Anonymous Question: Why does my low-drive spouse masturbate?

Jay Dee

Anonymous Question: Why does my low-drive spouse masturbate?

Jul 26, 2014

I received an anonymous email last night: How is it that my husband is the lower drive spouse and yet occasionally masturbates without me? He always regrets it and admits it to me afterwards, yet it still happens about once a month. We have sex

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Why does my low-drive spouse masturbate
I received an anonymous email last night:

How is it that my husband is the lower drive spouse and yet occasionally masturbates without me? He always regrets it and admits it to me afterwards, yet it still happens about once a month. We have sex less than once a week – maybe 3 times a month – and I almost always initiate, though he always enjoys it when we do have it. It hurts me because I would LOVE to have more sex, but he doesn’t want it, yet somehow he still feels the need to have sex by himself.

Now, I have my thoughts, which I’ll share, and then I’d love to hear what the community has to say.

In my post Why do married men masturbate? I stated that I knew of three reasons for masturbate:

  1. Ignorance – They don’t realize what effect it might be having on their marriage
  2. Selfishness – They know but don’t care, they are just chasing an orgasm
  3. Addiction – Some are addicted, and they need help – loving, but firm, help

Since you say he regrets and admits his actions, I’m going to rule out #1 in my mind.  He knows what he’s doing, so he’s not ignorant.

My guess (which is admitted based on very little as I only have a paragraph to work with) is that it is a mostly selfishness, perhaps not that he doesn’t care, but that he cares more about himself in that instance than in you or the marriage.  There is a lot that goes with being the low-drive husband.  For many, they feel a sense of shame because they don’t fit the “sex-crazed male” stereotype.  That can bring with it a sense of pressure to perform when they don’t want to, and can make sex sort of a scary or intimidating thing.  Where as, to masturbate, requires no pressure to perform, no intimacy, no vulnerability.

So, why does he masturbate?

Originally, it could have been that when he felt the urge to have an orgasm, he thought of sex, thought of the fact that he was lower-drive than his wife, perhaps felt this weight of pressure to make it really good sex, because sex is infrequent, and then thought it would be easier just to masturbate.  This may not have been all conscious, of course, and if your marriage was struggling when it started, then I’d find this very believable, because marriage requires emotional intimacy in order to be emotionally vulnerable, and admitting that you are a low-drive husband requires a lot of emotional vulnerability.  So if sex brings up that vulnerability in a time that he didn’t feel emotionally secure in the marriage, it’s not surprising (though not right) that he sort of “bailed” on the marriage and decided to do it himself.  Again, just a possibility, I’m not accusing you or your marriage.  We’ve all had these times in our marriages.

Continuing on, if he follows this pattern a few times, then he would start to program his brain to have this response.  Soon a neuropathway begins to form that triggers under certain conditions: wife not home (or asleep), I’m horny, we’ve had sex in the last 2 weeks => masturbate.  I’m guessing at the conditions, but the point is, now it starts to become more of an addiction, because his brain is subconsciously making the decision for him. He may not even be thinking through the process anymore, and afterwards realizes what he’s done, feels shame, guilt and regret.

So, what can you do.  Presumably you’ve already raised the emotional stability of the marriage a bit, since you are talking about something he is ashamed and regretful of.  That’s amazing.  Many spouses never get to this level of vulnerability and intimacy.  So, it may just take reinforcing that emotional intimacy.  Letting him know that you still love him, that you are there for him whenever he needs you.  To let him know there is no shame, that the import part is that he is trying to overcome it, and that you are willing to help and be his cheerleader, as it were.  But it’s going to take time for that neuropathway to shrink and die off, and the longer he’s been doing it, the longer it will take to reprogram his brain, but it can be done.

What’s wonderful is that he not only recognizes that it’s wrong, but he realizes it’s hurting you, and he wants to change.  That’s a huge step, and I hope you will both continue to take these steps so you can experience a new level of intimacy in your marriage, withholding nothing from each other.

Your Turn

Alright people, your turn, what do you think?

If you have questions about masturbation in marriage, you might be interested in these:

37 Questions for spouses to ask each other about sex

37 sex questions for spouses to ask each other

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10 thoughts on “Anonymous Question: Why does my low-drive spouse masturbate?”

  1. LatterDay Marriage says:

    I agree he doesn’t seem ignorant, and if he is only doing it as often as she said addiction doesn’t seem to be it either.

    I wouldn’t rule out the possibility that there is something going on in his head that makes him want to avoid getting a sexual release through sexual intimacy with another person. He may view the sex act itself as dirty or demeaning or have some mental health condition that makes him uncomfortable with that level of intimacy, so he seeks out sexual release in what for him is a less distressing way.

    Might be worthwhile to ask if he has any kind of sexual abuse in his past. Or perhaps he has same gender attraction issues he is trying to manage.

    Best plan is for him to do some introspection and for the both of them to have a meaningful conversation about it.

  2. Julie says:

    I think you need to put a chastity device on your property (his manhood). That’s what I think. I’m planning on doing that myself. that way he cannot masturbate unless you (his Keyholder) unlocks the key. From what I understand it makes men very attentive and dedicated to their wives.

  3. Jeff Mueller says:

    Masturbation is a very normal activity and it only hurts a marriage when done secretary and behind the spouses back. If you are having very limited sexual relations and he is masturbating, why not talk to him and explore the idea of masturbating together. This is very intimate when done with your spouse.

  4. Larry says:

    I believe it could be an energy thing or lack of energy.
    The amount of energy needed to satisfy his spouse might be more than he can handle and thus this might be a turn off. His wife may want sex when he is tired and him not being in the mood or having stamina to perform might abstain.

    As far as his pleasuring himself. It may be the time he feels ready to engage but maybe his wife is not.

  5. Butterflywings says:

    How do you explain a guy who masturbates regularly (multiple times a week) but only has sex less than once a month and has a wife ready, willing and able to do it 24/7 if he had even the slightest of interest.

    Jeff, not all men are willing to be open about their masturbation, and especially not willing to involve their spouse. My husband is one of those who will do anything to hide it. I’ve even asked him how much he does it so we can discuss it with our marriage counsellor as I’m sick of having a sexless marriage, and if I even mention the topic, he’ll scream at me it’s none of my business and start breaking things until I leave the room.

    He isn’t ignorant – he knows full well how much it is damaging our marriage (he will deny it’s doing any damage and will go out of his way to call me a liar when I say it hurts that he can masturbate at least once nearly every day but can’t find time for sex even once a month, but he is aware of how much it’s hurting me and our marriage). He isn’t an addict – it’s only about once a day, sometimes not even that (he’s too busy with his computer game addiction to be addicted to masturbation).

    It’s just plain selfishness. He wants sexual release without the effort of getting up from his computer, same as he often skips meals to keep playing computer games, unless the food is put in front of him. It’s not lack of physical or emotional energy, as masturbation takes no less effort than what little he puts into sex. It’s just purely that he wants sexual release and doesn’t want to walk away from his computer. He’s well aware that I have a strong desire for sex, and that the only thing that fills that desire is actual sex and I don’t find masturbation to be enjoyable and I don’t find it decreases my desire for sex, but he simply doesn’t care.

    Sex is no different from food for him. He’ll happily eat if food is placed in front of him, or if he’s hungry enough to get off the computer and make something for himself, but if I’m not well and let him know that I can’t make the family dinner, he won’t do it – he’ll just feed himself and act like he’s doing me a favour doing that “for me” while the kids and I go hungry. Food and sex are exactly the same to him – he’ll happily fill his desires, but ignore everyone else he has a duty to, even if it means they starve.

    I’m tired of him feasting his sexual desires alone while my sexual desires are starved.

    1. Debbie says:

      I’m so sorry to hear you are going thru the same thing I am . except I’ve not had sex period with my husband in well over 2 years . he use to look at porn and masterbate until I caught him and of course it was alllll my fault according to him . see I’ve been very very sick for the past 10 years but we use to have sex quite often but then I found out that he had been pursing another women that wasn’t even interested in him and no way he was gonna get her but he I guess thought in his own mind that he cud have sex with her and was sexually attracted to her but I found out lol . then he went from calling her several times a day to looking at porn and I caught him doing that so I told him that noooo mater what I would catch him doing anything cuz I know him soooo well . we have been married for 37 years so I know him like the back of my own hand but so instead of him fixing things with me and having sex with me he just promised to not pursue her anymore and he promised to stop looking at porn which I find no trace that he is buttttt we still have NO SEX period . I just don’t really get it . I don’t know what to do . I’ve talked to him till I’m blue all he says is that he Loves me . but that’s not enough for me . I’ve threatened to leave him and get a divorce but still nothing . he just acts like everything is just peachy . I don’t know what to do . I’m soooo lonely ,I crave affection from him but don’t get any . we don’t kiss except for when he leaves the house we have no intimacy period . I’m just lonely and lost .
      I sure hope that things gets better for you.
      I’ve told him I’d love to have sex and id love to be wanted . I’ve begged and begged but still nothing .

      1. Jay Dee says:

        I’d say stop begging and do something. Start talking to your pastor about it. Get help. Just don’t passively accept it.

  6. Leroy says:

    We have sex once or twice a year but she masturbates regularly. Constant denial for years. Dying here, demand, be forceful, Beg for it. Ask for it, willing to do anything she wants including wearing a chastity device for her. Get nothing in return. So yeah i masturbate, only release i get.

  7. Ceecee says:

    My husband freely masterbates right in front of me as we’re lying there & doesn’t try to hide it. As a matter of fact, he did it on our wedding night. Sex has become something to be tolerated, not enjoyed & l have learned to really hate it. ( he doesn’t believe in foreplay or romance either.) So, it’s just something that l put up with but l hate. He’s a loving, sweet man but just looks at sex as a machanical expression of relief, not love, so l endure it but really really hate it. Thanks for letting me vent.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      So, what if you stopped him and simply said “I need foreplay before we have intercourse.” Then, don’t let him proceed until he learns. I think by enabling his behaviour your are ultimately damaging your relationship, and not doing him or you any favours. One could argue that simply enduring sex is not loving.

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