September 2, 2008

Masturbation In Marriage: Part III

This is Part 3 in our discussion on masturbation in the marriage relationship. Don’t forget to check out Part I and Part II.

When a man ejaculates, he receives the greatest natural chemical high that he can possibly experience. Endorphins and enkephalins are pumped through your system straight to the preopticneuron part of the brain, and nothing in the world compares to this experience.

It should go without saying, then, that what we look at before and during ejaculation has a very profound affect on our sexual conditioning. When we release, our brains associate that particular object with sexual gratification. This has amazing implications when you experience sexual release in the embrace of your wife, however many of us come into marriage with our minds already locked onto something else (porn, fantasies, situational conditions) and so the transition to married life is hindered by the things we connected to before our wives.

I mentioned in Part II of this series that the most unhealthy type of masturbation is what author Doug Weiss classifies as “Type C” masturbation; that is, those who masturbate completely disconnected from reality. This an object-focused experience, men in this category objectivify anyone in their fantasies to do anything (picturing the nude model giving oral sex, for example). Many people today claim masturbation within marriage should not only be tolerated, but embraced; that a wife stumbling in on her husband masturbating with a Playboy magazine is a completely normal thing. When it comes to this disconnected, Type C masturbator, however, I could not disagree more.

Dr. Doug Weiss, author of the book Sex, Men, and God has this to say about the disconnected masturbator: “...if a man engages in an object-type of self sex and develops a neuropathic chemical reinforcement in his brain, it will affirm to him that object-type sex is chemically awesome. The desire to repeat this disconnected sex increases with the frequently in which he participates in this behavior.” It’s no wonder that since many of us have been masturbating to these images for 10-15 years before marriage why breaking the habit seems so impossible — you’ve already told your brain what good sex is. No matter how great sex with your wife is, you brain still craves for what it has already defined as “great sex.”

It is because of this fact that I say Type C masturbation can be the most threatening to a marriage. It is because of this fact that husbands sometimes begin to prefer sex with themselves than sex with their wives. I have even heard of men who can’t make love with their wives without a porn magazine lying open on the bed because they can’t get turned on without it!

Weiss continues: “Not only is this man disconnected during his sexual acts with himself, he is also reinforcing some pretty powerful yet unrealistic belief systems about sex.” Some of those beliefs he lists are: “Sex is only with beautiful women,” “Sex is all about me and what I want,” “There is no good reason not to have sex,” and “Women want to be degraded and talk dirty.” And because we often develop these attitudes before marriage, we are under the false assumption that we deserve sexual gratification anywhere, at any time, and if our wives can’t help us out, we’ll do it ourselves.

These expectations are not only completely false, but they set your wife on a pedestal that she is not able to stand on. Men often complain that their wives never want to try any new things sexually, but we don’t stop to think that many of the ideas we have come from places we should have never been. When we ejaculate watching porn with two girls going at it, that’s what our brain tells us is good sex. When we ejaculate to that Penthouse we have hiding in the bedroom, our brains tell us that looking at an airbrushed woman is what defines good sex. When we masturbate with images of a celebrity giving us oral sex on a beach in Tahiti, there’s no wonder sex with our heavy-set wives in our tiny one bedroom apartment just doesn’t stack up.

Type C, disconnected masturbation should not take place in the marriage relationship because it attaches your brain to situations that are not real, and in so doing, weakens the power of sex between a husband and wife. Masturbation to pornography and fantasies dilutes the power of sex between a husband and a wife, and if that’s baggage you brought with you into marriage, you have cheated your wife from receiving all of you. And you are cheating yourself from receiving all of her.

Remember, what you look at (or fantasize over) during ejaculation is what your brain “glues” you to for sexual fulfillment. That information is power, so use it wisely. When you starve your eyes for sexual fulfilment with your wife, you will lean to seek fulfilment from her, and only from her.

Hope you guys are enjoying this. If you do happen to think these articles are worthy, I would appreciate a few StumbleUpon recommendations. I really feel like this is such an important topic for husbands to discuss.

On Thursday we’ll talk about the Type B masturbator, and about how involved our wives should be in this area of our lives. Hope to see you then!

Related Reading: Masturbation In Marriage Part I and Part II


  1. This is indeed a great post for all husbands. Great work.

  2. Earlier this year, I read an article where a very similar conclusion was reached, but from a feminist perspective. Aha, here it is. Naomi Wolf in New York Times magazine.

    She describes a generational gap. Gen Y grew up with Internet porn depicting every imaginable sex act, freely available. She says it's changed their expectations.

  3. If this is all true, and I am not saying it is or it isn't, then wouldn't masturbating while envisioning one's wife be a great thing? For example, let's say there is a couple whose husband is in the military. While he's away for months at a time, there is no way the two can sexually satisfy each other, and that need is still there. It is a natural human need, after all. Therefore, if the two (wife and husband) masturbate about each other while away from each other, it seems as though it would help keep the connection and bond strong, along with love letters, calls to each other, etc.

  4. There are lots of good questions going unanswered here in the comments!

  5. Many people have difficulty with intimacy due to childhood trauma of various kinds.

    Although they may want to love, be loved and get married and have a family, the intimacy involved in marital sex can be extremely stressful. Despite feeling anxious and uneasy during sex, the man feels under pressure to "perform" and to "please" the partner. This can make sex difficult and in many cases this stress reaction can have physical manifestations such as erectile problems or the inability to attain orgasm during intercourse.

    Intimacy difficulties often don't appear until after the wedding when the relationship solidifies. These problems have proved to be very difficult to overcome with therapy, often taking years of intense psychotherapy to get resolved.

    For men with intimacy fears and Attachment Disorders, marital sex is often looked upon as an unpleasant duty. Solo masturbation, often accompanied by porn use, is a way for the man to get sexual release in a stress free manner without the uneasiness, anxiety and sexual dysfunction he experiences during sex with his wife.

    Also, to say a man who doesn't masturbate, or who doesn't masturbate using fantasy is more likely to be sexually satisfied with with a wife he is not attracted to (ie: overweight, age, interpersonal difficulties) makes no sense unless he never ventures out his front door.

    Just the act of going out into the world will surely bring him into contact with women who he is more sexually attracted to than his wife. You can't cut him off from women completely.

  6. The previous comment is just not using all the information in the article. It's not just seeing other women, it is masturbating to them, having the release of chemicals in the brain that glues the thoughts to sexual gratification. It's like your brain starts to see the fantasies or porn associated with the ejaculation, therefore, it is more difficult or impossible for some men, to ejaculate without the habit formed fantasies or porn. I hope this helps.

  7. Thank you Russell. I, too, have felt that many people are skipping over that part of the information.

  8. The brain chemical theory of porn "addiction" is just another Christian Right (of which Weiss is a charter member) invention with no medical or scientific validity. A preference for porn and masturbation over partner sex is simply a symptom of another, deeper psychological problem usually connected to intimacy anxiety caused by Attachment Disorders with roots in family of origin trauma. Christian fundamentalists always love to punish the dog for barking, especially when it comes to sex.

  9. I'm far, far, far from being part of the Christian Right, and the chemistry of the porn addict makes a lot of sense to me, and I've seen it at work. It seems to distroy affection and all intimacy in a marriage. It's so hard to discuss though, because the moment a person says they feel this way, they're labeled a prude, or a christian facist.

  10. It is not only Christian fundamentalists who think the chemical changes in the brain affect a person's feelings associated with sex. National Geographic featured an article on it a few years ago. Although the article wasn't focused on masturbation; It was instead focused on the science of love and the chemicals behind it. Part of the article urged couples to "fake it until they make it." The logic behind this was that those chemical changes do affect the way a person thinks about sex. If a couple can orgasm together that can then create positive feelings toward sex with your partner. This would establish a pattern of positive reinforcment based on sex with one's significant other. I would think this same logic can be applied to men who orgasm with porn or fantasies - this creates a positive reinforcement of those types of sexual activities. As a biochemist I believe that so much of our behavior is dictated by changing chemical levels, love and sex is a complicated mess of neurons firing, dopamine and oxytocin - our bodies are hardwired for monogamy (this view is admittedly controversial), but society blurs all the lines. Its like a cell phone battery or the engine of a motorcycle - if you follow the manual it will work correctly, but once you deviate problems manifest and are nearly impossible to correct. These type C men didn't follow the the manual. They hardwired themselves to something unrealistic and have made it nearly impossible to function correctly with their wives, but if they are willing to fake it until they make it I think some of the damage can be reversed. Even cuddling releases oxytocin and can make both men and women more likely to want sex with their partner.

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  12. I know the American Psychiatric Association does not recognize the "chemical theory" mainly because there has not been scientifically proven and peer reviewed study of the interaction between certain brain chemicals reenforcing the need to masturbate to porn over having sex with a partner.

    Rather, the medical and psychiatric community believes a preference for porn and masturbation over partner sex is caused by low sexual desire for the partner. And this low sexual desire can be caused by a whole list of psychological problems including intimacy and Attachment disorders, or could be as simple as a loss of sexual attraction for the partner.

    But blaming porn really is the preferred way of looking at things by the right and especially the religious right because it serves their censorious agenda. But they soon found any thorough study of this subject immediately brings to light a host of contradictions to this theory. One being the billions of men look at porn but only a minority get "addicted" (a term also not recognized by the APA when it comes to porn and masturbation)

    So now they have latched onto this chemical theory cooked up by people who are not medical doctors, psychiatrists or medical researchers.

    The bottom line is skin to skin sex is always better that fantasy sex or porn/masturbation and when a man prefers the latter there is a damn good reason which has to do with psychological disorders and resulting low and not any kind of cockamamie theories put out by people who have an agenda.

  13. I just have problems with Weiss as he stands to benefit financially from these kinds of sexual "addiction" theories as he runs a huge clinic to treat the very things he is writing about in his book. This combined with his conservative religious views leads me to wonder if he has an agenda of some kind.

    And since the jury is still out (the A.P.A, and the medical establishment) on these theories I'll wait until they are confirmed by a disinterested 3rd party.

    Masturbation in marriage is full of gray areas not mentioned by Weiss or the author of this blog. What if the marriage is sexless and has been for years? What if the wife suffers from mental or physical illness? What if the husband had sexual dysfunctions such as inhibited ejaculation or erectile difficulties that prevent him from having intercourse and make partner sex unpleasant and stressful? These are some of the hardest problems for therapists to fix.

    Many men for whom partner sex has stopped do want to stay married, for the children, for financial reasons or just the fact they do like their spouse and like being married despite the sexual difficulties. Are these men supposed to become totally celibate with no way to release sexual tension at all?

  14. To the previous two commenters,

    It sounds like you both haven't actually read this book, in which case I would encourage you to do so. You heard my take on this subject using things that I learned in this book.

    And for the man who commented just before me, I need to emphasize this: read the book. He actually does cover topics like those that you brought up saying that he did not.

    And personally, I'd rather work with someone who has an agenda and makes it known rather than pretending like human beings are truly capable of being completely impartial.

  15. My husband confessed to me he has masterbated most of his adult life. I'm not sure of what to do as his wife; I have NEVER denied him sex, I respond sexually (I am engaged with him in the act).... so tell me why? What am I to think & feel about it, I am confused and so desire to understand, how can I help? I want him to want me not use my body to gratify himself, without me!

  16. Write me using the contact form and we'll talk about it.

  17. I have been married for one year. My husband has LOTS of intimacy issues stemming from childhood, and unfortunately, those have invaded our marriage. He now masturbates daily to porn and has sex with me maybe once a month despite my willingness. He won't even sleep in bed with me anymore.

    I really don't want to divorce him, so I've accepted that I will have to spend the rest of my life sexually and emotionally unfulfilled due to his selfish view of the world and our marraige. Yes, this has caused quite a bit of anger in me, but I do not know what else to do. I try to make my life as complete as possible without including him.

    Sadly, we've tried counseling, and he refuses to open up and storms out at the first mention of something personal. He also will not have open and productive conversations with me.

    I have accepted, as a Christian, that this is the consequence of my decision to marry him, and I can only try to make this situation as bearable as possible.

  18. Latina here, perfectly healthy, 30 years old, I love having sex as much as eating, sleeping and dancing. I can have sex twice a day if I had my way. My husband is American, he is addict to porn and masturbation, I stopped begging for sex not that long ago, and now we are having sex maybe once a week, I can't take this anymore, I'm good looking always take care of myself, exersice addict so I can look good for him, but he makes me feel unattractive, I have to have it at least 4 times a week, I love having sex with my husband, but I feel hopeless, man out there like me, why my own husband in my own bed every night rejects me?

  19. I just read this article and I would like to know how badly is my marriage in trouble if my husband goes to bed an hour erlear than the rest of the house hold, he closes the door and mastrebates and think that noone can hear him, he would rather take that hour to mastrebate than spend time with me after the kids have gone to bed, do i have a problem to worry about and how can i handle the situation?

  20. While it may be true that the rush of dopamine during ejaculation when masturbating to porn re-enforces the habit, men who are sexually happy with their partner, or who are single and free to date whoever they want, rarely get too caught up in heavy porn use. It is only married men and perhaps, single men who are unlucky in attracting a partner who feel they have no choice but to masturbate as their primary sexual outlet. For married men, having lost sexual desire for their wives due to boredom or a lack of attraction, if they want to stay married, for the kids, financial reasons etc, they may feel that masturbation using porn is their choice, especially if their lack of desire for the partner has resulted in various kinds of sexual dysfunctions which make marital sex stressful and unpleasant.