The Impact of Masturbation on Marriage
Masturbation & Marriage
By masturbation I mean self-pleasuring, solo sex, do-it-yourself sex. This, not a married couple pleasuring each other, is the focus of this webpage. The two acts must be at least as different as sexual relations within marriage are different from identical acts in an adulterous relationship. Having sex with a prostitute is morally very different from having sex with one’s marriage partner and impacts one’s marriage very differently, regardless of any physical similarities. Likewise, having sex with oneself can be expected to have very different moral and marital implications than having sex with one’s marriage partner. So deciding what sexual behavior is acceptable between a husband and wife can be expected to involve quite different considerations to what is discussed here. If you feel unsure about God’s view of a particular act within the sanctity of marriage, and would like a little guidance in personally discerning God’s heart, see Is it Perverted? When Marital Relations Become a Moral Dilemma.
A survey of married couples revealed that often both partners wish they had more sex. Obviously one partner might have a higher sex drive and so want more sex but why would both partners end up wanting more than they get?
Let’s consider a marriage so blessed that both partners have equally strong sex drives. It is tragically common for people (not just females) to discover that despite having a healthy sex drive they find certain aspects of marital relations traumatic or a turn off. A common cause is having, through no fault of their own, suffered sexual abuse earlier in their lives. A person might not even be aware of this past, or have mistakenly thought he/she was fully healed, or the consequences might only be manifest several years into marriage. But let’s examine a marriage where neither partner suffers from past abuse.
It is also tragically common for women with strong sex drives to end up not fully communicating their feelings during marital relations and find themselves enduring marital relations more often than enjoying it. As explained in “I Hate Sex!” When Wives Want a Sexless Marriage this can eventually reach the point of women loathing marital relations. Again, let’s dismiss this possibility.
Having ignored the likely scenario of one partner having a lower libido than the other, or having been turned off marital relations, and without even considering contraceptive issues, sex with a long term partner is many times more complicated than sex with oneself. Early on, passions might be so high that such issues pass unnoticed but after fully settling into the routine of marriage it turns out that marital relations take more effort, more time, more negotiation, more compromise, more selflessness and significantly more courage than having sex with oneself.
Both partners are likely to have times when they feel too tired or stressed or busy or unwell for sex. Such times are barely noticed when single but become an issue when married because only occasionally will both partners’ desire for sex be at a low ebb at the same time. Even if they both feel stressed at the same time, they could react to stress very differently. For many people, stress is a turn off but for some it increases their desire for sex.
Then there are such matters as one partner usually feeling most like sex just after waking and this happens to be the very time of day when the other usually least feels like it.
Even if both partners were always fully rested and relaxed and time of day were not a factor and, overall, they had equal sex drives, there are still more factors, such as the woman’s monthly cycle, that will cause their desires for sex to wax and wane differently.
Yet another issue is that if one of them climaxes, he or she (it is not just a male phenomenon) might almost involuntarily fall asleep, leaving the other feeling less than totally satisfied.
Then there’s the fact that solo sex means you can make the whole event as quick or prolonged as you feel like at that moment, but consideration for one’s partner significantly reduces this flexibility.
Exactly what a person needs for maximum sexual pleasure varies from occasion to occasion and even from moment to moment. One’s partner, however, cannot get inside one’s head and know one’s particular yearning that very second as accurately as one knows one’s own desires. This limitation is magnified if one of the couple is a little shy about repeatedly communicating such intimate information, or has a partner who feels restricted or ordered around by being constantly told.
It is tragically easy for the complications of sexual relations to cause people to needlessly feel rejected, misunderstood and unloved and for resentment to build up over it. A husband or wife can, for example, misinterpret the other’s heart and overemphasize the significance of a casual or one-off remark and end up mistakenly fearing that one’s partner thinks one is sexually inadequate or finds part of one’s body unattractive or smelly, or considers one’s sexual cravings to be excessive or weird. Many cave in to their lack of confidence in communicating their intimate preferences but shyness can even hinder a person from clearly spelling out when one wants sex, and so rely on signals that one thinks are clear but the other does not pick up. This can result in needlessly feeling hurt and rejected and so stop trying to initiate sexual encounters for fear of again enduring the pain of rejection.
For marital relations to be more than a few initial sparks but something that maintains the fire year after year after year, you don’t want memories of solo sex eroding the experience. If masturbation was practiced when single – perhaps under the guise of tiding one over until marriage – it will be highly tempting to revert to solo sex on those occasions when marital sex faces such obstacles as miscommunication or fearing rejection, or when it is a hassle, or when delaying it until the other is ready seems too inconvenient relative to the ease of do-it-yourself sex. It would even be easy to tell yourself that you are resorting to solo sex as an act of kindness toward your partner, since he/she seems not to really want it right now and if you do not satisfy yourself you might end up grumpy, and your partner might bear the brunt of it.
When your partner wants sex, however, you will already have had your fill and it would not take much tiredness or preoccupation on your part to find yourself with little motivation to have sex with your partner now that he/she is eager. You might think your sex drive is so strong that this would never happen, but marriage should last a lifetime – considerably longer than youthful strength lasts – and do-it-yourself sex usually remains the quickest, easiest and most certain route to a sexual high.
So sexually satisfying oneself when the other does not feel like sex increases the frequency of times when the roles are reversed and one feels less like marital relations than one’s partner. It will also reduce one’s motivation to work through sexual issues with one’s partner and to find ways of increasing one’s marital satisfaction and enriching the sexual relationship.
The more one engages in lonely sex when married, the more cut off from one’s partner one is likely to feel and the more likely it is that one’s greatest sexual highs and fondest sexual memories will be of times when you were alone. More and more, sex will become a solitary event instead of a deeply bonding, shared experience. The result will reduce the excitement of being together and will weaken the marriage.
One’s sex drive is meant to power that special source of magnetic attraction toward one’s partner. It is what drives a couple not just to physical intimacy but to keep baring their hearts and resolving deep issues. Solo sex weakens this. It perverts one’s sex drive; turning it against your marriage. It pulls a person in the opposite direction of marital intimacy; making one yearn to push one’s partner away so that one can be alone and indulge oneself.
Allowing pleasuring oneself to enter a marriage is like allowing a hole in the hull of a boat. Treating adultery as totally off-limits does much to maintain the drive to endure bumpy times in a marriage and sort out differences. The same applies to treating sexual pleasure as something that only your partner can give you.
If you never develop the resolve to abstain from solitary sex when single, do not expect a wedding ring to change you. If you do not train a tree when it is sapling, things will get ugly if you decide you want it to point in a different direction after it has grown.
Like a broken compass that keeps pointing back to oneself, self-pleasuring breaks your moral compass; leading one to self-centeredness rather than to bonding with one’s partner – a journey that can get so long complicated that one desperately needs a reliable compass. Perhaps you will be blessed with an exceptional marriage in which times when the path to sexual is harmony unclear or rough are few, but one only has to drift off course once to end up unable to find the path again.
Everyone should be highly compassionate and understanding and endlessly patient toward a partner who longs to satisfy his/her partner but finds doing so unpleasant. Sex should be pleasurable and, for reasons explained in When Wives Want a Sexless Marriage and elsewhere, I do not believe it is in the long-term interest of either partner for one of them to regularly engage in sexual behavior that he/she finds unpleasant. There are those, however, who are capable of giving their partner more sexual pleasure but for sheer selfish or manipulative reasons withhold it, or who refuse to do everything possible (such as seeing a counselor) to heal from sexual hang-ups. It is my conviction that such people have no right to feel morally better than someone who practices solo sex.
For a careful, biblical, spiritual examination of this complex subject, see toward a Christian View of Masturbation. At the end of that series are valuable links to help you break an addiction to masturbation.
For insights into pornography, see Pleasure Secrets
For more about the nature of love, see Christian Sex Secrets
When sex feels like a useless frustration, see Singles: Celebrate your Sexuality
For a biblical exploration of the role of even casual sex in making two people one, see Premarital Sex Re-examined
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Not to be sold. © Copyright 2014 Grantley Morris. May be freely copied in whole or in part provided: the text is not altered; this entire paragraph is included; readers are not charged. Many more compassionate, inspiring, sometimes hilarious writings available free online at www.net-burst.net Freely you have received, freely give.
Masturbation & Marriage