After nearly 20 years of marriage, I have no reservations about owning what I want and how I want it in the bedroom, and doing it my way when necessary. But owning this fact about myself was no easy feat. My husband and I met when we were 16 and married two years later — so in the early days of our marriage, when we were both young and uninitiated in the ways of good sex, I masturbated in secret.
As soon as my husband would jump out of bed to clean himself in the bathroom, I would quickly and silently bring myself to orgasm. A year into my covert masturbation operation, my husband surprised me by walking out of the bathroom too early, catching me pleasuring myself.
On the brink of an orgasm, I tried to cover my tracks, but he knew. Through stilted breaths, I salvaged the moment by claiming I was simply still in the mood.
He seemed puzzled, but accepted my explanation. That Christmas, he gave me my first dildo. I accepted his gift with elation and the understanding that sexual satisfaction was my own responsibility. Although we never spoke of it, I was convinced my husband knew I was unfulfilled. Instead, he tenderly kissed my breasts and allowed me to finish myself off, establishing what would become our sexual norm. But our sex lives were on a loop, the same moves getting replayed over and over — and in autumn of the fifth year of our marriage, my husband and I separated.
Sensing our demise was near, I foolishly reached for religion in the hopes it would fix us. It was kismet, then, when two Mormon missionaries knocked on our door with a message of salvation and eternal family bliss. I gave everything I had to my spiritual conversion. Determined to follow a path that promised a happily ever after for my marriage, I threw my beloved dildo in the garbage the day of my baptism.
Casting orgasms and Satan aside, I waited for God to make my relationship feel like heaven on earth. Not surprisingly, that moment never arrived. A few months later, we filed for legal separation and I moved a state away with the kids for a fresh start.
In my new apartment, I flipped God the middle finger by masturbating my heart out once the kids were asleep. I formally ended my relationship with religion not long after, preferring the sweet release of sexual fulfillment, even if it meant eternal damnation. The sexual education I received made the excessive cost of razor blade cartridges more like an investment. During this time, I learned how much I love oral sex.
I no longer had to or wanted to masturbate immediately after sex because I was satiated. Suddenly I had a right to expect equal satisfaction to my partner, and it was incredible. Over the course of our separation, neither my husband nor I took the necessary steps to finalize our divorce. We talked often — even about the relationships we were in, although never crossing the line into details about sexual liaisons.
We became better friends and more open in our communication. In one of those funny Jane Austen twists, that longstanding friendship led to a rekindling of our love for one another and in the spring of what would have been our seventh year of marriage we reconnected and reclaimed our lives together. Old habits die hard, though, and while our emotional and mental connection was stronger, our sexual chemistry reverted to its infancy. Like before, our post-coital connection involved boob play and me finishing myself off.
Were there times I tried to nudge him in the right direction? But the few times I tried without success cemented my belief that our paltry sex life was something I just had to accept.
Then my husband threw a wrench in our relationship and managed to completely renovate our sex lives in the process. In what could only be an admission born of guilt, my husband confessed to having an affair three months before we married.
Emboldened by this realization, I decided to share my truth once the dust had settled. In a difficult conversation, I admitted how much I hated our sex life. I expected my husband to get angry, to push me away and even feel betrayed. He did none of that. Instead, he took my hands, looked in my eyes and promised to change it. Once our egos had cooled, we found our way back to the bedroom. Full of renewed hope, I used masturbation to show my husband exactly how I liked to be touched.
He was eager to learn, and he was a quick study. Sex with my husband transformed almost immediately. Like most people in long-term relationships, however, that earnestness soon fizzled, placing us back in a comfortable, although much more satisfying schedule of sex a few times a month. You would think this turn of events would mean I put down my two fingers and never had to masturbate again, but you would be wrong.
Sex takes a lot of work. If I want to go through the elaborate ritual of getting my body ready for mind-blowing sex, I do — and I can now know that it will be great. Masturbation has finally become exactly what it was always meant to be: