How to Survive Living in a Sexless Marriage Prison
Reading Time: 10 mins
Are you in a sexless or loveless marriage?
Struggling to cope with living in a sexless marriage? you’re not alone.
Research shows over half of us are unhappy with our sex life.
In fact, 51% of us have not had sex in the past month.
Although there is no ideal level of sexual activity, a lack of sex can spell trouble for your marriage.
Further statistics suggest couples in sexless marriages are more likely to consider divorce.
Then there’s the devastating effects on your self-esteem.
You’re trying your best, but still getting rejected. How long before doubt creeps in?
Why does my partner no longer find me attractive?
This unanswered question can destroy your confidence and leave you feeling depressed.
But don’t lose all hope!
A sexless marriage isn’t the end of the road, a loveless marriage is far more destructive.
There are also many reasons people stop having sex including stress and low libido.
So, in this post I will help you understand why sex has left your marriage and what you can do to revive the sexual intimacy.
Read on to learn the facts and figures behind sexless marriages and how you can heat things up again.
But, before we dive into how to cope with a sexless marriage, let’s look at the facts and figures.
Can a marriage survive without sex?
Let’s get one thing straight, there’s no right or wrong opinion about sex in a marriage. Our opinions on what is and isn’t acceptable are as diverse as our personalities.
For some a sexless marriage is a failed relationship that needs to die. For others it’s no big deal, as long as mutual love and understanding exist.
But, instead of opinions, let’s start with statistics.
According to new figures from Relate, a leading provider of relationship support:
45% of us are unhappy with our sex life, and 51% of us have not had sex in the past month.
The charity put this down to pressure to perform. “People often put so much pressure on themselves to have great sex they end up avoiding it altogether,”.
Overall, the problem here lies in perception. Some couples place too much emphasis on sex in their marriage. That without a great sex life, their relationship is less than whole.
When in fact, marriage is the sum of many parts, with one being sex. To focus on one aspect while ignoring the rest is not only foolish but can cause marriage problems.
Remember, any two people can have sex, but it takes two special people to make a marriage.
Divorce rate of a sexless marriage
Before we talk about divorce rates, let’s define a sexless marriage. How much is enough?, once a week, once a month or something else.
This as you might have guessed is a trick question as the answer will vary from one couple to the next. Still, most therapists agree, having sex less than once a month is a potential problem.
In effect, if there was a unanimous definition of a sexless marriage, having sex less than once a month would be it.
While a sexless marriage isn’t as uncommon as you would think, it can still spell trouble for your marriage.
This is the opinion of Denise A. Donnelly, Professor of Sociology at Georgia State University. According to the Professor, sexless marriages have a higher divorce rate:
“In my 1993 study, I found people in sexless marriages were more likely to have considered divorce than those in sexually active marriages,.”
Answering the question of what the ideal level of sexual activity is:
“There is no ideal level of sexual activity; the ideal level is one that makes both partners happy. And when one (or both) are unhappy, you can have marital problems,”.
All things considered, a marriage is only sexless if the lack of intimacy affects you as a couple. Your marriage isn’t a failure if you’re only getting intimate less than once a month.
To sum up, as long as both of you are happy with your current level of intimacy, there is no cause for concern.
The effects of a sexless marriage
Without a doubt, a sexless marriage can have devastating effects on self-esteem. If you’re stuck in a platonic marriage, rejection after rejection can take its toll.
In fact, according to many Mumsnet users, the lack of interest can harm more than self confidence:
“I couldn’t cope with the constant rejection, it’s just soul destroying,”.
“Sex only 3 times last year. No affection either. We are on the brink of divorce and this is one of the reasons,”.
“A sexless marriage is horrible. I was in one for 3 years before I bailed,”.
“I’m struggling with this. Been 18 months. Apparently it’s my fault because I’ve put on so much weight (I’m a size 14)”.
As you can see both the struggles and the effects are real.
There’s no doubt sex is integral to marriage and no one should have to deal with constant rejection. You can only feel rejected so many times before self-doubt takes hold.
You might question what isn’t doing it for your partner anymore. And even, what about you has changed that no longer turns your partner on.
This can not only destroy your confidence but affect how you behave around others. If you find yourself in this situation, the worst thing you can do is gloss over it. For a start, talk to someone you trust.
In the meantime, here is some advice to heat things up and put the sex back in your marriage.
Communication can fix your sexless marriage
Talking about sex isn’t always easy, especially in conservative families. Yet, there’s no way to understand your issues, without talking, so talk you must.
It’s also important to realize that your spouse might be oblivious to the fact that a problem exists. We all have different expectations and attitudes towards sex.
More often than not, one partner has no problem with the level of sex. While the other is unhappy but says nothing out of a misplaced feeling of shame or guilt.
This belief that sex is a taboo topic, one associated with shame and guilt, only serves to hurt your marriage. In a happy and healthy relationship, no topic is off-limits for discussion.
So, don’t keep things bottled up, remember marriage is a team game. If your spouse wants the marriage to work, it should be easy enough to have an honest conversation.
With this in mind, choose a time to talk and have an open and honest conversation with each other.
When it’s your time to talk, the best approach is an honest and non-accusing one. This is the time to get everything out in the open. This means to point out to your spouse how the situation is affecting your well-being.
When it’s your time to listen, try to see things from your partner’s point of view, even if it hurts to do so. It’s unlikely your partner meant to hurt you, and there are reasons behind the lack of sex.
And don’t forget the purpose of your conversation. It’s to fix your marriage, not to make each other feel guilty.
Ban sex in a sexless marriage?
Some sex therapists suggest couples in a sexless marriage start by banning sex. Now, this may sound absurd, but the idea is to create a temporary ban to stop feelings of anxiety.
As noted above, we sometimes put immense pressure on ourselves to perform. This ban makes relaxation easier without the ‘noose’ of sex hanging over your heads.
In fact, even if you’re in a sexually active marriage, it can have its advantages.
According to Constance Dunn, author of self-improvement handbook, Practical Glamour. “Taking a break from sex offers the opportunity to reset your relationship,”.
To help renew your relationship, propose a sex break that lasts two weeks. This is long enough to get to know each other again, without feeling like an eternity.
It’s also important to point out that you don’t need to go all in for two weeks. Regardless of what you decide, make sure you’re both comfortable with the decision.
During your sex break try to renew feelings of sexual desire. For instance, flirt on social media, kissing and other forms of physical intimacy.
A part from sex nothing is off-limits as long as you both feel comfortable. The whole point of this exercise is to rediscover each other.
The things that stimulated you both when you were newlyweds might have changed. So, use this sex break as an opportunity to reconnect with each other and learn new forms of intimacy.
Physical attraction is essential for sex
This might be painful to admit, but love is not the same as physical attraction. And its physical attraction or ‘fancying’ someone that’s essential for sex. In other words, love is a peck on the cheek, attraction is steamy hot sex.
In all honesty, if your partner looked the way he/she does now when you first met, would you still feel attracted to them? If not, the same might be the case for your partner.
In contrast, research shows we rank traits such as humor and intelligence above good looks. However, ranking traits doesn’t reflect our real-life decisions.
The reason is simple, primal even. It’s attraction that directs us towards partners who we find attractive.
Partners who are healthy, age appropriate and able to reproduce. And when we make real-life decisions regarding sex, the physical appearance of our partner is the dominant trait.
But even so, before you embark on a journey of self-discovery, remember to do it for the right reasons. There is a fine line, between taking good care of yourself and putting yourself down.
Stay healthy for you and not your partner. The long-term physical and mental benefits of doing so are undeniable.
Before you know it that sense of wellness might create a spring in your step that your spouse will find irresistible.
Accept your no sex marriage?
First of all, don’t condemn yourself to a sexless marriage or accept your marriage is over.
Talk to your partner and even seek help from a third party. However, if nothing works, it might be worth considering acceptance.
But before you do this, it’s important to understand the nature of your sexless marriage. Does love still exist?, or has everything including love left the building?
Even if there is still some love and affection, you need to decide whether having no sex is a deal breaker for you.
Remember, nobody has the right to condemn you to a life without sex, so don’t accept a sexless marriage out of guilt.
Likewise, never try to force that decision on your partner. If one of you wants sex more than the other, this solution will create more issues than it resolves.
It’s also worth mentioning that open marriages exist. In an open marriage it’s okay for one or both of you to have sex outside the relationship.
Despite the lack of sex, if you want to stay together, it makes sense to explore the open marriage option.
But before you do so, remember it’s not for everyone. Don’t rush into this option without very careful thought.
If you’re in a sexless marriage and not a loveless one, it might be worth considering sexual therapy. Couples can sometimes find talking about the reasons behind the lack of sex difficult.
So, if you are struggling to get through to your partner, exploring all the options is a wise decision. A sex therapist is one such option and can help you rediscover your sex life.
It’s also natural to feel uneasy about sharing intimate details with a stranger. However, sex therapists deal with similar situations every day and will help put you at ease.
A sex therapist can also help you discover if the lack of sex is due to a mental or physical block. Often couples enjoy a passionate and healthy sex life, and one day it all disappears.
So, finding the reason which could be as simple as low libido is the first step in fixing your sexless marriage. And regardless of the issue, if you are both committed to the marriage, you can find a solution that keeps you together.
You might also have to accept that sexual desire decreases with age and find other ways to fulfill your needs. Above all, if you’re in a loving, caring relationship, a no or low sex marriage isn’t the end.
Bonus marriage counseling resources
Get a free copy of my marriage counseling book packed with practical advice that helped save my marriage. In addition to the book, you’ll also get access to a free email counseling course for couples who need more intensive therapy. You can find these and more great resources here:
Sexless marriage quiz
Take a free quiz to help you understand the nature of your sexless marriage. This quiz will help you identify the weak points in your marriage and recommend a course of action based on your answers.
If you found this post helpful, will you help it spread by sharing on your favorite social media sites?
Now it’s over to you!
What’s your definition of a sexless marriage?, are you currently in one? and what are you doing to cope?
Let me know in the comments below.In a marriage, there is no ideal level of sexual activity; the ideal level is one that makes both partners happy Click To Tweet