Self Love Saga

Posted by Beth Darling on Oct 27th 2023

Self Love Saga

Dear Beth,

Why does my husband try to hide the fact that he masturbates from me? I accidentally walked in on him doing it yesterday in the shower and he flipped out. I left right away, but didn’t appreciate being yelled at like I did something wrong. When I tried to talk to him afterwards, he refused to talk about it. 

I don’t care if he jerks off without me, but I don’t want to have to pretend it doesn’t happen. 

What do you think? 


Oh, I feel for ya, Maria!

It sucks to be the recipient of undeserved angst.

Sadly, despite being one of the most natural and instinctive acts, masturbation is often wrapped in layers of negative emotions, memories, and societal taboos. It shouldn’t be a surprise that if we grow up feeling the need to hide our self pleasure habits, it’s likely to create a deep sense of embarrassment or shame that is not easily overcome.

I imagine that your husband’s overblown reaction is likely due to negative beliefs or experiences about self-pleasuring from his upbringing. Many of us grow up in environments where self-pleasure is seen as something to be avoided, hushed or hidden away. Those childhood messages, even if we try not to consciously believe them anymore, can still linger deep down and influence our adult behaviors.

Of course, another very real possibility is that he’s worried about whether you’ll judge him negatively. Or, he might fear you'll think he's seeking solo pleasure because he's not satisfied with your shared sex life. Maybe he thinks that married people shouldn’t masturbate because they should be satisfied with their partnered sex life. Perhaps he even believes that self pleasure is cheating.

The least problematic option is that it’s just an issue of personal privacy. Just as some of us prefer to burp, shave or poop privately, he might view this act as one of those solitary retreats.

Regardless of the reason for his outburst, I agree that this is something y’all should discuss even though I’m sure it will be difficult.

Unfortunately, even though I understand that you are owed an apology because your feelings were hurt and his behavior wasn’t appropriate, I encourage you to let that go for now. I think focusing on why he had such an intense reaction is much more likely to prevent this from being an ongoing issue. (This is a prime example of the need to be right at this moment vs. the desire to be happy in the long run.)

I think your best bet is to allow a few weeks as a cooling off period before then allowing the topic of self-pleasure to arise in a more organic fashion. For example, movies often use humor as a non-threatening way to address topics that might be considered taboo. Why not plan a date night and watch one of the many films that have addressed masturbation with a comedic touch? Here are a few of my faves on this topic: "There's Something About Mary" (1998), "American Pie" (1999), "Fast Times at Ridgemont High" (1982), or "The 40-Year-Old Virgin" (2005).

Each of these films uses humor, compassion and understanding to broach the topic which should provide the impetus to follow up with more conversations about self pleasure. You can start generally, and then open the door to personal relevance.

For example, you might mention your surprise that some people consider it so extreme as to be deemed cheating, when you just think it’s a natural and reasonable form of self love and even self care. If you have children, you might share your desire to raise them without shame. Or, you could be bold and share your own masturbation experiences of hiding or being discovered. (The back to back, skin to skin intimacy practice in my book would provide a perfect setting for this discussion, btw. If you don’t have the book yet, you can order it at

No matter which approach you take, warmth, love, curiosity and understanding, rather than accusation will likely strengthen your connection. When your goal is to understand his feelings, comfort and reassure him, you’ll also foster a safe space where both of you can openly discuss any aspect of your relationship without shame. That’s how goodness can arise from difficulties.

Please let me know how things go- I’ll be rooting for you! 

Till then I’m sending love and hugs,