Why So Much Married Masturbation?

February 22, 2014

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I bet you thought getting married meant you’d never have to masturbate again. How long before you discovered this was not the case?

Do Not Disturb © Ieva Geneviciene | Dreamstime.com

In a recent survey we ran, 83% of husbands and 70% of wives said they masturbated at least once in the last three months. There are more numbers below, but first some discussion.

I do not think masturbation is a sin. However, I find it concerning so many married people are doing so much masturbating. If it was all about separation and illness that would be one thing, but most of it is for other reasons. Some turn to masturbation because they don’t have enough time for sex, or don’t have a good enough relationship to have as much sex as they want. Some turn to masturbation because porn has so affected them they can’t or don’t want to have real sex with their spouse.

The problem? Sex is important to marriages. Sex connects a couple. Sex gives a couple shared pleasure. Marriages with more sex are healthier and less likely to end in divorce. Sex is usually a reliable barometer of the health of a marriage. 

Am I saying you shouldn’t masturbate? No; but I’m asking you to think about it and make some changes if you’re doing it often. This isn’t just about your sex life; it is about your marriage.

Once you start doing it yourself, it’s easy to meet more and more of your sexual needs this way. Masturbation is tempting because there’s no risk of being told no. You do have it whenever you want, you choose what to do, and you don’t have to worry about getting her aroused or to climax. It can become easy to justify more masturbation with “she would just say no” or “I don’t want to inconvenience her with my higher sex drive”. You tell yourself it’s actually loving to not bother her when she’s tired, or busy, or your schedules are different. You start asking less, and you have less sex. Less sex has a negative effect on your marriage, which hurts your sex life, and a vicious cycle can develop.

Here are my suggestions for keeping masturbation from becoming a sex or marriage killer:

  1. Always ask for sex first. If she hasn’t said no, you have no reason to be doing it yourself.
  2. Set a limit in your mind. How often do you need release not to have problems? Masturbation should be limited to reaching that amount.
  3. Talk about it with your wife. Yes, she may throw a fit, but you still need to discuss it. She should understand she’s not meeting your sexual needs. She has a right to know how much you want, and she should know what you’ll do if she’s unwilling to take care of you sexual needs.
  4. Keep your mind pure. This means no porn and no thoughts of other women. Thinking about your wife when you masturbate is the only good choice.

Again, I’m not saying masturbation is a sin, nor am I saying you’re wrong if you don’t follow the first three points above. However, if you want a great sex life and a great marriage, such limits are wise.

Some stats from the survey (more here)

  • 17% of men didn’t masturbate in the last three months
  • 14% masturbate no more than once a month
  • 19% masturbate 2 or 3 times a month
  • 16% masturbate 4-6 times a month
  • 20% masturbate 7-14 times a month
  • 9% masturbate 15-22 times a month
  • 4% masturbate 23-31 times a month
  • 2% masturbate more than 31 times a month

The most common reasons men gave for masturbating:

  • 51%  said, “My drive is higher and I don’t want to bother my spouse” (less than half of these men said they are refused often).
  • 38% Said their spouse often says no.
  • 43% Do it to relieve stress.
  • 29% Masturbate to avoid being mad for being refused.

Does the wife know?

  • 31% said she knows he masturbates, but doesn’t know (or care) how often it happens.
  • 27% said she knows but thinks it is less often than they actually do it.
  • 35% say she may suspect.
  • 17% say their wife has no idea they masturbate.

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Hi Paul, I came to your sight looking for insight so I didn't feel like the only one in this situation. I am in the top 1 or 2% of that survey and my wife is in the 27% of the "Does the wife know" survey. I discovered playboys in my dad's closet at 9 and hid them in our fort in the woods, (yeah, nothing like looking at wet magazines). I too gave it up in junior high and on simply because It was out of sight out of mind. Even when internet was mainstream in homes we could not afford it so I never had access to it; yet ever since I was a young man I've felt like I needed two releases a day and I am 33 now. I thought my sex drive was evil after being saved cause I couldn't focus on the day unless I released first but realize now that I am made like that. My wife was does not intentionally try to hurt me but we often have sex once every two weeks or three to four times in a good month. I've talked to her six times so far about how it tempts me when we go long periods without sex throughout our 7 year marriage because I know she wants to please me but just does not. It's like a long ritual of giving her a day to herself after the work week then a whole romantic day of us time and if she is not too tired after that then wants to get right down to business. I get enjoyment out of fooling around a bit but she just wants to get it over with I think.

It seems like the enemy wants to resurrect something I thought was dead simply because I have regular access now. I'm not talking about looking at porn sites, because Youtube is just as pornographic and dangerous but more socially accepted. They're like pop ups on the side bar of videos even if I am watching something completely unrelated. Please pray for my situation; I've brought it before God a thousand different ways and have seen some progress. I feel like it affects His presence on my life by not having complete victory over it yet and I really do not want to go another day feeling like I have failed God.




Paul, Thanks for the article. I will still agree to disagree.  After battling porn for several years and masturbation since I was a teen, it is an idol that I too easily want to serve, a false god, a clear violation of serving God. Though you did not struggle with it, I hesitate to 'approve' masturbation and continue to remind those whom I talk with that it is a false sex, as in one that is separate from God's design. (think wet dream as the natural, God given design) Your argument seems to stem that we NEED sexual release via sex or masturbation. I don't think we do, ever, need sex. Want, desire, crave, etc, Yes, but NEED, no. Eating, sleeping, breathing are all necessary for life; sex is not, a gift, yes, a need no. So my question to you:  why is masturbation okay if it is merely a desire not a need? If we are to find our fulfillment in God to be free from porn and other sins, shouldn't we also be able to find our fulfillment in Him to keep our hands off till we are married/with our spouse/using God's design in God's way? (BTW mutual masturbation is okay because you are with your spouse, not alone.) Just seems a bit contradictory to me. Thoughts?

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@Bigman4jc I think masturbation is like eating meat, or drinking - not inherently wrong, but something some can do with a clear conscience. Those who can should not judge those who cannot, and those who cannot should not judge those who can.

IMHO if wet dreams are God's way of release, then God is cruel. The average teenage boy with no other source or release will have a nocturnal emission an average of once every three weeks. And that is accompanied by dreams that can be deeply troubling. Older men tend to have them less often. While a few men have them as old as their 60's, it is rare. By 40 the average for those still having them is about every 6 weeks - however by that age most men are no longer able to have them. The other odd thing about wet dreams is that waking sexual release has relatively little effect on their frequency. Masturbating a couple of times a week will have almost no effect. Very high levels of sex do seem to reduce wet dreams, but it still varies a great deal from man to man.  BTW, the whole “average” thing is misleading. Some abstinent teens have 2 or 3 wet dreams a week, while others could go a couple of months between wet dreams. Some studies have shown nocturnal emissions to be more common in men with high intelligence and/or high creativity. Such men also seem to have wet dreams later in life.

The bottom line is there is no correlation to “build up of semen” and having a wet dream. The best guess is the cause is more about the brain than the body. Some young men who masturbate or have sex several times a week still have wet dreams, while others who go months without any release have no wet dreams. Depending on the study, 13% to 20% of men never have a wet dream, and this includes some who went years without any waking release.

Why is masturbation “okay”? I think you rigged the question by defining need very narrowly. Most what we do is not needed, it is wanted. We do not need hot water, or shoes, but no one is asking me to justify having those things. I start with the fact that God never even hinted masturbation is wrong. Seems to me that puts the burden of proof on those who say it is wrong.

I also see that God promises us a way of escape for every sin. The level of fornication by those in the church tells me that just not doing it does not seem to be that way of escape. I have had both men and women tell me they started having sex because they felt guilty masturbating. They figured if they were going to sin sexually, they might as well do what they really wanted to do. If we told our kids masturbation was God’s way of helping them stay celibate, I bet more of them would be able to avoid sexual sin.


@TheGenerousHusband @Bigman4jc  @TheGenerousHusband @Bigman4jc  Thank you for the response. While the figures are nice, I don't think they change my point. Many a man/woman has gone their entire lives without sex/masturbation. (not saying I desire to set aside my time with my wife...I am not a monk! LOL) I understand completely about the inconsistency of wet dreams, but that doesn't change the fact that this is the only process that God has actually given us besides married sexual relations. I will not judge someone who holds a "its okay" position but I feel they are wrong. We both have to come down on the issue and if asked I would tell them as such. As one who was addicted to masturbation, yes, I know your position on addiction but believe me the frequency was beyond need, I cannot with a clear conscience allow others to come into bondage as I once did. I read Christian books towards teens that said it was okay and that did not help. Now how does a teenage single boy think on during masturbation? God and his close walk with Him? While your stats are interesting, not sure how they really prove your point that God stamps His stamp of holiness on masturbation. When I was engaged to be married, it was so hard to not masturbate thinking of my bride to be. And yeah I went like 3 weeks without a wet dream and it was rough, but God was faithful. All of our sexual cycles are different and we have to trust God to guide us through them. 

Rigged the question? Hmmm...how so? Agreed most of what we do is not needed, but with the potential addictive properties of solo sex on the line, is there a reason we should give place to the devil? Masturbation, even in marriage, can be a slippery slope towards habit. This is why I cannot support this habit as acceptable for a believer in Christ who is wanting to walk in the Spirit. You say the Word is silent, so does that mean that everything that the Bible is silent on is okay? Straw man, brother, straw man. You and I both know that the Bible speaks clearly on only a handful of sexual practices as “Do not” and yes you are correct I don’t have a “Thou shalt not masturbate” verse to turn to. So with regards to your comments about keeping kids celibate, if we taught them that sex was for marriage, it is good and God will make a way to escape and to focus on their relationship with God rather then resisting sin, this will lead to greater victory. After studying the Word, I can’t understand how to convince someone that solo sex is God’s design.  I know what it is like to struggle in this realm and looking back, I wish I had not indulged in this sinful life. If God blesses me with a son, I will teach him that solo sex is not worth the temporary release and the temptation to lust. (and that masturbating is like any other sin:  confess it and move on, don't beat yourself up over it) As a married man, solo sex is like crackers and married relations is like filet mignon. No comparison. Brother, I feel that way too many of us have settled on this issue since it is so hard. If God really is faithful, loving, and holy, maybe he has called us to be different  and not to settle on the hard things in this life. 

While I appreciate your blog, this one issue is one I will have to stand apart. Thanks again for a great blog where we can chew on issues in our marriages and lives.

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@Bigman4jc @TheGenerousHusband  Actually, very, very few men, and not that many women go very long without waking orgasms. There are studies of priests, monks and nuns on this, and the majority masturbate.

  • A study/survey done by a former nun in 1998 found 78% of nuns had masturbated while they were nuns, and half did so at least once a month.
  • Various surveys of practising priests have found 95% to 99% masturbate.

I think these statistics are very relevant, because they show how rare total celibacy really is. Even among those who have devoted their lives to God, and who are told masturbation is always sin, virtually all of them do it.

You say wet dreams and married sex are the only processes God has given us. What scripture eliminates masturbation as a God given process?

I understand habitual masturbation. I did it at least twice a day for my teen years. It was excessive, and it was self-medicating other things. When I started to understand this, I cut back to three times a week. I went from excessive to reasonable, just like cutting back food intake from too much to what is right. Over eating does not prove food is wrong. The fact some can do something to excess means nothing about that thing.

By calling masturbation sin, we lose the ability to educate people about good and bad use. If we see it as God’s way of escape, we can educate kids and adults about the dangers of misuse or excessive use.

Biblical silence does not make something okay, but it does put the burden of proof on those who call it sin. I take adding to God's rules very seriously. Jesus condemned the Pharisees for adding things, and I do not want to be in that same place. That is not a straw man, it is a very firm belief I apply to everything not mentioned in the Bible.

I have always wondered why "Thou shalt not masturbate" is somehow more self-obvious than not engaging in bestiality or homosexuality. How did God miss something most people do, and the rest are tempted to do?

Do you want to tell kids not to act on their God given sexual urges for 10 to 15 years? The ten to fifteen years when those urges are the most strong and the part of the brain that regulates self-control is not yet fully developed? More than ninety percent of adult, deeply spiritual priests fail to avoid masturbation, but you think teens can? To me, saying this requires completely ignoring reality. I think the only way to keep kids from masturbating is to get them all married by 13 – and I am not for that. I am not trying to be nasty, just dealing with reality.

I am not saying the fact most commit a sin means it is not really sin. However, when God chooses not to call it sin, and life proves less than 1% of men and not many more women can go without some release, I think we have to ask ourselves some hard questions.

I do not expect to change your mind, just sharing my thoughts. I have not masturbated in a very long time, and I have no desire to do so. This issue is not person for me. However, I have spoken to so many who are in turmoil about this. I have heard from those who left the church because no amount of prayer resulted in them being able to stay free of masturbation. I have talked to those who choose fornication over the guilt masturbation caused. I refuse to put this non-biblical law on people, and I feel I must speak up when others do. No doubt, you feel the same way from your side, and I do respect your desire to stand for the truth.


@TheGenerousHusband @Bigman4jc  Paul, I think it is time to let this thread go. I don't want to hijack this post but merely share my position. In closing, I too don't desire to add to the truth of by grace alone, by faith alone, in Christ alone plus nothing. I don't want to live by the Pharistical mindset either. On this we find a solid common ground.

What I will say as far as Biblical proof revolves around idol worship and being under the control of anything other than the Holy Spirit. Thus, as I look at any appetite, I cannot, ever allow any appetite or desire supercede walking with God. We eat/drink/sleep because we NEED to do so, we have solo sex because of a desire, not a need. Here is where we divide:  I do not see that God has made sexual release a need for living a holy life before God. (While I appreciate the statistics, I don't allow them to sway my ideal that it is wrong...shouldn't our only statistic be the Word of God not man's behavior?) I know for a fact that the further one pulls away from masturbation, the body can make adjustments and the desire will lessen. (not die, I know, but it does lessen) If we train our bodies to need release, then yes, we will need to masturbate to satiate this need. But isn't this like drinking salt water? 

Anyhow, thank you for your thoughts and the conversation on the matter of masturbation. It is rare to be able to discuss this with another believer since the church rarely speaks of any position on this let alone a "do not" position. 



I've been following this with some interest because I like masturbation. So does my Precious One. Her conscience and mine are clear concerning it, That is to say, for two human beings re-sired by Jehovah and who, therefore, possess the Spirit of Jesus within us, there is no conflict within our sense of what is right and wrong to do, that is, within our conscience, when we masturbate, either together or alone. We are all sexual beings with our sex defining who we are, male or female and so, marriage exists because sex exists.

How did we get to this point? We got here because we not only love each other, but because we are best of friends and talk and share everything with the desire to know and appreciate each other intimately. We discovered that masturbation was something we both enjoyed and so we share it because it is a part of our sexuality that does not cause issues in our conscience and is, therefore, not wrong.

The word conscience appears 31 times in the KJV NT and is defined as the knowledge of the difference between good and svil-which is also the name of that interesting tree in the Garden of Eden. In fact, that tree could be called the Tree of Conscience. When was the last time you heard a sermon on the conscience and its role in the life of a Believer?

What I am reading here is a debate that many want the Bible to settle so a rule can be made for all to follow. Or, the issue has become one of control through who has the right to demand that their desires be honored as the rule for the relationship. The problem is, rules have never changed a human heart, but Jesus has. Specifically, through a cleansed conscience that then becomes our responsibility to maintain. And that has made all the difference.

Be good! It is, after all, what we were created to be!


Do you think a spouse has the right to ask the other spouse not to masturbate?  I was really hurt when I found out my husband masturbates occasionally.  I'm glad I found out because it really caused us to look at our intimacy and find ways to make it more frequent and fulfilling for him.  I then asked that he not masturbate anymore because I felt it was putting a wedge between us and I wanted us to direct all of our sexual energy toward one another.  Do you think that's a valid request?

Your post just has the attitude of "even if she throws a fit, too bad, if you need to masturbate you need to masturbate."  


also, i realize some couples are totally cool with masturbation b/c they communicate openly and honestly with one another about it.  but what if one spouse is just not cool with it?  if our bodies belong to one another, do i have the right to ask my hubby not to have sex with himself?


@krisanneI thnk you pretty much nailed it. As with any activity, there has to be agreement. If you have an issue with him doing it, then you have every right to ask him not to. However, I WOULD suggest open dialogue to discuss why he feels the need to. It sort of appears, from your original question, that you've already done that. I would ask your motive for asking whether it's a valid request..? Is it just that you have second thoughts about asking him to stop... a case that he is still doing it, after you talked about it...?

I would also point out, from your original post:

    Your post just has the attitude of "even if she throws a fit, too bad, if you need to masturbate you need to masturbate."

I'm not really sure how that came across to you. Paul spends the whole article asking men why they are masturbating at all. His 3rd suggestion says:

     Talk about it with your wife. Yes, she may throw a fit, but you still need to discuss it. She should understand she is not meeting your sexual needs. She has a right to know how much you want, and she should know what you will do if she is unwilling to take care of you sexual needs.

That's not to say we should do the deed, whether you like it or not. What he's saying is that the subject needs to be discussed. Both have to be on the same page. A good example would sound like this:

H: Honey, you know I've really been wanting to make love to you for quite some time.

W: Look! I don't want to discuss this right now. All you think about is getting me in bed. Why can't you see there are other, more important things.

H: That's not all I think about. The intimate times we spend together, making love and holding each other, are supposed to bring us together. The Father designed us to enjoy, and care for, each other's bodies.

W: I understand that, but you make it sound like I don't do ANY-thing..!

H: I know that you're busy with the day-to-day activities. How would you feel about me masturbating when I feel a need for release?

W: OH...! I don't know...

H: Look, Honey... I have needs that the Father put there when I was made. Those needs have to be addressed. If you can't meet them --becasue you're too tired, sick, stressed, whatever may be the reason at the time-- then I need to find a way to meet them myself.

W: You would do that?

H: If it meant that you wouldn't be burdened, yes. But I would much rather have time with you, where you could service this body you're responsible for. And don't forget, I still have a responsibility to service yours!

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@krisanne  The "even if she throws a fit" part was about talking to her - starting a discussion about it.

Do we have a right to ask our spouse not to masturbate? Only if we are doing a solid job of meeting their legitimate sexual needs. 

While I do not think masturbation is inherently sinful, I see solo masturbation as a last option for those who are married. I think it best to limit to sickness, separation, and hearing no regularly. That is my opinion, nothing more. However, as I read the Bible we are do offer our spouse that much sex anyway, so it should be a non-issue. Sadly that is not the case for many - both me and women.

What really concerns me is when both spouses are engaged in solo masturbation. To me this means they have a problem with time management. Rather than taking sexual needs into their own hands (even if they both agree to it), I think they need to find ways to fix their schedule. Masturbation is not a replacement for sex with one's spouse, and when it keeps a couple from dealing with being too busy it becomes a part of the problem. 

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@krisanne  The Greek in 1 Cor 7 is interesting when it says our bodies belong to each other. What it means is that I have some authority over my sexuality, but my wife has more. Her authority trumps mine. Unless she abdicates that authority (refusing) I think she has every right to ask me to come to her for sexual release. 


@TheGenerousHusband @krisanne  

Thank you for your quick response!  I guess I'm just trying to wrap my mind around this topic.  

Your post seems to suggest that talking to the spouse about one's masturbation is optional.  Am I misreading?  

If masturbation is a sex act, then it seems wrong to leave the spouse out of the loop.  Then he or she will never have the chance to tell you his/her opinion about it, or even have the opportunity to ask you to stop. 

I actually have less of a problem with both partners masturbating solo if there is open communication about it  and both decide it's ok.  If it's within their boundaries, then cool.  It's when one is doing it secretly or against the wishes of the other that peeves me and seems more unhealthy.

Fortunately, walking in on my husband masturbating was probably the best thing to happen to my marriage and our sex lives :)  I was incredibly hurt, even though he said it was a purely physical release akin to exercising or cracking your knuckles.  That's how he justified it in his own mind.  But it forced us to work out our intimacy issues. 

But part of me does wonder if I placed upon him an unreasonable request to stop masturbating.  Am I bringing a sense of guilt or shame to an act that he used to do with a clear conscience?  Just something for me to think about...


@lovemywiffle @krisanne  

Thanks for your thoughts!  see my reply to TheGenerous Husband below.  I think a conversation like the hypothetical one above sounds great and healthy.  But the post made it seem like such conversations are wise, but optional.  

My situation is a little weird, in that I have never been a refuser.  Actually, I was always the initiator.  Not because I particularly liked having sex, but because I felt it was the right thing to do.  Once a week or more, I'd do my duty.  I'm sure having sex with someone who didn't like sex was not very fulfilling for my hubby, and so my husband took matters into his own hands (not often, just once or twice a month to take the edge off).  

I felt hurt by his masturbation, but it was a much needed reality check for me. We now both agree that masturbation has no place in our particular marriage.  We are both lower drive, and can easily meet the sexual needs of the other.  Just sucks though how many years we didn't get to the core issue partly because he was taking care of himself.  

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@krisanne @TheGenerousHusband  I think it is critical that masturbation be discussed with one's spouse. I would say if your spouse does not know, you should not do it.

I think what you have asked it fine, especially if he feels free to let you know if sex is not often enough and he is feeling the urge to masturbate. 


@TheGenerousHusband @krisanne  

Thanks!  After reading a couple more of your posts on the topic, I think your view makes a lot of sense and I get where you are coming from.  I guess I was thrown off a little bit by "Again, I am not saying masturbation is sin, nor am I saying you are wrong if you do not follow the first three points above. "  Sort of makes it seem like the sharing part is optional.   But I get what you are saying now.

Also,  sorry if I'm being annoyingly nitpicky, but in a past article on masturbation (I can't find it now so I'm paraphrasing) you expressed the opinion that masturbation for singles is fine as long as they are not lusting over a married woman.  Do you mean lusting over ANY woman?  A little confused.  


Well done! Private masturbtion can be a problem if  a heart is constantly responding from negative and selfish thoughts into detrimental emotions. The heart is the thing wherein we'll catch the conscience of everything! Additionally, from my own expereince, I think you are right, masturbation is a thing of arousal for women, while it is a 'game killer' for men-We are different sexual beings. Vive la difference! 

But what about mutual or couple masturbation? I say it two different ways because I think of them as two different things. 'Mutual' is when both masturbate with each other present. It can be a lot of fun, if the couple are freed enough in their comfort with each other to be playful. 'Couple' is when one masturbates for their pleasure with their spouse 'assisting' by holding the other and caressing or kissing them It is quite an enjoyable thing, we find, especially when one wants sex and the other is tired or not ready, or is 'having issues'. No, it is not the same as PIV sex, but it is sex, nonetheless and is really not much different from the gifting of oral sex. And it is fun!

Be good!

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@Eleutheros  I see mutual and couple as sex acts with one's spouse, and I am all about that! Among other things it is a great way to learn about each other's bodies.


Honestly, it is a combination of reasons -for our bed. Yes, it is a good stress reliever as your mind starts letting go of all but the release. Having a wife who does not sleep well, always tired at the end of the day... Yes, sometimes it's easier to crawl in bed, get close, and just play while you imagine her doing it. The thing that makes either of those better, is when you get to share about it later. Which brings up another opportunity. She does it to learn things... where to touch, how to touch, etc. Somtimes, she does it because the need suddenly overtook her. She shares those times with me, which is VERY nice. So the opportunity has arisen to use it together in our sessions. Watching the other doing what they've described is... well...

The point is that, regardless of why you did it, you have to share. When you' re together in the experience, everything is enhanced.

TheGenerousHusband moderator

@lovemywiffle  I agree that being very open about it is a good thing.

For women the situation is a bit different. Men have a limited ability to have sex, while women do not. So her doing it herself does not mean she is unable later if he wants to have sex. Some (many?) women find that solo masturbation results in them being more likely to want sex with their husband later, and many sex with him easier if they climax regularly.
A woman can become selfish with masturbation, but I think it is less common than with men.


As usual, Paul, you hit a sensitive area with class!  This seems to be an area many men do not think is a problem to their wife?  truthfulness is an important ingredient for us all.

Keep up the good work!


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