Dear Alice,

I'm a happily married woman whose husband is in the military. He is away a lot and I don't believe in masturbation. Any suggestions on relieving the tension?

Dear Reader,

Since your sexual tension may, understandably, be mixed with the emotional weight of your spouse's absences, it might ease some of your load to have an ongoing dialogue with him about how his time away affects you. And, there’s no need to wait to chat until he's home — the Internet may be a useful tool for frequent conversations if he has easy access. Beyond that, you may find some satisfaction and solace in strategies ranging from a few do-it-yourself ideas to getting by with a little help from others as you manage your needs and the miles in-between.  

To address the physical side of the divide, massage could be a helpful option to satisfy some of your needs for physical touch. Since longing for your husband's touch is surely tied up in your sexual tension, a professional rub down might just do the trick. A licensed massage therapist (LMT) certainly won't touch you like your husband (and it would be highly unprofessional if they did), but massage therapy can serve up a combination of touch and tension relief to get you through his tour(s) of duty. Read Seeking massage therapist in the Go Ask Alice! General Health archive for information on finding one in your area.

Not interested in physical contact with others? If, for you, masturbation means self-stimulation that includes orgasm, then self-stimulation that stops or pauses before climax might be an option. It’s possible to be satisfied sexually even if you decide to forego the "big O." Another alternative is self-massage using lotion, or during a hot bath, or while you’re taking a steamy shower. You could also consider opening up the lines of communication with your husband to satisfy your need. Would you be up for a bit of mutual play across the miles with your partner? Utilizing video chat, texting, or a phone call may make it easier for you to say “Roger that!” to some sexually-charged electronic reconnection. If this type of e-contact with your spouse is not in the cards (or just not for you), you might switch up the channel by penciling in some activities and expanding your social network instead.

If an all-together sans touch strategy is what you’re looking for, yoga, meditation, tai chi, and other attention-focusing practices may bring you mental and physical peace. Merely relaxing and getting your mind off of, well… getting off, will no doubt result from these kinds of techniques. For that matter, a hobby or volunteering could do the same. Good old-fashioned sweat sessions are an option, too — nothing like a hundred push-ups or a run in the park to spend some of that sexual energy. Even some sensual dancing in the privacy of your living room could do the trick. Just find what is right for you. Another idea: keeping busy with friends and family relationships may also keep your mind off of getting busy, much like some of the solo suggestions. Moreover, if plain loneliness is part of your longing, this strategy may also meet that need as well. You can try making plans with an old friend, searching out opportunities to make new ones (did someone say book club, running group, or knitting/crafting circle?), or catching up with a relative who’s a great conversationalist.

After you've pondered or pursued these suggestions along with your own ideas, you may conclude that finding a release valve equal to private in-person time with your husband is an impossible mission. But, this doesn't mean that answering your natural desires and needs can't be accomplished.

Alice!

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