Yes, I’m going to go there.
I’m going to talk about masturbation.
Not because I’m in a bit of a drought when it comes to hate mail, but because it is a valid issue worth discussing with regard to sexual intimacy in marriage.
I know this topic is steeped in much theological debate and scripture interpretation. I also know that in the vast majority of situations, masturbation is sabotaging intimacy in marriage – not enriching it.
But is masturbation in marriage always wrong?
My fellow blogger and friend, Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous, and I were talking about this. We blog about sex, so uhhh… no surprise that many of our conversations revolve around sex.
We aren’t the only bloggers digging into this topic.
I particularly want to give a shout out to Brad and Kate Aldrich of One Flesh Marriage. You can reach their recent posts on masturbation at this link. Other bloggers have addressed it as well, including (but not limited to) Sheila Gregoire and Paul Byerly. (All worth the read, by the way).
As controversial as masturbation is, Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous and I believe it is worth discussing.
We each answered the same 9 questions – and are sharing our answers with all of you.
So tag along with us on this one… and chime in with your own comments as well. That’s all we’re doing… generating some dialogue on something that needs to be discussed.
Believe it or not, some married people do masturbate.
That being the case, it’s worth peeling back the layers on these questions:
Is it wrong for a married person to masturbate?
Me: It depends. I’m not just riding the fence on this issue. I truly do believe it depends. There are circumstances where it would definitely be wrong for a married person to masturbate.
In particular, it would be wrong if they are doing it to withhold sexually from their spouse, if it has become an idol on their heart or it has become addictive, if they are doing it while visualizing someone other their spouse, if they are doing it while viewing pornographic or explicit material, and/or if they are doing it secretly – meaning they are purposely hiding the activity from their spouse.
Additionally, if one spouse has specifically asked the other spouse to not masturbate, then it would be dishonorable, hurtful and disrespectful to ignore this request, in my opinion. (I should point out, though, if the spouse who is saying it is wrong to masturbate is simultaneously not sexually available to their spouse, then the more painful transgression is being committed by the sexually unavailable spouse, not the one who wants to masturbate).
Obviously there are reasons – many reasons – when it would be wrong for a married person to masturbate. But all circumstances don’t match up to those reasons.
Hot, Holy, Humorous: First off, I’m going to not allow my love for Cyndi Lauper and the dance-inducing rhythm of “She Bop” to sway my answers (she was good in concert!). That said, I don’t believe that is always wrong to masturbate.
The purpose of sexuality in marriage is reproduction, intimacy, and pleasure.
While masturbation does nothing for reproduction, it can be incorporated by a couple for intimacy and pleasure. Unfortunately, most masturbation by married persons is not lending itself to those goals but rather hindering or replacing healthy sexuality.
What if my spouse cannot adequately bring me to orgasm during lovemaking? Does masturbation have a place during sexual intimacy?
Me: We might just be talking semantics here, but when one spouse stimulates himself or herself during sexual intercourse, I’m not sure if that really is masturbation – at least not as we usually think of masturbation.
As I have often said, the clitoris is usually not quite as predictable as the penis. So, let’s say a wife stimulates her clitoris with her fingertips as she and her husband are making love – the goal here isn’t to hinder their intimacy; the goal is to enhance it.
Her orgasm is important to both of them.
If her stimulating her clitoris while her husband thrusts within her would be defined as masturbation, then so be it.
Whatever you want to call it, in circumstances like this, I think it would be very much acceptable.
Hot, Holy, Humorous: Masturbation is a problem when it replaces intimacy between a husband and wife, and this approach has the potential for that. Masturbation could help facilitate orgasm; however, if your spouse cannot adequately get you there, you shouldn’t fall back on self-stimulation rather than figuring out how to make it happen.
It’s easy to get impatient or shy about what you like. Make orgasm a priority, experiment with what feels good or doesn’t, guide your spouse to help you, and be patient.
For some, orgasm is a destination one mile down a highway lane, and others may take a country drive down meandering back roads, but I think everyone can get there eventually.
In the meantime, can I imagine an instance where you’ve been trying for an orgasm longer than a Hollywood marriage and your spouse asks you to please take care of it while he/she watches? Yes, and I don’t think that’s all bad.
Is it okay for someone to masturbate while their spouse watches, if this is acceptable to both of them and is a turn-on?
Me: The key portion of this point is “acceptable to both of them.” I believe there are two non-negotiable guidelines that are necessary for God-honoring sexual intimacy.
First, a married couple must maintain the exclusivity of their sexual intimacy. No involvement of any third parties (real, imagined or portrayed).
Second, no one is getting hurt (physically, emotionally, spiritually). The foundation of marriage is love, so it is obviously not loving for one spouse to force another spouse to do something that is painful, makes them uncomfortable or compromises their values.
If the exclusivity and no-pain guidelines are met, I think a married couple has tremendous freedom in their sexual pleasure.
Intercourse whereby the penis is in the vagina is obviously part of God’s plan for intimacy – and I would never tell a married couple that this shouldn’t be a regular experience in their sexual intimacy.
But to say they can’t explore other forms of sexual play and pleasure as well? That would be crazy.
If it is enjoyable for one spouse to watch the other spouse masturbate, there is room for this within a repertoire of sexual experiences in the marriage bed.
Hot, Holy, Humorous: Sure. But once again, this shouldn’t become a pattern or a replacement for interacting with one another. Your bedroom shouldn’t feel like a sex chat room or a porn film audition. Sexuality is about committed relationship.
Want to see what else we talked about?
Click over to the site of Hot, Holy & Humorous. The same first question appears on her post, but keep scrolling. We go on to answer these questions:
Are visualization and fantasy always part of masturbation?
Are there circumstances in which masturbation would be beneficial to a marriage?
Also stay tuned for Part 2 coming up on Thursday. (We had a few more questions we wanted to explore).
I’m genuinely thrilled that Mrs. Hot Holy Humorous and I have offered up our perspectives on this topic of masturbation. (Yes. I know. She is way funnier than me. I am envious of her quick wit, but I digress).
I’m sure I don’t have to point this out, but she and I care deeply about marriages. And we are very comfortable with the reality that many Christians may disagree with our take on masturbation.
Just remember – we are simply generating dialogue as an effort to get married couples talking about their sexual intimacy.
Shedding light people. That’s what we’re about.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage Blog.
18 thoughts on “Two Wives. Talking About Masturbation.”
Thanks for your boldness in addressing this awkward and difficult subject! If I may so, you both did a very good, objective, honest job of addressing the biblical “spirit of the law” position on this rather than simply espousing personal opinion. Another article of interest is an in-depth look at Scripture on this from Pastor Ed of mychainsaregone.org, though it’s geared more toward singles on this topic:
My husband has dealt with impotency issues over the years, mainly as a result of medical and prescription issues. Much of that time he has not wanted to even try because it was so damaging to his ego. The only way I could deal with it was masturbation, and only rarely. I wasn’t withholding sex from him. The situation with him was damaging to me also in several ways.
For the past month he has once again tried the pills to help with the situation, something that hasn’t helped much. I told him that I needed intimacy with him, and if nothing happened, we still needed that time together. He agreed, we started cuddling and kissing etc. and that helped a lot. We are doing MUCH better now. That doesn’t mean this will always help me, but he is trying.
Rabbi Shmuley’s book “The Kosher Sutra – 8 Sacred Secrets for Reigniting Desire and Restoring Passion for Life” gives some good tips.
I’m glad we are addressing this topic, Julie. Your answers were excellent.
Lynda – I have the “Kosher Sutra” in my to-be-read pile. I guess I need to move it closer to the top. (It would help if my to-be-read pile wasn’t 3 feet high, but that’s another story.)
I’d say that if masturbation is a part of a married couple’s intimacy, go for it. Respect your spouse’s wishes – don’t make it a substitute – don’t make it a habit, and I think it’s fine. I think the need for the climax can be completely physical like stretching or scratching an itch. If the spouse isn’t there to help … If you can wait – do so – it’ll make the sex hotter any way. But if they’re say, out of town, why not?
As an older person who still loves intimacy with my spouse, I have to comment on this. Always preferring intercourse, there are times when orgasm just doesn’t happen through that method. Fit, sometimes is not perfect. Medication is sometimes a factor. Soreness can develop for her. For me to find another way to climax, with her there, either with her help or with just her presence, this is not wrong. For +her+ to find another way to climax, with me there, this can’t be wrong. I think that’s what you’re saying, anyway. I hope it is, because there are times… Further, if you know “touching to climax” is a possibility, it takes the pressure off intercourse, and that sometimes helps. Anonymous.
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I’d like to ask a question, but it’s a little embarrassing and tough. My husband and I have been married for 24yrs and he will be 50 in a couple weeks. We never ever had any problems in the sex area before, but I became ill a few years ago and gained alot of weight. Finally, I was healed and lost all the weight, but during that time, my husband was looking at alot of porn and not having sex with me. He told me last March, he loves me very much, but isn’t in love and wants a divorce. He moved out in April, came back in June due to finances only. I’m standing for my marriage because that’s what I feel God is telling me to do, plus I do love him and I do not want to leave a legacy of divorce to our children and their children. He’s interested in a 25 yr old girl who he’s been intimate with. She’s in jail right now due to drug abuse and he talks to her everyday. I can’t believe all this is happening, but I’m fighting this with heavy spiritual warfare daily. Family and friends can’t believe this is happening because of how much he told me and showed me he loved me all the time, but I learned this is a spiritual issue. He said he wishes our marriage would work, but he doesn’t have those feelings for me and hasn’t been able to have an orgasm with me for the past few months. He could before that, but all of a sudden it stopped. He says this is one of the reasons why he feels he’s not in love with me anymore. Do you know why he can’t have an orgasm? Could it be because of the porn or the girl or both? Do you have any suggestions, any suggestions how to fight this in warfare or anything? I need help, so any help you can give, I will appreciate very much.
Thank you for your comment. I’m so sorry about your situation. It saddens me so much to hear how careless your husband is being with you and his marriage.
I’m not a counselor, but I would offer these insights.
As for your husband not having an orgasm, this could be for a number of different reasons. But honestly, I think it is the least of the problems that you are facing in your marriage.
If your husband has been unfaithful to you by being physically intimate with another person, then you would be wise to stop having sex with him unless he agrees to stop being intimate with this other person and agrees to be tested for STDs. I know sometimes there is a misconception that STDs are simply confined to promiscuous teenagers or poorer demographics, but the reality is that STDs can affect anyone who has been exposed to situations where a person does not know the sexual history of their partners. I’m not a doctor, but I highly encourage you to get tested and to insist your husband be tested (if he intends to stay in the marriage and have sex with you).
If he doesn’t intend to stay in the marriage, then you would be wise to seek counsel on what a legal separation entails. From a biblical standpoint, he has already “left the marriage.” I understand and admire your commitment to stand for your marriage, but you can do that without compromising on boundaries that will keep you safe.
In other words, while you would have grounds for divorce, you don’t have to go that route (and wouldn’t want to unless you feel God gives you a peace about such a decision OR if your husband files). BUT, I believe there is no hope of your marriage being reconciled if your husband is allowed to stay with you AND still carry on with pornography and with a relationship with the 25-year-old.
You are wise to recognize there is spiritual warfare going on (because honestly, there is ALWAYS spiritual warfare going on, because Satan hates anything ordained by God, including marriage). So yes, certainly pray against the forces of evil and pray that God would get ahold of your husband’s heart and remove the scales from his eyes.
All that being said, we all must give an account to God for how we have lived. So, if your husband, who I believe knows that his behavior is incongruent with God’s Word, continues to use his free will to sabotage his marriage, then that is between him and God. In other words, if your marriage is not saved, I encourage you to recognize that it isn’t because you did not “pray hard enough.”
I’m saddened and angry that your husband is behaving the way he is.
Make sure you have safe female Christian confidantes you can be real with, share your true feelings, etc. Do not isolate yourself. Surround yourself with people who will help you make wise decisions and help you be safe.
In Christ, Julie
I like the insights shared here. There very much match the reality of what we have seen in the erotic marriage stories that are posted at http://www.marriageheat.com. Great blog here.
I have to say I had no issue at all with this till it turned into him being satisfied by porn we go months before we have any contact.my husband fell away from God and every time he does this is a battle ..I have fought with rejection an hurt he even messaged another woman for a few days his phone seems to be a issue but at this point it would do me no good to discuss this matter with him just standing and praying it breaks my heart everytime the holy spirit reveals or there is nasty towels an undies ive actually thrown these things away in anger because I refused to wash his sin..it has made me distant at times and angry its made ne bitter I allowed his addiction to porn to destroy me at times ive had to ask for forgiveness alot through this I love my husband an I know he loves me this is a huge hindrance in our marriage because there is no way I can ever compete with whats in his mind or them women
Overcoming a porn addiction is possible. It may take time, but it is possible. Let’s start like this:
1. Face the fact that you do not know if he loves you. We never *truly* know such things. If you truly knew, you would not be posting with such anguish. Why don’t you know? Because the lack of intimacy, feelings of betrayal, inadequacy and fear are filling your heart with doubt. Your brain has just not caught up yet, but it will, if you let it. Remember Jeremia 17:9 “The heart is deceitful above all things, and desperately wicked: who can know it?” This is why doing what you know is right can hurt so much.
2. Your husband has a reason for this addiction. Read Proverbs 26:2.
Right or wrong, you might have to face up to yourself being that reason in his mind. And having to do something about it. This wonderful blog is FULL of women-guided advice to examine yourself and your attitudes. Take advantage of it.
3. If breaking his addiction means having sex 5-6 times a week, will you do it? Lovingly and enthusiastically? Read 1 Corinthians 7:3.
4. Stop being silly. You are one of God’s precious, wonderful daughters. NOTHING on this EARTH compares to YOU. Feel it, know it, live it.
5. Take ownership of your man. BURN yourself into his mind, so that YOU are all he thinks about. You have the advantage if you are willing to use it. I have a *high* drive, but if my bride was requesting attention 3-4 times a day, I don’t think I could survive more than a few days.
6. Do not be afraid to seek counseling, either with a pastor or a professional. You might start going alone just to get some face-to-face interaction going.
7. Do NOT lose faith. Keep up your prayers. Ask Jehovah for the strength, wisdom and courage to help you bring peace and comfort to your husband so he can come back into a loving relationship with God and yourself. Do not worry about yourself.
WE will pray for you.
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Men with high sex drives married to women with low sex drives are going to masturbate a lot. I’ve found that sharing that with my wife and encouraging her to accept that as part of sexuality has brought us closer together. I no longer feel like I have to hide why I’m doing.
The other thing we discovered is when she began to masturbate once or twice a week it increased her sex drive and our time together became more frequent and more fun, with laughter, communication and a feeling of closeness.
The key was getting the kids out of the house and giving her alone time to relax and explore her sexuality on her own. I’ve found myself pursuing her again, getting no more chores done, etc. I feel like I’m married to the wife of my youth again and she seems so much more confident with flirting, touching, sexting and kissing throughout the day.
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My wife has complete control over our love making. I am living in what is called a sexless marriage.(having sex less then 12 times a year). We have been married for 23 years now and these last 2 years has been a very dry season. We have only had sex 11 times in 2 years. It has become a challenge for me. When I bring it up, I get the standard response of “all you ever think about is sex”. I can honestly say at this point in my marriage, she is right. Simply because I never get it like I used to. We are both devoted Christians and we both know hods word on the topic. However she has chosen to did honor God s word. Yes, she is dis honoring God.
Because of the lack of intamcy, I have resorted to masturbation as my release. This is something that is new to me. I probably have only masturbated a handful of times in our previous 21 years of marriage. I have done a ton of reading on the female body after 40.(she turned 40 last year) I know she is going thru changes, but it has me dealing that she is no longer attracted to me. I work out daily, I am 6 feet tall, 199 lbs and in excellent shape. My therapist has even hinted to me that she may feel intimidated by my physique, as she no longer works out and has put on weight. I tell her almost daily how beautiful she is, but that does not seem to help…if anyone is experiencing this phenomenon please enlighten me. I really do get tired of masturbating to a mental picture of what it used to be like with her..btw…when we do have sex it is awesome and forefilling for both of us
My wife hides and lies about it. Honestly our sex life is great. I’ve told her it doesn’t bother me in fact it’s a turn on. What hurts is that she can’t be honest about it and no matter how much I want to shrug it off I can’t. It hurts. We are amazing together. Even going into missions together but it’s very destructive to KNOW, seen and heard it while she was in the bathroom. 100% sure. she is doing it and lying about it. It’s the lying and hiding that could actually hurt us more than I thought was ever possible.
I am SOOO happy to find a site where people can mention God and sex in the same sentence!! I am a 41 year old woman in my second marriage, and I am in a situation that has made me feel so desperate and alone. I’ve known my current husband since I was 16 and he was 18, and he claims that he has been in love with me from the beginning. Life led us down separate paths for awhile, however, and sadly, while I have 3 beautiful daughters from my previous sexual encounter, he ended up with HIV from his. I am not afraid of getting infected from him, but he is desperately afraid of infecting me. That fear coupled with a wide range of health problems has led to him being completely unable to have an erection. At first, it didn’t bother me very much, because there were other ways we could enjoy sex. Over the past few years, however, those options have been eliminated one by one, and we are now in a place where sex does not exist.
I love my husband. He is a good man, and I know he loves me. But the idea that I am going to go through the next 10-20 years with no sexual fulfillment is beyond frustrating!! I do resort to masturbation, but it isn’t the same, and I’m scared that my love for him is suffering. His soul is sweet and loving, but his body is no longer even attractive to me, and I feel so ashamed and afraid of the fact that my sexual images don’t include him. I don’t know what to do! I don’t want to hurt him, but I don’t want to live in forced celibacy either. Any advice is welcome. Thank you.