Is it Wrong to Masturbate in Marriage?

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The other day, Austin and I had a reader ask us if it is wrong to masturbate in marriage. They even asked if it would be considered to be cheating for them to do this. It was apparent that they needed to have sex more often than their spouse was willing.

We decided to tackle this topic on Facebook Live. You can watch it, but this is basically what we said.

Is Masturbating in Marriage Wrong?

We started with clarifying what the Bible has to say about masturbating- and here’s the thing, it doesn’t address it. That doesn’t mean that there aren’t other Biblical principles that we can point to in order to decide if we are doing something wrong.

There are two reasons that we could think of where masturbating in marriage could lead to sin for you.

Watching Porn

Many times, this sex act is done alone while watching porn. There are scriptures that talk about not looking at others in their nakedness. Viewing porn is a sin and if you are looking at it, then this is where you are wrong.

Take Care of Yourself in Secret

The other thing that happens in marriage, is that one spouse will sneak off to masturbate. Keeping secrets and lying to your spouse is wrong. Going off and taking care of yourself in secret, even if porn isn’t involved is sin.

Masturbating Isn’t The Problem

Masturbating itself is not the problem. In fact, mutual masturbation can be a great thing to add into your sex life with your spouse. When you are both together and pleasing yourselves in front of the other as a way of building intimacy, that can be great.

If you are using a new toy and trying to teach your spouse, or want to add to the visuals, this can be a really exciting act.

The problem with masturbating is when it replaces intimacy in your marriage. Even, if your spouse is ok with you taking care of yourself so they don’t have to, it’s not a good idea.

Relieving the Pressure Can Harm Your Marriage

preserve your marriage

Many times in marriage, you have one spouse that is high drive and one that is lower drive. If the higher drive spouse takes care of themselves, they will not have the motivation to work through the intimacy issues in their marriage.

I hear many heartbreaking stories from men and women that are in sexless marriages. My heart goes out to them. Many have resigned themselves to taking care of themselves for the sake of their sanity. I get that.

What I encourage you to do, instead, is to continue to go to your spouse and share your needs. Be sure that you present them the problem you are having and ask them in earnest to help you figure out the solution. Also, you have to be willing to admit where you are failing them on meeting their needs.

What About Masturbating While Away From Each Other?

This is not a question that I can answer for your marriage. If you and your spouse are separated for whatever the reason, the two of you guys need to decide how you will handle it. Have the conversation, no matter how uncomfortable you feel about it.

If you decide that taking care of your needs while away from one another is ok in your marriage, you need to come up with ground rules. Be clear that no porn is to be involved. You may decide that these sessions are to be done while on the phone. Or you may want to have some other form of accountability with one another.

What Will Add To Your Intimacy In Marriage?

The real question to ask in marriage is, “What will add to the intimacy between us?”. Many times, we focus on right and wrong too much. I’m not saying that we shouldn’t ever put down hard lines on what is right and wrong.

What I am saying, is that there is more to life than just being right or wrong. The real focus needs to be on fostering intimacy in your relationship.

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6 Comments on Is it Wrong to Masturbate in Marriage?

  1. I am the high drive husband. There is no way my wife can keep up with me, and I don’t expect her to. I like to experiment, my wife does not like anything out of the ordinary. (She likes to give me oral and manual, but won’t accept oral on her from me yet, I keep asking.) I like toys, my wife won’t try one yet. (We are taking a sexcation next week and I will bring some toys along.) I want to try e-stim next. When I get one I will try it on my wife’s pain points, but I do not believe she will like it for erotic purposes, but I will ask her. These differences put a lot of pressure on our sex life.

    • That’s really difficult, I agree. It’s really hard working through sexual differences in your marriage. Austin and I had to work through a lot. It took years for me to understand his drive. Keep communicating with her. Give her time. Move slowly. Maybe one day she’ll be more adventurous. I’m very glad you’re taking a sexcation.

  2. My wife’s pregnancy has been very hard. And we have 3 kids 6 and under… the last few months have been difficult. For my wife, pregnancy kills her entire libido, and this one is doing a number on her physically (the baby is large, and has been putting so much pressure on her lower half, that she feels uncomfortable and experiences serious pain much of the day). She quite literally can’t stay awake once the kids are in bed. Sex and intimacy is the farthest thing from her mind (she admits this).

    I have a very high drive (once every 2 or 3 days at most), but through this pregnancy, we’ve been intimate an average of once every 3 weeks. It’s hard on me–but the pregnancy is far harder on her. I’ve told her that there are going to be times I need to “take care” or myself (in the shower usually), and she’s (somewhat reluctantly) fine with it. I would much rather be intimate with her–but if I wait too long, the tension inside me grows and I quite literally can’t focus, and I get irritable, testy, and distant.

    I can’t wait till this kid is born and she physically recovers!

    • My heart goes out to you both. I have morning sickness the entire time every pregnancy, so it made it hard for me to function.

      I’m glad you’re being honest about your needs with her and sharing the position you are in. I’m also thankful that you are sensitive to her physical state.

      You’re in a tough spot and I’ll pray that you both get through this pregnancy. Good luck friend.

  3. Like anything in life, I think we need to examine our motivation behind the act of masturbation. I will not give a black and white “masturbation is always wrong,” because I don’t believe that. Saying that, however, I do think it is something to be highly cautious about and to be aware of the potential damage it can cause. I have several examples in all directions. (Bear with me.)

    First, after my second daughter was born, I had PPD so bad that I was eventually hospitalized on suicide watch. We did not have sex for at least four months. During this time my husband resorted to masturbating. I think he did the right thing, actually. I think he reduced the temptation to resort to other sexual sins (such as porn) by trying to think only of me. I can’t imagine what a horrible time that was for him too, to watch his entire life fall apart. Adding intense sexual tension sounds horrible. But this was not the kind of issue he could talk to me about and I could make changes. I was not capable of having sex.

    Once I got the meds I needed and felt like myself, I promised to make it up to him as best I could once I realized what happened. We began having sex every two to three days, never going more than three. Still, I caught him masturbating from time to time. I told him I didn’t like it but he said it wasn’t wrong because he was thinking of me. Still, I felt extremely hurt. Why wasn’t sex 3 times a week enough for him? Would I ever be enough for him? I found Jay Dee’s blogs on masturbation in marriage and eventually shared it with him because it explained why I was hurting. (http://sexwithinmarriage.com/my-husband-admitted-to-masturbating-how-do-i-get-over-the-hurt/ and http://sexwithinmarriage.com/why-do-married-men-masturbate/ ) My husband and I talked it through and he apologized and admitted it was a bad habit left over from PPD. He agreed not to anymore because he never meant to hurt me. Unfortunately, I know he still does it from time to time when he feels he is being considerate of me, such as if I am sick or during my period. But I still wish he wouldn’t. I wish he felt comfortable enough coming to me with his sexual needs even when I cannot have sex. There are plenty of other things I could do and it would give me so much joy to be able to do that and to have him trust me enough to receive that gift from me. So now his masturbation is extremely hurtful to me when I am ready and willing; he is robbing me of the opportunity to bless him.

    In a similar postpartum situation, my best friend needed some anti-anxiety meds after her second son was born and it killed her sex drive. She did not handle it well, she told her husband she couldn’t be bothered with that and he needed to go take care of it himself. He did, but grew increasingly angry and bitter, and eventually slipped back into his porn habit from before they met. The choice was his; he is the one who chose to sin. But I feel they both sinned against each other. Sexual intimacy is too important and she sinned against him by refusing him sexually deliberately. He sinned against her by not confronting her about this (I had to do that) and by going back to porn to punish her. All in all, an awful situation that they are still working through. She is struggling with her anxiety again and asked her husband if she should go back on her medication. He emphatically said NEVER AGAIN. I understand that her meds killed her drive, but there are plenty of ways to connect sexually if you choose to make that a priority. So once again, masturbation was a very bad idea and my friend made a dumb choice to tell him to do it.

    But on the other side of things, one of my other friends is deeply unsatisfied with her sex life because of her husband’s extreme premature ejaculation. We are talking less than 30 seconds. In this situation, I actually recommend masturbation for him, that he would read up on the kinds of exercises that can be used to delay ejaculation and to learn his body better to be able to stop before he has passed the point of no return. They should definitely try mutual masturbation, but perhaps her presence will be distracting and unnerving. Solo masturbation in this instance can increase intimacy if it is used correctly.

    That to me is the bottom question. Does this increase intimacy? Or it is a substitute for intimacy? Is it an avoidance of a deeper problem? Is it an addiction? Is it robbing your spouse of the intimacy they wish were only directed at them? Or is it an effort to resolve a sexual problem such as PE to increase sexual satisfaction for both? Is the goal to serve yourself or to serve your spouse? Is this how you spouse actually *wants* to be served, or is it just safer than the risk of rejection? Be willing to ask the hard questions and to talk vulnerably with your spouse.

    • Those are all very insightful stories. Thanks so much for sharing. If masturbation is hurting someone’s feelings, then it doesn’t have a place in the relationship. Neither would other actions that are hurtful.

      For you specifically, I would suggest that you don’t wait for your husband to approach you for sex, particularly on your period. Go ahead and let him know that you want to be with him sexually in some way. Come up with a game plan for how you guys are going to handle your period week. Tell your husband specifically which days of your period you plan to do what for him. If you know he’s taking care of himself rather than coming to you, then just make the plan and let him know what it is. Then you guys will develop a period week routine. I should probably talk about this. hmmm…. 😀

2 Trackbacks & Pingbacks

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