Masturbation: A desperate wife needs to know

I apologize if this is a subject that has been addressed a zillion times. I see that there are two related threads, but mine is very specific and I’m desperate for some answers.

My question:

I know that there are men who are addicted to porn and/or masturbation (my husband being one of them). I’ve been married for twenty years to a man who has preferred masturbation to me, two or three times a week, which meant that I was “allowed” sex once every other week. As a young bride, I thought that there was something abnormal about me because I wanted sex more often. When I realized what was going on after I had been made to go to bed alone, I was devastated. I spent the first ten years of my marriage begging my husband to want me. After a decade of feeling like the “other” woman (second to his fantasy partners), the pain was too great and for the next ten years, I lived in celibacy (he of course was not missing much because he had himself).

When I became intimate with him again a little over a year ago, the feelings of rejection resurfaced. Why wouldn’t they? Nothing had changed. In fact, within a couple of months, he started having ED, but only with me, not when alone. I think that was the straw that broke the camels back and I found solace in the numbness of opiates. Now, I’m in recovery and I’m once again struggling with the masturbation issue.

I know that masturbation is a sin (and I know that addiction diminishes culpability). What I don’t know is whether it’s a sin that for most men is as common as growing angry or impatient with someone. I have always had a sex drive that would rival any man’s drive. Yet, God has given me great graces over the years. Have those graces been extreme in their abundance and impossibly extreme for a man to receive? Because of the damage that masturbation has done to my heart, it’s been my thought that the majority of loving husbands fell into this sin a time or two a year. However, my sponsor assures me that ALL men masturbate fairly regularly and, as long as it doesn’t interfere with marital relations, a wife is merely acting jealously if she doesn’t accept it.

Are my expectations unreasonable? I have three sons (17, 19, 21). Have I misinformed them?

I appreciate your honesty in answering this question for me. I am greatly burdened by this.


I can be absolutely certain that the answer in NO.

I am a man and I don’t.

I think alot of men do masturbate. It takes a really special man not to masturbate especialy in the time we live in where sex is everywhere. Most dont relize what they are doing. Just look at the forums. The most talk about subject in CAF is masturbation.

Dear Christin,

I remember hearing a talk on EWTN from Steve Wood who teaches small groups for men to be free from pornography and masturbation. I do not have personal experience with overcoming pornography with his programs, but I do trust Catholic Answers and EWTN radio to use credible and Catholic resources. Maybe you can give his apostolate a call and see what he can do. One thing I remember him saying is that most of the time he gets his cases form the neglected wives of those addicted to sexual sins. He also has books on his website to read for the men as well as for the wives to help the men ween away from pornography. However, the books are there to help, most cases men need to be in small men support groups to work it out. Try calling the apostolate to see what options you have or if they can direct you to someone nearby.

Resource for the wives of men addicted to pornography:

His apostolate’s contact info:
Family Life Center International
2130 Wade Hampton Blvd.
Greenville, SC 29615

12 Step book on helping men to break free.

Small men groups link:

I’m sorry for what is going on with you. One thing you need to do is not blame yourself. Your husband is abnormal. No normal man would prefer masturbation to sex with a woman, and his preference is not your fault.

If I were you, I would look into getting an annulment. In order for a marriage to be valid, spouses have to intend to give themselves to the other. Your husband’s choice to withhold sex from you may suggest that there was never a valid marriage to begin with.

Do all men get drunk regularly?

Do all men beat their wives?

Do all men steal?

Masturbation is a sin, plain and simple. And many many men do not give into this sin.

This is a rare situation. All of the men I know would never turn down sex with a women in favor of masturbation. My guess is he is not attracted to you. Some men get married because they think they have an obligation to or because they feel pressured socially. Was he always like this in marriage? I know that if a women goes through a pregnancy and gains a lot of weight, men can lose physical attraction and they could avoid their woman because they really have no attraction. This is not an excuse for doing it but merely an explanation why. It is not normal for a man to turn down sex in a marriage. Though he could simply not want any children or more children and withdraws from you physically to avoid this. Still, this is not normal.

I know that most if not all men will masturbate at some point. Many will become regular. Some will not. This honestly is very modern phenomenon that it is so widespread and hard to control. The temptations are far greater now than ever before and the marriage age is pushed back farther than in the past with less certainty. In the past you could be certain that you would be married at some point but now even that is not certain. Women struggle with this too. I think sometimes women can use masturbation and porn by men as license to have pre-marital sex since they think if they have sex with them it will change their ways and get the men to focus on her. In any case, this is a serious problem and it takes time and a lot of work to overcome it.

This situation seems so weird to me that I would wonder if the husband is gay.

According to Fr. Benedict Groschel’s book The Courage to Be Chaste which briefly addresses this topic along with many others, masturbation is a common sin but it is possible to overcome it.

Since it’s enjoyable and free, my assumption is that most men do it unless they come to realize that it’s not God’s will. IMHO, if a Christian constantly chooses masturbation over sex with his willing and available wife, it does affect marital relations and is a sign that something is awry in his attitude toward sex or in his marriage and that he’s not serious about his walk with the Lord. It’s an indication that his life is centered in himself rather than in love of God and his wife.

Is the sponsor a mature Catholic man? I sure hope not. I know many married and single Catholic men. Of course, I don’t have knowledge of their private lives. But I don’t think they could be living the holy lives I witness if they were living in constant unrepentant sin.

I don’t, anymore.

When I was younger, I did. But thanks to God’s grace, I overcame that. I give God all the glory for that.

Why? Henry VIII was unable to consummate his marriage to his fourth wife, Anne of Cleves, which led to an annulment of their marriage.

Henry’s health issues may’ve played a part, but the bottom line is he just wasn’t sexually attracted to her. No apparent fault of Anne’s.

Perhaps his infatuation with the teenager Catherine Howard, who he married an indecently short time after his marriage to Anne was annulled, had something to do with it. Certainly there don’t seem to be any suggestions that his marriage to Catherine wasn’t consummated. Go figure.

Look, physical attraction is what it is, it’s not based on reason or logic any more than any of the other personal preferences that we all have (liking the colour blue but disliking the colour orange, or liking Japanese food but disliking Chinese food, for example).

I agree it’s possible that he’s just not physically attracted to her, but this is not something that developed later in the marriage from what she said it was the same when she was a young bride.

Why would a man marry a woman he wasn’t attracted to enough to have sex with? Something doesn’t add up. Maybe it’s in the OP’s best interest to check out what kind of porn the husband looks at when he masturbates, if it’s gay porn she should know and it would probably give a strong case for annulment.

Masturbation can become an intense habit for some men. And it is tempting to the single man, someone in their teens, etc. But to be married this long and prefer it this much to one’s wife, there is some psychological counseling needed. And I would be concerned. If he did it on some long trip away or in the military or something, though sinful, it would at least make some sense. But to prefer it to normal marital relations? I hope he can get some counseling. God bless the OP! Our prayers are with you indeed.

I know many men do, and many women as well. I struggle with it, have since I was in middle school, because I never, not once, was told it was wrong. Everything around you outside the church says eeeeeveryone does it and it’s fiiiiine.

The church will not examine the validity of the marriage bond unless the couple has already gotten a legal divorce. At least, this is the case in the U.S.

This is obviously a terribly stressful situation for the wife. Does the husband even care? It appears he’s controlling and limiting sex with her from the time they were married. This isn’t normal.

To be accurate, he DOES have sex with her, so it’s not like there’s no attraction there. Some couples find once a fortnight entirely satisfactory for them, of course. The problem (and it’s not necessarily an insurmountable one) is that they aren’t on the same page about frequency.

Why would a man marry a woman who he wasn’t (or not extremely) sexually attracted to? For all the same reasons women marry men they aren’t (or not extremely) physically attracted to, of course.

Sometimes there’s a negative motive, like financial security or peer pressure to be married or whatnot.

For others, it’s a matter of the couple truly being compatible in every other possible way, and physical attraction simply not mattering to one or both of them. There are people who don’t care about sex, you know - much as our society tries to drum it into us that without sex we’re nothing. :shrug:

Do all men masturbate regularly? No…but I would say many do.

But, I would say that your husband is definitely a little odd to prefer masturbation to sex.

I’ll be praying with you Christin. As long as we have prayers we have hope in change. God bless!

I would be somewhat sympathetic to a guy who has a frigid wife, but this clearly isn’t the case. He needs reforming. Regardless of the level of addiction (just to be clear, not everyone believes that sexual sins can be addictions, but rather a weakness of character), these sins can be overcome with God’s grace, which is there for the asking. Is he trying to fix the problem and is he asking for God’s grace to overcome it?

Regardless of the propaganda you heard, not all men masturbate, and I’m convinced that the majority of today’s ED problems are a direct result of fantasy lives many men live. I know of one case where the man had arousal problems with the wife as a user of pornography. When he started living a more chaste life (no porn, no masturbation), the problem “magically” became the exact opposite. That is, he couldn’t last very long with the same woman who seemingly didn’t do it for him before.

Masturbation and pornography are evils to be fought, because through them the devil is trying to make Christian men impotent among other things. Steer clear of anyone who tries to convince you that it’s normal, healthy, and that everyone is doing it. They don’t care for your salvation or your husband’s. Pray for your husband. He will need a lot of spiritual support (even unbeknown to him) if he is to convert from his ways, and have the courage to ask for God’s grace in becoming chaste.

How very true. The women’s magazines give tips on it and there are ads on TV or in many home catalogs for various devices to enable one to sin!! How tempting to do so when it’s presented by society as normal, natural, enjoyable, and healthy.

There are some good booklets for young people on the theology of the body but are they getting to the kids when they need this info? I wonder how many parents talk to their pre-teens and teenagers about God’s plan for sex. Is chastity taught in Catholic schools or in religious education classes? Are they told what a blessing it is, how it opens our lives to God’s presence and power, how it allows real friendships to develop between young men and women, how it allows us to love, instead of use, each other?

It really is possible to be freed from masturbation once you are convinced it is seriously sinful and you are motivated by love for God and by God’s love for you. It is really hard and it doesn’t happen all at once but it is totally worth it! (You feel that nothing could be worth giving it up, but God just showers blessings on you for dying to yourself in this way.) Looking back, you will be amazed that God brought you through it and you will feel, not only free, but tremendously grateful and whole.

Don’t give up the struggle; keep on fighting. All the angels and saints are on your side and want you to be victorious. You know who it is who wants you to give in. Spit on him! You belong to Jesus and the Blessed Mother and he hates them. But guess who wins, not that lying snake.

It’s so sad that the husband of the OP hasn’t yet experienced this freedom and wholeness and ability to love. See how much pain he has caused her, and probably himself. It may seem like masturbation only affects ourselves, it doesn’t hurt anyone else, we think. But it does.

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