for me. Don’t say get on top either. The back affects him you know where. He can’t concentrate on keeping it up a lot of the time.

    Reply
  32. Victoria

    What if it takes 30 minutes of direct stimulation to climax, not counting the eternity it seems to take for indirect. Usually we will try foreplay until he gets bored – i have a hard time achieving arousal – then we move onto intercourse until he finishes and we clean up. I’ve never had an orgasm durring sex, it takes a lot of time and a lot of stimulation with a toy we got hoping it would help. my husband will usually leave the room after and say I can finish myself off if I want to, but he doesn’t have the patience to do it with me.

    Reply
  33. Jennifer

    My husband and i have been sexually disconnected for quite sometimes now and i have tried several times talk to him about it and he refuses to and tells me I’m pressuring him too have sex with me. He would rather masturbate than have sex with me and I’m starting to feel like it’s me but he tells me its not me that I’m beautiful and nothing is the matter. What is your response to this i need some kind of help because it’s tearing my marriage apart little by little.

    Reply
  34. Eleana perkins

    Hi Sheila just reading through all the material and blogs, and I was surprise to know that there is a spiritual aspect to intimacy. My pastor calls it “in-to-me-u-c”. However, I did write down the points that you gave. Praying before being intimate was a wow moment for me! Never gave that a thought. Thank, will be looking forward to reading more on marriage and all it entails. Jah bless! Eleana

    Reply
  35. Stella

    My husband of 15 months does not want sex. I want sex. I was really looking forward to having sex for the first time and learning all about it. Right from the start we had problem with intimacy. We have talked about it. We have gotten counsel on it. A couple months ago. He said: I don’t love you, I don’t want you. I stopped touching or letting you touch me during our honey moon because Ic don’t feel anything for you as a man for a woman. I want a divorce because I want to be happy. ” My question is, for as long as we’re still married will it be OK to masturbate to thoughts of him?

    Reply
  36. a

    hi sheila
    my wife hates sex, married 16 years

    for the past 10 years or more always i have to place the request to unite physically for two minutes or three minutes only.

    it has to get over in two minutes in a dog like position which i hate
    she wants it done fast, because she is getting late for work. evenings she is tired and does not even like if i touch her, dont mention sex

    she thinks that by cooperating she is doing a FAVOUR to me whenever opportunity knocks she elaborates how i initiate it in front of both my sons. it hurts me a lot

    I am an RC, Indian. There is nakedness all around me – TV, Mobile, Workplace, Vicinity, and it is very difficult to resist the urge

    my wife is a convert from hinduism, baptised 16 years ago, now 38 years. please advise and pray for my family because she wants to separate and take my sons away from me

    she always tells me to leave the house. her heart and soul is on money and the sole purpose of her life is to enjoy, go shopping, travelling, chatting, abusing, judging.

    what have to say about this, i dont know who to consult. i came across your blog and placing my cause before you. should i masturbate under the circumstances, if not what is the way out

    Reply
    • Stella

      OK first dear….. I’m very sorry you’re going through this. I can hear the pain, frustration, sadness in your words. Since my last post, The LORD has done a lot of work in my heart and I’m learning to be satisfied and single. I pray you don’t actually have to learn that….

      Now before I address your question ( as led by the holy Spirit) let me tell you just a little background about me.

      1. I’m a missionary to America. Being here 17 years

      2. My father is a bishop.

      3. My mother is a pastor.

      4. My German Grandfather ( “adopted” my father 25 years ago) is a pastor/author

      It is from this background ( NOT my experience or age) that I’m responding.

      I asked my grandfather this very question when I went to visit my grandparents at the farm just over thanksgiving last week.I said: “Grandpa John, is Masturbating a sin” He said “If the purpose is to ” scratch the itch ” and move on, not to punish, not to lust, masturbating is NOT a sin” I pray that helps A.

      I’m praying hard for you A. I can’t imagine your emotional pain with the sexual touture you’re experiencing. But know this, You’re LOVED by Papa Yahweh.

      My Grandpa is John Roy Bohlen. If you type his name online, you’ll find ways to get in touch. He’s wise, practical, and godly. You might not get directly in touch ( though I am praying you do) but he actually has a book that addresses masturbating that might help you better.

      Reply
  37. Another horney man after his wife.

    I hope not to offend anyone. I am not a typical Christian. I beleive most Christianity is Marcissisitc and self serving these days, just to give you the tip of my ice burge. I don’t think God gives use what we want ever and only places needs infront as options in front of us and it is up to us to take the good the he offers or find something self more serving. Sex and masterbating are similar in this nature, but I’ll be damned if my woman is thinking of God will we are having sex. If she is, I don’t want to know about it until afterward and I know she feels the same. Each unto their own, eh!? Anyhow, the we sight is amazing, the blogs, a lot of them seem self servient. I have noticed that if my wife feels less attractive than usual she doesn’t want me to try and push the issue, but if you waits to long she sort of goes into munk moad. If she masterbates it stimulates her lobito and we are soon having sex again. It is easiar to turn a woman on and make her feel sexy and most of all loved if she’s not all bent out of shape about having no realese which she will never admit, as she just wants sex with love and for you to be turned on by her. Men have the same problem but tend to take masterbating personal. I’m better of in the bedroom if I keep my hands off of me and on her, but as the websight suggests in a loving and reassuring and kind if in-handsy way. If talking to her about this and we tried masterbating a few times together, because I was appearently ready even trying to give her space, so se was fascinated watching and joined in. I am very sorry if someone feels that is too much info. But let me just say. I learned more about how to please her in 5 minutes than in 5 years of love making. She has trouble climaxing unless its oral. But seeing how she does it made me a master. So, you see, it’s not for all Christians to say, it’s just a matter of love, sometime we have to allow one another to explore until we get it right. Using her techniques opened up a realization in her that she needs to just feel good for her to and stop trying to please me all the time. Its strange that a selfless act of becoming one flesh also includes being free to your own desire. If you want to have better sex, then feel good enough to just feel all the good you are receiving and before you know it your partner is floaded with the same feelings, literally, physically, and once there, I’ve found that real love making and intimacy begins. See, I feel the need to say, if you forget your carnal nature, it will haunt you, and haunt your partner in turn and you’ll end up feeling really bad about saticefying yourself and in turn will not be able to please the one you love. Take care of yourself just enough so that you can take care of the one you choose to share life itself with. as far as masterbating, be careful! You will use yourself all up. Be honest with your partner if you masterbate. Its a hard thing to talk about. Its a hard thing to show one another. But if you are hidding it it is because you are hidding something. Period. Try to know when you are needed or need it and forget about want. I give myself at least a few days before and actually ask my wife if she might be interested while she is menstrating or pregnant for example. She’d rather I take care of myself than to get to the point that I start considering other options. Even though I wouldn’t, cheating is worse than dead to me. My ex cheeted and lied and I’m sure it all started with fanicies and masterbate in without the other knowing. Women know. They just know. They’re sexual genius is a bit more than the still primal urges of a man. Controle yourself, not your partner, and they’ll so the same.

    Reply
  38. anonimo

    Hi,

    I am glad I found this wonderful post. I have been married for 12 years. My husband and I had a beautiful married life until a year after my daughter was born. After that, the last 10 years I have been suffering because my husband won’t want that intimacy with me. First it was because he didn’t want to have another child. I have always been longing for him, he either refuses, gets angry or says nothing. Sometimes a whole month or more can go without it, sometimes less but it has never been consistent. He states he doesn’t masturbate , and I have believed so all these years. Not so long ago, I realised how bad our relationship had become due to an incident with a female co worker. No affair of any kind, it was just that she considered him a friend because he had helped her a bit. I realised I was jealous of the fact we both didn’t even have a friendship going on. All it was was domestic issues , children and no time for us. Therefore, after that I have been trying to work in our relationship for the last 8 months so we could at least rekindle that intimacy I have always been longing for. Recently I asked him how things were. He didn’t seem to recognise much change, but for my way of seeing things a lot of things have improved. He won’t want to have that intimacy regularly still, only for the weekends if things work out. Some time ago I am sure I found some evidence he was taking care of business himself . It broke my heart. The worse is that I told him. He felt accused, denied it and the worse is that he made me feel I am mad and don’t trust him anyway. He said all the work I had done was worthless after this discussion. I made it worse because I had asked him before what was the problem I had to deal with to reconnect again, and I asked if there was anything like he was getting to know someone else. He thinks I am always suspicious about him, and he had enough. He is so defensive when I ask him what the problem with us is. Otherwise, the years go by and we would continue living divided in this respect most of the time. But all fire backs and my efforts to have some communication and in return I get a big argument and even he said that he has had enough with my suspicious behavior. .He is making me believe I am really mentally ill. I don’t know what to do especially after he denies it and makes me feel evil because I dared to step over him. What am I doing wrong with him? why do I get this reaction from him ?

    Reply
  39. Jennifer Poore

    I thank you for this article, but I do have one question. What if the spouse has many health issues and can’t perform like he use to. The wife isn’t getting what she desires, so she masturbates, sometimes with him and sometimes alone, Is this wrong?

    Reply
  40. Annonymous

    I’ve tried! My husband masturbates since he’s 13 years old, he has worked in the modelling industry for the last 10 years and always had everything easy and fast, including women to just fulfill his need to release while masturbating many times a day. I met him when I found Jesus and after living with him in sin for a year and ready to choose the life God had in plan for me, he found Jesus. When it happned, he confessed the whole truth of masturbation and fantasies with my girlfriends and we started a new life with God. We decided to live separatedly before marriage and we got married and are currently doing a bible college abroad. But even after his repentance, our sex was never good. He never looked at me or was vulnerable, he just needed to use my body to release, not masturbating or watching pornography but thinking of it the whole day and trying to make me become those images in his head. We’ve been married for 2 years and he finally got the revelation of our emotional and spiritual disconnection after not being able to get an erection anymore and I was already on the edge of a divorce. We decided to give our last try to be vulnerable and build a real connection together and we got the book 31 days to great sex. He was commited to it, it really impressed me how decided for us he was for the 1st time, we are on the 10th day and I didnt felt ready to have intercourse with him as im learning to feel free and without pressure to love and be loved with him, and I thought everything was clear, fun and ok in between us, but last night he couldnt hold anymore the desire of making sex and went to the toilet and masturbated for the first time in two years. He could have masturbated with me in bed, as I always asked him during sex to play with me but he was always afraid to com back to this trap, and suddently, just in this moment when I felt for the first time the love and the trust raising above my past traumas, he did it, in secret, by himself in the toiler as it was in the past. He could have talked about it, but he decided to throw all these days of growth on the flush with his release. I cant trust him. I always have this anxiety that if i dont force myself to be the body for him to jerk off while making sex with himself, he will find his own way to get it done. And thats what happened even when we both were aware of this important and special time. The Holy Spirit even told me to tell him yesterday about praying while we are not making sex, and right away he did it. I cant finf a way to forgive him. He knows how traumatized and hurt I was for these 3 years caring with him his sexual baggages over our relationship. Im broken inside and the peaces that started to fell together are all on the floor again. What can I do? Im desperated. Im having an appointment with a solicitor to sign up for the divorce in two days. I feel im bleeding anger and resentment. I want it over.

    Reply
  41. Chris

    So what about when you’ve tried all of the above and the wife has zero drive. You’ve had the “talks”, counseled, helped, gone to retreats, etc etc etc… and still live in a 100% sexless marriage? If a man doesn’t release his chances of prostate cancer skyrocket and he becomes a bear to be around no matter how much he tries and/or relies on Christ to keep him civil.

    Would you then consider masturbation ok?

    Reply
  42. Aaron

    This is a great artical…..I have felt this way for a long time but have not been able to put it into words

    Reply
  43. Dale

    I think one of the problems and reasons for my 25 year marriage ending was that my wife refused sex, well every 2 weeks rain or shine was her prescription. I asked dozens of times to change the frequency to at least weekly, how about every 10 days. She would have been happy to have sex once a month or longer. She often told me to go and take care of myself, that she had no problem with me masturbating as long as I left her alone. ‘I love you dear, me too” she’d reply. There was a lack of connection as well. I asked her to text or call during the day, please just connect. Greet me at the door with a hug and kiss. Go on regular dates. Come up to me tell me you love me. Brush by me and touch me. Rarely did she ever say that she loved me or touch me. I sought counselors, separate and together, mentor couples she refused. We were great parents to our 6 daughters, great managers of our finances, both Christians. I read many books on marriage, godly manliness. Read this blog for years. She asked me to leave in 4/15. I tried for years our divorce will be final in a couple months.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      I’m so sorry, Dale. So sorry. I once heard someone say, though, that if you can say that you did all you could, then that is something good indeed. It sounds like you can say that. Not that that’s a lot of comfort, but ultimately you know, and your girls will know, and God knows.

      Reply
  44. Confused

    Hi Sheila, I’m in a hard place and wondering what to do. It’s been s rough couple weeks since finding porn on my husband’s device. He is an occasional user and this is the 3rd time in the last 10 years. It’s not as devastating to me as the first time, even the 2nd time… Still heartbreaking to me but I think I’m finally understanding that it’s not my problem, rather his heart before God. In the past we have had sex soon after because I was so shattered I felt like I had to ‘compete’ or Make things better or something. At 38 now I’m learning to know myself, value myself, be a little more assertive (since I’ve always wanted to make him happy and felt guilt over saying ‘no’ ever). This time I realize that I have been damaging myself in having sex with him…. And the who knows how many other woman he’s bringing into our marriage bed. I cannot get the filth out of my mind and pain out of my heart and sex has become a cheap, worthless, physical release only. My mind can’t make sense of anything more… Intimacy, emotion, spiritual… Since it’s become disgusting due to his porn. We both have a sex drive though and I find it easier by far to take care of myself in the shower than be vulnerable with a) a man I cannot trust and b) a man whose mind has been perverted by all the garbage of porn and makes me feel trashy. He says he only thinks of me when we would have sex but I’ve read so much about how the brain works (I think researching for hours all night is one way some woman deal with the trauma). When we have sex, how can he not be seeing all the crap he’s lusted after online? I see it in my mind just from seeing what he’s seen! It’s gross. I am done ‘playing the whore’ at the sacrifice of my own mental and emotional well being. We have not had sex since the last discovery and I just can’t see myself ever being able to again in a healthy way.

    Reply
  45. Confused

    All that to say: can you help me? I want to be healed and have a godly perspective on sexuality. I love him and want to do life with him… I love connecting in every other way but I fear the ‘sex’ part is messed up for good… Ironic to me that many men turn to porn because they want more sex and in doing so ruin the good thing they have? it’s such a lie of the devil… That porn will meet the need but really it ruins the chance one had to truly have a fulfilling intimacy with your spouse.

    Reply
  46. Anonymous

    What about when as a mother, wife, employee you are tired and exhausted by all u have to do that day. By the time it comes to go to bed you have no energy or drive to have sex. I know that I want to meet my husbands needs, but sometimes I feel that my needs are not being met. I feel like am taking care of two children instead of just my 3 year old son. There are times when am exhausted and he knows I am. He will ask me “is it ok if I masturbate?” So my answer is yes, bc I have no energy to try to have sex. When can get turned on in a second, but for woman it takes more work to get us turned on or in the mood. That’s where the problem lies. Am too tired to work on it. Or he’s too lazy to put in the time to make me feel wanted, not just like a piece of meat. What do u suggest in this case?

    Reply
  47. Another Anonymous

    Thanks for this post, Sheila. I have been a subscriber to your blog since the spring of ’15, and found it to be very helpful in several areas – and have recommended it to friends, pastors, and their wives. This post touched me for several reasons:
    1) My husband and I don’t have the same level of sexual desire, but we do have the same level of desire to have a loving, Christ-centered marriage. We believe that kind of marriage requires the willingness to be transparent and vulnerable with each other, as well as honest communication that is kind to one another. It may not always be easy, but it is what we committed to before we ever married, and I know how blessed I am to have such a caring husband.
    2) I knew when we married that my husband had lots of wounds around sexual intimacy from his first marriage. As we married later in life, I didn’t know what kind of sexual appetite I would have, but what I wanted above all was to create a ‘safe’ place for my husband to express his needs. While this became more difficult when we realized we had different sexual appetites, it didn’t change my commitment. It has not been easy – to convince him that he can ask for whatever he wants (nothing crazy, mind you, just the ordinary stuff,) when he wants it means that I have often had sex on nights when I was really tired, and would much rather have gone right to sleep! But it has been SO worth it, as he has gotten over many of his fears of being rejected, or feelings of not beign deserving of having his needs met. We have come a very long way – and I give God all the glory – and thanks go out to several of the websites I stumbled on when looking for something to recommend to someone else!
    3) In this process of healing – and because of the guidance of loving pastors, as well as God’s grace – my husband was able to admit to me some porn use and masturbation that helped him deal with our differing sexual appetites. I wasn’t hurt, but a bit surprised – until I asked him how often he masturbated. The frequency made me realize that this issue of our differing sexual drives was one that I could no longer brush off, nor could I make it “his” problem. The old expression “it takes two to tango” had new meaning for me. We would attack this problem together. He committed to not using porn, and I have trusted him with this issue – mainly because of all the work we have done to create that safe place to have these conversations. I believe he will tell me if he still struggles with this.
    4) Meanwhile, I had to do some research for my own issues on several fronts: why had my libido disappeared with the onset of menopause? And what could we do about it – how could I find what worked for me now (many thanks to you & your books on this topic, Sheila). How does childhood sexual abuse (mine) affect marital sexual health? How does saying “no” for years of singleness affect our ability to make a 180 degree turn after a 45 minute wedding ceremony? Let me tell you, sometimes old habits (and their psychic echoes) die hard! I’ve had to do a lot of work on myself – and I am lucky to have a loving husband that has been patient with me through all of this.

    We’re still a work in progress. But many thanks to you, Sheila, and to some of the other Christian bloggers out there, for the help some of us have so desperately needed!

    Reply
    • Sheila

      Thank you for sharing that! I think it will be really helpful for others, too. And I’m so glad that I could be part of the positive part of your journey!

      Reply
  48. Alison

    I totally agree with all that you have said. Something my husband and I have talked about and went to people for advice. Thankfully, this is something that is not a problem. My question is this: what about when you are apart? My husband goes on trips for work, taking him away for a week at a time, and he misses me and he wants a release. My question is what is your opinion on that?

    Reply
    • Sheila

      Hi Alison,

      I guess I’d say that’s really between you and your husband! The main thing, I think, is that there isn’t a lack of secrecy, and that sex isn’t replacing what you would otherwise be doing. If you both know about it (or even if you’re on the phone together 🙂 ) I don’t think that’s a big problem at all. As long as when you’re together, you’re TOGETHER!

      Reply
  49. Dan

    Hello! As a single guy, i’ve been finding this website really helpful in my view of sexuality. Thank you, Sheila! I do wish someone would have answered George, who wrote on June of 2013, as I see it as a big struggle for a lot of Christian guys.

    Reply
  50. Diana

    My husband wouldn’t have sex with mè, instead he would masterbate at least once a day. Sometimes he would masterbate three or more per day and I was deprived of sex. He told me I was worthless at having sex, but his hand and imagination was much better than I was.
    He finally payed the price, he masterbated so often that he couldn’t get it up any more. I don’t feel sorry about his now problem. I do wish I would have been the recipient of all that sex. Now it’s been years without any sex or intimacy.

    Reply
  51. Anonymous

    I am the husband of a wife who “hates sex and everything else around it”. We are going to counseling, which I am happy to do. I want more than anything to have a close, intimate relationship with my wife. I’m not sure that our counselor understands men, and said that I just need to exercise self control. Release could be controlled, after all, “look at all the celibate people out there!” She suggested that I may be addicted to sex. As far as I can tell with the research that I’ve done I seem to be a pretty typical male who tries to love God and spouse. I meet with an accountability partner and I’m truly, sincerely a wanting to resolve this issue with my wife. We were married later in life, and she had never been sexually active – always served God and sex was a no-no. Our marriage started strong and sex was regular and “normal” as far as a growing relationship would expect. She got sick about 2 years ago with an autoimmune disease which has completely obliterated her libido, and her psychological mindset has shifted. I am so close to checking out. I don’t who what else to do?!?!

    Reply
  52. Kayla

    What about in a case where in a case where the husband isn’t able to perform all time because of health challenges? My husband has COPD and isn’t always able to preform for various reasons. Often times he will try, but isn’t able to follow through. After several episodes of getting aroused and not getting release, it builds up and I really feel I need release. Otherwise, I am tempted to stop him if I don’t think he can preform and I don’t want him touching and caressing me in an erotic way because I don’t want to get excited. I can usually manage but after days or weeks of it, with no release, I just don’t know what to do. This is serious. PLEASE HELP or reply.

    Reply
  53. tyee

    Ok so my husband works long hours so when he gets home he is tired, I ask him for sex but he is to tired to give it to me. So my question is is it wrong to pleasure myself while thinking about him?

    Reply
  54. Audie

    I have been thinking about this A LOT lately. I’ve never felt so disconnected from my husband. Where I used to look forward to sex, he completely shut me out. He would rather masturbate, stating he needs “alone time”… I feel desperate. I’ve even suspected him of trying to push me to cheat because he denies me sex. I feel he’s selfish because my needs are nowhere close to ever being met. On the rare occasion that we do have sex, he lasts long enough to get himself off…leaving me discouraged and fruatrated. It’s a hard pill to swallow when sex went from 2-3 times a day…to 1 time a month…if I’m lucky…in just 3 short years. I resent him… and my heart hurts.

    Reply
    • Sheila

      Oh, Audie, I imagine that your heart really does hurt! Can you talk to him about this? If it’s hard to do, people have said that my book 31 Days to Great Sex does help them finally start that difficult conversation–and it does talk about selfishness in sex, too, but in a non-threatening way. Maybe he would work through that? It’s really cheap if you just buy the ebook version (I wanted to make it super accessible for people). And one thing that I often suggest is that couples really work on their friendship and having fun together, too, because if you can do that then it’s easier to talk about some of this stuff. Again, I’m so sorry.

      Reply
  55. chuck

    My new wife and I have been married for 3 months we have sex 5 or 6 times a week but I wake up in the night and find her masterbating quit often.i do not let her know I am awake.this really troubles me especially because I know she reaches an orgasm multiple times during sex.i don’t know exactly how to handle this.

    Reply
  56. Rachael

    So say a husband goes off into the military for years and rarely comes home (like maybe for certain holidays). Would the wife or husband be allowed to masturbate? Maybe if they both knew they were doing it or could possibly do it over a phone? Would there be some way to make that work?

    Reply
    • Sheila

      I think there’s a lot of leeway when you’re in those impossible situations! Masturbation then isn’t replacing what you can get from each other. I know couples, though, who say it’s better to try to “turn off” that part of themselves while they’re on deployment, but I have never been there, and I really don’t think I want to make a definite opinion one way or the other. I really think that that’s for you to work out together, and as long as there aren’t secrets, then I think you just do what you each think is best and feel comfortable with. And thank you so much for your family’s service and sacrifice!

      Reply
      • Anonymous Christian guy

        I am a minister at the young age of 36, my wife is older than me at 43 years old. We have been married since I was 22 and she was 27 (14 years now) and have 3 kids. I come from a healthy Christian family and waited for sexual intimacy until marriage. She comes from another religious background and became a Christian later in life and from a very broken family background. She has a very broken past in the area of sexual intimacy and I found myself now broken sexually from my only experience with sexual intimacy which is with my wife. My experience with sexual intimacy is my wife gets nervous, angry, and super emotional after sex. She sometimes even rages and a few times has gotten violent. I guess its a radical version of the post-coidal blues. I’ve always tried to be super patient and love her through this. We first of all don’t get that much sexual intimacy, because she gets nervous with sex. I am never allowed to initiate, she almost feels raped if I initiate and will get super-nervous and upset. I am not even allowed to hint that I want sex. She thinks these are her “boundaries” as she puts it, that she initiates when she feels ready. She calls them her boundaries. It could be once every six months, or in a really good time, once a month. She thinks I cross her boundaries (she says its healthy to communicate boundaries) when I speak about my desire to be intimate with her. It really upsets her. I often ask, “arent you happy I find you attractive and communicate that with you?” She usually initiates when she wants it, or when she really feels guilty she hasn’t initiated in a while…. but more often than not, when she is the horny one. I think its unfair and even selfish that she is allowed to get her needs met and communicate that need when she is horny, but I have to hold it and respect her boundaries when I am wanting… well, I want intimacy honestly more than the physical part (yes, I am a strange man that loves the intimacy part of sex more than the physical). This manifests in every other part of our marriage and communication as well (she has tight unrealistic boundaries, but expects me to have none). She is also an avid feminist, and thats usually where we end in counseling because she ends up fighting with the Christian counselor about her views on feminism and how she believes it lines up with the NT. She threw a chair at one Christian counselor once and told them they were unprofessional and often prefers secular counselors even as a Christian, mostly because of her views on feminism and family order. She also just seems to me all the time nervous, this was also before we dated and got married, and I should have seen this beforehand. I feel compassion towards her because she never seems at peace with herself. I used to try to communicate with her and try to help her, but it really doesn’t help, so I just kind of gave it to God. Whats wild about all this is she reads the Bible and even prays more than I do and loves God, but still holds strange views like Christian feminism and never is at peace. She is an avid intercessor. So I admire her walk with God in some ways, but am confused in other ways, because she seems so close to him, yet is never at peace, and holds strange views that come from hurt from other men that she doesn’t let anyone, not even counselors, touch with a ten foot pole. I can’t even start a conversation with her about it, its off limits zone for her. But in the meantime, when we do make love, it has to be when she wants it, and planned out to where I have a date with her before we make love, the day we make love, and the day after, and be super close for an entire week, almost texting her every minute how much I love her…. in order for her not to blow up at me…. she would often yell, “all men want is our bodies!” in anger after making love….. and this is even when she comes and enjoys sex and it concentrated on her more than me. Sometimes we would be in the middle, she would suddenly stop, and break down crying, and I would have to hold her for an hour. Other times we would stop, and she would get angry for no particular reason…. other than she said it triggered something. I would be left feeling not only vulnerable, sexually frustrated, but also defending myself from her sudden outburst of anger. … for something as simple as fumbling in trying to get her bra strap off or being clumsy. When we finally do make love, I become nervous, because I know she has very high expectations for me afterwards, that no matter how hard I try, I am never able to meet, which will cause her to get angry. Like the next day, we could be together cuddling for an hour in order to make her feel safe the day after sex….. and my work will call me (on a work day) and I will answer, and she will get angry for me answering my phone on work hours (I am self-employed and so is she, and work from home) the day after sex…. which she kind of has an expectation that I set the whole day after aside only for her and to calm her emotions so she feels safe. I am left guilty for answering the phone, and many times people who work with me don’t understand why there are days I don’t answer my phone on a work day and I can’t explain our weird marital dynamic. Oftentimes I am left upset and sexually frustrated because she doesn’t want sex but once a month or every couple of months and am left resentful that she doesn’t want sex, but other times I avoid sex when she does because I know the heavy cost of her anger outbursts and unrealistic expectations afterwards. I absolutely love sex with her, and if there were no anger outbursts, I have a good libido, and she is very attractive. Sometimes I can’t handle the emotional overload of what is expected of me afterwards though. I feel as if I am expected to be a punching bag…. completely there for her and vulnerable, while she is emotional and is given to anger outbursts at the drop of a dime. I many times succeed in being there for her, sometimes I don’t….. and then she reminds me when I can’t be there for her for a whole day after why it takes so long for her to open up to me and her needs of me to take off work the day after. Its not that I don’t mind taking off work to be with her, its the emotional load I have to carry when I do. So anyways, I feel guilty because I am left masturbating (she has actually given me permission to as this was the only thing she could open up to knowing she is a special case about herself)…. and whats worse….. is I try as a Christian who loves Jesus to masturbate thinking about her…. but when I try…. all I can think about is the anger outbursts afterwards. So I end up masturbating usually to an imaginary scene of a kind, gentle, loving, and intimate fantasy (in this case with me, its less about physical features, more about intimacy with no anger and gentleness in my fantasies)…… and on top of that I am a minister/pastor…… I often feel like much in my life is in order in loving Jesus, but this one area in my life, and the struggle only started after I was married. Advice?

        Reply
  57. Manduh

    My husband and I are pretty active sexually. But then I find that he has been masturbating our whole 10 year marriage. He says it’s not for sexual reason just to release pressure or blow some steam off after work. I can’t under stand it at all when we are having sex regularly like 3-4 days in a row with maybe a one day in between unless it’s the week of my period. He really has no desire to stop even though a couple months before I walked in on him he said that masterbating takes away from us. I’m pissed hurt and don’t really know what to do. Any ideas? Thanks

    Reply
    • sam

      Wow, I could only wish my wife would be pissed at me for masturbating. I would choose sex with her anytime over porn or masturbation but she has rejected me for so many years now and the pain is so much that I force myself to masturbate daily in order to numb the pain. Just to clarify, we are both in good physical condition, I have always had a steady job and she mostly stays at home. Our kids are grown and out of the home. I spend a lot of time trying to be a loving husband. I have gone to counselling, read the books, taken responsibility for and seriously improved my faults in order to heal the marriage. Being rejected when I have a hot, burning desire for her used to get me really angry. Now, I do high intensity workouts and masturbate everyday so I probably couldn’t have sex with her even if she wanted it. That said, three days ago for Valentines day I secretly cooked and served her a romantic dinner from scratch. When she came home from visiting her parents I surprised her with all the extra special touches. Music, candle, flowers, etc. There was NO expectation of sex on my part and I had a good time doing it for her. She really appreciated and loved the effort I put into it. By keeping up the masturbation, I was really able to focus on doing something nice just for her without having any thoughts of “getting lucky”. I have learned over the decades that I cannot expect anything more than “unwanted duty” sex from her so lately I am learning to live with no sex rather that getting all worked up by trying to hold out to be with her. This is a horrible way to live and I am seriously considering divorce. I figure at least I would have a chance of finding a woman that would want to be sexual. The marriage I’m in now is just all take and no give on her end. I literally had a better sex life with her when I didn’t give a darn how I treated her. Funny how that works.

      Reply
  58. Robert

    My wife always complains and criticizes about everything and takes on “victim” mentality. I feel she is ungrateful for what she has. I took over role of food shopping because she has proven to me she can’t stay within a budget. When it’s not her money, sky is the limit. She feels I don’t treat her like a wife also when I do the cooking because she doesn’t have food on the table when I get home from work. She works from home 24/7 and is “too busy”. She also complains about being “bullied” by me when I voice my opinion. As such, she holds out the sex and sometimes I have to take care of my own needs. She sleeps in the same bed as our 12 year old son who has Tourette syndrome otherwise he stays up all night long. So I am used to being alone in this marriage. She said she “hates me” and then denies saying that later on. What am I to do? Counseling doesn’t work, we’ve been down that road.

    Reply
  59. Barbara

    This is my marriage in every way!!!
    I’m very submissive to my husband but it’s always in the physical realm. He never wants to take the time to bring intimacy into our sex life, he says it takes too much time and effert (which makes me feel he’s being selfish) so I end up feeling neglected and wanting that emotional connection. He loves to have sex but with no intimacy and he does maturbate quit frequently, he said he needs the release and its alot easier than sex. It makes me feel cheated and angry when he does it. I do admit I turn down sex sometimes because he says he wants to get a quick release, and if I dont comply then he will go maturbate.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Barbara, I’m so sorry. It sounds like your husband really has an issue with sex being devoid of feeling, which is so dangerous and so wrong. Does he have a history of porn use? I don’t think this is something that can be ignored. It really has to be dealt with, or it’s just going to drive more of a wedge between you. My book 31 Days to Great Sex takes you through challenges that help you improve sex in all three areas: physically, spiritually, and emotionally. The ebook version is super cheap–just $4.99. I wonder if he would work through that with you? It might be a way to bring this up without it seeming like a fight–“well, the book says we’re supposed to talk about this” as opposed to “I’m worried about you in this area.” Just a thought!

      Reply
  60. NewlyMarried

    I didn’t read previous comments so apologize if you’re answering again.

    My husband and I recently got married. We’ve maybe had sex 4 times since then. He wants me to give him time. In the meantime, in my patience for him, I have masturbated. I cry because of my conviction and to me I feel like it’s wrong but he has no desire to try even if it brings me to this point. All of what the article says it’s like I’m the guy and he’s the girl. It’s really sad because I have no desire for anyone else. He doesn’t desire intimacy anyway so he’s fine while I pray for change. I guess my search for answers confirms my own thoughts but it’s hard when you know everything to do but it’s one sided in efforts. I just ask for prayer I guess, for continued patience and self control.

    Reply
    • Sheila Gregoire

      Oh, dear. I’m so sorry! But really, the problem here is not you. The problem is that your husband is withholding sex, and this is not normal, especially in the newlywed days. So I would find out two things: Is he addicted to porn, or is he struggling with same sex attraction? You have a right to know so that you can figure out how to proceed. And him asking you to give him time is not fair. This is a BIG deal, and it will only get worse, and you need to know what’s going on. It sounds like he does, and he just doesn’t want to deal with it. But that’s not fair to you. So I would suggest telling him that he either sees a counsellor with you or you will go to the pastor yourself. And do make sure there’s not porn on the computer, because that’s the most common problem.

      Reply
  61. mark

    Back during the early days of of my marriage, before I learned not to bother. I would try to talk to my wife about what was missing in our marriage, sexual connection. Eventualy I stoped pursuing her because she would say “can’t you take care of your self”, “you don’t need me to get involved”, “why should I when you have two good hands, do it your self”.
    I don’t masterbate or look at port or cheat on my wife.
    I find it interesting tho that women will equate masturbation to cheating, but when it comes to emotional affairs the story changes. I caught my wife and several emotional Affairs but could not get the church to support me in a divorce or separation.

    Reply
  62. Dean

    This article had escaped my radar until today. And there couldn’t have been a better time for me to find it.

    “Is masturbation in marriage harmful if you’re just really desperate?” Yep, this is what I’ve been wondering lately. Sometimes the circumstances accumulate, life changes, and such thoughts and rationalizations enter one’s mind so easily.

    And Sheila’s dissection of the issue is as true as ever. Masturbation not only wouldn’t help in any way, it would make the issue worse. Sin is not a solution; we just need to keep on looking for a real solution. If we allow ourselves temporary relief once, then we will do that again and again afterwords, only delaying the search for a real solution, and drifting further apart from each other.

    That was very helpful, thank you.

    Reply

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