My Husband struggles with masterbation

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.

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.

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??

**Don’t do anything.

I am serious.**

Obviously I’ll pray for him and I think that is the best thing and seems to be the only thing I can do.

But I guess when I said what do I do, I meant like would it be wrong to suggest we abstain from sex for awhile? Because I feel that our marital act may be an occasion of sin for him as well.

I would guess that your idea would produce the opposite effect from what you are hoping. Why don’t you discuss this with a priest? In the end, all you can do is pray for him daily. We cannot control others’ behavior, as much as we might like to.

Ok this is actually one of the church’s teaching I find most hard to follow. Not necessarily for myself, because I feel like I can easily enough abstain even though I enjoy it, but more so for my husband. I have a very hard time trying to support, guide whatever you want to call it but basically making him feel as if it’s not ok. I know it’s not ok and I understand the teaching well. It just doesn’t bother me when my husband does, for some reason some where along the way it became very natural to me and I can’t see it as a sin. I know I need to change my thinking, but this is where I’m at with this. It does not offend me nor bother me when I know that it should. I know it pleases my husband to do so and it’s a stress reliever and he’s nicer too. This is something I am working on inside my marriage I know it has to be redirected but it’s hard to care about something you don’t care about.

I also agree with not doing anything outside of praying. I think as your marriages grows and strengthens this is something that can be resolved through prayer and growth. I can relate to your feeling but for the opposite reasons if that makes any sense?

If he is serious about stopping, his behaviors should demonstrate that.
What do I mean by that? Examples: He should increase his prayer life, increase the frequency of participating in the sacraments, talk with a priest, see a professional counselor who deals with this (CSAT Certified Sexual Addiction Therapist), join a support group, etc.

If he does nothing to change----- nothing will change.

I’m going to present you with my advice, as a married man who struggles with that particular sin as well.

It’s good that he’s decided that he’s going to stop. The problem now is actually stopping. The first, and most important advice I can give you is, don’t hold it against him when he fails (so long as he persists in trying to stop). This sin is incredibly difficult to overcome; and the way it affects the brain makes it more difficult the longer you’ve been doing it.

The second piece of advice I’ll give is the most important spiritually; encourage him to go to confession frequently. Confession cleans the soul, and makes it far easier to resist the temptation. If I give in once, and don’t make it to confession, I will almost invariably give in more times in the following week (my parish only offers confession on Saturdays before mass >_>) Even if he can’t make it confession, encourage him to spend some time in front of the blessed sacrament.

As other posters have said, prayer is incredibly important. Pray for him to have the strength to resist the temptation.

I pray that your husband is successful in stopping, and I pray for you to have the strength to support him as he tries to stop.

It may help to read this C.S. Lewis quote regarding “imaginary brides,” that may help him understand the beauty and the value of the one he has:
For me the real evil of masturbation would be that it takes an appetite which, in lawful use, leads the individual out of himself to complete (and correct) his own personality in that of another (and finally in children and even grandchildren) and turns it back; sends the man back into the prison of himself, there to keep a harem of imaginary brides.

And this harem, once admitted, works against his ever getting out and really uniting with a real woman.

For the harem is always accessible, always subservient, calls for no sacrifices or adjustments, and can be endowed with erotic and psychological attractions which no woman can rival.

Among those shadowy brides he is always adored, always the perfect lover; no demand is made on his unselfishness, no mortification ever imposed on his vanity.

In the end, they become merely the medium through which he increasingly adores himself…After all, almost the main work of life is to come out of our selves, out of the little dark prison we are all born in. Masturbation is to be avoided as all things are to be avoided which retard this process. The danger is that of coming to love the prison.”

  • Personal Letter From Lewis to Keith Masson (found in The Collected Letters of C.S. Lewis, Volume 3)Courtesy of Matt Fradd’s blog.

Marco,
Thank you so much for sharing that! It’s perfectly simply explained. I need to read that and I feel as if I can share this wih my husband without “nagging” him. Thanks!

Certainly you can discuss this with your husband to see what would help him, but I have a hard time imagining that less frequent marital relations would help him with this particular sin. Would that not just lead him to commit this sin more often?

Keep the line of communication open and try to be as understanding as possible. If he feels you are judging him and/or condemning him, that could lead him to secrecy rather than sanctity.

I don’t know how your husband responds to discussing this matter with you, but if he seems defensive or stand-offish, I really think the indirect approach is going to be your best bet.

The best thing to do is to encourage your husband’s prayer life. Pray together every day. Set aside time for him to go to Eucharistic Adoration (if available nearby) and pray by himself. Prepare yourselves for daily Mass by reading through the readings together ahead of time and discussing them. Go to daily Mass at least once more during the week (and more often if you can). Go to Confession once a month together. Develop those good spiritual habits now early on in your marriage before children and all the other things arise that pull you this way and that way.

A strong, vibrant relationship with the Lord is really the best way to overcome this sin (and any sin). Help your husband be a saint. Love him. Respect him. That’s the best thing you can do for him, for you, and for all the children that may come your way.

You just found out it was a sin while you were engaged? Poor catechesis growing up? Then, he goes to confession, then he resolves to stop, then he has trouble and you question his ability to take it seriously? Geesh.

It is a journey. He needs encouragement but maybe not from you. Just make sure you are not complicit in helping him and learn about your faith together.

But questioning his sincerity when he is taking steps to stop is not going to help.

I overcame this problem quite easily, others do not. That is what grace and forgiveness and the Church is for. Try not to be harder on him than God himself is.

4 months of marriage. So this has been an issue 4 times. And you are all up in his business?

Other than that is your sex life sinless?

Let me get this straight. You think the best way to get him to stop masturbating is to deny him the marital embrace? I’m not following your thinking there, I’m afraid.

What do you mean by saying that your marital acts may be an occasion of sin for him?

I have to agree with BillP here, and am quite surprised that more people have not responded with the most obvious thing any spouse can do to help the other with these temptations. The advice by others, eg ProdglArchitect’s, is good, but VERY imcomplete.

The church has long held (1 Cor 7.9) that one of the purposes of marriage is as a remedy for concupiscence. I would go so far as to say the best advice would be the opposite from denying him.

Masturbation is a very difficult sin to overcome. He needs to tackle the roots which are lust, inability to cope, amongst others, and in order to do that he needs to make his faith a real part of his daily life. I would absolutely not withhold relations from him, and I would have open communication with him about this on a regular basis (but not too regular). Tell him you are there for him and not to be discouraged, as there absolutely will be falls (maybe he can meditate on the falls in the stations of the cross). If he is not using pornography he is in better shape than most men in tackling this battle.

“]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 :slight_smile:

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??

You and Your husband have made a mistake about what the sin was.You think the sin was masterbation but actualy it was haveing sex before marriage.Masterbation is not a sin.But haveing sex before you were married was.As far as what you should do about it is You should explore this as a couple and work together to explore all aspects .Now that you are married there is nothing wrong with exployering all your partners wants and needs.You said you think he does things while you are away.Well this would be a perfect time for you to call him up when you are on the road and join in on some of his fun.You could make his day and he could make yours.All the fantasy and role play just makes for moore fun when you get home.What makes these things right is because you are husband and wife.Couples should work hard to make each other happy.You should watch each other and learn the things each other like and use them to make each other happy.There is nothing wrong with being happly married.Work hard to make your marriage grow.

No. Masturbation is indeed a mortal sin. If you did not know this already you can check the Catechism. Please do not lead others to false information.

I think even more difficult for a wife than knowing her husband has this habit is the fact that it usually is accompanied by porn viewing of other women. Very common in our society today, but definitely still horrendous and sinful. The porn viewing and self-pleasuring when I wasn’t around was the case in my marriage, and the discovery can hurt a wife to the core. Prayer can help tremendously, especially if he honestly is trying to change. If he doesn’t want to or try to change, it becomes something entirely different. You and any other wives reading this and going through it in your marriage may wish to join the CAF support group titled, “Women Suffering Because of Unchastity.” (See top tool bar under “groups.”) The group has helped me to cope in my marriage and can offer many recommendations. Speaking to a Priest or a Catholic/Christian counselor can also help. Good luck, and God bless.

Just pointing out that this thread is over a year old. One of our newest members decided to “resurrect” it. :slight_smile:

I love Marco Polo’s quote about C.S. Lewis regarding “imaginary brides.” Tam629, if you feel angry, it may be because a husband that does this is being unfaithful in his mind. Marriage is supposed to be exclusive. He cannot give his all to you if he does this. Please let your husband know it hurts you. Have you read “Theology of the Body for Beginners” or the “Good News about Sex and Marriage” books by Christopher West? They will explain and clarify your feelings. Sex should be an exchange of persons, not satisfaction for lustful desires.

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