Understanding a husbands masterbation


My husband has been masterbating on and off for 20 years, the last 10 of which has been in our marriage. As a pracitcing Catholic I know it is wrong and the reasons why… so does my husband who is also practicing! I know prayer is the sure way to help the problem (so please spare us a few, we need them!). Is it reasonable for a priest to dismiss it as a serious sin eg. force of habit, anxiety… especially if it’s getting worse/more frequent and after 20 years? Is there hope for him to overcome this after such a long standing habit? And is it wrong of me as his wife to feel offended by his actions and lack trust in him? Sometimes I feel so disheartend not to mentions suspicous! Men out there… any good advice???


No. I’m sorry but I can’t help you. I have no insight. But I will pray for you and your husband.


The first thing that comes to mind is how does your husband feel about this? Is this something that the two of you talk openly about? Is it something that he acknowledges and wants to change?

This is something that your husband would have to talk with the priest about. As a practicing Catholic, he should be willing to approach a priest with this, if he is truly wanting to change. Again, this will fall back on the original questions that I asked earlier. Masturbation is a mortal sin, but if it is a habit, an addiction, the culpability can be diminished. Again, talking with the priest is not something that you can do for him, he has to be willing to do that himself.

Yes, please refer him to www.trueknights.org for help with this.

No it is not wrong for you to be offended, but I am not sure what you mean by the lack of trust? Can you explain that further? Do you mean that you do not trust that he will not stop?


You are simply the recipient of your husband’s vice and emotional, psychological and spiritual immaturity. Masturbation in wholely incompatible with married conjugal love. I suggest that you seek spiritual and professional counsel on how to cope with and constructively confront this darkness inhabiting your marriage. Habitual masturbation for an adult married male for the length of time your report qualifies for as an addiction.

There is no biblical Catholic reason why you should have to passively bide your time while this vice continues apparently unabated in your marriage. Like any other habitual vice and addiction, this behavior needs to be extinguished, which is in your husband’s choice to pursue or not. If he choses to not decisively eliminate his solitary abuse, then you need to establish healthy boundaries, otherwise you run the risk of becoming the classic co-dependent – " Sometimes I feel so disheartend not to mentions suspicous!".


I was caught in the web of this for many years until recently. I recieved a miracoulous grace and healing in the confessional and I give credit to the Blessed Mother. It’s an all around painful situtation for both you and your husband. I deprived my wife of intimacy for much of our married life (seven years) so I consider her a saint to have held on, what a pennence. I feel pretty confident in saying that where there is masturbation there is usually an addiction to pornography. If your husband is depriving you of intimacy then he’s thinking about other people or images in his mind.

Your husband needs to recognize this as an addiction, a sexual rush can be just as addicting as heroin and once excessive masturbation occurrs it takes on a life of it’s own and consumes the mind. Your husband needs to come clean, he needs to pull all of the roots of this up one at a time in confession and with you. The devil really gets a hold on men is this area, and believe me there is alot of shame and guilt involved as well. So he needs to expose everything that is keeping him bound in this and seek deep reconciliation with a priest and with you, there is tremendous power in this.

He needs to firmly believe that Jesus Christ is alive, that God is real, that the Blessed Mother is real, that heaven and hell are real. I feel the only way to be truely repenetant is having a genuine realationship with Jesus Christ, if that is not there then there’s nothing to be accountable to outside of yourself.

In my opinion I do not think it’s healthy to dismiss it as serious sin, I knew my sin was serious because it robbed me of the life of God, it caused my wife pain and made her angry and a soul thats angry turns that anger toward God or can, that’s what happened to my wife.

I have also started wearing a Scapular, it’s a powerful reminder not to sin, I keep a Rosary with me at all times. I have found that starting off the day with interior silence, praise, the Rosary shield my mind and heart. I find now that when temptation comes I do not dwell on it at all, I immediately ask for Marys help and make the sign of the cross and it subsides. If temptation comes and one is lying down, get up and turn to prayer. There is something extremely powerful about focusing on the purity of the Blessed Virgin, I now ask daily for her purity and claim it.

Next is accountability, aside from the sacrament of reconciliation which is the most powerful weapon, accountability to another male is INCREDIBLY important, someone trustworthy who your husband can talk openly with when he feels weak, I cannot underestimate this. Sexual addiction needs to be treated like alcholism or drug addiction, it needs to be exposed and there needs to be accountability first to Jesus Christ, our priest and another male as well as to you.

Lastly diet is important, stimulants like caffeine do not help, they can make the problem worse. Increase alkaline foods, eat less acidic foods. Too much acid in the system casues inflamation, headaches, joint pain and pain causes us to turn toward old vices to numb the pain. Lots of water, excercise to release pent up energy and emotions is powerful as well.

Lastly lots of prayer on your part and from others, powerful intercession. I know things will get better, just be firm with your husband about how it’s hurting you, let him know without shaming him that your hurt and his heart will turn:)


Mike Howard offers good advice.

I will add that taking on some form of penance will help. For your husband to take it on, that is. Although if you did also I’m sure it would be beneficial. But if your husband has other weak spots in apetite it will help him to master those apetites as well. If he likes sweets maybe he can abstain from sweets once a week. Or just fast on bread and water for a day a month. Or whatever…

Now, for advice for you. Read up on Theology of the Body and try to get as good an understanding of human sexuality as you can through the lense of the Catholic Faith. Here’s a nutshell that is so condensed it’s difficult to digest: Human Life is sacred. Sex is the fount of Human Life. Therefore human sex is sacred. You don’t mess with sacred things.

Doesn’t that run counter to everything the world would have you believe about Catholic sexual ethics? The world would have you believe that the Catholic Church thinks sex is bad and has all these rules to protect us from being corrupted by sex. When in fact, what I just told you is that the Catholic Church thinks sex is so great, that they have all these rules to protect sex from being corrupted by us!!

Now, your husbands masterbation is a grave sin. So also is a wife’s rejecting her husband’s requests for sex. Maybe you don’t do this, but I suspect that for as many men masturbate there are an equal number of women who reject physical intimacy from time to time.

This issue is worth having a few good arguments over too. I know some people think that it is just plain awful for a husband and wife to argue. In reality it can be very hurtful to a husband if he gets the signal that his wife doesn’t really care about his fidelity.

A wife needs to cherish her husband’s purity. He needs to know that. If he knows that his purity and fidelity is something very valuable to his wife, he will be motivated to guard it. On the other hand the wife needs to be “woman enough” for the man she married.


First, the other posters have provided many excellent suggestions. I also endorse www.trueknights.org. It is very Catholic oriented. There is good information there for wives who are struggling with their husband’s addiction as well.

Second, I would recommend some form of therapy to get to the “why” of his problem. This takes time and effort. There are several 12-step programs available: Sexaholics Anonymous www.sa.org, Sex Addicts Anonymous www.saa-recovery.org, Sex & Love Addicts Anonymous www.slaafws.org.

Your husband will have to understand that this is an addiction that is controlling him and destroying him like alcohol, drugs, or gambling. Also, he is not practicing chastity in his marriage which all spouses are called to do.

I am adding you and your husband to my prayer list. I am glad you have the courage and strength to write your post. I know how difficult it must of been.

Take care,


… any good advice???

Well, I’m female and I had a problem with masturbation since my early childhood… Sometimes masturbation comes from very deeply rooted feelings way back… perhaps even a feeling of loneliness…

I struggled with this for a LONG time.

All bad habits generate such feelings of guilt (more so in a person of faith) that it becomes a vicious circle.

It’s important not to judge oneself and really understand that God forgives us, as many times as it is needed… that he loves us even when we sin… he knows we’re weak.
To let God be our judge for his justice is full of love.

MY breakthrough came from a very wise priest who told me to stop chastising myself for it but instead to start praising the Lord for the blessing of my sexuality. This WORKED! :slight_smile:

Hope this helps… :thumbsup:

God Bless


Whoa…back that truck up a little, buddy! I would agree with you that habitual, recurrent rejection of physical intimacy on the part of a wife is extremely damaging to the marriage, could lead her husband into sin through deprivation, and may well be a grave sin. Especially if she is doing it to be spiteful or to punish her husband for something.

HOWEVER, there are sometimes good reasons that a wife might reject her husband’s advances. And out of respect for human dignity (she is not just a substitute for masturbation and a physical stimulator, she is a person) her choice must be respected. Perhaps she is suffering from a problem that makes sex painful. Perhaps she had a terrible day and is just not feeling emotionally up to it. Perhaps she is pregnant and achy. There are alot of reasons that are totally valid for a once-in-a-while rejection.

Saying it is NEVER OK for a wife to say no to sex is degrading and is advocating marital rape. That’ s not Catholic teaching, and it never will be or has been.



Saying that a wife should do more to satisfy the man so that he doesn’t masturbate is just helping to feed or reward this addiction to sin.

Perhaps making him choose between the fulfilment of the marital embrace and the emptyness of masturbation through abstinence may be more helpful.

Maybe he even needs to learn through a long period of total abstinence. The Church refers to the pre-married state as an apprenticeship in self-mastery. It sounds to me as if your husband never went through this apprenticeship, and has always taken the free availability of sexual satisfaction for granted. This is incredibly degrading for you, and for the blessing of matrimony. You ought to consider together whether he has to learn this self-mastery now, within your marriage.


Does this assume that the man in question masturbates because he is not having sex w/ his wife?

Sadly, many men enter marriage w/ the habit already in place. In that case, it has nothing to do with his wife. —KCT

I wouldn’t say it has nothing to do with the wife. I doubt that most men with this problem actually choose masturbation over the embrace. Instead, I’m guessing they choose masturbation because the marital embrace is not a viable choice. A good man will choose abstinance in those times.

HOWEVER, there are sometimes good reasons that a wife might reject her husband’s advances. —Duskyjewel

Discerning which reasons are good ones, and which reasons are simply selfish reasons on the part of the wife is the key. Some of those you listed might not necessarily be good ones.

Oftentimes it’s the wife’s unilateral decision that is so hurtful. She assesses her condition, and gives her yes or no answer based on the assessment of her condition only. She does not consider how badly her husband may need her embrace. She does not invite her husband in on the decision, by expressing to him her physical and emotional state, and letting him decide whether he perhaps could wait another day. And worse yet, she sometimes won’t give her husband any power to change her status.

I would imagine many marital relation difficulties would be remedied if rather than a wife saying “no” she would tell her husband what she needs done in order to meet his needs.

Being a wife is no easy task is it?


Saying it is NEVER OK for a wife to say no to sex is degrading and is advocating marital rape. That’ s not Catholic teaching, and it never will be or has been.

I didn’t say “never”. Yes there ARE times when it is OK, but those times are often much more grave than many wives think. Times of grave illness, if the spouse has been unfaithful…

Besides this thread was started by a wife seeking advice. It does her little good to tell her that her husband needs to quit. Like she’s going to tell her husband, “the people at the Catholic Answers forum say…” And her husband will blink his eyes and say, “Ohmigosh! Honey, I had no idea…In that case I’ll stop right now…”

Being a wife is no easy task. If you want to lead someone out of mortal sin perhaps the best way is to eliminate the mortal sins you yourself commit. And if the wife is committing mortal sexual sins…


Yes, some men do choose it over relations.

What you are defining as the problem? Masturbating only after marriage because his wife denies him relations?

Or, he has masturbated for many years and it’s become a habit. Or perhaps his immature way of comforting himself. It may not matter that he and his wife have frequent relations. It’s still a habit (or possibly addiction) that’s very hard to break . . . wife or no wife. —KCT


I didn’t say “never”. Yes there ARE times when it is OK, but those times are often much more grave than many wives think. Times of grave illness, if the spouse has been unfaithful…

Am I reading this right? Are you saying “not in the mood” is not a reason not to have sex.


Don’t know how the original quote was intended, but certainly, “not in the mood” is not an appropriate reason to refuse a spouse on any sort of regular basis.


Not meaning to derail the thread. But, why? I mean, if you are dead tired, or stressed, not feeling particularly amorous.

Why would anyone want to have sex with someone who doesn’t want to


So as to not derail this thread, you should start a new one to pursue this. Moreover, I think there are a number of different questions you raise.

IMO, depending on how accurate the descriptions are, “dead tired,” “stressed,” and “not feeling particularly amorous” are three very distinct issues as to whether they are adequate reasons to ignore the marital debt.

IMO, depending on how accurate the descriptions are, “dead tired,” “stressed,” and “not feeling particularly amorous” are three very distinct issues as to whether they are adequate reasons to ignore the marital debt. Another issue is raised by the last question as to why the other spouse might still desire relations even if the spouse has a more or less serious “issue.”


I am going to have to agree with Actorgirl on this one. Why would you want to have sex with your spouse when he/she does not want to? We are not robots that do things mechanically just because. If one spouse is not “in the mood” that would take out the unitive aspect of the marital act and it would be an act strictly for the pleasure of one of the spouses, not an act of love. According to the RCC every marital act must be unitive and procreative.

Being married does not entitle you to sex on demand. I know that the bible states that wives are to be submissive to their husbands, but this may be stretching that a little much.

Say for example my wife has been cleaning house all day, dealing with 2 sick kids, cooking the meals, folding laundry, etc. and at the end of the day is exhausted and I come in from work, smiling and expecting to have sex and she does not, should I have the “right” to play the “marital debt” card that you spoke of? Am I “entitled” to sex because we are married and that is what I want?


I guess my hubby wasn’t most men then. Early in our marriage my hubby had this problem daily & we were intimate nearly daily(sometimes more than once daily). (This is when I was away from the church and used ABC.)He had this habit since puberty and it wasn’t until we returned to the church and we took an NFP class that he understood how disordered it was and quit. I think he slipped two or three times but truly managed to overcome a very long term addiction. It had to be God’s grace because I was incredibly impressed how he managed to quit like that.

I hate it that so women get blamed for their husband’s issues. Men look at porn because their wife isn’t available, they masturbate because their wife isn’t available etc…:rolleyes:

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