SWM012: Why do married men masturbate?

Sex Within Marriage Podcast Image for PostsI wrote a post on this topic a few years ago and thought I’d do a podcast version for those who don’t read the blog, or are new and aren’t aware of my older posts.  I believe married men (or women) masturbate for three reasons: Ignorance, Selfishness and/or Addiction.


  • They don’t know the damage they are doing to their relationship
  • They don’t communicate about sex, and so their spouse either doesn’t know or hasn’t shared how it’s hurting them
  • They’ve never been asked to stop


  • They’re more interested in an orgasm than a relationship
  • It’s easier to get an orgasm alone without a partner
  • You don’t have to worry about their feelings or their pleasure
  • You can focus on you 100%
  • You don’t have to be intimate and vulnerable alone
  • Solo masturbation is much “safer, emotionally


  • Whatever the reason for starting, they can’t stop
  • Their brain is programmed to do it and it’s hard to stop those neuropathways from firing
  • They need help to break the cycle, it’s too much for them to fight on their own
  • Check out Anonymous Marriage Coaching if you need help freeing yourself from this cycle

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36 thoughts on “SWM012: Why do married men masturbate?”

  1. C says:

    You need to cover another aspect to this. There are times when one spouse may have so much apathy, that there is deep frustration for the one doing it. When one spouse literally teases the other to the point that release can be obtained, then stops and falls asleep, leaving the tormented totally frustrated. Or when they have a negative desire for sex at all, save for procreation only.

    Your viewpoint is very narrow and frankly not fully vetted and thought through.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I think that’s an entirely different topic. Either way, on this topic, your spouse’s sin doesn’t negate your own. You are responsible for your own actions.

      I think this still falls within what I said.

  2. Heyimsteph says:

    I think you should take into consideration practical reasons one might masturbate while married. Assuming it’s agreed upon willingly by both partners- masturbation can be used as a de-stressor, or just to fulfill a physical need when your spouce isn’t available.

    Also, married women masturbate, too. It isn’t just men.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Yeah, I’ve come across quite a few who said this. After conversations with them, more often than not they realize it’s damaging their relationship, and I have yet to be convinced of a viable reason.
      And yes, I agree, women masturbate too…I said that in the podcast. A couple times I think…

  3. Jim green says:

    I disagree with your comment that masterbation is about ignorance, selifshness, and addiction.
    You are saying that I think my hand feels better than her pussy? Wrong! You are saying that I would rather have my hand than her pussy? Wrong
    You are saying I would always prefer my hand to her pussy? Wrong again.
    You are under the assumption that rational discussion can lead to a positive outcome. Wrong again.
    I would much rather be in the loving arms of my spouse, cuddle up and believe in the love that you preach, but both of us have to believe you, but, she won’t read or listen to a word you say.
    For Christmas, I received as a gift, a whirlling masterbation machine that was sure to give me the greatest orgasm I had ever received. She was anxious to try it on me but the batteries were defective and the replacement batteries they sent two days later were the wrong size. You should have seen the disappointment on her face. I was somewhat relieved, hoping we could revert back to to good ol days of just a blowjob. So far nothing has moved forward. She had to travel for business so I went back into good old reliable masterbation. Now, this wasn’ t either ignorance, hey it’s me or no one , Selfinishness, no one else available, or Addiction. Now, I do it because I feel I must, I wait for her but have learned not to wait too long, so I go for it. Is this addiction, since I would rather have her? Didn’t think so.
    I do the best I can with what I got, and generally, that’s just me. If that makes me ignorant, selfish, or addictive excuse me.
    A nice chat with the two of us discussing the pros and cons of our sexual issues is not conducive for the two of us, sometimes we must revert back to what works at the present moment. Speaking from the real world.
    Yes, I wish we could bring it up, her and I, to conform with you teachings, but with tears in my eyes, I must push forward for love as my wife and God has set the course.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Sorry, this is going to sound harsh, but I don’t know how to moderate it and still have the same impact. I feel for you, and with all compassion and love (though it may not sound like it), here’s what I think:

      I’m not saying it feels better or your prefer your hand. I’m saying that you prefer to masturbate rather than deal with the issue on the table, because it’s easier and feels better than the inevitable argument and/or tears.
      So, she’s buying you off with toys, basically telling you to help yourself, so that she doesn’t have to grow, and you’re accepting them, even defending her. Why? Because its easier than the fight, the arguments, the pain and suffering that growth requires. Your spouse is unwilling to have sex with you, and you are unwilling to wait for her. I’m going to call that selfishness, hidden behind the guise of selflessness. “I don’t want to hurt her” = “I don’t want to cause her pain because it’s too hard for me to deal with.”

      You say the options are “it’s me or no one”, so choose no one. You won’t die, you might learn some self-control though, and your wife might learn she’s more important to you than an orgasm.

      You wish you could bring it up? What’s stopping you? If you can’t talk about it, bring in a counselor to help (Matthew 18). But, allowing this to continue is going to destroy your marriage.

      So, no, I’m not going to excuse it. I’m feel for you, I truly do. I’ve been there and I made the same bad mistakes, and I wish I could go back and make different decisions. But, that doesn’t excuse your sin any more than it did mine. But blaming God for this situation, that’s not right in any light. You say He’s “set the course”, but I don’t think this is what He wants at all, neither for you, nor your wife. The Bible speaks of confronting sin, of dealing with conflict, but you are running away from both, collaborating to allow it to continue. I see nothing in God having “set the course” in this.

      Now, if she wants to help you have an orgasm while present, that’s a different story, as I said in the podcast. But giving you a toy so she can run away…that’s like giving a kid a present so you don’t have to spend time with them. She’s teaching you to have a sexual relationship without her, and you’re accepting it. So, I think there’s probably enough ignorance on each side as well.

      1. Sindel says:

        Seriously I think you understand the theory and psychology of masturbation but really not practical.
        Masturbation in marriage isn’t better than sex (those who do masturbate and watch porn do so out of frustration)
        Some spouses could be manipulative leaving their partners to self satisfaction.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Sure it is. I had a sexless marriage for years. I completely understand why people do it. I also get why it’s hard to stop, and why it’s easier to keep doing it than confronting your spouse and having a difficult conversation. Doesn’t make it right though. The easy thing is rarely the right thing.

  4. Chris says:

    4. Because you’re in a sexless marriage and need the release

    1. Jay Dee says:

      I disagree. You don’t need the release. You will not die without it. It is a need for the relationship, not for the individual. You are deciding it’s easier to satisfy yourself than deal with the issues in your marriage, or that it’s easier to have a sexual relationship without your spouse than wait for her to change. I’m going back to #2 on that one.

      What do you think would happen if you told your wife that you’re going to live a celibate life until she decides she wants to be married? A lot of wives who are refuses want their husband to continue to masturbate, because it takes the edge off their guilt. It enables them to continue in their sin, because you’re sharing in it. So, perhaps a bit of #1, because you don’t realize you are contributing to your own sexless marriage.

      I know, I’ve been there. It sucks, and sometimes it seems easier to just continue the way you are than deal with the hard issues.

      1. Chris says:

        I’m sorry but I’ve done everything in my power to deal with the problem. My wife would be just fine with celibacy. She’d claim it was by fair for me but then never mention it again. How do I know? Because I have tried that one too. Usually agree with you but I think you’re off on this one.

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Wow, you followed Matthew 18:15-17 right though to publicly revealing her sin in front of the church, they excommunicated her, and she didn’t care? That’s a subborn woman.

          1. Chris says:

            Wow, you really have a hard time admitting you’re wrong dont you?? Those verses are about church behaviour between brethren not husbands and wives in the marriage bed. Stop twisting scripture.

            We have councelled with 2 different pastors. I have gone years with no release, which she is very aware of and all it does is increase temptation and anger. Again, she is aware, nothing changes.

            The first pastor even removed her from being a Sunday school teacher and all but shunned her which is one reason we left that church.

            We’ve had innumerable, 4 hour, late night heart to hearts. Nothing changes.

            She’s gone to the doctor. Nothing changes.

            I once stupidly threatened divorce. That obviously didn’t help and things didn’t change.

            I do dishes, vacuum, laundry, watch the kids, etc… along with working 5 days a week. She works 2 and homeschools. Nothing changes.

            Can you tell I’m frustrated and am close to giving up on sex with my wife?

            This is just a small list of what had been done btw.

            1. Jay Dee says:

              I disagree with your interpretation of what that passage is about. I think it’s for confronting any sin in between two believers is beyond your ability to deal with as two individuals.

              I’m sorry the first pastor shunned her. That is not what the passage says you should do. Says to treat them like one not saved (paraphrase), which means, you treat them like every other unsaved person, loving and caring and compassionate, hoping they will enter God’s family.

              I agree, threatening divorce is a bad idea. Separation I might have considered, but never divorce. After all, if a spouse doesn’t want to live as a married couple, then why continue the sham to enable them? I’d say making it public knowledge that there is a break in the relationship is less risky than living the rest of your life with the break in secret. But, that’s just my opinion, and I’m afraid I didn’t have the idea when I was in a sexless marriage, so it’s untested. Like you I was mired in feeling hopeless.

              And I’m sorry your frustrated. I’ve been there. It sucks.

              1. Chris says:

                You might find this interesting since you think you won’t die due to a sexless marriage.

                1. Jay Dee says:

                  I’m aware of the research, in fact, I’ve cited it. However:

                  1. It’s not proven to be causative, merely correlative
                  2. It’s one of a great many factors
                  3. I think a strained marriage has a larger negative impact on your quality and length of life than just the number of times you ejaculate, and deciding to not deal with the issues and “take care of yourself” as it were is allowing the stress to persist. This alters your blood chemistry, changing you PH balance, which has been shown to have a stronger correlation to all types of cancers and other diseases.
  5. Dan says:

    I agree with you on all points. Masturbation is just the lazy and selfish way of saying “you don’t matter that much, I can take care of myself”. Marriage is about two becoming one. Cor 7:9 Paul clearly states that it is better to marry then to burn with passion. He states if you cannot CONTROL yourself, then marry. He does NOT say ‘if you burn, then masturbate”. Paul was a Jewish Rabbi and he knew all about masturbation. If self sex was okay to do, then he had the perfect opportunity to say it. But he didn’t. He said to marry. And to the married, he said to come to together again, not to masturbate.

    Masturbation is like drugs. Just because the Bible does not say ‘ don’t do drugs’, it doesn’t mean that you can do drugs. The same with masturbation.

  6. J says:

    I’m torn on this one…when it comes to having a refusing spouse. I’m not sure it is selfishness entirely. It might be more of desperation. What if you have discussed it with your spouse and their attitude is “when they are in the mood only” and that’s that…

    I would assume all would prefer sex over masturbation. But it is a physical need, the release does have positive benefits on one’s body.

    Now, the other issue on hand is if you are using pornography. It becomes a different story then.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      Sadly, no. Many would not prefer sex over masturbation. I get emails weekly from spouses saying their husband or wife is masturbating and refusing to have sex with them.

      And it’s not a physical need. Just because it has benefits doesn’t make it a need. Jogging has many benefits, but no one “needs to go jogging”, though many probably should…

      But, I agree, if porn is involved, that’s very clear. Sadly, stats say 50% of Christian men are watching porn regularly.

  7. Anonymous says:

    I am always fascinated to read the various opinions given by Christians about the topic of masturbation. So-called experts, who claim the Bible as their guide, take positions of every kind – from “it’s a good thing to masturbate and everybody ought to do it,” to “masturbation is always a sin,” – the moderator’s position. The fact that these various – and often contradictory – positions are all supposedly based on Biblical principles and are coming from devoted Christians is quite discouraging. It leaves one with the impression that the Bible and the Spirit are not clear guides after all. That is very sad.
    I know a man who is in a sexless marriage (30 years!) He thinks that Bible publishers would do everyone a favor if, in the margin next to 1 Corinthians 7 where Paul says that the outlet for sexual desire is marriage, they would print the words “just kidding.”
    I have not read everything the moderator has to say, but from what I can tell he seems to feel: 1) masturbation is just a cop-out – an avoidance of dealing with relational issues. Just talk it out; that will solve it. And, 2) otherwise, just forget it. No one dies from lack of sex.
    As for solving a sexless marriage by just talking (and praying) about it, there are many, people who can testify that that doesn’t always work. In fact, from what I can tell from reading many, many articles and forums, talking about it usually does NOT work. In the first place, if one’s partner just doesn’t have a sexual desire, it is hard to see how anyone is going to “talk” such a desire into existence. In the second place, though one might talk the resistant partner into having sex, it would be sex out of obligation, or guilt or pity, or mercy. I believe that most people want to be desired by their partner. If your partner has been convinced they “ought” to have sex and therefore concedes, that is not what most people want. People want to be genuinely desired.
    Which leads back to the moderator’s second point – No one dies from lack of sex. So according to him, everyone in a sexless marriage which has not been corrected by talking about the issue should just shut up and tough it out.
    So, there you have it. If you are in a sexless marriage; too bad. And, no reason to read this forum any more.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You’re right, you haven’t read much of what I’ve written, because you’re putting a lot of words in my mouth to try to fill the gaps in your knowledge.
      If you talking doesn’t work, you don’t just shut up and tough it out. You deal with it. Matthew 18:15-17 gives us a clear protocol for how to deal with sin in another Christian. And it doesn’t involve masturbation.
      And yeah, I know, people often want to write “just kidding” in the margins of their Bible when things get difficult. No one wants to go to the pastor and admit they have a sexless marriage. Some who do, their pastors refuse to deal with it (which is another problem). But, that doesn’t remove the guidance in the Bible, nor make it wrong. Just makes it hard to swallow…but then, growth often comes with growing pains.

      So, thanks for trying to answer for me, but I can answer for myself, and from experience. While you have a friend who was in a sexless marriage, I’ve been in one. They can be dealt with, but you can’t be silent to do it.

      1. anonymous says:

        So, just to be clear, are you saying that if a spouse doesn’t have a sexual desire, you can talk him or her into having one? Or are you saying that if a person doesn’t have a sexual desire, he or she should fake it and have sex even though they don’t really want to?

        1. Jay Dee says:

          Neither. For one, most of the time we’re dealing with wives rejecting their husbands. Not all the time, but the majority. For the majority of women, sexual desire is a reactive system, not a pro-active one. Often the women themselves don’t even understand this. Usually they are surprised that, if given the change, their emotional and mental desire will catch up with their body.

          However, there’s a larger issue at hand. Marriage includes sex. That’s what you sign up for. Without sex, it’s not a marriage, it’s just roommates who are pooling resources. Typically, from what I see from talking to hundreds of spouses, is that one or the other spouse doesn’t understand what sex means to a relationship. Once they do, their mindset on it changes dramatically. The difficulty is in getting through to them. Often they have build such strong walls around the topic that they don’t want to listen. Sometimes it has to do with bad theology, or bad modeling of a relationship by parents, or past trauma or abuse. Sometimes it has to do with medication, hormone imbalances or other psychological effects.

          So, no, you can’t talk them into having a desire, not directly. And you shouldn’t fake it. Neither is right, but both hint in the right direction. Talking helps communicate to your spouse what sex means to you, it helps them understand their responsibilities in the relationship, and hopefully the potential gains, for both spouses, from filling the role you promised to fill when you got married. Plus, sex changes your mind, and your mind changes your physiological responses. So yes, in a way, talking can lead to having a sexual desire, in a round about way. But, it’s more complicated than just saying “hey, you should want sex” and then they do. In short, you need to fix the relational and psychological issues that are blocking them from desiring an intimate relationship.

          On the other side, faking it isn’t quite right, but I know from talking to hundreds of wives about sex that their sex drive is reactive more than proactive. It’s not faking to realize that “hey, if I go with this, I’ll enjoy it, I just need to wait for my body to catch up”. That’s why foreplay is important to many woman, it gives their bodies and minds a chance to catch up.

          Of course, it’s more complicated than this. That’s why I have about 300,000 words on the topic of sex and marriage and I’m not done writing yet 🙂 But, I can only reasonably address so much in a comment.

  8. J says:

    I find myself agreeing with you on most points. Although I’m hesitant to compare the physical release to jogging. As jogging is not sinful.

    However I think masturbation is wrong if you are lusting about someone or if you are taking away the sexual experience from your partner. If you are neither lusting nor taking away the experience/refusing your partner…I just don’t see biblically where that is a sin…but I’m all ears.

    1. Kay says:

      I guess it depends on what you mean by taking away from your partner. My husband and I had frequent sex (never going more than 3 days without) and yet he was still masturbating and it made me feel like absolute CRAP. I felt like I would never be enough for him if he still had to masturbate despite frequent sex and a highly available (and eager!) wife. I felt tremendous rejection, even though he would never reject me if I initiated. In that sense, his masturbation wasn’t taking away from his performance or participation, but it was wounding me DEEPLY.

      My best friend, on the other hand, told her husband a few years ago to take care of things himself so she wouldn’t have to deal with it more than once a week. His masturbation wasn’t taking away from her then, but it was still wreaking havoc on their marriage. His bitterness because of her unavailability and callousness toward rejecting him nearly destroyed their marriage. I called her out on it and it took a while for her to come around, but now their marriage is completely turned around when they both decided to find sexual satisfaction ONLY in each other.

      I just can’t think of a single beneficial reason for masturbation. Perhaps it is permissible if scripture doesn’t outright reject it, but I fail to see how it could be beneficial. Does that make sense?

  9. Kay says:

    Thank you for this. Your original post on this issue is how I first found you. After four months of zero sex because of severe PPD, my husband started masturbating, which I understand. As soon as I became stable, I tried to “make up for lost time,” but the damage had been done. Even though we had frequent sex (I have a 3 day rule), he was still masturbating on the side. I caught him a couple of times and he always said he didn’t think it was wrong because he was thinking about me. But after catching him again, I just couldn’t shake the fact that I wasn’t okay with it. I googled why I felt so hurt and that’s how I found you! We had a good talk and have continued to talk about it, and I believe for him it was primarily ignorance, a little bit of selfishness (he no longer initiated out of fear of rejection again), and maybe a little bit of addiction, because he really shouldn’t need to masturbate when we never went more than three days. So thank you for what you do, Jay, because my marriage has grown so much since we tackled these issues that we were otherwise sweeping under the rug. We now find ALL of our sexual satisfaction in each other and it is AMAZING.

    I agree with you about the above comments that sometimes the status quo is easier so people sell their marriages short. But since when is the easier thing the best thing? It is NOT easy to tackle these issues or call out a spouse’s sin, but it is what is best for your marriage and best for your faith and your spouse’s faith. It might have to get worse before it gets better, but SOMETHING has to change.

  10. J says:

    Great comments kay! You bring up a totally different element to it…I don’t think masturbation is beneficial, but that really doesn’t factor in to many guys I don’t think.

    It’s not about being beneficial, but then again each scenario is so different. I think a big reason guys do, is because they have most of their life. It’s their way to stay “pure” before marriage. After, we’ll that’s where each scenario is different.

    I hate to say that I have struggled with this area of our marriage. My wife sounds like your friend used to be…though I fear she will never see its true importance. I don’t think my reasoning behind it was because I’d rather it than intimacy. ..I personally always would want intimacy first. I’ve just been in a marriage where I have no control over intimacy taking place. I remember before (unfortunately) and when we got married how great intimacy was and how I was so excited to have that be an option any day for the rest of my life…I wasn’t at all thinking of masturbation…no way! But I also guess I didn’t know refusal would play a huge part of our marriage. So maybe I fell back into my pre-marriage habits…although with some resentment added I would assume…

  11. J says:

    Another point I have thought recently…the danger in a spouse being ok with it happening, other than why they wouldn’t want to meet that need…is…in marriage your supposed to be intimate regularly and when it’s new for you, that is your person to explore with and try new things etc…and that’s OK, more than ok, I think God wants that…but when masturbation is allowed even promoted by a spouse….I doubt a guy will just stare at a wall and do it his whole life…the danger comes when he wants to “explore and try new things”. The spouse isn’t or doesn’t want to be available for that, so if he/she wants to explore, they do so with masturbation…I think this is a dangerous cycle

  12. Alex says:

    I don’t see the big deal here. My wife and I both masturbate pretty regularly (mostly alone but sometimes together) and we consider this to be pretty normal. I think masturbation is part of human nature.

  13. Talita says:

    My hushusb masterbates. His excuse is that I was not availeble at the time he needed release, and there is no difference whether I helped with the release or he released himself. What should I say to that?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      You say “The difference is that it hurts me and our relationship.”
      He will either care about that, or not. And then you choose to love him regardless of what his beliefs are, because that’s what you promised to do.

  14. Peter says:

    So what is one to do when your wife doesnt want sex or a man has some erectile disfunction and cant have proper sex? What happens when masturbation is better than sex with the wife? After years of a wife saying no then what? We get told that in a marriage, your body is not your alone and your wifes body is not hers alone but after times asking and getting nothing I have lost interest in sex with her. I still love her and I would prefer a marriage with sex. I would prefer a sexless marriage than divorce but I would also prefer a marriage with masturbation instead of no sex.

    1. Jay Dee says:

      If you’re wife doesn’t want sex – talk about it and see what’s going on.
      If the man has erectile dysfunction – mutual masturbation typically still works – you don’t need a full erection to masturbate. At least it’s a shared experience then.

      As for a wife say no for years – what do you think is going to impress or convict her more. “I’ve decided you’re worth waiting for because without you, sex is empty.” or “Alright, well, I’m going to be over here playing with myself until you come around because, well, without you, it’s still sex.” I mean, why would she change if she feels you’re taking care of yourself. Then she doesn’t have to.

    2. Lise says:

      Have you ever thought that your erectile dysfunction is a direct result of masturbation? I bet there’s a connection there. Deny your flesh masturbating for at least 2 weeks n watch your body change…..

  15. Simon says:

    I have stopped asking for intimacy with my wife because she sees it as a chore. She does initiate under a feeling of obligation on rare occasions but the is no foreplay and she lays there waiting for it to be over and I feel obliged to make it quick therefore not enjoying it myself. I do feel shame when I ejaculate though so I don’t allow myself to do it often. I would rather masturbate and actual enjoy it and take my time. Also I can’t sleep when I haven’t had sex or mastubated for a week or so. I can’t function without a good night’s sleep. We both win. She says her body is broken and objects to me looking at her naked. We are best friends in all other areas. I can’t see how this wrong. I have prayed for the Lord to take away my sex drive and am trying herbal supplements to reduce it. What else can I do?

    1. Jay Dee says:

      So, here’s the problem as I see it. She has a struggle with seeing herself as a sexual being. And your masturbation lets you allow her and yourself to suffer with that instead of getting upset enough to do something about it. Your self-medicating instead of dealing with the reality of the situation.

      Let’s say you never masturbated again – what do you think would happen. What would change? How frustrated would you need to get before you said “Look, this isn’t working and we need to find a solution.”

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