The Truth about Men and Masturbation

I recently walked in on my husband while he was masturbating. I didn't actually see it, but he had a Playboy magazine open and quickly pulled up his pants as I walked into the room. I casually apologized and asked him if I should leave so he could finish, or if he'd like me to help him finish. He was a little embarrassed and mumbled something about wishing I wasn't having my period at the time. That was the end of our conversation. I know men masturbate, and I'm surprised that it took this long to stumble upon it. My question is: Did I have the right response? And if he was so turned on by what he saw in the magazine, why didn't he take me up on my offer to help him finish? --S


Dear S:

Despite the mythology that being married fulfills all of your sexual needs, often a male (or female) still wants -- if not needs -- the experience of solo sex. Masturbation is a totally different way of expressing sexuality. Your partner was sitting alone in a private room for a good reason. He wanted to be by himself, enjoying masturbation.

First, although you may not have meant to, you broke into his sanctuary of privacy when you interrupted his delicate act. Bursting in on someone in the midst of self-arousal can be a difficult experience for both. I get the feeling that perhaps he was unable to respond to you in words, as his head was otherwise engaged. It's common and healthy for a man to use adult visual erotica for his self-pleasure. Hopefully, some of the effect from that translates back into the conjugal bed. If he feels the desire or the need to play with himself, alone and with visual stimuli, that is his right. And he should be able to do that without being interrupted or questioned about it.

However, now that you have broken the seal of silence about his most private touching, it may be a good time to discuss what's up. Perhaps by talking about the incident, you two can learn more about each other and even create a closer bond. I suspect that his solo time is an outlet for not having to perform. It's common for men to need some time and space to feel genital sensations and the release of sexual tension without having to be a good lover to anyone else. This in no way takes away from a man's being interested in or able to pleasure his lover. Your man is probably telling you that there are times that he just wants to be alone and do the deed without you around. It's not a threat, simply another way for him to express and feel his maleness. Or he may be just letting off steam, away from all demands. And the imagery in a men's magazine may be the perfect fantasy to help him blow off that steam without too much effort.

The fact that he did not respond to your sexual advances at your point of discovery is not a statement of dislike, distaste or disinterest. Try him another time, perhaps after a light meal or when the kids are asleep and he's relaxing by the TV. Use your wily ways to lure him into your arms. I'll bet he'll be glad you did.

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