Ahem, let's talk about the M word

Sex and Intimacy

Pardon me while I use a conversation from Seinfeld to introduce this topic.

“Are you Master of your Domain?”
“I am King of the County. You?”
“Lord of the Manor.”
“I’m Queen of the castle!”
~ Jerry, George and Elaine, in “The Contest”

If you haven’t seen this episode, it covers one of the topics (without ever saying the word) that many people simply don’t talk about … masturbation.
You’ve likely heard the jokes, “research shows that 95% of men do it, and the other 5% lie” – but this simply is not true.
Yes, masturbation is part of life, especially part of adolescent and young adult life … but what about married life?
I’ve stated this before and it’s worth repeating, I believe that 100% of your sexual energy should be directed toward your marriage!
So what does this mean about masturbation?
Before we dive in deeper let’s define some terms. When I say masturbation I mean self-stimulation to orgasm. So manual stimulation with your spouse or self-stimulation that does not reach orgasm is not included in this discussion. I also am referring to solo masturbation as something done apart from your spouse (with or without their knowledge) while mutual masturbation is both husband and wife masturbating together at the same time.
So what does the science say?
Many researchers and physicians will state that masturbation is a normal, natural activity that people engage in throughout their life. It provides a way to learn about your body and it’s senses, as well as a way to handle your biological needs or desires.
It is true that the experience of masturbating is common. Babies and toddlers touch themselves and find the experience pleasurable. Then, many adolescents stumble across the experience again when it has become orgasmic and find it both exhilarating and frightening at the same time. There’s nothing wrong with this, it’s normal curiosity.
But what about adults? Especially, married adults?
Here’s where the conversation gets tricky.
There are many factors at work in most marriages, as well as many issues at play; sexual disinterest, refusal, high desire vs. low desire, illness, busyness, and separation … just to name a few.
So wouldn’t it be normal and healthy to, ahem, take care of some things myself at times?
Yes and no. The bigger issue is what surrounds it.
Most often, masturbation is associated with fantasy and pornography. The porn industry is a masturbation industry aimed at men by displaying sexually aggressive women. The problem with fantasy and porn, in my opinion, is it sets up unrealistic expectations in relationships.
No man or woman can consistently fulfill a fantasy and lust can never be satisfied.
When masturbation involves a disconnection from reality (which can also happen during sex when you disconnect from your spouse in order to reach orgasm), it can become a slippery slope to wanting more and more in order to satisfy desires.
An area where masturbation can wind up harming a marriage is in the mechanics of things, both mentally and physically. Let me explain.
Masturbation is most often a secret, quick release, goal oriented kind of activity. It’s done quickly in the shower or while no one’s around in hopes of not being caught. And it’s done only to achieve orgasm. The fallout here is sex can become the same. It becomes only about reaching orgasm. The connection and pleasure aspects get lost in the shuffle. And if you’re mind is conditioned to “get it done” quickly, then sex won’t last too long – like it or not.
The physical fallout is the conditioning effect of the act. The penis is designed for the vagina. The pressure and friction of your hand will be different than your wife’s vagina. So masturbating can make it more difficult for her vagina to provide you pleasure and achieve orgasm. And when this occurs in marriage, most women take it personally not knowing it’s your conditioning from masturbating that’s played a major role.
For women, in order for orgasm to occur, the clitoris usually must be involved. Some women masturbate simply because their husband is clueless, or lazy, about this fact. Sex is all about him, so she must care for herself. If this is the case, some educating needs to be undertaken … and ladies, you’re the teacher.
There are positions in sex that allow for clitoral stimulation. Learn them. Speak up about them. Move his hand there, or yours, or both.
The point is, orgasm is best achieved when with your spouse, not alone. Brain research shows a dramatically higher release of the “natural high” chemicals when orgasm is experienced with someone else as opposed to alone. This is also true of the bonding chemical, Oxytocin.
You create a deeper, lasting connection when you, er, uh, come together.
Another area where masturbation can become harmful is when sexual release is used as a way to handle anxiety. Stress release and sexual tensions can be handled through the release associated with orgasm, but as with any form of medicating ourselves, it doesn’t address the real problem.
Just as if you were to hit the local bar to deal with your stress, you still have to wake up and address what ever it was that causes the stress the next day. So rather than turning to masturbation as a way to handle a stressful day, involve your spouse.
An honest discussion with your spouse can go a long way. Perhaps your spouse is more interested in being involved than you believe.
The point is this, sex is a beautiful aspect of marriage … but it can also beĀ divisiveĀ and harmful. The more upfront you are about sex in your marriage, the more pleasure you can find in the act.
These are some of my thoughts … yours?