So, what is a man (or woman, I suppose) to do? There are a number of married men that believe that they have to fill in those gaps in time when their wife can't perform in the bedroom, or there may be times of separation for any number of reasons, or a man might be single and awaiting his future wife. How do we handle these situations? I would posit the following...
- Admit that masturbation misses the mark for your calling, and that it is therefore a sin, no matter how minor we might think that it is. This puts the act in proper context for how we react to the temptation to do it.
- Practice the presence of God and pray without ceasing. This within itself should be somewhat of a deterrent to sin.
- Avoid isolation and periods of time alone when you are tempted. If you are overloaded sexually and don't think that you'll be able to avoid masturbation, call someone and/or get out of the situation that you are in. Get away from the computer. Get out of the house, if needed.
- Avoid stimulation on TV and computer that would cause you to want to seek your own pleasure. Even seemingly innocuous shows and movies and fully clothed women can cause you to be stimulated on any given day, so be watchful about this one. Bounce your eyes, but if it becomes too much, you may need to take further action...
- Go for a walk, do something constructive for someone else, go to the library, call your accountability partners, call/talk to your spouse, do whatever it takes to move your mind off of yourself and onto God and others.
- If you do fail in this area, reset. Don't shame yourself, try to do penance, or earn your way back into God's favor. Christ paid it all on the cross, so you merely need to ask for forgiveness, admit your mistake before God, and move on. Maybe meditate on how you can do better next time you are tempted, but don't engage in unhealthy preoccupation with your sin.
Generally speaking, remember the rule of thumb to Run FROM, Run TO, and Run WITH. Flee from sin, run to God, and then practice the presence of and dwell richly with God.
Just about all battles begins in espionage, setting the battle lines, and the 'black ops' where specialized teams attack behind the lines. Our sneaky enemy will gradually change our thinking about sensuality to the point of making us think that sex is an absolute need and that fantasizing is normal, even about other women. And he will get us to think about our needs and our rights.
Even if you keep your mind on your own spouse initially, I think it's pretty much been proven that masturbation is a gateway to other sexual sin. Be careful to guide your mind and dedicate your body to God's purposes, and you will find that your self-serving desires will gradually abate.