When you say your “I-dos” it would be nice to think that the rest of your lives together will be as happy and satisfying as this day is. The truth is that marriages go through many up and downs. You may grow apart and have to work to grow back together again and you may also find that the intimacy in your marriage changes over time. At some point couples might even find themselves living in a sexless marriage and that can be an issue.
If you are living in a sexless marriage you aren’t alone. Some studies say that up to 30% of marriages suffer problems with little or no sexual intimacy. Over years the stress and day-to-day grind can take its toll on a marriage and certain things - like sex - can fall by the wayside. But just because it happens to many couples doesn’t mean it’s okay. Sex is an important part of a strong and healthy marriage and when it’s missing it can leave couples dissatisfied with each other, and open them up to a host of other problems.
Why Sex Is Important In A Marriage
For most of us our sexuality is an important part of life and who we are. Our desire for sex can ebb and flow depending upon what’s going on in our lives, but for the most part sex is a fun, important and pleasurable way to enjoy closeness with another person. Keeping this aspect of your relationship strong within your marriage strong is particularly important.
Sexual activity also engages the pleasure centers of your brain. The endorphins released help to deepen the feelings of love you have for your spouse. Studies have shown that in the longest and most successful marriages couples make a point to have sex regularly.
This physical contact in marriage brings you closer as a couple and helps keep you bonded to one another. It also strengthens trust and leaves you feeling more connected. When there is no sex in a marriage these feelings and connection can become weaken.
Can A Marriage Survive Without Sex?
A sexless marriage isn’t doomed to fail, but it is made a great deal more difficult in most circumstances. In order for a marriage to survive when there is no sex or intimacy both partners need to be of the same mind when it comes to that aspect of their relationship. Most couples, however, are not. Typically in a relationship where there is no sexual intimacy one partner is okay with it while the other isn’t and this can lead to a lot of issues.
Lack of sexual desire for your spouse, or disinterest in sex overall, can happen for a variety of reasons. Sometimes there can be a health or biological component to this, but most often it’s reflective of circumstances or issues within the relationship itself.
For instance, a new baby can put the brakes on a couple’s sex life. A woman may feel overwhelmed with motherhood or even uncomfortable with her post-baby body and therefore not want to be intimate. Or a man may have a hard time reconciling the woman who is now a mother with the woman he was comfortable having sex with. These situations usually rectify themselves overtime, but if a couple isn’t careful and attentive to making time for their intimate life, they can easily find themselves living in a sexless marriage.
Lack of sex in a marriage can also be due to a couple having grown apart. This can become a vicious cycle. “We don’t have sex because we aren’t close and we don’t get closer because we aren’t intimate anymore.” A marriage in this situation is likely to encounter issues or not be able to reconcile problems because their bond isn’t strong enough to help them move forward.
And in a marriage where one partner wants to be intimate and the other doesn’t, resentment and anger can build. Respect for the marriage, the vows and the other person need to be shown, but telling a person who still wants the closeness of a sexual relationship that they can’t have it will create a divide in the marriage and make other, possibly smaller challenges, seem insurmountable.
So whether a marriage without sex can survive depends a lot upon the circumstances in the marriage itself. It is fair to say, however, that a sexless marriage is probably not as strong or stable as those where there is a healthy sex life.
Dr. Kurt often counsels couples dealing with challenges in their sex lives. When asked for some insight he had this to say,
One of the places where the differences between partners arises the most is around sex. Most often it's about the frequency of sex, but other complaints I hear regularly are about interest, initiating, or variety. 'She never initiates' or 'it's always the same and only about him getting off.' The phrase 'sexless marriage' is frequently used by spouses to describe how they feel about their sex life more so than that there literally is no sex. It conveys not just the infrequent or lack of sex, but the deep unhappiness with the sex in their marriage."
What Should I Do If I Am In A Sexless Marriage?
That’s not an easy question to answer. How you handle being in a sexless marriage depends a lot upon the reasons you’re not having sex.
The first thing you will need to do is determine why your sexual relationship has broken down. If it’s a matter of no time, no interest, something physical, or something completely different. Identifying the problem will give you a place to start when it comes to fixing things. And no, you can’t just point at your spouse and say, “they’re the problem.”
If it is your spouse who has shut the door to sex, there’s a reason. You will need to work together to determine what is causing their reluctance. Reigniting your sex life is as much about good communication in your marriage as it is about anything else. Letting your partner know in a gentle and respectful way that you would like to regain the intimacy you once shared is a good starting point.
You will also need to have patience. A happy, healthy sex life takes the willingness and desire of both spouses. If your relationship has been in a sexual dry spell for a while, getting back to point where you both feel comfortable and satisfied may take some time.
It is possible, however, that the problems that have led you to this point go deeper than what a conversation and patience can solve. In this case you may have some work to do together as a couple before you can really create stability in your sex life. Often a marriage counselor can be of help in these circumstances.
One thing that you should not do no matter how great the temptation is seek comfort in someone outside your marriage. Cheating on your spouse is never the answer. Lack of sex in a marriage is often a reason given especially by men for cheating. Yes, a marriage devoid of sex can be difficult, and it may cause you to be vulnerable to the affection of someone else, but stepping outside your marriage will make whatever brought you to this point exponentially worse.
Many couples living in a sexless marriage become complacent. It just becomes who they are and how their relationship operates. It doesn’t have to be that way though. A healthy sex life will make your relationship stronger and keep you happily bonded as a couple. If your relationship has gotten to the point that sexual experiences are counted in months or years it’s probably time to consider how you got to this point. Working together or possibly with the help of a counselor, you can create the intimacy you need and desire.
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