marriage bed symbol

marriage bed symbol

Monday, September 5, 2011

Is Masturbation Justified In A Sexless Marriage?

 Anon56 asked:

"I married my wife in the temple over 30 years ago, but most of which has been without regular sex. She has basically decided, unilaterally, that she does not want to "do it" any more. On those rare occasions when we do, it's ALWAYS me who initiates it and for her, she's just doing her duty. I can't keep this up, it's killing me. I have resorted to masturbation on a few occasions but refrain mostly for all the usual LDS reasons. It is, my choice of last resort. I do not involve pornography believe it or not, but instead I will concentrate thinking about my wife when I engage in masturbation. There is most often a sense of relief and the hormones released seem to help my general well being, in other words, my mood improves. That having been said, I'm really looking for counsel as to whether I should abstain from masturbation altogether even though and this is not an exaggeration, my wife and I may never again have intercourse. I love her very much and none other. What's in her heart is anyone's guess. I have sexual needs that are not being met by my wife and I refuse to fulfill that need with any other woman. Occasional "solo" masturbation seems to be my only outlet. (And yes, we're been to several of our bishops and marriage counselors over the years with no improvements in our relationship.)"

Dear Anonymous56,

Thank you for reading and your question. I have to let you know that it is difficult to know the correct course of action based upon the information that you gave. In all fairness, I don’t know your wife’s side of the story. I will base my reply upon how I understand the situation from your side of the story and how it affects your relationship with your wife and our Savior Jesus Christ.

The presidents of the Church have taught us that sex in marriage has a two-fold purpose. One is to create bodies for our Heavenly Father’s spirit children. The second is to strengthen the eternal bonds of a husband and wife through physical intimacy.

You have been though the temple and made sacred covenants. To obtain the blessings of the temple, you must keep your covenants – including those pertaining to the law of chastity. That law of chastity also excludes sex with ourselves.  I also want you to notice that this same law of chastity doesn’t exclude any sexual activity we have with our spouse. Manual stimulation of the genitals does have its place, but only if used between a husband and wife as a means of strengthening their intimate bonds.

Solo masturbation is a separating and selfish activity, both of which are two of the four marriage killers I write about in my blog. If  you are not communicating with your wife and keeping your masturbation habit secret from your wife, then you’ve added a third marriage killer to your relationship.

I’m sorry to be so painfully frank with you Anon56, but because of your plan of action to remedy the situation, your masturbation is creating a sexual addiction in you, just in the same manner as a porn addict would. This is true even though there is no porn involved. In some sense, there is porn involved, since you are visualizing a fantasy version of your wife who wants to have sex with you while you masturbate.
I know that you have seen bishops and therapists already, but I must suggest seeing an LDS Marriage and Family counselor (preferably with your wife) to help you reprogram your sex life. If your only option at this point is to either masturbate or not have sex at all, you don’t have a marriage, and your marriage is not likely to last. You are in a sexless marriage, which will not build you an eternal relationship. You can reference my blog to the condition of sexless marriage here:

May I suggest focusing on your relationship with your wife. You’re going crazy not because of a lack of sex, but because of a lack of intimacy with your wife. To use a metaphor, you’re emotionally thirsty, but you are trying to slake that thirst by eating more food (orgasm through masturbation).

People can go a lifetime without ejaculating or having an orgasm. No one has ever died from failing to ejaculate, but people have suffered from severe depression, insanity and even death from lack of intimacy.

I find it hard to believe that you love her with all your heart. In one breath you say you do, but in the next you confess that you know nothing about her.  That suggests to me that a major communication breakdown has happened somewhere between your and your wife.

You expressed that you have to be the initiator all the time.  Men are biologically designed and given the duty to be the initiator. We don’t have to be ashamed or frustrated by that. It is your God-given right. You are “THE INITIATOR”. Wear it proudly.

Not all females are given the same strong sexual drive as men, and therefore often rely on the men to initiate sex. The universal question for all men is “How do I do this effectively so she wants it too”?

The answer goes back to communication. Each gender communicates differently. What men define as sex or romance is very different from a woman’s definition.

A misconception many men have is that a woman’s vagina fills her with the same drive and gives her the same sensations sexually as a man’s penis does.

We men communicate love through our penis and we feel loved when our wives give attention to our penis and we consider it the ultimate expression of love when she allows us into her vagina.

Unfortunately, we follow that emotional logic to think “Oh, she must feel the same, and if she doesn’t she is frigid.” This is not true. Women by and large do NOT feel the same.

If we want our wife to willingly and joyfully accept us into her vagina, we have to stimulate what she associates love and sex with - her heart. Touch her heart.

Here is how to touch her heart:

  1. Be kind to her. Constant criticism kills love and your sex life.

  1. Honor your priesthood. LDS women find this to be very sexy; a woman is turned on by a man she feels can lead her to the Celestial Kingdom and inspires her to submit herself to him sexually. This may sound goofy, but we’re not talking about communicating to men. We’re talking here about what turns an LDS woman on.

This means you should attend your regular Church meetings, lead your family in scripture readings and prayer, have regular Family Home Evenings, give your wife and children priesthood blessings, and attend the temple regularly. Cast evil spirits of contention and anger from your home when you feel them. This will work wonders for your sexual relationship. As unrelated as that may sound, it will help her feel loved, cared for and safe, and allow the Lord to open her heart  (and vagina) towards you in many ways you can’t even imagine now.

  1. Talk to her, and more important – listen to her. Let her know what your sexual needs are. She has a responsibility to be considerate of your feelings and needs too. But, also ask her what she needs to feel loved and safe.

  1. Be kind to her children (this probably should be number one – it’s very potent for getting her to want to connect to you sexually).

  1. When you hold her, put your hand over her heart and hold it there. Ask her how it makes her feel.  Don’t get upset or weirded out if she weeps. Crying is a good sign – it means that she is accessing her emotional center, which can sometimes lead to feeling sexual toward you. 

  1. Sex starts for a woman in the brain, not in her genitals. A woman can get turned on with a story, or a scenario. Get her dreaming. Talk with her about what she would find romantic – what and where. A story involves a place, or a situation. It doesn’t have to be complicated. It doesn’t have to involve sex; it could involve cuddling or kissing. This sort of talk begins to channel her constant thoughts from the cares of the day into her primitive sexual brain, and helps her to connect emotionally to her desires.

  1. Make life more fun together. If sex seems like a duty to her, that should be a warning sign to you that you have just become another task on her list to check off. This is not using sex to build an eternal relationship. Take her on dates every week, romance her, bring her flowers weekly by surprise, or write her little notes. These sorts of things can touch her heart, and are different for every woman. You’ll need to experiment to see what works for your wife in particular. Pray for inspiration in this regard – you are entitled to it. The Lord is very interested in the success of your sex life.

  1. For couples with severe sexual troubles, a good start might be to read Laura Brotherson’s book, And They Were Not Ashamed. You could invite your wife to read this alone, or with you if she chooses. Laura Brotherson is very good for helping sisters to understand the importance of sex in a married relationship, and  in terms that women understand. She also has some exercises that you both will need to do together in order to rebuild your sexual relationship.

  1. If your wife finds it difficult to talk about her feelings, you can encourage her to write them. She may find it easier to express herself in a different way than talking. When she does express herself, never, ever criticize what she says, no matter what your reaction. If you want her to accept you eagerly into her vagina, you have to develop a relationship of trust. She has to know she can trust you with her deepest feelings.

Many men make the mistake of forgetting the reason she wanted to marry them and have sex with them in the first place. She wants to be romanced – her whole life. This is why we have been counseled by our Church leaders to continue the courtship after marriage.

If you’d like to try something new sexually, she may be adverse at first, but that doesn’t mean she’s totally against it. She just may need some time to warm up to the idea. Touch her heart, talk about it with her and try to understand her feelings.Restate what she say's to make sure you understand.

In order for sex to be an eternal bonding experience, it must be a “sharing” activity. If she’s just laying there and “thinking of the Red, White and Blue” (doing her duty), you’re just using her body to masturbate on. Don’t get me wrong, quickies have their place, but the majority of the time, when we men have sex with our wives, we should be looking in her eyes, talking to her, holding her hands, and learning how she is feeling or how she wants to be touched.

When she tells you how she wants to be touched, do it (no matter how dumb or un-erotic it sounds to you). What’s dumb to you may be very erotic to her (and vice versa).

Thirty years is way too long to go without regular, loving, intimate sex, but that doesn’t mean your marriage is automatically doomed. If you’re willing to try again, and your wife is willing to try again, there’s hope. Building an eternal relationship takes longer than a lifetime.

Marriages also get into trouble when we start depending on our spouse to make us happy, and using them to justify our selfish reactions. Masturbation in your situation is nothing more than an escape valve from your troubles. Instead, I would challenge you to do the hard thing, and go after the root of the problem instead – your lack of intimacy with your wife.

Don’t just go masturbate and give up on your wife, your marriage or your eternal salvation.  Try something new, until something works, or until you’ve exhausted every possible way of getting through to her. Take 100% responsibility for your sex life and you won’t regret the results.

19 comments:

Anonymous said...

I have been waiting for this topic to show up here, and have to say, thank you for being frank and honest. Allthough I am nowhere near the OP's I have wondered if this might be a olution to problems, but never felt comfortable enough about it to go any further than wondering. Your answer to this question rimes well with what I had supposed, and feel to be right.

Anonymous said...

I could relate to this man's struggles in so many ways. I've been in much of the same situation for the past 10 years of my marriage.

I would clarify one thing, I disagree that men connect intercourse with feeling closeness. I could have intercourse a thousand times with my wife, but if her heart isn't into it and she's just making herself available, it's as empty as if I were going solo.

When Gary Chapman wrote "The 5 Love Languages" I don't remember sexual intercourse being one of described love languages, it's physical touch. Men want to be pursued, desired and shown that on a regular basis.
If a wife repeatedly fails to consistently express love in her husbands "language" or vice versa, that can cause more serious problems down the road (ie pornography and infidelity among the more serious ones). I'm in a very similar situation with my wife and I ache for this man, hoping that isn't me in another 20 years.

I feel this is one of the plaguing problems among married people, especially in the church.

Strong Man said...

I agree this is a very common challenge, and I agree with several essential elements of your post. I love and agree with the title "THE INITIATOR."

However, I suspect after 30 years of marriage, multiple bishops and therapists, anon56 has already heard and tried all of the advice on this list, including an LDS therapist, with no success.

You assert occasional masturbation is a violation of chastity, which I agree--although I suggest it's a very minor one--but you don't mention the several temple covenants she is violating by NOT having sex: sealing "give herself to her husband" obedience "hearken to the counsel of your husband," sacrifice, and, yes, chastity. A married person who refuses sex consistently is NOT living the law of chastity.

I also disagree that the level of self-stimulation anon56 describes can be accurately described as an "addiction."

That of course does not suggest two wrongs make a right--that masturbation is okay.

I'm working on a full post to respond to this issue, to come soon.

Essentially, I suspect more firmness, and not more kindness may be in order here.

My post builds on some of my previous thoughts in:
Jesus was not a "nice guy."


Sex and Scripture, and Sex and Prophet Quotes.

Anonymous said...

I feel like in the past when it came to masturbation the church answer was always "no" and it still is for youth and singles. But within a marriage I think its up to the husband and wife to decide. If a wife enjoys watching her husband do this than its no longer a "solo" activity.

I feel like if Anon56's wife is really not willing to work on their marriage, then masturbation on his part, while thinking of her and with her knowledge of whats going on, can be its own form of intimacy. Its not the ideal situation, but still better than divorce or infidelity.

Zookie said...

Coach Sam,
your site is wonderful and I really like it, and I respect everything you have to say. But I think you missed the mark on this one.

I know that he was asking about masturbation, and that's just the symptom of a much bigger problem, as you pointed out.

I think the things you listed as helps would work for a couple that is just starting to go down the road of refusal, but this is a 30 year marriage with a very long history of refusal. The wife is not going to start being sexually giving if he does those things. In all likelihood, she's going to accuse him of doing those things to get sex, and it will backfire.

A more practical answer is for him to take some kind of firm action. A warning shot of sorts. He needs to tell her that he cannot go on this way. He said it was "killing him". I know that you're not going to recommend separation or divorce, but maybe he needs to tell her that things need to change or he is moving out. He needs to list the things that need changing, and stick to it. That's pretty drastic, but she is and has been behaving very neglectfully. Their marriage is not healthy, to put it mildly. She is breaking her marriage vows.

She has cut her husband off from his only sexual outlet, but when he succumbs to his bodily needs he's the one that has to stop, change, do something about it. I say no. She's the one who has to stop, change, do something about it.

You're right, he needs to take responsibility for his sex life, but I think that means making sure she knows that she is the one that needs to change.

Strong Man said...

My post on this is here:
Masturbation in a sexless marriage

Anonymous said...

I don't think you missed the point at all. I loved all of your suggestions to him! I don't think it matters what stage of marriage you are at- that IS what women want. I believe that his goal should not be just getting his wife in bed, but getting closer to her emotionally. I find that one follows the other. I am amazed by some of the things I read on here. I am a convert, and my upbringing outside of the church might have changed how I see intamacy now. I commend you for trying to inform others in our LDS culture sexuality in general.

Anonymous said...

porn = a fantasy verstion of your wife who wants to have sex with you

When a marriage reaches this point we need to be counseling men to leave the marriage not try to fix it. And we need to start doing this much earlier on, not 30 years into something that is inherently broken, and yes SHE is BROKEN.

Anonymous said...

Let's not change the definition of the LofC. Sam, you said that the LofC also "excludes sex with ourselves". One can not have sexual "relations" with themself! It takes 2, or more, people to have sexual relations!

The LofC, as taught in the temple used to be "that we have no sexual intercourse, except with our spouse". Because there were members who were justifying that they didn't have intercourse, that they were not breaking their temple covenants, it was changed to "sexual relations", which would include any sexual contact with another person.

Anonymous said...

Anon Sep 20--

Here's another definition of porn: An obviously aroused man having intercourse with a woman who is pretending to enjoy it.

Important Note: This is also referred to elsewhere as "marital sex".

Anonymous said...

CoachSam said above "That law of chastity also excludes sex with ourselves." I disagree. The law of chastity says that we may only have sexual relations with our spouse, and that's all it says.
According to the New Oxford American Dictionary, the definition of 'relation" or "relations" is:
1.(relations) the way in which two or more concepts, objects, or people are connected; a thing's effect on or relevance to another
2. (relations) the way in which two or more people, countries, or organizations feel about and behave toward each other
3. (relations) chiefly formal sexual intercourse

Anonymous said...

You have to understand that this very situation can happen to females as well.... like me. Women are not naturally undersexed or anything; I seem to be the "sex maniac" in my relationship. Yes, the problem is intimacy, not sex, but sex is where the attack comes from. For me it has been twenty years, and yes, bishops, counselors (and an LDS counselor) have been involved. His spouse, like mine, is happy with the staus quo, to the heartbreak of the oversexed one, and sees no reason to change anything. I have even been depressed to the point of attempting suicide. There is nowhere to turn...

CoachSam said...

To Anonymous Jan 11 2012 7:54pm:

Absolutely women can be the partner with the higher sex drive, and this is due to many different factors.

The person with the lower sex drive controls the sex in the relationship...this is a natural phenomenon. With this control comes the responsibility to be sensitive to the needs of their spouse.

Deliberately using this aspect of your marriage to control a spouse can be unrighteous dominion or emotional abuse, whether it's a man doing it or a woman.

Sex doesn't always mean intercourse. There are many other ways to be intimate, and use sex as a means of bonding. Even if a husband isn't in the mood, his hands still work. He can be naked with you, and hold you close to him. He can still speak loving words. He can hold a vibrator.

There's no excuse for such selfishness from either the wife or the husband, in my opinion. If you're the spouse with the higher sex drive, you must communicate your needs, sometimes more than once, to get the point across.

Present it as an opportunity for service, a chance for them to help you feel loved and closer to each other.

If you run out of ideas, don't forget the Lord. He is a fountain of emotional and spiritual support when there is nothing else.

I encourage anyone in this situation to lovingly discuss this openly with their spouse, and frequently. They must understand how you feel.

Your desires for sex in marriage are normal, healthy, and righteous....not 'sex-maniacal' or 'oversexed' at all. Work toward balance.

CoachSam said...

PS to my last comment:

If you are depressed to the point of considering suicide, I would strongly encourage you to seek out a counselor. The number for the National Suicide Prevention Hotline is 1-800-273-TALK (8255). Or find a local hotline and call it immediately.

No amount of sex or masturbation will resolve that feeling, but could intensify it. Please talk to someone. I personally cannot counsel you in how to cope with feelings of suicide or deep depression, but please find help from someone who can.

Anonymous said...

I somewhat disagree with the bit about an LDS woman being attracted to a man for "going to his meetings, honoring his priesthood, etc."

I would say that if that is the reason she is attracted to him, it is for the wrong reason. She should be attracted to him first for himself, and the whole "acting as a proper LDS man" thing should be the icing on the cake, not the cake itself.

If I felt my wife was attracted to me because she felt I fit her idea of a "perfect cardboard cutout clone" LDS man, I would feel like she didn't even love me at all.

Anonymous said...

It's funny how many people here are so concerned about whether or not their spouse's attraction is the 'correct' kind of attraction.

Does it matter, really? If your spouse is having sex with you and tells you they love you and act as if they love you, who cares if it's the 'right' kind of attraction or not? Who cares if their heart's not really in it? Who cares if they love you for you or for some image of you?

They're loving you. Enjoy it!

You could be with someone who won't give you the time of day, much less make love to you. If they're there with you, be grateful they care enough to even make the effort, and enjoy it! Judge your spouse by their actions - not their inner motivations.

Sorry. This is kind of a pet peeve of mine. Thanks for letting me rant.

Anonymous said...

#2 really strikes home for me, as well as some of the others. I have an interfaith marriage with my LDS husband and although we do not share all the same religious beliefs, it disheartens me when he neglects or ignores his promises according to the LDS Church's teachings. For me it isn't about having the ideal LDS fantasy husband (because I am not LDS), it is about sincerity and commitment. If he does not follow through on commitments he made to God, how can I trust him to commit to even our temporal marriage? To me, his wife?

Anonymous said...

I have a good relationship with my wife. She is loving, sweet and kind to me. I do have an addiction to porn and masturbate all the time. I feel though that I have a testimony of the gospel. I love my wife, but because of the addiction I believe I steal virtue from her. We want to be sealed together forever, although we are married civily. I feel my addiction is wrong and do not want to do it at all. My wife is pushing me into getting sealed for eternity in the temple. But I haven't controlled my behavior to porn and masturbation. I have been masturbating since I was probably at least 5 or 6 because I learned it when I was sexually abused as a child by my biological father, then again over twenty more times abused by my first adopted father. I was introduced to much sexual activities as a child including abused by a 17 year old boy in a shelter home.

So I never was able to conquer the addiction since I was a child and now I'm 37 years old and have been married for 4 years. my wife is aware of my childhood difficulty and knows I have an addiction. She doesn't like it if she knows I've masturbated and or looked at porn. I need everyone on this blog to help me overcome my addiction to porn and masturbation and to love her instead with every fiber of my being

CoachSam said...

Dear Anon May 6th,

I feel so much empathy for you and the challenges you have had to face. My heart is also filled with a tremendous amount of love for you because of the desires of your heart.

I commend you for not keeping this a secret from your wife. Not keeping secrets from your wife about your sexual challenges is a huge step toward replacing the old habit with a new habit that will be more beneficial to your marriage.

I hope you recognize that you are not a bad man because you have sexual desires. Your desire for sex is righteous, but that desire has just been aimed in the wrong direction, and trained into you by your associates and circumstances growing up. You are an adult now, and can make choices that will serve you better.

I would suggest working on your masturbation habit first before addressing the pornography. Have you tried having your wife masturbate you instead? Make it as pleasant an activity as possible for you both. Patiently show her how you like to be touched and stroked.

It may take you a few intimate sessions with her before she is able to bring you to orgasm, but keep trying. Your body and brain have to re-learn to associate sex with your wife and that will take a lot of repetition. If she lacks the upper body strength, it's okay to use a vibrator or other sex toys.

She is your help-meet. Inherently with marriage, you both share each other's problems. Let her help you. If she hasn't rejected you after telling her your issues, that tells me that she deeply loves you and is eager to help you.

As for the pornography (and I prefer to use the term "profane erotica" instead because there is "sacred erotica" as well), you cannot defeat an enemy by running from it; you only delay the confrontation until another time when it will overtake you again.

You defeat an enemy by learning everything you can about that enemy, learning what it is, it's weaknesses, and through this how to protect yourself by closing any gaps in your defenses. The goal is to re-direct; re-train your body and mind to have that craving for "sacred erotica" which is your wife.

If you would like some assistance in reaching that goal, feel free to contact me at samzaragoza@sbcglobal.net. My coaching services are free.