Sometimes, a girl just wants to finish.
I love sex, but if I had to choose between touching myself and letting my husband do it for me, more often than not, I’m going solo. 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. It wasn’t that our missionary-romance was bad; it just wasn’t enough to get me there. I didn’t want to hurt my husband’s pride by telling him I never came during our sex sessions, and previous attempts to show him how to touch me left me with a bruised clitoris and him with a bruised ego, so I kept a lid on my sexual frustration. 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.
“What are you doing?” he asked.
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. When I reached for the sex toy as soon as he climaxed, he didn’t protest. Instead, he tenderly kissed my breasts and allowed me to finish myself off, establishing what would become our sexual norm.
Although we never spoke of it, I was convinced my husband knew I was unfulfilled.
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. By then, we’d had two children in quick succession, and spent the majority of our time either fighting or too exhausted to touch one another. 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. Those orgasms were some of the best I’d ever had. I formally ended my relationship with religion not long after, preferring the sweet release of sexual fulfillment, even if it meant eternal damnation.
In my newly single life, I reacquainted myself with dating and casual sex, which meant a lot of shaving (so much shaving) and an introduction to types of sex I didn’t know existed. 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. My husband had never been interested in trying, and therefore I didn’t know what I had been missing. Once I got the weird “what if you smell or taste bad?” voice out of my head, I found the experience liberating. 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.
Afraid to rock the boat, or be rejected, I didn’t tell my husband to go down on me, even though that’s what I really wanted. I also didn’t want to hurt him or make him feel like his lovemaking skills were less than incredible, so I said nothing and masturbated vigorously for nearly a decade.
Were there times I tried to nudge him in the right direction? Sure. 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. I wasn’t angry about the brief fling he had before we’d ever said our vows, rather by the fact that he’d lied by omission for so long. We argued, I cried, and in a calm moment, a thought occurred to me – he wasn’t the only one who had been keeping a secret in our marriage.
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. For awhile, we were like teenagers, going at it daily, later laughing in each other’s arms about how much catching up we had to do. 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. From bathing and shaving and lotioning to making sure both partners are available and in the mood, there’s little room for true spontaneity. Plus, I’ve got to be relaxed enough to lie back and let myself be pleasured, which is not as easy as it sounds.
Sometimes, I just want the release of an orgasm but I don’t want to delay my gratification to see if my husband is down for a romp, or run in the bathroom and make sure I’m well groomed. In essence, sometimes I’m just too selfish and lazy to pick sex with him over sex with myself.
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: an indulgence, not a sad coping mechanism meant to replace the real thing. But still, more times than not, I’d rather delight in touching myself (thereby skipping the guaranteed razor burn the following day).
Follow Redbook on Facebook.