Waiting, Watching, Working, pt. 1


As we were finishing up our Colloquy Summer, Chris Taylor, of Forgiven Wife, made a suggestion to me for a possible post to husbands who are experiencing, as she put it, a sex hiatus (never heard it called that before.) This is from that email:

How can a guy cope with a sex hiatus other than simply taking care of physical release on his own?
Whether he is giving time to a wife who is making genuine effort to work through some issues, creating a crisis but not yet seeing results, or trying to work on himself so he is sufficiently prepared for WW III, if he is not having sex, he is without an important connection. How does he cope with that mentally and emotionally?

I’ve been thinking about these questions, and if you garnered any info about me at all, you know I have the gift of complicating even the simplest of tasks with questions (needless or not, I’ve always got questions.) Chris suggested a post, but as I thought about this, I realized that there are several different ways this could go, so I’m probably going to expand my thoughts into several posts.

Making the Implicit “Plicit”

Before beginning, however, let’s deal with the elephant in the room that’s looming in Chris’s first, simple question:

How can a guy cope with a sex hiatus other than simply taking care of physical release on his own?

Guys, to begin with, please realize that, sans porn and lust, there is nothing wrong with taking care of the physical exigencies that your wife’s gatekeeping/refusal forces upon you. By the way, I’m a former Catholic, so I know just how severe the RC teaching is about the sinfulness of “self-abuse”. (Yes, I’m old enough to have been around when masturbation was called “self-abuse.” 🙂 )

I know that the Roman Catholic church has doctrinal statements condemning masturbation; yes, many conservative Christian preachers and teachers condemn masturbation as sin. But I challenge you to find a citation in the Bible condemning masturbating as sin.

“What about God’s slaying of Onan for masturbating, Brother CLS? Doesn’t that show God’s displeasure with masturbating?” For those of you who try to pull that canard out of the deck, stop right now. Every serious Bible student knows that Onan was refusing to obey God’s command to raise up an heir for his deceased brother. This practice was later codified into Old Testament law as Levirate Marriage. Look it up.

Basically, guys, if you are experiencing blue balls, then I don’t believe that there is any condemnation against relieving that pressure. Being the contrarian that I am, I am going to tell you that this is not permission to abuse it. It’s not your sexlife, but rather a poor substitute, so don’t treat it as such.

Why A Hiatus?

Before starting to answer Chris’s question about what to do during a  sexual hiatus, I want to remark about the sexual hiatus itself. There can only be two categories of sexual hiatus: voluntary or un-. The Bible does refer to voluntary hiatuses within marriage, and they are good and proper. More commonly called a sexual fast, this is an abstention from sexual activity for spiritual purposes. I Cor. 7:5a says,

Do not deprive each other except perhaps by mutual consent and for a time, so that you may devote yourselves to prayer.

This sexual fast has two requirements, according to Paul; first, the decision to engage in this fast is mutually agreed upon by both husband and wife. Second, this fast is of short duration, i.e., not a defining component of the marriage.

So much for the voluntary hiatus; now onto the un- one. This one is the unilateral imposition of celibacy by one partner onto the other; in other words, sin. (But, hey, that’s just me, thinking out loud.)

Lean on the truth; unlearn the lies of the past

And now we begin to answer Chris’s question about what to do, other than masturbating to take care of the physical pressure.

In my second Plucked Chicken post, I spoke of Fog. This fog can be made up of false/actual guilt, bad teaching, bad theology and/or unreal expectations (yours and hers). The first thing you need to do is de-fog-ify your life and mind. To do that, you need the light of God’s truth to shine through your darkness. The first thing you are going to do is to institute a regimen of personal Bible reading and prayer.

I don’t know who may be reading this page, but I do know that serious sexual refusal is corrosive to a person’s soul and spirit. You may be a Moody, a Luther, or a Wesley in your faith, but if you are refused and in a marriage that makes you miserable, you have spiritual handicaps that others don’t have. As well, you have spiritual forces working on you that are capable of seriously warping your spiritual perceptions.

For this reason, I’m saying that you need to look at making the spiritual disciplines of Bible reading and prayer a major focus in your daily life. We all know the GIGO principle, “Garbage in, garbage out.” This is a saying from the old days of manual computer programming, explaining why programs would crash. Error in the programming results in computer crashes; a faulty line of code resulted in ‘execution failure’ notifications.

You, due to the input from your wife and church, are told you are ‘an addict’, a ‘pervert’, that it’s ‘just sex and you won’t die’, etc. You may even get the “You need to mortify the deeds of the body” line. You need to hear from God and His word just what He says about sex, married life, and relationships. After all, He is the one who created sex and marriage, so why are you going to listen to those who feel that God got it wrong?

So here is my first recommendation to guys who are in a sexual hiatus: Realize that what you have received and believed is a lie, and go to God to do a mental and spiritual reset. In my next post, I am going to present several resources and ideas for this, so stay tuned.



Filed under Marriage & Sexuality

8 responses to “Waiting, Watching, Working, pt. 1

  1. IntimacySeeker

    During our sexless marriage days, I assumed my husband preferred masturbation because I didn’t understand the connection between his need for physical release to his need for closeness with me. I thought he longed for other women and felt he was stuck with me.
    Later, during the early stages of our healing process, he shared his sadness over being “reduced” to doing something he had not wished to do. Not that he felt it was sin, but he had to settle for masturbation when he wanted me.

    Liked by 3 people

  2. Phil

    Ah CSL, I feel as though you are speaking directly to me as I am that husband in forced cellibacy.

    Masturbation does not remotely come close to the intimacy I crave with my wife. I long for her desire of me, for her to want to touch me, to hold me like lovers do.

    There is no fog here but plenty of pain, resentment and loneliness……I await your futher posts with more than a little interest.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. Object of Contempt

    It is common to think of masturbation as a fallback substitute for when sex is unavailable. I no longer see it in those terms. It’s not that masturbation subs for sex, but that imagination and a hand substitute for a wife. This is why it is inadequate to truly satisfy, even if it relieves some physical discomfort. Personally, I rarely feel the physical discomfort until way after I’m hurting other ways.

    I’m not going to say it is a sin. It usually is for me, though, because of where my mind goes. In earlier days I could fantasize about my wife. Now, after the disillusionment and long term emotional pain, those aren’t the fantasies that come to mind anymore. The results are: I’m dissatisfied, I feel guilty for indulging sinful fantasies, I feel *more* unloved than before, and I feel shame because my wife doesn’t see anything desireable or respectable in me (this was the initial problem that didn’t go away).

    When a man is lacking intimacy, it exposes him to more than just the temptation to commit adultery. And there is plenty of opportunity for bitterness to grow, too. How to deal with the emotional turmoil is not something I’ve really figured out. A friend who understands and validates is good (and is partially why I participate here). Reading, praying, and fasting have all been helpful… and lots of confession.

    When I’m lonely, being among a crowd of people means I’m not physically alone, but really doesn’t address the real problem of loneliness. I tend to think of masturbation in a similar way. It’s more of a distraction than a solution. Sometimes distraction can make things bearable, though.


    • Phil

      Hi, I can feel your pain and loneliness from your comment and whilst I reognise the feelings you portray from my own experieces (or lack of – ha) I sense a lack of hope in your words! I pray that CSL’s next few posts will give you a lift that will help you deal with the emotional turmoil you’re suffering.

      Liked by 1 person

  4. Pingback: Waiting, Watching, Working: pt. 5 | The Curmudgeonly Librarian

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