DELE and Shayo (not real names) have been married for a few years. Shayo is a housewife, taking care of the kids, while Dele goes to work every day. Dele came back from work one fine evening, expecting to get “something light” from his wife after dinner, only for her to say “Dele I have already masturbated a few hours ago, so I am not really in the mood right now”. This was the fifth time Shayo was telling him this in three weeks, so obviously she had replaced “Dele” with her “fingers,” using her newly purchased vibrator hidden away somewhere in the house. Dele was so angry at being deprived of his right. Being a Christian, he didn’t believe in cheating on his wife, and he didn’t want to be put in that situation so he wanted her to stop using that “evil” vibrator right away. Out of fear, she threw it away, but couldn’t overcome the urge soon and started using her fingers to please herself, Dele couldn’t take it anymore when he discovered and that was the beginning to the end.
This story is same or slightly different with many other experiences of couples in various homes. Some partners accept it because they feel it’s much better than “adultery”, while some see it as a slap on the face. The interesting part is men rarely talk about it amongst themselves. Women are more open in discussing it with each other, while couples don’t even want to mention it at all. Really interesting, isn’t it?
Couples should be open about their sexual wants and desires, as well as their dislikes. 85 % of men and 45 % of women who live with their spouses are said to have masturbated. Vibrators, sex machines, sex toys and even sex dolls are steadily replacing human contact and encouraging masturbation addiction. Many people would argue that this is more common with men, than women, well that is not our debate for today, but on how it affects both genders and its aftermath in a relationship. Masturbation is derived from a Latin word “manstuprare,” meaning “to defile one’s self by hand”. Many couples I have counselled or spoken to say that masturbation is a very uncomfortable topic to broach. Imagine walking in on your partner masturbating? So many questions will be running through your head at once. Apart from immediately casting and binding the devil, there are several thoughts that rush through your mind, number one being who or what is my partner thinking about while at it? Some couples may wonder if masturbation can ruin their relationship. Other couples don’t even want to discuss it.
Masturbation often carries a stigma. Some religious, cultural and spiritual traditions associate masturbation with immorality or sin.
But the truth is masturbation can become an addiction which can cause harm to your relationship with several signals stated below.
When you get to a point where you inflict self-injury on yourself due to this habit, it can lead to other challenges in your relationship.
If your spouse uses masturbation to cope when they are under stress, especially when work pressure increases and next step is to quickly get a private place to “handle” themselves, then this is a big issue because apart from leading your partner to other stress management behaviour it can quickly escalate into a big problem, imagine having to get to the toilet anytime you are under duress.
This can create a feeling of rejection if one’s partner finds solace in masturbating rather than sexually connecting with their partner. If your partner finds it very easy to replace physical contact with you, even when you are available.
We operate in a religious environment. The weight of guilt that presents itself with this act, especially in connection to our religious and spiritual beliefs (if you have any) will lead to secrecy or in some cases creating and maintaining a double life around your sexual lifestyle.
One of the criteria for addictive behaviour is frequency of the act, sometimes partners who want to stop and are unable to do so, sometimes unconsciously increase after trying to make effort to stop due to the helpless feeling it gives.
Putting religion or cultural beliefs aside, it is an unhealthy habit with emphasis on the word habit, not only as an individual but for couples. Masturbation is very common among adults, yet it remains a challenging and uncomfortable topic
It causes feeling of inadequacy, especially when the partner discovers about it, they tend to blame themselves, assuming that their spouse or partner is bored or unhappy with them. Masturbation is a problem that interferes with day-to-day life, especially when it is used to substitute real intimacy with another person.
Your partner may feel that his or her partner has been keeping secrets. What couples should understand is that couples have different viewpoints. People who masturbate may do so in different amounts. There is nothing like an acceptable number or not acceptable number. where we can establish you have a problem with masturbation is when you can’t achieve orgasm with your partner through intercourse, the best is to seek help from a therapist. They can work with you and your partner to iron out major concerns affecting your relationship, or smaller issues you are struggling with.
So many couples if they can be sincere struggle with masturbation. It all depends on if you feel you should tell your spouse that you masturbate. But you shouldn’t allow the feeling of inadequacy over take you if you discover your partner masturbates, as long as you can maintain a healthy relationship where both individuals communicate effectively to understand each other and know exactly when to come in. Adult individuals are entitled to their own thoughts, even what our society might deem repugnant. Basically what should be your priority which is my major rule for relationships is that all your sex, including fantasies, should be with each other.
Is it possible to stop masturbation, especially when it is affecting your relationship? I would say yes! Definitely, you can stop it.
Instead of trying to restrict your partner’s behaviour for instance because restriction with words like “you must stop this habit at once’ will only aggravate issues. It is a matter of discipline and acceptance to try and stop, once there is a will there is a way. If you desire to help your partner to stop, then the best method is to
- Talk to them about the habit.
- Find out what triggers it (for instance work pressure).
- Ask them how you can help them stop it.
- Give mental and moral support; don’t make them feel ashamed.
- Try to turn their attention to something else, so that they get to use their time constructively.
- Do it slowly, change cannot happen overnight.
- Know when to seek professional help.
Learning to stop masturbating is a process and this process takes time. To overcome this behaviour you’ve practised for months and sometimes even years, you personally need several coping strategies in order to save your relationship and cause less damage to show them you really want to stop.
Keeping a full schedule will cut down on the opportunities you have for masturbation. Find activities that are self-soothing, engaging, or exciting. I personally recommend joining a gym, start running or jogging, exert yourself physically.
You will also need a healthy diet for your body, caring for yourself may reduce urges or provide motivation to resist. It can also provide a new focus for your energy and efforts. You also need to be accountable to someone you trust, if you can find a support group. That would be excellent and a right path to recovery. It can also help you develop new behaviour. You need to limit your lone time, wear extra clothes at night to cover everywhere as much as possible, make it difficult for the temptation to be successful. Stop everything that triggers the urge, like porn, sex magazines and so on, and most of all, be patient with yourself while healing yourself. Good luck!