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Dear Dr. Robert,

I have been married for one year.  I have recently caught my husband masturbating while watching porn.  Since that day, I have been  watching him a little more closely and discovered this is something he does  every morning and at least once a day if he thinks he is alone.
He tells me this is normal and that all men do this.  I am confused. This is a man that tells everyone he is a Christian and makes a point to pray before meals with our grown sons and family.  He also spends 15 minutes in prayer every morning before turning on his porn.
This is really beginning to creep me out!  Am I the one who needs therapy or is this normal and something 'Christian" men do but just don't talk about?

Hello, DuBose--

I would like to reply to your question, but need more information. Please tell me how your sex life with your husband is going. Are you two actively having sex? If so, how often on average are you intimate with one another. Does he seem satisfied when you do make love? And do you enjoy sex? If I have that information, I can give you an informed answer.
Be well,

Hello, Doctor, and thank you for getting back to me.
We don't have much of a sex life.  He gets up early in the morning, takes a shower, shaves, gets completely dressed,  reads his bible--his 'quiet' time  as he calls it, then spends about 15 minutes masturbating in front of the t.v.  He then walks back though our bedroom and kisses me good bye and tells me how much he loves me.
I have complained many times to him about our sex life, but he blames it all on our schedules.
This is our schedule:
He leaves to go to his office every morning at 7:30.  He is the Founder/President and he is semi-retired.  He leaves work at 4:00 every day to go to the gym where he works out for one hour, takes an 30 steam, showers and is home by 6:15.   We then leave go to one of the three restaurants we frequent nightly.  I have to tell you the reason he doesn't feel like doing anything at night is because he consumes a bottle of wine by himself with dinner every night.

We have grown kids, my husband is 63 in great shape and we certainly don't have financial problems.
So, I guess what bothers me the most is that I think he is such a hypocrite!  How do you profess to your family and friends what a good Christian you are, if you are reading your bible one minute and then 5 minutes later you are watching porn?
If it isn't  financial problems, he has a wife that wants to have sex and there are no family issues to speak of, what is it?

ask dr-robert


As I understand your letters, there are two issues here. First, you are living in a sexless marriage, and second, your husband's habitual masturbation troubles you because it seems hypocritical in the face of his claims to be a "good Christian."

Let me take the Christian part first. There are many versions and interpretations of so-called "Christianity." Some people who call themselves Christians devote their entire lives to helping people in need who are suffering from lack of water, food, clothing, shelter, and medical care, while others who call themselves by the very same name are spending their time and money trying to influence the Ugandan government to pass a law condemning to death anyone who is a homosexual. Obviously, these two activities are polar opposites, so either Christianity is a very large tent indeed, or the word "Christian" doesn't really mean anything anymore, if it ever did.

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Certainly simply claiming to be a Christian means nothing at all, since many people do while knowingly engaged in all kinds of misconduct, villainy, and even crimes against humanity, and some of those people are not even hypocrites, but are so deluded that they actually believe that "God" approves of their heinous actions.

Take, for just one example, the politicians of the secret Christian brotherhood called "The Family," in Washington, D.C., whose members practice an "elite fundamentalism" which maintains that merit and "goodness" in the eyes of "God" depends entirely upon political clout and wealth, and which provides instant forgiveness for its powerful members who commit misdeeds or crimes.

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The so-called "Christian" teachings of this group hold that the very rise to power of its members proves that "God" has chosen them for special things, exempting them from the usual norms of behavior to which "ordinary" people must adhere. Governor Mark Sanford is a member of that organization,

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as is Senator John Ensign,

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both of whom have become infamous recently for their fatuous sexual peccadillos which were first covered up, and then, when they became public, excused by the leadership of "The Family." The men in that group—there are no women (since women are only good for sex, obviously)—call themselves "Christians," and proudly. I don't give a hoot what people do sexually (as long as it does not involve force or children), but I am troubled by the self-justifying perspectives of "The Family." The men in it have real power over the lives of others, and either have no ethical limits at all about how they use it, or are deluded to the point of mental illness, and really believe themselves to somehow be "following Jesus." Either way, those schmucks are some of the very ones intent on executing people for having been born gay, and for that I consider them the criminals.

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Compared to the behavior of such swine as those men, your husband's habitual self-pleasuring seems small potatoes indeed. Many men--and many women as well--enjoy masturbation, sometimes involving pornographic imagery, or else just pornographic thoughts (depending, I would imagine, on their level of talent for creative visualization), and, as a psychotherapist, I find nothing wrong with such imaginary hanky-panky at all, unless it begins to interfere with enjoying real relationships with real people.

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That, I think, is the real problem in your marriage, not your husband's hypocrisy. In my view, most people who call themselves "Christians" are completely hypocritical. If they truly believed what they say they do (and what they are always telling others to believe), when receiving the diagnosis of a terminal disease, they would be jumping for joy, thanking the doctor for the great news, and rushing out to celebrate their imminent reunion with Jesus in Heaven. Their Christian friends would not be praying for them to be healed, but instead, filled with envy, would be congratulating them on their wonderful luck. Personally, I have never seen anything like that happen in such cases, and I do not expect to be seeing it.

Since I am not personally acquainted with either you or your husband, the following suggestion should be taken with a grain of salt. If you think it will help, try it. If your marriage cannot survive real honesty, and you want to keep the marriage, you might need to keep quiet. That said, perhaps you could sit down with your husband and discuss this whole thing with him, but not from the standpoint of his "hypocrisy," which, as I say, is normal among every kind of religious believer (as well as many self-described atheists, for that matter, who habitually deny any belief in "God," but then begin to pray when faced with something really difficult). Instead, you might tell him that your marriage is suffering due to lack of sexual bonding, that you have needs for closeness and sensuality which masturbation cannot satisfy, and that you would like him to set aside the masturbation long enough to see if the two of you can still make something good happen.

Be well.

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