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Masturbation Issues

The Opposite Sex

I agree that men have a different level of sexual desire than women, but at the same time I don’t agree they need to bring images of other women in their mind for self-gratification.  As a woman I also have desires to be released, and I don’t need to get images of men to get the job done! 

This is not because I am not a visual person; it is because I find it would be disrespectful.  There are other ways to take care of business.


Dolly, in the musical “My Fair Lady” Professor Henry Higgins sings, “Why can’t a woman be more like a man?”  We often get letters from women who seem to be humming a tune called “Why can’t a man be more like a woman?”

Two thousand years ago the Roman poet Ovid wrote about Pygmalion, a sculptor who was revolted by the flaws of the female sex.  This confirmed bachelor created a statue of a woman so realistic he fell in love with it.  Then the goddess Venus took pity on Pygmalion and brought the statue to life.

No one will bring to life a woman’s idea of what a man should be like, nor bring to life a man’s idea of a woman.  But understanding what we are actually like makes possible a love deeper than anything we can imagine.

(The best of relationship advice from Direct Answers.)


Birds And Bees

I need some good biblical answers to a recent sexual problem I have encountered. My husband told me he masturbated in the past, but very infrequently. He says this took place before we were married or even met, but since we have been together, he has not needed to do this unless he was extremely sexually frustrated. He says he is satisfied with our love life.

The other night I was in the bathroom with him while he was taking a shower. He kind of hinted he would like to be alone by saying, "I'll be out in a little while." So, I left. A little while later I began to wonder why he wanted me out of there so quickly, so I came back in...unannounced.

What I saw shocked me. I unmistakably saw him masturbating in the shower. When I walked in, I pretended I didn't see him doing it, and he, of course, acted a little alarmed and turned around and didn't let on either. I got out of the bathroom pretty quick.

To my knowledge he was not extremely sexually frustrated, and I can't understand why he did it. I wonder how often this takes place and why he feels the "need." It makes me wonder if maybe I'm not pleasing him or satisfying his sexual needs. I also wonder what or who it was he was thinking about to cause his erection. Call me dumb, but it really bothered me.

I don't know if I should tell him what I saw and talk about it, or just keep quiet and let it eat me up inside.


Peggy, a man can be sexually aroused and get an erection many times during a day. The sexual readiness men have is different from what women experience. It may help to think about this in terms of the natural world around us.

Each year a cottonwood tree puts out hundreds or thousands of cottony fibers with a seed attached. The fibers float as far as the wind will carry them, and when they land on the earth, all but a tiny fraction fail to take root. The seeds of the maple tree are attached to tiny "propellers" which spiral away from the parent tree. Again, hardly any of the seeds become mature trees.

In a similar way, human males feel a biological need to release their seed at frequent intervals. This is natural. You should realize this occurs in men far more often than you are prepared for, or interested in, sexual relations with your husband. That is why your husband masturbates. For that, you should probably be grateful.

It is time to have a more honest discussion with your husband about sex. It takes time for most of us to become comfortable with our sexuality, and that of our partner's, but freeing yourself to discuss this will deepen your understanding and your relationship. Trust me about one thing. An omniscient being must understand male biology a lot better than most women.


P.S. Men don't pry into the details of a woman's period. Why do so many women feel they need to control their man's every ejaculation. Male masturbation is about release. It isn't about him having sex with someone else.


Normal Behavior

In seven months I am to be married to a man I’ve dated three years. He has had sex with only two girlfriends, one in high school, one in college. He grew up motherless and is a real “guy’s guy.” He has immersed himself in his career and is very successful. Most of his sexual life has been spent watching soft porn on cable, an occasional x-rated video, or a jaunt to a topless club with a friend.

We have been living together for a month. My question is this: I am having difficulty dealing with his desire to look at naked women - even if it is soft porn. These women are more buxom and much thinner than I can even pretend to be.

He does not watch them in front of me. He stays up late claiming that he is not tired. I suspect it is to watch porn, since if I happen to come out of the bedroom, he immediately changes the channel.

I know it is a man’s nature to desire to look at naked women, but I can’t help but feel it is not healthy for a relationship. Is it me he desires to have sex with, or the sex kittens who are running through his mind? Is it me he is thinking of when he climaxes, or them? Asking him would only spark him to give me the answer I want to hear. What man would say “the sex kitten!”

I am a strong woman who also has a successful career. I love him, but I’m having difficulty living with this situation. How I can get a handle on myself and overcome my desire to control what he does.


Sharla, you haven't used the word "masturbate”, but in every letter we have gotten like yours, the woman is concerned that her man is masturbating. This behavior is normal. All men do it. He isn't losing his job over this, or spending every moment of his time doing it. It isn't interfering with his affection for you.

This behavior is normal. Men masturbate. In a relationship or out of a relationship, men masturbate. From the time they are old enough to get an erection, till the time they stop getting them, this is their release. Men are wired differently from women. Using images to release physical tension is ordinary.

But like all private bodily functions, you want to keep it private. People pick their nose, but you sure don't want anyone to catch you at it. Your man's behavior doesn't have anything to do with how he feels about you, or how much he loves you. Sexual tension builds in a man, like a pressure cooker. It needs to be released before it explodes. Men simply hit their own release valve.

You haven't said anything that makes me think you have a problem. He loves you, he's engaged to you. It's you he makes love to. He knows that. He knows they are just images on a screen, images with no personality.

You feel you don't equal those pictures. He isn't asking you to. In fact, he probably knows those images have been so retouched, the models don't even equal their own image.



A Watched Pot

I am in a two year relationship with a loving, tender, and very special man.  We moved in together this April and continue to grow as individuals and as a couple.  I have never been in a healthier relationship.

I have reached a bump in the road.  Recently he lost his job due to cutbacks.  We saw it coming, so we talked about a plan for us to keep above water financially.  The bump in the road is he is finding it difficult to land a job, due to a dip in the market.

This last month he's felt useless.  We talk about his feelings, but lately I notice he is moody and distant.  We have always had a very sexual and affectionate relationship, and though he still cuddles and kisses me, there has been very little sex drive for him.

He watches adult movies and I feel neglected.  The adult movies are not out of control, but he says he doesn't feel sexy or good about himself.  He finds me attractive, but then I notice he prefers to pleasure himself.

I expressed my worries to him very openly, and he simply said he does not watch adult movies as often as I think.  I turn to you for advice because I feel sad and hurt, but know he is not in a space right now to hear my feelings because he is trying to deal with his own.


Judith, your boyfriend feels the sexual tension all men feel, and the need for release.  When he was bringing home a paycheck, he could turn to you.  Now, not having a paycheck, he is turning to himself.

Don't focus on or intensify the symptoms caused by his unemployment.  Don't make them the problem.  He is not rejecting you sexually.  He feels unworthy to approach you.  Now is the time to support him in every way.  Stop focusing on yourself.  Don't add to his burdens.

He may need more training to get another job, or he may need to start over again at a lower level.  None of which is easy.  Trying to micromanage his biology won't help either of you.  Helping him to get back on his feet, will put you on the receiving end of his attention.



Dear Wayne and Tamara

I find it interesting that you say men masturbating doesn't mean anything to them. My new husband seems to prefer it over being with me. He tells me he loves me, and I feel he does. We have a dream relationship except he doesn't find me arousing the more he gets to know me.

I'm considered beautiful and never have felt threatened by the girls in his Playboy magazines. I can compete with them. In fact, I was asked a few years ago to be photographed by them. (I'm in my mid 30s). The issue is that masturbation and his fantasy world please him more than being with me.

Only a year ago, he lusted for me. Now that we're married he doesn't. He's affectionate and romantic, but it never leads to sex anymore. Masturbation CAN be damaging to a marriage!

I asked him to share his fantasies, if I can act them out. He said nothing would work cause it's still me, and he can't get as hot with me since he can't separate his emotions for me.

He said that fantasy is one dimensional, therefore it's going to be better. So I'm damned. He still wants to pop his Viagra (he's in his late 40's) to have sex with me once or twice every two weeks, but I can tell he's doing it cause he's supposed to.

He touches me like it's all mechanical. I hate it. It is like he is on auto pilot and follows with calculated movements. He is not there. I can tell, and I don't even want to be with him now. We've tried to talk this out, but we don't know what to do.

I don't know if I can get him to go to a therapist, but I certainly get crazed when I read masturbation isn't a problem cause it is here! Once he was HOT for me, and the sex was great. Now our emotions and masturbation are driving us apart, and we're only married six months.

Other than that we have an amazing relationship and are best friends and loving. Just not sexual! The closer we get, the worse his desire is for me. Any suggestions????

Thanks for letting me vent.


Joan, when we get a spate of letters coming from one direction, we sometimes post a representative letter on the website. The letters you saw were coming from two directions. One, "My new husband touched himself once, and now I feel like a complete failure as a woman." And two, "I know I can murder people with an ax and be forgiven. However, I've been touching myself and think I am now damned to hell for eternity."

Let me give you two comparisons to your husband's situation. Imagine you spent 30 years using a qwerty keyboard nearly every day. Now convinced of the superiority of the Dvorak keyboard, you try to retrain yourself. It's tough. There's a huge amount of interference learning. After awhile you get fairly good with the new keyboard, but you still find when tired or stressed, that 30 years of practice is barely under the surface and keeps trying to come to the fore.

Next way of looking at this: A boy grows up in a dysfunctional household. As a way of coping with the craziness, he invents a fantasy life for himself. When he is younger, the fantasies are mostly Walter Mitty-ish...scoring the winning touchdown in a football game, shooting the winning basket as the buzzer sounds.

As he grows up, the imaginary life morphs a bit, and he gives 'interviews' about current affairs to imaginary people in his head. He is still functional. He can hold a job and seems pretty normal interacting with other people. But he spends more time with the noise in his head, than with the real people in front of him.

Can he change? Yes, if... If he really wants to be more grounded in reality, he can be. But it is a long, slow process. The contents of consciousness are not easily changed.

Your husband can alter how he interacts with you, but he must want to. Then regrounding himself in reality will be a slow, though rewarding process. Living in fantasy consumes an enormous amount of psychic energy, the kind of energy which can be much more productively channeled through life, not through virtual reality.

Until he understands virtual reality is not real, don't expect a change. Your husband was like this before you married. Like all problems which pre-exist a marriage, marriage will not make it evaporate.

You are saying two things in your letter. One, we have an amazing relationship, and two, we have a marriage-ending problem. You need to decide which statement is closer to the truth. One of those statements needs to go.


Wayne, thanks so much for your reply and time! I think you are right on the mark with your first scenario. He said to me it's been what he's done since he's been young just to switch off after the stress of a day.

It was driving me crazy so we had a big talk about it last night. He said it's compounded that he finds it difficult to look at me in a sexual way now that I'm the 'sweet thing' he wants to take care of and look after. The more emotionally involved and closer we got, the less he could treat me as a 'sex object'.

He also said he feels shy and slightly inhibited. He is normally a very shy type of guy. In business from day to day he owns and runs a major company though. He is forceful at work--but personally a very shy gentle person.

He is willing to go to therapy he said, as he agrees he'd like to look at me in the way he did when we dated and open up sexually. Guess I can't ask for more than that. That offer, combined with your letter, makes me feel better and hopeful. Thank you again for taking the time to help me. It's very appreciated.


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See Also:

Male Masturbation, a Primer for Women

Masturbaton - What the Bible Says