Is Masturbation After Marriage Normal?

Expert advice for one mom and wife who feels guilty and worries that masturbating after marriage and children is not normal.

Q. Is it normal to keep masturbating after marriage? I've been married to my husband for 12 years and we have a toddler and a new baby. We make love at least once a week, yet I still masturbate when the kids are napping. Then I feel guilty, like I'm cheating on my husband. Am I?

A. Masturbation most definitely doesn't count as cheating, says Anne Semans, coauthor of Sexy Mamas: Keeping Your Sex Life Alive While Raising Kids (Inner Ocean Publishing). "Try not to think of partner sex and masturbation as mutually exclusive," she says, "but as complementary activities." It's no secret that the more sexual pleasure you experience, the more motivated you're going to be to have more sex, so "your masturbation forays aren't diminishing your desire for your husband, they are rejuvenating you." Semans suggests putting your private pleasure in the same category as any other reliable energy booster, like a good night's sleep or a day off from the kids.

As for guilt, who needs it? (Unless, of course, the guilt increases the thrill of your single-handed adventures.) Ultimately, the decision to confess your solo flights to your husband is up to you. He might get off on the idea, or he might harbor similar guilt over his own secret masturbation. Talking about matters could offer you both a sense of relief.

You might even consider taking it one step further "and incorporate a little mutual masturbation into your sex play," muses Semans. "After all, it doesn't matter how you work up your appetite, just as long as you come home for dinner."

Holly Robinson is a writer who lives with her husband and their five children north of Boston.

All content here, including advice from doctors and other health professionals, should be considered as opinion only. Always seek the direct advice of your own doctor in connection with any questions or issues you may have regarding your own health or the health of others.

Originally published in American Baby magazine, December 2005.

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