As a newly married couple, my husband and I were naturally active in the bedroom. So, you can imagine my surprise when four months later I found out he was struggling with masturbation.
I was crushed. “We have sex like four times a week! How could you possibly need to masturbate?” Was I not sexy enough? Did I need to lose weight? What was wrong with me that he felt the need to masturbate?
Before my husband and I got married, I knew he had struggled with masturbation. While we were engaged, he had actively attended a Bible study based on the bestselling book “Every Man’s Battle,” but I figured that with regular, married sex, this issue would just magically go away.
Soon after, as if an answer to my fears and questions, I had a dream.
My dream went like this:
In the dream, I was my husband. Complete with a man’s anatomy (dreams are strange like that). I was in a cityscape surrounded by tall skyscrapers. I was able to jump from building to building like superman. It was so easy. I was flying through the air, landing with ease when suddenly, I couldn’t think of anything but my man parts.
I was nearly paralyzed with sexual feelings. I tried to continue on my journey, but there was my man part—totally distracting me. I was unable to function. I knew that once I was able to “relieve” myself of this overwhelming sexual urge, I could go on again about my work, but until then, I was stuck.
Then, I woke up from this dream. A light bulb went off in my brain—my husband’s sexual needs had nothing to do with me! In fact, his physical desires didn’t even seem to care what he, as a person, was doing or wanted either. Almost like a separate entity, my husband was (almost) as much a victim of his urges as I was!
Now hear me out, I’m not trying to mitigate his responsibility for his actions, because he does have the final say on what he allows himself to do or NOT do, but the dream helped me recognize that his physical sexual urges weren’t necessarily a reflection of his feelings towards me or even his own goals.
Once I understood this vital truth, it erased a lot of hurt and opened up the doors of communication for this area.
I want to state this truth clearly for all spouses to hear:
Your spouse’s sexual issues have very little (if anything) to do with you!
I know all our own insecurities and fears might try to convince us otherwise, but it is also a fact that:
Your spouse would have sexual issues even if you weren’t married!
After grasping hold of these truths, here are four things that you can do to strengthen your marriage:
1. Communicate better.
These truths are important starting points for openly communicating about any sexual issues you might be facing in your marriage. Without understanding the truths, you and your spouse will be tempted to hold back information that might otherwise open doors for sexual healing.
So, communicate! Share your emotions with your spouse, and encourage them to be open with you. Take time each week (even better, each day) to sit down, relax, and just talk. You may find that by setting aside designated time for communication, you will both be able to share things that wouldn’t normally come up in the everyday chaos of life.
2. Stop blaming yourself.
The blame game can destroy a marriage faster than any other tactic, especially if you are blaming yourself for something that isn’t your fault. It can not only destroy your marriage, but it can also destroy your self-esteem.
Related: 6 Common Myths Wives of Porn Users Believe
For instance, if you believe that your spouses’ sexual betrayal/addiction/fixation is related to your recent weight gain, every time you find out something about their problem, it will cause you to pull away and feel guilty all at the same time. This is the exact opposite of what your marriage needs! But, if you discover your spouse has been struggling, you can recognize that it’s NOT about you, you can draw closer and help them discover a solution that will help minimize the struggle.
3. Forgive easier.
Just like blaming yourself is toxic, holding blame over the head of your spouse isn’t useful either. Forgiveness becomes simpler when you realize that their problems don’t exist to hurt you or bring you down. One of the ways I’ve been able to forgive my husband when I am struggling to forgive is to verbally state, “I forgive him,” even when I don’t feel forgiveness in my heart. I keep saying it out loud until I can feel it taking root. Sometimes I have to do this for several days.
Now, let me make it clear that there are situations where your spouse may be purposefully bringing you down. You may be trapped in an abusive relationship, or your spouse is unrepentant and does not desire to change. I don’t want to emphasize forgiving as easy when this is the case. In fact, for some relationships, stepping away and creating boundaries may be an essential first step, long before forgiveness.
Related: 10 Things Forgiveness Is Not
My point with forgiveness is that once you understand the nature of sin and the trap of addiction, you will be able to forgive easier, knowing that we are all sinners, and your spouse’s sin is not your fault.
4. Become accountable without fear of hurting each other.
The Bible states, “Confess your sins to each other and pray for each other so that you may be healed” (James 5:16).
If you or your spouse is constantly in fear of hurting the other person’s feelings, they won’t want to confess. Without confession, healing can’t come. But, if both you and your spouse prioritize honesty, your relationship will form a base of trust, even when the truth sometimes hurts. No woman wants to hear that their husband is struggling with masturbation or an addiction to porn, but what I have found far more damaging is when the woman doesn’t even know that sexual sin has been a problem for her spouse.
And, by understanding that sexual addictions and desires aren’t personal, accountability and confession flows more freely.
How Covenant Eyes Can Help
Installing Covenant Eyes Screen Accountability is an extra measure of protection every marriage needs. And when you get a report that your spouse has “fallen short” of the goal of absolute purity in marriage, you can rest assured that this hurdle is NOT about you, and your spouse can rejoice that they do not have to walk through the valley of reconciliation alone.
For me, as a woman, my man’s masturbation when we are not together is not the problem. It’s a mental/physical urge, we can all face it from time to time, and answering to it, if we don’t feel guilty or ashamed for that, does not really sound (for me) as a problem.
Knowing that he has been watching porn for that, looking at other women’s bodies, naked, for years, this is killing me. It’s far for the only reason why I suffer so much from his use of porn… among those reasons of course, the violence against women, the usual way to show that if men force them, they will have pleasure and will like it, makes me sick.
But beyond all the disgust I feel against porn, my heart is broken into pieces. I am a 100% faithful woman. I just can’t cheat my man, not only because I love him, but also because no other human being on Earth can be attractive, for me. He is the only one I was sleeping with, since we are together, and the only one I saw naked. He’s the only one on Earth, who can give me this incredible wanting for hot hugs.
I just thought I was the same for him. I just did not believe he could be excited by another naked woman – other that me – and feel like watching them. This exclusivity I have and feel so deep inside me, between us, was just one-sided, and it hurts like Hell.
I am so, so sorry for the pain you’re going through.
I agree with your view that masturbation is normal and healthy, but that looking at porn, and especially violent porn, is not. We all have to know where those lines are drawn for ourselves. Once we know what’s not okay with us, what do we do with that information?
Part of that is setting healthy boundaries: here, here, and here are some articles on that.
Another part is recognizing the trauma that this brings into our lives, and working to heal that. The online resources at Bloom for Women are a great resource for that kind of work.
Peace to you,
I know this enemy of masturbation. It is insidious, subtle, and relentless. But it comes from the realm of an enemy who has been decisively, utterly defeated. The real battleground is the mind, and it depends entirely upon the individual to determine to pay the price to defeat it. Yes, Jesus paid for our sins, but Paul makes it clear: “Let not sin reign in your mortal bodies that you may obey it in the lusts thereof.” “Casting down imaginations and every high thing that exalts itself against the knowledge of God.” I have won victory over this enemy. It was difficult, but I did it when it meant enough to me that I would pay any price to have victory.