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From Beth
Middle age has been a surprising, and pleasant, erotic awakening for me. Ever since I passed 40, my libido has been heating up, while my husband's has been cooling. We still have great sex together, but he can't quite keep up with me any more. As a result, I've been masturbating more often ­ probably as much as, maybe even more than, I did when I was a teenager. It's not a secret between us. He knows I do it, and is always happy to help if I ask. But sometimes I just want to be alone ­ just me and my fantasies.

Orgasm is the greatest sleeping aid of all, and I like to have one in bed each night to end the day. He's a light sleeper, though, so I have to be still and quiet. It's like being back in college, trying to masturbate without letting your roommate know what you're doing ­ no sighs, no hip thrusts, no creaking bed springs, no vibrator, just my hand in my panties, circling gently away. It's not that he would be mad if he woke up and saw what I was dong. Quite the opposite ­ he would want to help me. But what I want at those moments is to be alone, and undisturbed. So I've gotten quite good at the silent orgasm ­ a middle-aged woman masturbating again the way she did when she was back in college.

From Rose
I've always masturbated whether my husband was there or not, or awake or not. It was never an issue at all for either of us. I don't orgasm during regular sex or oral sex and the only thing that works on me is myself, or a vibrator, so we simply adjusted to that particular glitch. And if he wanted to do himself, that was perfectly okay with me, too. If either of us was already asleep and the other was doing it, I think the only issue was waking up the other person and disturbing their sound sleep. It had absolutely nothing to do with recriminations for doing it or for going it alone, but rather that same level of annoyance as when one of the cats decides to use you as a springboard to the window ledge at three a.m.

I have never understood why masturbation, within a relationship, is an issue for the people in that relationship. It's a perfectly natural activity and sometimes you just want to be alone with yourself and your fantasies and have an orgasm without having to worry about your  partner. It is no different from watching a movie alone or dining alone or reading a book or enjoying any other solitary pleasures. Just because you're in a relationship doesn't mean you can't enjoy those solitary pleasures.

From Pat
Yes, I've wanked many, many times while a lover/partner was asleep beside me. Particularly when I was married. I wasn't able to have an orgasm during partner sex until a few years after my marriage ended. During my marriage, masturbation was my *only* option for having orgasms. So that's what I did.

Unfortunately, I didn't have the kind of open, understanding  relationship with my husband, so I felt like I had to keep my wanking a secret. Also unfortunately, usually the only time I want to wank is after I go to bed at night, so it's not like I could have taken care of business on my own when the hubs wasn't around.

I remember there was shame. Partly shame because I couldn't come by his hand or mouth or cock or any other kind of stimulation besides my own right middle finger. Partly shame because I was keeping secrets from him. Partly shame because I knew if he ever caught me, I'm sure he would have felt really bad about it. Like "why aren't you asking me to do that for you?" kind of thing.
If I knew then what I know now about my own body, our sex life would have been vastly different, much better, and I'm sure I wouldn't have  felt the need to secretly masturbate after my husband fell asleep beside me. It's even quite possible the marriage wouldn't have ended at all...because the dissonance between our sex drives was a major, major point of contention between us. I'm sure if I'd been able to have orgasms with him, my sex drive would have improved dramatically. Who knows.

Very near the end of my marriage, when my husband and I were fighting a lot, he came right out and asked me if I ever masturbated. I told him yes. He couldn't understand why I would do that. I think he was very hurt, very confused, bewildered. His reaction confirmed my reasoning for keeping my secret wanking a secret.

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