Being in a sexless marriage can be challenging, and no one wants to admit they’re in it. Something about it feels disempowering, especially for our ego.
Meanwhile, the statistics show that 15% of married couples haven’t had sexual activity within the last six months to one year. And if you’re currently struggling with a sexlessness period, so do one in seven people.
This blog post will share some leading causes of sexless marriage and how to escape the situation. Let’s get started.
What is a Sexless Marriage, and Are You in it?
Sexless marriage occurs between partners who have little to no sexual activity. While there is no clear definition, experts agree that sexlessness happens when a couple has fewer than ten sexual encounters within the last year.
Most couples experience periods of more and less sex throughout. Factors like stress level and fatigue are some of the most common for a temporary period of less sex. Once you’ve regained control, your sex life will thrive again.
If that’s the case, then it’s safe to say that your marriage is not the sexless type.
However, frequency isn’t the only indicator of a sexless marriage. Experts agree that a sexless marriage is best defined based on the consciousness of the action – whether or not a couple consciously avoids each other.
Hence, if you feel you have less sex than you think you should and are annoyed with it, you will have to communicate it to your partner. But if you’re OK with it, all is well; there’s nothing to worry about.
Factors Leading to Sexless Marriage
People have reasons for wanting less sex, and there are more possible causes than you can imagine for why a couple ends up in a sexless marriage. Besides fatigue and stress, some of the most common causes include pregnancy, life adjustments, affairs and asexuality.
If you feel the sexlessness may ruin your partnership, you both may want to look back to when it started. Then, you can always find ways to work through it together.
Here are some questions to answer:
- Do you feel disconnected from your partner?
- Do you feel like sex lacks intimacy?
- When was the last time you and your partner genuinely enjoyed sexual intimacy?
- Do you avoid thinking about your and your partner’s state of sexual intimacy?
- Is sexual intimacy the last thing you want to think about?
- Were there hesitancy and avoidance of initiating physical touch?
- Was that due to the fear of potential rejection?
Let’s see some potential factors causing a sexless marriage in this section.
Lack of emotional connection
Emotional connection is one of the keys to intimacy. If partners don’t feel emotionally connected, sexual passion will be hard to maintain. A couple’s sex life tends to go downhill as the emotional connection drops.
If it’s not well taken care of, sexlessness will rule sooner or later as partners feel more and more distant from one another.
Resentment can be a reason why a couple stops having sex. After all, it’s difficult to maintain physical intimacy while you’re in a heated argument or silent treatment situation with your partner.
Unresolved negative emotion is also one of the biggest causes of divorce, in which many couples say that sexual issues as the leading causes. Here are some of the most common factors that lead to unresolved negative emotions:
- Infidelity – happens when you or your partner is being unfaithful.
- Recurring conflict – refers to a repeated situation of the same problem.
- Passive-aggressive behaviour is when you or your partner indirectly address your negative feelings.
- Power struggles – are when you and your partner have strong opposing opinions on things that both of you find essential.
Every individual is unique, including in how frequently we want sex.
70% of women have low libido, and men tend to have a lower sex drive as they age. Due to physical or mental health issues, we can also experience a change in our interest in sexual activity. Some may not be interested anyway.
Therefore, you and your partner may have different levels of sex drive. Suppose your partner has a higher libido than you. In that case, she may experience a change in her sex drive after her invitation is repeatedly turned down.
Mismatched libidos are one of the most significant sources of problems in a relationship. It can drive a wedge between you and your partner, raise resentment, break trust, and wipe out emotional intimacy.
One of the easiest ways to keep a healthy sex drive is by living a healthy life. So don’t forget to exercise and eat healthily in your routine.
Low sex drive
While libido can change throughout different phases of our lives, having a constant low sex drive is a different story. It means you don’t have much desire to perform or engage in sexual activity.
Should you have little to zero interest in getting into a sexy time with your partner, but are interested in having sex with others, then a low sex drive isn’t the culprit for your sexless marriage.
So, do you have a low sex drive, or you’re just losing interest?
Erectile dysfunction (ED) is when a man has difficulties achieving or maintaining an erection. It's one of the most significant contributors to high anxiety and low self-esteem.
Similarly, health conditions like diabetes, heart disease, and hormone imbalances can also lead to sexual dysfunction. Should this be the cause for nonexistent sexual intercourse in your marriage, we recommend that you and your partner explore and find other ways to improve intimacy that doesn't require penetration.
Mental health issues
Depression and anxiety are romance killers. A severe mental health condition may cause one to struggle to find the energy for the littlest things, let alone sexual activity.
Mental health issues are complex for the person suffering from them and the caregiver. More often than not, the partner of the person with a mental illness will take on a caretaking role.
This can damper their intimacy, as mental illnesses can keep couples from maintaining a healthy sex life.
In her book The Social Organization of Sexuality, Dr Becker-Warner said, “Essentially, the more worried you are, the more it will impact your body, and the less you or your partner will feel aroused or turned on enough to desire sex.”
Unfortunately, antidepressant medication may cause problems in the sexual organs, including vaginal dryness and ED. Also, consuming anti-anxiety medications lessens the excitement.
If you suspect medications as one of the significant causes of your sexless state, ask the doctor to check them out. They may be able to get you a new prescription and minimise the side effects.
We typically tend to have lower energy levels as we age.
Through time, women experience a drop in estrogen and vaginal dryness. Similarly, older men produce less testosterone and may develop ED. Therefore, we may have fewer and fewer sexual encounters due to aging.
When you start to feel any age-related issues, coping with sexlessness can be challenging. The transition can be challenging if your health drastically affects your body's functions.
Being a parent is one of the most amazing feelings. Some may feel becoming one is rewarding as they know someone depends on them and values what they do for them.
However, like any other thing, being a parent comes with several challenges. While your life with children may become more colourful, they may also cripple your sex life.
Raising children takes much effort, as many parents report stress-related problems during parenthood. Consequently, the child’s presence contributes to lowering the level of intimacy, which is a red flag in the decreasing desire for sex.
What's more, new moms are still in the adjustment stage due to the following:
- Changes in their bodies during pregnancy.
- Hormones are getting out of their normal levels.
- Soaring levels of prolactin during breastfeeding.
The last point often results in vaginal thinning and dryness, making sex uncomfortable and painful.
Suppose your sexlessness comes from this situation; all you need to do is be patient. On top of that, you should also be supportive of your partner as she takes time to adjust to the new role, and her body takes time to adjust to the changes.
Tips to Help with the Situation
You’re not alone if you’re stressed out about recurring sexless periods. This section will share tips to help you escape this frustrating situation.
1. Determine If Sexless Marriage is Not for You
Sexlessness is more about conscious avoidance behaviour than how often you and your partner have sex. Hence, it’s essential to have everyone’s say on what sex means to them. Meaning that you and your partner can always find the sex best practices for both of you, not what society depicts as usual.
Even if you see nothing concerning about being in a sexless marriage or if you and your partner decide to schedule a sexy time quarterly in a year. You can always go for it.
On the other hand, if you feel like sexless marriage is not for you to the point that not having your sexual needs met is frustrating and demoralising, you’ll need to bring the issue up. After all, the agreement is one of the most important things in maintaining a healthy relationship.
2. Figure Out Why It Happens and Communicate
Identifying the underlying problems can help you articulate your ideas better if you don't know where to start the conversation.
Sex is only a tiny bit among hundreds of reasons marriage takes a wrong turn. Often, problems with sexual connection are an outward expression of something more pervasive. And sometimes, the real issues lie well beneath the surface.
For that reason, making peace with your feelings and allowing them to help you restore a healthy sex life is the best advice you can get.
If you have emotions bottled up, this is your sign to invite your partner to sit down and communicate. If you have insecurity issues, tell your partner that every little acknowledgement and validation helps make you feel better.
Communication is one of the best tools every couple can have to prevent unresolved anger and resentment towards each other. Also, working through the rough patch together can help rebuild your bond.
3. Experiment with Other Ways to Be Intimate
A peak intimacy isn’t described by how great sex is – the former requires much more than the latter. Therefore, when you feel like your sexual intimacy is lacking, know that there are limitless possibilities to get connected with your partner without any involvement in sexual activity.
For example, take penetration out of the picture whenever you have alone time with your partner. Now see if it decreases the possibility of having sex and allows you to find a new way to enjoy the moment together.
That said, it doesn’t mean you must avoid intercourse at all costs. Instead, you can think about it like “if it happens, it happens; if it doesn’t happen, we still had fun”. Just be sure to remember that a sexless marriage is sexless, not because it lacks intercourse.
4. Always Take a Caring Approach
If you want to tell your partner you can’t be in a sexless relationship, avoid all the blaming language, as it will only drive her further away from you.
Communicating your needs and desires to your partner could lead to a healthier, happier sex life and marriage. Hence, it’s crucial to consider talking about the whole relationship instead of focusing on what you want for yourself.
For this, refrain from using the words always and never. Therefore, rather than saying, “You never listen to me,” try saying, “I think it would be more fun if we ….” On top of everything, be sure to hear what your partner says.
5. Try Open Marriage
Some people, especially those with high sex drive, can become super frustrated – and feel extremely miserable – by the lack of physical and sexual intimacy in their marriage. Often, these individuals may consider getting sexual pleasure from others.
This is one of the cases in which an open relationship can work. However, as the topic is susceptible and can be a significant source of heartbreak, many people choose to sneak behind their partner’s back.
It is not the best step, as the straying party will typically feel intense guilt towards their loyal partner.
Therefore, it’s best that you communicate with your partner if you’ve been considering open relationships. While studies show that it has a success rate of 8%, it’s a much better option than infidelity.
6. Go to a couple of Therapy.
Sometimes, you need a new perspective to resolve your relationship issue. If you feel like you want to get professional help for your problem, going for a sex therapist is the way to go.
However, note that sex therapists and psychologists will not dictate how much sex you should have in a period. They only help you find the best possible way to escape troubling times.
The good news is that a sex therapist can refer you to the sexual health department if your problems are physical health-related.
When to Walk Away?
Suppose all your efforts to rebuild your sexual intimacy don’t yield the expected result – you and your partner still struggle to meet each other’s sexual needs. In that case, you may start considering ending the marriage altogether.
There is no right and wrong answer to the question.
Any effort and struggles in a relationship should be divided into two. For that reason, as long as you and your partner are on board with fixing your sexlessness problem and making a healthy sex life a priority, it’s still possible to save the marriage.
On the other hand, if one of you is considering or planning to get secret extra-marital affairs, then going separate ways can be one of the best options for both of you.
There are many factors why a marriage can become sexless, and we have discussed some of the most common ones in this article. They include a lack of emotional connection, unresolved resentment, and mismatched libidos.
Many couples stay in unhappy, unsatisfying relationships for years without seeking help. We don’t recommend taking inspiration from them as it can open up opportunities for infidelity.
If you’re not satisfied with your current state of marriage, it’s always best to take some time and talk things out as a couple. From figuring out why it happened to experimenting with other ways to be intimate and trying open marriage, you’ve learned several tips to rejuvenate your sexual desire.
Therefore, if you agree to separate ways at some point, you can walk away from sexless marriage on good terms.