Answer: Imagine if there was something your wife wanted you to do, but you found the thought of it excruciatingly embarrassing. Let’s
say she wanted you to do a striptease for her, yet you’d rather swallow broken glass than prance around in front of her removing your clothes. (If you
actually think that’s a hot idea the analogy won’t work for you, but I’m sure you get my drift.) The essence of what I am saying here is that it’s very
hard to do something sexual if you find it embarrassing. In fact, it’s hard to engage in anything sexual if you don’t find it a turn on.
From my column in Body+Soul
Question: "My wife and I have been married for 10 years. We have a great sex life and we tell each other everything - so why won't she masturbate in front of me? I think that it's hot and would bring us closer together, but she says it's embarrassing. I want to do it in front of her as well but she thinks it's too private. How can she think this when we've lived together for more than 10 years? Am I being unreasonable? Should I just give up or keep trying?"
You might think I’m contradicting my advice in my last column where I said that kissing is essential, not optional. That’s because it is a necessary part of connecting and growing in desire and arousal. So, my advice to that reader was to find out how they each liked to kiss and find an approach and style that they both liked.
Masturbating in front of your partner is different, it’s just one of many things you can do once you’re already in the mood and sexually engaged. It’s a nice-to-have, not a must-have. It’s a fantasy of yours, but it’s not a fantasy of hers, in fact it’s the opposite, it’s a turn-off.
Does that mean you should give up? Not necessarily. There’s more to explore here, to see if you can entice her into joining in with your fantasy and finding pleasure in it herself. Note that I use the word ’entice’. You need to make your desire inviting. If you are being too direct, too intense, and definitely if you are being too whiny about it, that’s not seductive. Seduction is the art of getting the other person to do what you want, for your mutual pleasure. That means you to have to be inviting, alluring, enticing.
And while we’re talking about words, let’s look at the words you’re using. You say you want her to ‘masturbate in front of you’, yet the word ‘masturbate’ is generally associated with solo activity done alone. As she says, she finds it private. There’s no particular reason why it should be only solo activity, other than thousands of years of social expectation that it should be. Add to those thousands of years a belief that masturbation is somehow wrong and shameful, you can see why a lot of people still have negative associations with it, and why it might feel weird and embarrassing to do it with a partner.
So, let’s reframe it a little. Rather than using the term ‘masturbate’, which, let’s face it, is not a very erotic or sensual word, and use different, more enticing terminology. Letting her know that you find the idea of her touching herself a turn-on, is a softer way of introducing the concept. Can you see the difference between: “I want you to masturbate in front of me, it’s hot” and “The thought of you touching yourself turns me on”? The language and approach of the first is direct and blunt whereas the language and approach of the second is gentle and enticing.
Now let’s take this a little further. Share with her your fantasy, tell it as a story. It’s not something she has to do, it’s just a story of what turns you on. When there’s no pressure to act on your partner’s fantasy, it’s easier to hear, and that opens up space to enjoy the concept of the fantasy, and maybe (although not necessarily) find the pleasure in the act too.
Here’s a different angle: your question implies that she does masturbate on her own, and is comfortable with that, the problem is that she doesn’t want to do it front of you. So let’s explore ways in which she could do it without you seeing her. Imagine if you were blindfolded. That might give her enough psychological safety to give it a go. You wouldn’t be able to see her, but you could hear her, and feel her movements in the bed. That could be very arousing, and get her gradually used to it. Another idea is to encourage her to touch herself during intercourse when you’re in a position where you can’t see what she’s doing, eg from behind, or if the lights are out. As she gets more comfortable with these approaches you can change the situation to make it more overt, at a pace and within the boundaries that she feels good about.
Have a chat with her and see if any of these approaches would work for her, and you never know, your fantasy might gradually come true. And if it doesn’t, well, there are plenty of other ways to enjoy sexual pleasure together.