“]I have been married for 4 months. I had some idea that my husband struggled with masterbation before we were married, but it’s becoming clear to me now that it was much more than a once in awhile thing.”
Congratulations on your marriage! I’m saddened that you are facing this issue but glad you want to help your husband through what can be a difficult process.
“When we were engaged we found out that it was a mortal sin and I quickly went to confession for the part I had played in helping him a few times and he confessed it also.”
Understanding masturbation as a sin is a difficult concept…in general anything that we do which removes us from God is a sin…often not because what we are doing is bad or unacceptable to societal standards…but because it can and does place a wall between us and the support we need to stand in our faith, God and humanity. Confession is how we come back together after stepping away. It is heartening that you’ve both included the healing strength of this sacrament to you marriage, Eucharist is also helpful.
As to why masturbation is a sin, there are many aspects, but to the point here. When a spouse uses masturbation to relieve stress, or take care of a perceived physical need by themselves they deny themselves and their spouse and the potential for emotional, physical and spiritual fulfilling sexual intimacy. The pursuit of emotional, physical and spiritually fulfilling sexual intimacy is a gift of the marriage sacrament that neither partner has the right to deprive the other of.
With that said…once excessive self gratification has become an issue lots of stuff comes into play and no one canon law or church rule will answer what you should or shouldn’t so.
We are called to not assist in sin…so there may come a time where totally offering yourself sexually becomes a conflict. If your vagina is a replacement for his hand…it’s time to respectfully communicate. Men who frequently masturbate can have difficulty distinguishing a sex act from the pursuit of emotional, physical and spiritually fulfilling sex…to help them recover they sometimes unreasonably ask their partners to become replacement hands for the physical component while reserving the emotional and potential spiritual aspects. That is the tricky one for partners of addicts, no one likes feeling used and empty, but how to prevent that without outright denying him.
Communicate in advance…outside the bedroom…if at anytime either of you is feeling disconnected…pause and refocus on the present…look at your partner…not the ghosts of negative feelings or thoughts…yep tall order…when it works it is hope and healing for both of you. resuming or continuing safe touching without the goal of intercourse may be more fulfilling for both of you on those occasions…its also helps to bridge intimacy gaps by keeping you together vs separate corners
There may come a time where he may need a break from intercourse…respect that and explore each other with safe touch so that when the scheduled break is over it is a natural transitional process.
Withholding physical affection/sex out of anger harms both of you…and is a sin no different than the masturbation that created responsive feelings and anger. Acknowledge the conflict respectfully…felt lonely, unappreciated…be receptive to healing words or embracing. Avoid arguing through denial, deflection justification and blame…you’ll never win. Sometimes just saying…I wanted to share how I was feeling and hug you, is a big help, early in recovery he may be overwhelmed with his own feelings and feel threatened by yours.
Lastly I hope sharing the stuff that worked in our journey helps to foster the healing and intimacy you seek.
"I was under the impression it was over. But just recently I found out he is still doing it while I am away (I go out of town 7-10 days a month). I spoke to him about it and how it makes me feel and it affects out intimacy with each other, we talked about what sex means in the context of marriage and he resolved to stop.
I still don’t think he sees it as a serious matter, but he has resolved to stop. So here’s the question…
What can I do as a wife to help support my husband who is trying to stop the sin of masterbation?? How can I help the intimacy between us without leading him to sin??