Two Wives & Candid Conversation about Masturbation

Q&AOn a sexuality blog, it should be no surprise that I would eventually get around to discussing masturbation. There are heated opinions all along the continuum from “What’s the big deal?” to “Never, never, no, never!” I realize that I’m wading into potentially deep water here.

So what better way to face a possible tidal wave than with a friend? Thus, Julie Sibert of Intimacy in Marriage and I have decided to pair up and deal this touchy topic (no pun intended). We’ll brace ourselves and try to withstand the undertow together. We are answering the same nine questions regarding masturbation to see if we can enlighten this subject a bit.

Remember that both Julie and I come from a biblical point of view, but we hope to speak to couples from all backgrounds. My moniker is HHH and Julie Sibert is listed as Julie. (Or simply remember that she’s the smart one and I’m the snarky one.)

Is it wrong for a married person to masturbate?

HHH: 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.

Julie: 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.

So obviously there are reasons — many reasons — when it would be wrong for a married person to masturbate.

Are visualization and fantasy always part of masturbation?

HHH: I have heard through the grapevine that men cannot climax without conjuring up a visual image of a woman. Yet, my two direct sources of information (thanks, guys) say that it is difficult but not impossible. Moreover, is it a problem if the husband is imagining his wife?

I think it’s definitely possible for a woman to masturbate without thinking about a specific guy (yes, gals get to it as well). However, women may imagine another man without a specific picture in their head — like words another man said or that titillating thing the hunky guy in the romance novel did when he brought the main character to climax.

Yet, if visualization and fantasy are a part of masturbation, they must focus on the marriage partner, not the muscle-rippling actor or curvy actress in the last movie you caught.

Julie: Usually when people have strong opinions against masturbation, this is one of the main arguments they stand upon — that it is impossible for someone to masturbate without visualizing someone else.

This usually then is translated that the visualized fantasy involves a person or people other than one’s spouse (or that it always involves the viewing of pornography).

I understand the concern, but I question the absolute nature of the argument.

In other words, I think there are plenty of women who would argue they could masturbate without thinking of anything but the pleasure itself (Yes, women masturbate). And while I do think fewer men would be able to say the same thing, it’s a stretch to say it’s impossible that a man cannot masturbate without visualization.

And the argument totally disregards the possibility that a married person masturbating could be fantasizing about their own spouse in a completely healthy and honoring way.

For example, is it wrong for a man away on business to masturbate while fantasizing about his wife, who he loves and adores? I don’t think that’s wrong, especially if they’ve had open discussion as a couple and have found that masturbation in these circumstances strengthens their closeness.

Are there circumstances in which masturbation would be beneficial to a marriage?

HHH: Knowing that plenty will disagree, I say yes. Self-pleasure can be incorporated into a couple’s lovemaking; for instance, a husband may penetrate his wife while she stimulates herself and the result is an orgasm they both enjoy greatly. That increases, not detracts, from intimacy and pleasure.

Also, couples apart from each other for long periods of time could talk to each other by phone and use sensual flirtation and self-stimulation to mutually enjoy a time of sexual pleasure. Be careful to ensure privacy with phone sex, though; if your darling kid listens in on the other line or discovers a suggestive picture of mommy on daddy’s cell phone, you might find it easier to converse about quantum physics with your children than the inner workings of your marital life.

Julie: Absolutely. Certain guidelines, though, need to be met first.

For one thing, a couple needs to agree that they both are comfortable with when and why the masturbation is happening, that it is not being done to withhold from a spouse or as an excuse to get out of having sex, and that it truly does endear the couple to each other — not cause distance or strife in the relationship. For great insights on this, definitely trek over to Mrs. Gregoire’s post.

I cringe when I hear a wife suggest something along these lines… “Well, I just assume he take care of it himself. That way I don’t have to have sex with him.” Yuck. This clearly would not be an appropriate use of masturbation, because it is doing nothing to endear the spouses to each other.

I can, though, think of circumstances where masturbation is a positive part of a marriage. What about when a couple is separated by military deployment and either spouse masturbates while fantasizing of their spouse who is far away? What about in the latter stages of pregnancy, where sexual intercourse is uncomfortable and a couple incorporates masturbation into their intimate time together?

I definitely think there are circumstances when masturbation can be beneficial to a marriage.

For answers to What if my spouse cannot adequately bring me to orgasm during lovemaking? Does masturbation have a place during sexual intimacy? and Is it okay for someone to masturbate while their spouse watches, if this is acceptable to both of them and is a turn-on? click over to Intimacy in Marriage.

Thanks so much to my lovely friend, Julie, with whom I have chatted about mommyhood, baseball, and most definitely sexuality! Both of us have a passion for passion — that is, we want to help marriages by addressing sexuality openly and honestly and helping husbands and wives foster marital intimacy.

Be sure to stay tuned for Part 2 at the same hot time, same hot channel on Thursday!

17 thoughts on “Two Wives & Candid Conversation about Masturbation

  1. Gina Parris

    Good job, my friends. I advocate “Fidelity Fantasies” only. Since even the term sounds sort of silly it is fun to tell eachother, “I was having Fidelity Fantasies” about you today! hahahaa Plus he knows that talking me through his sweet fantasies always brings me great pleasure.
    I will be sharing this post!

  2. Christy

    Weird how nobody is beating down the door to comment on this post. LOL! I think its GREAT that you covered this ever so touchy subject.

  3. Anonymous

    So what do you say to the couple where they have vastly different sexual drives (for the sake of the example, let’s say it’s the man with the higher drive), and the wife just doesn’t seem to care. They’ve tried talking about it, and that always leads to argument and resentment. The husband would love to try counseling, but the wife refuses. The situation is still a vastly different sex drive with one partner not getting his needs met- be it for days, weeks, months, maybe even years on end. But dear God, the wife Better not catch her husband masturbating or else there’s hell to be paid and her own spirit is hurt. Where does masturbation fit in now?

  4. Anonymous

    Love It! This has helped my understanding in so many ways, can’t wait to share this with my hubby. Thanks for being so open, many Christians shy away from this topic when there are so many people out there with so many questions!

  5. Tom

    And just a quick tip for the ladies, most husbands LOVE to watch you do this(masturbate, that is)! There isn’t much that is just plain frankly pleasing as this. I’d suggest this to anyone who hasn’t tried it already.

  6. Anonymous

    I have to comment on this. I’m a woman, and throughout my life I have masturbated at times. Frankly, I see it as a gift from God. I could never have stayed a virgin as long as as I did without it, and I believe my husband is thankful for that. This may sound strange, but I don’t visualize or fantasize a lot while I’m doing it. Sometimes, I have extra energy, and I just can’t sleep. Sometimes I just do it so I can get to sleep, and I don’t want to wake up my husband. Currently, my husband and I can’t have sex, because he’s injured, so there’s another reason.
    As far as the fantasy thing goes, it’s pretty difficult to only have your husband in your head whenever you become aroused. I only want to be married to and have sex with him, but other images pass through my head. I don’t feel like I always have control over that, and as long as I’m not telling him, “hey, I thought of someone else while I was having sex with you,” I can’t see how it hurts anyone. It’s not like I focus on or dwell on those thoughts. I’m sure he has them too. -V. V.

  7. J

    To Anonymous who wrote, “So what do you say to the couple where they have vastly different sexual drives (for the sake of the example, let’s say it’s the man with the higher drive), and the wife just doesn’t seem to care…”

    First off, this situation stinks. One of the biggest problems for married couples struggling with the sexual relationship is when one person simply doesn’t care what the other thinks or feels. Some women have been trained to believe that sex is not on par with other intimate activities like conversation, quality time, or even affection. They can easily dismiss it as merely a physical desire, when in fact it is based on a relational need for closeness.

    I’ve been back and forth about your question. On one hand, I could say that plenty of single people or married persons with a partner unable to participate go without. On the other hand, I can imagine the physiological build-up of sexual intensity when being with your beloved daily and not having access to reasonably frequent intimacy.

    Each person must decide for themselves. Frequent masturbation does signal your body to build intensity more quickly, likely causing more frequent frustration and need for release. So if you do masturbate, make it rare.

    And continue doing everything you can to demonstrate love for your wife, pray for this situation to improve, and ask again for counseling. Instead of “we should go to counseling,” try to starting with what sex with her would mean to you EMOTIONALLY. Stress the romance and desire for intimacy with her. Also know that I will say a prayer for you and your wife as well. You are in a tough situation.

  8. Julie Sibert

    Well stated J.

    I feel bad for you Anonymous that your wife does not understand the depth of pain she is causing by not valuing sexual intimacy.

    I’m wondering what would happen if you calmly tell your wife that your desire for sex with her is first and foremost because you love her — but that it is also because sex feels good. You could go on to say that while you would prefer more of that kind of intimacy in your marriage, if she is not willing, then you will masturbate.

    Your tone obviously needs to be loving, and at the same time emphasize that you don’t want to hide anything from her. Share as well that you will continue to pray that the two of you together will get to a place where you both nurture sex in your relationship — and that you are open to counseling at any time — because you care so deeply about your marriage.

    Obviously, you need to continue to ask for God’s wisdom, as well as take captive any tendencies to allow your thought life to go to a place of fantasizing about other women. That obviously wouldn’t be good for your marriage.

    I echo what J says — you are in a tough situation.

  9. Anonymous

    I love this blog, and I usually agree with you. However, I disagree on a specific point with your advice to the first “Anonymous,” when you said “if you do masturbate, make it rare.” If the guy has a much higher sex drive than the wife, I see no problem with masturbation helping him through this problem. Masturbation a substitute for sex and he’s not getting any through no fault of his own. How often he does it can depend on factors like sex drive, stress level, etc. If his wife is not making herself available to him, and then makes him feel bad for masturbating– that’s just adding insult to injury. I can understand saying that you shouldn’t get addicted to masturbation or shouldn’t prefer it, but saying you can’t do it when you need to sounds unnecessarily restrictive. The Bible is completely silent on this, so I don’t think we can pass judgement. -V.V

  10. J

    To Anonymous/V.V. – It’s interesting that you pulled out that one phrase…because I hovered over the word “rare” for a long time before pressing Post Comment. People could define rare all kinds of ways. Perhaps I misspoke. I should clarify.

    I’m saying that any masturbation should be beneficial to the relationship. From that standard, masturbating when your spouse is unavailable for long periods of time could be beneficial to the marriage in keeping stress levels down and a spouse’s eyes off others. So it could foster the relationship indeed. On the other hand, frequent masturbation can become habitual, linked to imagery of others, or take your thoughts generally off the relationship and onto your own pleasure.

    I am not passing judgment on anyone. I sincerely believe that couples and individuals must make their own decision in this area. Much of the issue involves heart/attitude, so only the people involved can know what that is.

    By the way, I don’t know what your theology is on this, but my own opinion is that the Bible can guide us to make wise decisions by applying its principles even in specific areas about which it is silent.

    Thank you so much for your feedback…and getting me to revisit my own words to be clearer. The open discussion here is wonderful!!!

  11. Alecia

    Great job on these posts ladies! I appreciate that you were willing to tackle this sensitive topic. I also specifically appreciated some of the things that you shared. Although I can see a need for masturbation at times within the marriage relationship, I believe unless you are careful to set up proper boundaries around this act that it can easily become a replacement, or just like with porn if it is used too frequently it can change our bodies sensitivities and change our abilities to climax in other ways – such as with our spouse in intercourse. I (personal confession coming here…) learned how to masturbate at a fairly young age through romance novels and fantasy and as a result I truly believe it was one of the biggest factors in it taking 12 YEARS of marriage to figure out how to climax WITH my husband.

    You both have made some excellent points. I have to say I agree with most of them. But it also makes me leery to advocate anything that can so easily escalate to other things by becoming a selfish non-intimate act in solitude and secrecy or creating compulsions or addictions in us that otherwise wouldn’t be there. It definitely is something that is between each couple in their own marriage but it is something that people need to take great care in engaging in.

  12. thepurebed

    This a great and greatly needed conversation in the Christian community and we applaud you for the manner in which you’ve undertaken it.

    At The Pure Bed, we believe masturbation can offer as much as it can take away. The question for any believer is really two fold: 1.In principle (scripture, conscience, faith, conviction), is it generally permissible for someone to masturbate in this situation? 2.But is it the best choice for me?

    If question 1 gets a yes, question 2 must also get a yes before we proceed. These choices are consequential and must be made in ways that preserve the integrity of our Christian witness.

    Awesome posts on masturbation…

  13. Anonymous

    My sex drive is higher than my wife’s. She sometimes offers “quickies” for my sake, which requires clean up on her part. One night a while back she was facing the other way in bed and getting too relaxed for me to feel good about imposing the required clean up routine on her. I decided to move right up against her, on my back, knees up, one leg laying against hers. I decided to pleasure myself with a clean tee shirt draped there to keep things dry. I grasped her bottom with one hand. I wanted it to be obvious to her what was happening. I needed release and didn’t want it to be a solitary experience. She didn’t object at all and it was a different type of intimacy than we had experienced. Seems like a nice way to meet everyone’s needs and keep it in the marriage context.

  14. Anonymous

    After marrying my husband the desire to engage in solitary sexual activity was non existent. However, he accepted a job that meant we were to be separated temporarily for three straight months. After month one I had a strong urge to take care of things myself, and then did so in spurts throughout that entire month. Thankfully, I have never had any trouble keeping the focus on him during the solo act. In fact I think it would be a huge turn off for me to involve anything or person outside of him and I in a fantasy.

    For the third month I have decided to restrain from relieving myself of sexual tensions, as I had not discussed this topic with my husband before he left and do not know where he stands (although I find it hard to believe that he could get too upset when his wife informs him that the thought of him gave her the desire to masturbate while fantasizing about him) I will have no trouble opening up about it once he is back, but find such a topic too awkward to address on the phone.

  15. TC Thompson

    My husband and I practice mutual masterbation. We actually call these “cum wars”. He will stimulate me and I him and we see who can make who climax first. Win! Win! Situation. I am very visual and love seeing him masturbate…BUT only when I am there. We have sex so often that we don’t give each other the opportunity to do it alone. ha, ha.

    I believe that if you are not involving your spouse, physically or “spirituall”, you should not be masturbating. (By “spiritually”, I mean if it is not your spouse that you are envisioning or sexting or talking to, while you are masturabating, it is wrong).

  16. Mrs. Right

    I guess I should have read this post before replying to the follow-up post (I’m reading my way through your blog backwards). 🙂

    Yup, I agree that it can be either good or bad, depending upon the relationship quality and individual circumstances.

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