Take Matters into Your Own Hands

Brad says…
Every time we write about the challenge of increasing a wife’s low sex drive to meet her husband’s high sex drive, (as we did in “The Libido Fairy“, and “Do I Want the Libido Fairy to Visit?”) we get messages from wives that have the opposite experience. It is true that many wives crave the intimate one flesh connection that comes with a healthy a sex life, and some husbands experience a decrease in their sex drive for a variety of reasons. I addressed seven possible causes of low male sex drive in my post, “Sex, Remove the Roadblocks“. One of the issues that I didn’t address in that post was when a husband decides to take matters into his own hands.

For all the wives reading this that just got a pang of fear, read the other 7 roadblocks first. There are many reasons that men experience a decrease in sex drive. Medical reasons, psychological reasons, as well as relational reasons that can all be legitimate causes of reduced libido in men. This post is more about a false decrease or shall we say a deferred “target” for libido.

I believe that many times what a wife perceives as a decrease in her husband’s sex drive is actually the result of her husband turning to masturbation instead.

The M-word

Masturbation. The word that causes grown men to cringe and starts a thousand theological debates in every church in the world. I know that many of you will disagree with my view, but here it is anyway. The Bible does not strictly forbid the act of masturbation, but it does give a very specific warning about lust. (Matthew 5:28). In my experience it is a near impossibility for a man to masturbate without falling into lust.  I challenge, that the visual brain that God gave us and how it is wired directly with our sexual desire does not allow us to masturbate without mental visualisations for someone, unless that person is your wife it is lust. Therefore, I do not believe that it is appropriate for a man to take matters into his own hands, by himself and hidden from his wife.

It is worth stating that Paul Byerly wrote a very thought provoking article on how to incorporate masturbation into marriage in times of separation, or illness. Masturbation in Marriage, contains an interesting set of principles that should be considered by anyone who desires to continue the practice in their marriage.

Reasons Why

Why does this happen? Why does a husband decide to take matters into his own hand rather then turning to his wife? Here are four possible answers to that complex question.

1. Habit

Call it habit or addiction there are some men who simply can not stop. They have been masturbating since puberty and even when they try, they are unable to stop. Often the use of pornography accompanies this habitual masturbation and only adds to the shame and guilt that the men caught in this addiction are experiencing. They know it is sinful and even hurting the marriage but they are caught behind the shame unable to admit they need help.

2. Frequency

Many men think they would like to have sex daily, but their current intimate time with their wife might be only once a week or less. Rather then dealing with the desire differences and the one flesh opportunities that this creates, some men decide to be content with less frequent intercourse by “relieving the pressure” in between. This seems to work fine till their wife desires intimacy that has already been relieved earlier.

3. Communication

Men are notoriously poor at expressing sexual desire. We tend to either go for locker room methods, or the direct approach. If your come on method is, either pinching your wife’s breast or asking “do you want sex tonight?” then your method needs improvement. Unfortunately, instead of working on communication some guys give up all together. They stop asking and simply turn to masturbation till their wife decides it is time for sex. This quiet desire sends all the wrong messages, that many wives see as a decrease in sex drive.

4. Rejection

Some guys have become so used to hearing the answer, no, that they have stopped asking all together. This rejection or threat of rejection has led them to feel that they need to take care of their own desires. Similar to the reason above, the wife may experience this change as her husband lacking desire.

What’s Wrong with That?

With the exception of reason #1 many of the guys reading this might be saying, “ya, so what?”. The problem is this when a husband turns to masturbation he is turning away from his wife.  He is giving up on what should be excellent sexual intimacy, and often giving in to thoughts of lust.

Communication and lots of it is the key If you are masturbating in your marriage your wife needs to know about it. Don’t use it as a threat but, she needs to know you are struggling with masturbation and desiring more intimate time with her  Tell her that would would like her help with this difficult issue.

For some of you with the habit, or addiction you might find you need additional help or tools to break free. I recommend checking out Freedom Begins Here for some great information.

How about you?

Leave a comment and let us know:

  • If you masturbate
  • Why or why not.
  • And if your wife knows about your practice.
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69 Responses to Take Matters into Your Own Hands

  1. Yes for me. Usually due to lack of action or rejection. It is just easier that way. I.almost shared with her but didnt have the courage.

  2. If you can't communicate your sex needs to your wife, then you DON'T want to start the "I Masturbate" conversation. That will turn into an argument you CANNOT win.

    I also don't agree that masturbation can't be separated from lust. It can become just like soaping, shaving, and shampooing. Just another daily hygienic activity to cross off the list.

    IMO, this post should be encouraging wives to initiate sex rather than encouraging husbands to discuss their mastrubation.

  3. So if you do masturbate like its a daily chore, what do you think about or use to get yourself into the mood? This could open a whole other topic of conversation, such as lust and fornication. Isn't that a problem that your wife should know about? Maybe this a reason that it's getting stale in the bedroom.

  4. Yes for me. Usually due to lack of action or rejection. It is just easier that way. I.almost shared with her but didnt have the courage.

  5. The following was left by anonymous…

    If you can't communicate your sex needs to your wife, then you DON'T want to start the "I Masturbate" conversation. That will turn into an argument you CANNOT win.

    I also don't agree that masturbation can't be separated from lust. It can become just like soaping, shaving, and shampooing. Just another daily hygienic activity to cross off the list. 

    IMO, this post should be encouraging wives to initiate sex rather than encouraging husbands to discuss their mastrubation.
    June 26, 2011 3:59 PM

  6. Anonymous,
    Thanks for saying what I think many guys were thinking while reading this. This takes enormous courage to talk about, but the simple reality is that masturbation is simply the band-aid on sexual intimacy. It doesn't fix the issue, just covers it over. Unfortunately, out of sight is not out of mind in this case, and it can be maintaining a status quo that really needs to be worked on before it gets worse.

  7. Anonymous,
    Communication about sexual needs and desires is key for all couples to learn! Although not communicating won't help anything, I agree it isn't an easy conversation. And why is it not easy, because I don't think your wife will believe masturbation is as basic as brushing your teath. As living1 pointed out, there are some thoughts going on. If not then why are you doing it?
    Again this kind of masturbation is giving a temporary fix to a larger issue. Unless the larger issue is adressed the relational problems will continue to mount.

  8. Livnlrg1
    I totally agree. When we take matters into our own hands we are only masking an issue. Lets find a way to talk about the level of sexual intimacy that you desire in your marriage! If you are not on the same page find out why!!!! Don't tell her what you want, find out what she wants!!


  9. Hi…what about if you are a wife as i am who desires more sexual intimacy but hubby rarely desires me… I have suspected he may be masturbating but not 100% sure. Should i bring it up with him? That question wasnt answered. .but perhaps katie may have a post on that? I believe it is hurting our marriage.

  10. I'm not saying I recommend it in a relationship, just saying it can be done. I'd think many single men would agree, it's a basic physical need and it feels good, why do you need lust with that? Surely you've had a "cleaning it and it went off" moment, haven't you?

    Also, if you want to improve your sexual communication, talk about what will make your marriage stronger in Gods eyes, not admit that you are weak willed and would rather wank it than ask for it.

  11. Hi, just wondering from a wife's perspective, my husband rarely desires me as much as I desire him. I strongly suspect he is using masturbation. Should I confront him at all? You talk about the husband talking to the wife about it, but what about the wife to the husband? His lack of desire for me is really hurting our marriage.

  12. Start giving him hand jobs and transition them to intercourse. You can skip the uncomfortable "confrontation" and he'll Love you for it and desire you more.

    • That is something I’ve discussed with my wife but I get the general response that indicates I should just learn to want less… sadly, any step towards intimacy that doesn’t suit her timing gets a response that gives me the impression that she fears my interest in her is only an extension of my previous struggles with porn &/or my involvement in an online affair… which was my (admittedly incorrect) response to our longstanding issues with imbalanced desire levels (sex 2-3 times a year)… which I’m guessing had their beginnings in previous sexual activity both by myself & between us which didn’t reflect ‘good Christian self control’… as I’ve frequently been told, all up it’s really my fault, therefore my problem (not hers)… 🙁

  13. Love Letters,

    I think that in order to make one's marriage stronger in God's eyes, one must confess one's sins in order to be forgiven of them. If the sin is against one's wife, then the sin must be confessed to the one who has been sinned against.

    As guys, when we masturbate alone, it is unlikely if nearly impossible that we are not having lustful thoughts. Those lustful thoughts are considered adultery in God's eyes (unless of course those thoughts are about our spouse).

    Becoming stronger in God's eyes to me does mean admitting one's weaknesses and then working to strengthen those weaknesses, which does require difficult communication between one and one's spouse.

    Perhaps there are those who feel becoming stronger in God's eyes means ignoring a weakness or sin and moving on, but I think this only leaves a proverbial open wound to fester and become worse over time.

  14. Well I guess this is for the Women that are worried about there intimacy with there husbands. After I was married for awhile and was always initiating and being rejected she told me to take care of myself. Sex basically came down to the times when she wanted it or was a reward for good behavior… 

  15. Repentant, 
    I'm not sure I could have said it any better.   The purpose of this post really wasn't to condemn anyone using masturbation, it was to challenge them to look to their marriage.  To see if you are robbing yourself of sexual intimacy that could be there if you only worked at it!

  16. Guys!  This right here is the whole point of this post!  There are times that wives are SEEKING more sexual intimacy that we (husbands) are ignoring because it is "easier" to masturbate.  As long as you are taking matters into your own hands then you can not see the true possibilities for sexual intimacy in your marriage.   Is it easy? NO! but if you are hiding something that is inhibiting sexual intimacy with your wife, I challenge if it is not a problem, even if somehow you get around the lust issue!  

    Thank you so much for adding your perspective!  This is a very difficult conversation to start, as you see most of the men commenting have said it would be for them as well.   I think Kate may be writing more about this soon, but here is a guys perspective…
    first start with having sex… Then in the "after glow" start by saying "I would really enjoy growing our sexual intimacy together, but I have a feeling that some things are preventing us from doing that …"   take it from there. 

    As you can see from all of the comments this is a tough issue!  Approach with grace and see what happens!   

  17. Sorry Love Letter, skipping confrontation is not a healthy way to grow a marriage.   confrontation with grace and love not anger and punishment maybe, but not skipping it all together! 

  18. Agum, 
    I totally agree that it is not forbidden, lust although is.   I have talked to a lot of guys on this subject and most agree that lustful thoughts come right along with masturbation.   You mention thought control, and I like the idea, as in "there is a pretty girl, let me look away".  I'm not sure how this applies to masturbation.  Maybe it is just me, but I can not see how you can have no thoughts or pure thoughts while masturbating unless those thoughts are about your wife.   If they are, great, but then I really think your wife needs to know about that! (as you said she does, but I don't think that is most husband's experience)

    This post was directed only at married men who where substituting masturbation for sexual intimacy with their spouse, not singles, teens, etc.  I agree the issue gets challenging and leads to the 95%/5% stat that you mentioned!

    What I would love to hear about is how you and your wife have communicated about it.  
    How she understands it when you do it?
    What place it takes in your relationship?
    Is it only while separated due to travel etc. or when she doesn't want to as well?  
    How do you think it has impacted your sexual intimacy?  

    Thanks for weighing in!   

  19. Kate and I have always tried to be even on this blog.  We challenge both husbands and wives with ways that they can improve the relationship.   While this post was focused on what us husbands need to do there have been several that challenge wives not to ignore this important part of our relationship.  It is Biblical, it is how we are designed, and unless our sexual intimacy is working in marriage, the marriage isn't working as God intended.   

    Husband's check out this post on how to ask for more sexual intimacy:

    Wives check out this post on your part of the story!

  20. Let me address a few things before I answer your question.

    First, we both agree that masturbation isn't forbidden in scripture and we both agree that lust is.  Where we disagree is whether or not a person can control their thought life enough during masturbation to keep from lusting.

    Second, you say, "I have talked to a lot of guys on this subject and most agree that lustful thoughts come right along with masturbation." and "Maybe it is just me, but I can not see how you can have no thoughts or pure thoughts while masturbating…"  It seems to me you are applying your personal experience as a truth for everyone.  How many guys do I need that say they can masturbate without lusting to make your argument moot?  Ask Paul Byerly or Dale Kaufman what they think about it.  I doubt you've talked to as many people as Paul has about masturbation (I could be wrong).

    I think it is more honest to say, "Scripture does not speak of masturbation at all.  It does speak of lust.  If you cannot masturbate without lusting then you should not masturbate."  That's scripturally honest and doesn't assign a personal truth, masturbation always leads to lust, to someone to which it may not apply.

    Third, I understand making a difference between marrieds and singles regarding this subject because masturbation can be a way of defrauding a spouse of the intimacy they are owed.

    Unmarrieds are not yet under the same obligation to a spouse and yet still have a sex drive.  Again, I feel it is more honest to say to them, "Scripture does not speak of masturbation at all.  It does speak of
    lust.  If you cannot masturbate without lusting then you should not

    Now to your oh so personal questions.

    My wife and I have talked about it.  It rarely happens in our marriage, usually in the types of situations that you mentioned and it has greatly increased our intimacy because intimacy is being real about who we really are and, for the most part, we are sexual beings.

  21. I have begun cautiously to come out of the closet on this subject. I've been married a while, and I share your convictions: doing it isn't wrong, but doing it based on thoughts of anyone else but my wife is wrong. Thankfully, I do have a mental bank of experiences from my marriage to call upon in that regard. (I tend to replay rather than fantasize, per se.)

    And my wife has, for a while, known that this is a part of my life (though, understandably, is not particularly curious about the where and when.) That said, my recent conviction has been that just being content with what she decides to offer in the marriage bed — while "taking care of myself" the rest of the time — is a wrong habit. So lately, when I get the urge (probably every 2-3 days), I try to approach my wife first. And if she refuses, then I let her know that I need to do something about it if she won't. Lately this has led to increased frequency, even if it means she's just taking care of my needs manually, on nights when she isn't up to the whole thing. That is marriage building, while going off by myself is at the very least, a lost opportunity. This takes a lot of courage to keep doing, so I am praying that God will continue to supply it.

  22. AGUM, 
    Thank you for your honesty! and for taking part in the discussion.  Your statement is correct…
    If you cannot masturbate without lusting then you should not.  

    I agree, and I guess there might be some married men reading this that are able to contain those thoughts.  Most of my conversations have come from men who have reportedly had problems in this area (pornography addiction, infidelity, etc.) so it is possible that my "normal" sample group is not normal.  BUT  I still challenge on 2 parts 

    1. I don't believe that all married men who have given up and turned to masturbation are challenging themselves not to lust.

    2. If they do it without communication with their wife they are masking a larger issue, and risking adding hurt and pain to the already challenged sexual intimacy in their relationship.  

    Thank you again for your views!  Blessings!

  23. I'd agree with the two parts so I'm not certain whom you're challenging.  As I said, "…masturbation can be a way of defrauding a spouse of the intimacy they are owed."

    As to challenge one, I agree.  I don't think an married man should ever "give up" but continually push for growth within the marriage.  Regardless though, they shouldn't stoop to lust to have their needs met.

    As to challenge two, a grown up doesn't not do the right thing because it is more difficult than the easy thing.  A mature person chooses what is best and right recognizing that the greater effort is worth it in the long run.

  24. I think Dale Kaufman's article on The Marriage Bed explains it about as well as any:  I also agree with Dr. Dobson in that I don't believe God cares too much about it, or He would have actually mentioned it in His Word.  I mean, it's about as close to a universal act as there is, yet God chose not to mention it in His word but did mention that sex with animals is forbidden (Lev 18:23).  It seems to me that God cares or He doesn't and when He does He says He does.

    All arguments I've heard against masturbation are man-made arguments, of course since scripture is silent on it, like the one presented above about assuming lust is involved or habitual masturbation.  I agree that lust is wrong but reject that one cannot control their thoughts during the act of masturbation.  I also agree that anything, including masturbation, that becomes habitual can be harmful.

    The fact is that most of us grew up believing it was wrong in and of itself but doing it anyway (the old joke 95% of men admit to it and the other 5% have been known to lie) didn't give us much reason to also learn to control our thoughts, did it?  In other words, if you believe you're sinning by masturbating why control lustful thoughts since you believe that masturbating is sinning anyway.  It's just another sin at that point.

    I'm glad I taught my sons a more balanced approach to the subject and hopefully relieved them of the unscriptural guilt that I allowed to oppress me during my teen years.

    To answer the questions, if I do it my wife knows about it.

  25. Hi AGUM, I just had to chime in here!  This is Kate by the way!  My post will be up soon, repsonding to Brad's thoughts!  In the meantime, I wanted to say how much we respect and appreciate Paul (and Lori) Byerly!  They have been so blessed by getting to know him!  He is counted as a friend of ours!  But my hubby is a Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist, so I can assure you that he has talked to more men then he can count about masturbation.  That does not even count friends and OFM readers!  Just had to clear that up.  While I love that this is brining good dialogue, I never like it when it seems like people are trying to discredit my hubby!  Yes it was a generic statement, but he would not have made it if it were not true!  Just had to chime in on that!  Talking about these issues together sharpens us!  We are better able to listen to God about how he wants our intimacy to be!  Thanks again for sharing your thoughts on this subject, as a woman, it is always interesting to see what men have to say on this subject!  Blessings, Kate 

  26. It's hard to believe (not that I don't) that anyone could have discussed this subject more than Paul.  He does run a Christian message board dedicated to sex after all.

    Well, I said I could be wrong and I was.  Wasn't the first time, won't be the last.


  27. Not sure that my hubby has talked to more men, just very sure that he has talked to a large pool of men!  Especially since sex and intimacy almost always come into play where marriage counseling is concerned!  Paul's ministry is amazing, we cannot say enough about it!  Really we do appreciate your thoughts!  Thanks again!  Blessings, Kate

  28. I suppose some people think masturbating always involves lust, but I am not one of them.  

    So while there are many cases (if one accepted that viewpoint) where masturbating is okay, one  important one is when there are mismatched sex drives, and the lower drive spouse is not willing/able to meet the higher drive spouse's needs.  In that situation, there is no reason that I can see for the higher drive spouse "to refuse" to masturbate nonsinfully if that is what he wants to do.

  29. a wife who is feeling undesired and undesirable because her husband is entangled in masturbation and porn instead of her is not in a place to be the one initiating.  he needs to show her he still wants her.

  30. I personally struggled with this alot as a teen, and let me say that then I was not able to separate it from lust or the desire for porn (but was pretty hard to get back then).  I have been married for 18 years, and my wife has not worked outside the home (or at least has not had to).  About a year ago, my wife took a couple of part time jobs (as our 3 kids are teens now).  We don't need the income (but helps with 3 teens), and I see that it does make her feel like she is accomplishing something.  The problem is that our intamacy (both sexual and non-sexual) has gone form frequent (4-5 times a month or more) to maybe once a month (sexual) with little to now non-sexual intamacy.  I have had 3 very pointed conversations about this issue and it gets better for a week then back to the same thing.  Lately I have had more of a desire to get back tot he old habit of masturbation, but am very concerned that with that will come the lust and desire for porn (mow much easire to get). 

  31. I'm with you on this and think you share some good wisdom.  However, because women inherently don't understand men and testosterone's effects–they aren't male, I wonder if it's possible to have a conversation about how much more frequently you desire intimacy and how rejection affects you without specifically saying how frequently you masturbate.   But this is your issue and it's time to own it and solve it.
    I agree, though, that increasing intimacy is the goal. The hard part is that just having a conversation with a wife often doesn't cut it.  She just doesn't understand.  She can't understand–she's not a man.  No amount of talking will help her get it. So, rather than just expecting her to understand or to trust you, you may have to do constant reminders.   I've tried to make it my goal to find a way to let my wife know every time I feel a desire.   Sometimes it's a quick text or phone call, or even email.  And you don't have to say anything about sex at that time–could be just a Hi!  I'm thinking about you! kind of message–or it could be more graphic about what you wish you were doing with her.  Or it might be just handing her a list of 10-15 or some specific times of day on it to let her know all the times you had intimate thoughts.The key here is helping educate your wife about how frequently and how deeply this is important to you.  You can initiate intimacy lots of times without risk of rejection, so then the one time out of those 15 you actually want some action at the end of the day, she may feel more inclined.   

    This is not easy.  But, I can't imagine a man who has experienced both who would feel that M habits are more rewarding than the real thing.

  32. Why is it my name so often comes up whenever Christians
    discuss masturbation?  My mother would be so proud! (NOT!)

    I have discussed this issue with many folks, and I know Brad has as well. Maybe
    the anonymity of the Internet means I get more honestly, but then the lack of face-to-face
    conversation (in most instances) limits what I can perceive. Personally, I am
    happy to learn from Brad, as he knows things I do not.

    A few words on lust. First, we should realise that the Greek word translated as
    “lust" when Jesus warned about adultery of the heart, is neither a sexual
    nor a negative word. It means "strong desire" and Jesus used the word
    of Himself when He said "With *great desire* I have longed to eat this
    meal with you." I find it interesting that the sin is not desire, but
    STRONG desire. This means it's not something that happens that we cannot avoid.
    We cannot always avoid the desire that comes with awareness (woman wearing too
    little, or flirting), but we can deal with it rather than focus on it, thus
    avoiding the strong that makes it sin. (AKA you can’t keep a bird from landing
    in your hair, but you can keep it from building a nest.)

    The other part of this is that the issue is not the strong sexual desire, but
    who that desire is for. Lust, or strong sexual desire, for one's bride is a
    good thing. Strong sexual desire for any other woman is a bad thing.  Therefore,
    a man who masturbates to thoughts of sex with his bride has not necessarily
    sinned. I say necessarily because I fully agree with what Brad is trying to say
    in this article – if doing it yourself if robbing your bride of sex, THAT IS
    SIN. Beyond that, even if she were not wanting sex, would she have said yes?
    Above "TilWeHaveFaces" shows
    how this can work – you let your bride know it's a real need at this point, and
    give her "first refusal". This can lead to more sex, which is a good
    thing. Long term this can also lead to the woman becoming more sexual, which is
    a very good thing. (Been there, done that, got the smile to prove it!) In this situation,
    honesty is the key – let her know you have moved from "it would be
    nice" to "I feel I need release" – and let her make a decision.

    A final word to husbands masturbating: Are your fantasies of your bride, really
    about her? If in those fantasies she is doing things she has made it clear, she
    will never do (oral, anal, whatever) then I would argue that the woman in your
    thoughts is not your bride, but another woman on whom you have pasted your
    bride's face. In addition to being sin (lusting after another woman) this is
    just stupid in that it increase your desire for things your bride does not

  33. I really struggle to talk with my wife about this because she is "fairly" conservative when it comes to sexual activity and gets very sheepish and doesnt want to deal with it… or just doesn't know hoat to do about it.  I am not sure how to procees with her… to be honest I just don't know if i am wanting to be continually rejected… it has actually gotten to the point that i feel like she is just there but it is relunctant and i don't want that for her… i am very frustrated.  I feel like i have totally lost my connection with her… we rarely even touch (in any way)… and it is even hard for me to be in the same room because she still turns me on so much… that makes it even harder… so I want to stay away or distance myself… but I know that is not healthy either… the last two nights this has kept me up ALL night… now going on no sleep… bad getting worse.

  34. This is an interesting discussion.  I don't have much to add from a 'data' standpoint, all I have is my own experience.  We have been married for 20+ years, and I will admit I have masturbated during that time.  The frequency has varied greatly, but most times it is NOT a common activity.  I seem to have a much higher need than my wife and the times I do MB it is usually due to separation or stress or busyness.  Very rarely is it due to refusal.  Sometimes she knows about it, sometimes not.  I do agree that it is an issue difficult to discuss because it typically brings up feelings of guilt on her part.  (Why do you have to do that?  Am I not enough?  But I'm so tired.   …….)  So I just do it privately.  There have been a few instances of doing it in bed alongside her, but those times are usually after a 'right of first refusal' approach.

    In my case, I do not have issues with lust while MB'ing.  It is purely a 'friction' thing which results in the needed release.  My focus is on the physical sensations, NOT on another woman.  To be honest, it isn't even on my own wife.  Paul's comment about pasting another woman's face on my wife's body, while possible, does not enter the event.  Now I will admit that AFTER the moment, I will wish that it HAD been my wife sharing the release with me, because the orgasm seems so empty and unsatisfying.  It is not so much an orgasm as it is just a pressure release.  That may be symantics, but that is how I see it.   I truly miss the emotional connection that shared sexual intimacy brings, because typically she enjoys the sex as well.  She may not climax, but the matter of being "one flesh" is enough for her most times.   For that reason, I try to deny the need I have in order to share that moment with her as soon as the opportunity presents itself. 

  35. "Communication and lots of it is the key If you are masturbating in your marriage your wife needs to know Communication and lots of it is the key If you are masturbating in your marriage your wife needs to know about it. Don't use it as a threat but, she needs to know you are struggling with masturbation and desiring more intimate time with her  Tell her that would would like her help with this difficult issue. "
     Seems to me that if this kind of communication with a spouse was even an option, things would never have got to this popint in the first place.

  36. Thank you so much Brad for your opinion, you are right in that it is a very hard conversation to have with him. I like the approach you recommend though and will be giving it a try.

  37. I'm not sure if this was in reference to me, as I am a woman worried about the lack of intimacy with my husband… but I can safely say him turning away from me to possibly masturbation is not due to me ever rejecting him – I can not ever remember a time in our marriage when I have ever turned him away. I have always felt it my place as his wife to meet his needs and never used sex as a manipulative tool. I guess that's why it confueses me that he has a wife so willing to meet his needs, with no possibility of rejection by me, yet he rarely initiates. And if I do, and he is less than excited or just not in the mood, than I am the one left feeling rejected. But I am trying to take it less personally and want to find out the underlying cause of his lack of desire.

  38. Oh men, if you do have a masturbation problem do tell you wife. My husband told me and I totally felt bad that I was causing him to sin and fall down that road. If your wife is a believer she will grateful that you came to her. Don't directly tell your wife, "You are Making Me Masturbate so Start having Sex With Me.",  but try to sit down with her and explain that you have fallen into a sin because of the lack of intimacy you two have. If you don't think you have the  courage to tell her Please pray about it and God will give it to you. 

  39. Have you told her that? I know that it might come as a kick in the gut, but being told "Honey, I love you, but sometimes I can't be in the same room with you because I want you but you don't want me," can't help but bring problems out into the light, where they can be discussed.

  40. Brad,

    Thank you for you article.

    I would just like to share the success of how my wife and I have overcome this by doing exactly what you said. ie. talking about it.

    I am very, very blessed with a with a wonderful and understanding wife who only rarely is unwilling but often not able (because of work schedule, travel and the such) to join in intercourse.

    In those times we have agreed that I have the option to "take things into my own hands," as long as I let her know that it is happening.  Of course there is the unspoken understanding/expectation that I am thinking about/lusting after her in these times.

    I would like to encourage those who are not currently open with their wife about this to open up.  The shame, guilt and sceret of my masturbation used to builds big barriers, but with the understanding that came through communication now on those rare occasions when it does happens my wife is that much more excited about and willing to have intercourse the next time.  Often she starts it without me even having to ask. 

  41. Rn's man,
    Thank you so much for sharing your story! It is so easy to think
    communication is doomed before we even give it a chance. Thanks for
    sharing hope that communication can be the key to positive change.
    God Bless you both!

  42. My story is totally unique (as all of our stories tend to because we are not just men but individual men).  I grew up with a severe porn addiction and masturbation habit.  It did not get resolved until after about 5 years into our marriage (we have been married for nearly 18 years;  it was the first marriage for both of us).  After going through my own personal healing process  and the healing of our marriage, the relationship between my wife and I has been extremely vibrant and the trust level has been high — we have an excellent relationship on many different levels which she will attest to even more enthusiastically than myself!

    I am also 11 years younger than her — She is 58 and I am 47.  While she has always had a pretty healthy libido for a woman, I am definitely the higher drive spouse — not only because I figure because I am a man but also because of the age difference.  Dealing with that difference has been an evolving process:  After I healed from the porn addiction, she offered to stimulate me by hand whenever I desired it as well as have more intercourse as time and energy permitted.  I also let her know that my fantasies were to be only about her — which they were.  For a number of years, she was stimulating me sometimes every other day.  But then she developed carpal tunnel injury in both of her wrists and she that she could not do it any longer.  I found that disappointing but decided to try to make the best of it.  Then I went into period of several years where I was self-stimulating myself but only thinking about her — though I didn't tell her because I felt ashamed.  Finally, I did tell her and she was fine with it as long as I told her when I did and kept my fantasies about her — which I did.   In fact, she doesn't believe that masturbation is inherently wrong because she confessed to me that she regularly did it herself when was younger.  She was single to until up to age 40 and she told me that the exploration of her own body helped her to develop a stronger orgasmic response.

    However, I understood that I was not her and that she didn't have my sexual history.  So I read a book by Barbara Wilson called The Invisible Bond:  How To Break Free From Your Sexual Past and it talked about how sex is like super human glue bonding a husband and wife together physically, spiritually and emotionally and that numerous brain chemicals are fired off when we touch each other and love each other.  I wanted that kind of deep bonding with my wife because I felt that I had been cheating her and myself of even a greater closeness than we already had. So now, I self-stimulate myself when I am lying beside her and we communicate our love for each other both before and after the act.  Communicating with her this way has not only made me feel more integrated with her but has also sparked more times where she has said to me:   "Hey, instead of you stimulating yourself, why don't you just climb up on top of me and let's go at it".  The bottom line is that involving her totally in my higher sex drive has caused us to be more sexual and bond with each other more deeply even though her sex drive has started to wane a little as she is going through menopause. 

  43. I am in 100% agreement with the comment above about how if you are using thoughts of your wife as a masturbation aid (to avoid lusting) they should be of sexual things she's actually willing to do. I like the approach already mentioned where you just replay previous sexual experiences in your mind. That way the woman you're thinking of is most definitely the same as your flesh and blood bride and not a fantasy image of her.

  44. I have to chime in and agree here. I only found out last week (after 6 years of marriage) and only because I asked. I never even suspected it was a problem! I just assumed he would ask me first! Please tell your wife. You, like my husband, might be pleasantly surprised!

  45. it is fear of rejection and fear of abandonment, all the more entrenched because she caught me once, because I wanted her to, thinking it would entice her to want me- it was awkward, embarassing, definitely not a reinforcement that our relationship is safe to make mistakes and try out ideas, even the ones that turn out to be bad ones

  46. Of course I masturbate. I do it because it feels great and is an outlet when my wife is not available for any number of reasons. I’d prefer to have her, but sometimes that isn’t in the cards. Does she know? We haven’t discussed it but I’m sure she would be shocked if I didn’t. It never interferes with the two of us connecting, so I see no harm.

  47. I do masturbate… I used to and it’s now about 2 months that I stopped it but it seems too difficult for me to keep myself away today.
    I thought about it a lot (I grow up in a muslim family but I don’t consider myself as a muslim since I don’t believe in it) and I think these are my reasons for doing it:

    – Sometimes I don’t want to go through all the sex process to just relive a sex derive which distracts me from my work. I have a happy sex relationship with my wife, even sometimes we have two time a day (although it happens from time to time).
    – Sometimes I feel I missed the strength of my own hand
    – Sometimes the fact that I don’t have to think about my partners pleasure is the driving force.
    – Sometimes I feel it is the quickest way to relief the life pressure. It may sound funny but when I’m really under stress my desire to have sex goes to sky. How frequent I can turn to my wife for sex considering the minimum time it takes from us is around 30 minuetes and most of the days of the week are workdays…
    – masturbating is almost the oldest habit that I have, and I was struggling with it (to stop it) since I was a teenager.

    Imagining some fancy scenes in my opinion is not that necessary for masturbation. I tested that and I found that sometimes I just need to think about the feeling that I get from my penis to enjoy my masturbation.

    And my wife doesn’t know about this. I tried to bring it up once … and in return she said just tell me whenever you want to have sex … but I didn’t dare to tell her that I do masturbate because I knew she would be so upset and possibly over-react. I don’t know why but I think one reason that I feel so sinful about masturbating is that I feel myself not open enough to be comfortable to hear from my wife that she does masturbate (I believe she doesn’t anyway). I hear that I immediately think that I’m not enough for her …

  48. Ok these comments were quite confusing to me. Both my husband and I do that at various times and I would have been quite surprised if he hadn’t. I’m deployed for many months at a time and I think we would both go a little nuts if we didn’t. Everyone here is talking like this is something that is an addiction and goes hand in hand with porn which neither he nor I partake in. Its just a necessary little side note while we are apart and keeps the temptation down.

    • Hi Anna! Thanks for writing and sharing. There are many different views on masturbation. My hubby was specifically talking in this post about those who struggle with it, need it or want it regularly. I hope that makes sense. Blessings, Kate

  49. What if you wife always says no or not right now…It’s been 51 days since my wife has even reached out to touch me first. I don’t know what to do. I used to masturbate at least once a week if not more. I struggled with porn to get me in the mood. I haven’t done that in years now. I don’t think about any other woman but my wife…so as far as lust, I don’t see the problem with wacking it thinking about her.

    • Anonymous,
      I hear your pain man but taking matters into your own hand won’t solve any issues! It will only be a band-aid on a wound that needs more. Not only that but your opening yourself to much more temptation and possibly leading down old roads.

      Your question, “is it wrong if you are thinking about her” has a complicated answer. 1st – what would she say? if she would agree and you are honestly only thinking about her, then maybe it isn’t. However you have to realize that you are opening a door. When you are masturbating in secret you are allowing the possibility of other images, other thoughts, and other actions to come into your mind at a time that it is very difficult to filter what is good and what isn’t.

      The bottom line is this isn’t the solution you are looking for! Check out some of our other posts on how to grow sexual intimacy in your marriage. I think you might find some tools to use!

      God Bless!

  50. This rejection thing started in the first year of marriage, altho I thought M would be a thing of the past after marriage, it crept back in as the rejection began to grow. in the end it became my primary experience, with only 3-4 times per year real intimacy. What really upset me was to discover that while rejecting me, she was also resorting to M. All my initiations were seen as pressure. We only came together when she initiated, though I was ready for her 5 times per week.
    The comments above about “lust” are really rather prudish. What we are talking about are thoughts about having sex. Is that a sin? These thoughts occur naturally in everyone as a result of hormone build-up and they lead naturally to wanting to have sex, which is a God-given act of love and intimacy. Yet we wrap it up in such guilt and shame, that many people begin to see sex itself as wrong, and that in turn leads to the rejection and avoidance that so many are hurt by. When did Christianity pick up the negativity about sex? It pervades to this day, and causes endless, needless, guilt, pain and relationship anguish. Once we begin to start speaking more positively about sex, rather than trying to draw tight boundaries around what is right and wrong (i.e. eating again from the tree of knowledge of good and evil), we would start to see enthusiasm for the good gift that God has given to married committed people.

  51. My husband and I have been married for 14 years and up until the past year, we have had a good sex life. Sure there were times when the frequency would decline (after having a baby, for example) but all-in-all, it was steady and our intimacy was solid as well. There’s a lot going on in our lives right now, outside of our own personal relationship, and it is taking a HUGE toll on us. On top of the normal pressures in our lives, my husband’s snoring has gotten so bad that he has resorted to sleeping on the couch (for almost a year now) in order to allow me to sleep through the night. He has so far refused to be checked for sleep apnea, and the situation now feels like it has created an enormous gap in our physical and emotional relationship. At least when we shared a bed, there were more opportunities to be intimate with each other. Now it’s either plan it, or not. My husband has always been one of those guys that would initiate sex with a squeeze of the boob, etc. and never quite understood that most of the time, I needed more of a lead up than that. (I mean, how can you be arguing one minute, and then just hop into bed two minutes later? I’m just not programmed that way, I guess.) I could say that it’s the lack of sharing a bed that is creating this distance between us, but that’s just the physical boundary right now, and there is definitely more to it than that. My low libido is definitely an issue and I’ve explained to my husband that although I don’t “generally” want to have sex, if he initiates it with love and tenderness, it’s a virtual guarantee that I won’t turn him down, because once I get started, I want it just as much as he does.

    Anyhow, I’ve noticed that my husband is no longer initiating sex like he used to, and while the pressure to not have to perform with just the tweak of my breast was no longer an issue, when it comes down to it, I miss being intimate with my husband. I’ve asked him to join me in me in bed at night, but he doesn’t always take me up on the offer, which I thought was odd. A few days ago, I figured out why…he’s been masturbating in the shower. I was caught off guard when it happened and acted like I didn’t notice, to save us both from having the discussion. Today, I purposely checked, and yes, he was masturbating again. While the initial finding wasn’t all that shocking, today I was ticked off, for a variety of reasons. Now I know that it’s something done with frequency and not just one of those occasional things. Now I understand why he doesn’t seem to want to initiate an intimate relationship with me, and that felt like a slap in the face.

    I’m not a prude. I have no problem with masturbation. When explaining my low libido to my husband, I’ve asked to give him a hand myself (that usually turns me on to where I want intercourse anyhow, so I figured it’s a win-win for him), or to masturbate in bed with me (for the same reason as the first). So I’m not upset about the actual masturbation as I am about the fact that he’s hiding it, that he got caught the other day (and unless he’s stupid, he KNOWS I saw him) and he’s continuing to take matters into his own hands, and that this is adding to the divide that we are already experiencing in our relationship.

    I feel like my comment is rambling and disjointed, so let me just sum it all up by saying, thank you for the post about this to begin with, as well as the comments from everyone above me. The shock I felt this morning was lessened by reading this. I feel better knowing that I’m not the only one who is hesitant to start a conversation about this due to the feeling of pending doom of an argument or his complete denial. I’m not a 100% sure how I’m going to move forward on this, and would welcome any thoughts from all.

  52. I’ve been married 31 years. How do I get past the hurt of my husband confiding to me that when he masturbates he fantasizes about our divorced neighbour who has a gorgeous figure. This is the ultimate hurt and has completely taken away from my having a satisfying sexual relationship. I keep thinking that when we have sex he is thinking about her. I find myself play acting that I am enjoying our sex life and it isn’t a healthy way to act. I have tried talking to him about how it made me feel to know this and he said he would stop. I do know that he continues to masturbate so I can’t stand the thought that he most likely is now replacing fantasizing about her with someone else.

    • Hi Anonymous, thanks for commenting and sharing. I can understand how that would hurt you and would make you question what you are thinking during sex. I honestly thing that you both talking to counselor or pastor would be a good step. Just so that both of you can heal and move forward. You both need to know you are on the same page. It is easy to check out during sex and let our minds go, instead of staying present in the moment. I would encourage you to share with your husband that you have been struggling and want to talk about everything again. Not to place shame or guilt on him, but so that you can both heal and move forward. Try to talk to him about how you desire for good in your marriage and intimacy, and seek to stay away from pointing fingers. Please know that I am lifting you up right now! Blessings, Kate

  53. I have a higher sexual drive than my husband. He doesn’t like to be intimate in the mornings. He prefers walking the dog or playing video games in the mornings. So I take care of myself… Almost every morning. I fantasize about being intimate with him. This morning he was taking a long time to leave our bed so I started to touch his manhood on purpose so he could leave me alone, and he immediately said “what are you doing?”. He got up and left to take the dog for a walk. And I got my alone time.
    I found what I did so messed up and told him what I had done. He got upset and thinks that i put too much importance in sex. I think he just wants me to act like him and be I don’t know … Ultra responsible, boring, and disinterested. That’s just not me. I just want him to understand me more and how important it is for me. I feel like my wants or needs are not important. I want to be intimate with him because I love him.

  54. My husband and I have decided that we will abstain from masturbating in our marriage, with exception of asking the other if it is ok. Let’s face it, sometimes they are out of town and you just can’t get to them. I think that when either a man or woman take matters into their own hands, then it makes it easier and easier to fulfill their sexual needs that way, and not rely on each other. It really is a dangerous road, and while I think there are some instances where it is ok, it should always be after asking permission from your significant other.

  55. I strongly suspect my husband has a problem in this area. I have tried to have conversations with him about it before because it is greatly affecting the frequency of when we are intimate together. How do I best go about asking him about this and what do I actually want to know? Like what follow up questions do I precede with it if it is acknowledged? I want to get the air cleared, but I don’t want to embarrass him either. Thank you.

  56. Of course I MB. I have been in a sex-starved marriage for 35 years now. Our sex drives are polar opposite. She has told me that my sex drive is a weakness to overcome.Last time that we talked about the lack of sex in our marriage, frequency did go up for 2 or 3 months to 1.5 times a week. But after 3 months, it went to 1-3 times a month. Now it is once every 4-6 weeks. I still love my wife but it is the “cross” that I must bear as a Christian husband.

  57. Masturbation at this site has pointed the smoking gun at men. According Kinsley statistically half as many woman also indulge.Where is the outrage?
    The tipping point seems to be whether it whets the appetite for the spouse or drives them apart.

  58. My wife is usually only in the mood once every month or two. She never initiates. I am sick of feeling rejected all the time. My hand never tells me no or makes me feel disgusting for even asking. My needs don’t matter to her so I have to take care of them myself. When we do have sex, I am usually satisfied for a few days but masturbation isn’t as satisfying so I need to more often. I miss my wife and my attempts to communicate this fall on deaf ears.

    • I think that you need to lay aside sex for a while for you seem to be consumed by it.Be consumed with how much God generously blesses you with compassion and love and then you can be a vessel of that extraordainary love to your wife and find ways to fill her life with that love to make her life run miraculously well by the power of the holy spirit.You will never find satifaction in your wife or your hand. You need to go back to your first love.

  59. Having gone on a bumpy road of dissatisfaction. Here is what got us on a new journey. Brought my wife to God in daily prayer as Hezekiah did when facing his foes and said she is your daughter teach me how to love her like you love her . I am your son and sometimes kids just need to grow up. Psalm 31 encourages us that He is watching listening and continually guiding us. What I found that lacked the most was late night or early morning just trying to hold her to bring a sense of comfort to her. Then I progressed to holding her as close as I can to her . No touching for stimulation just being there and thinking how good it is to have a peaceful movement enjoying her soft skin and warmth. You have to put aside your desires for now and put her first. If this brings a new joy to both of you then you have found the right road and things might begin to open up like never before.