Sexless Marriage: Reasons, Effects & Tips To Deal With It
In This Article
Living in a sexless marriage is a heavy cross to bear!
This begs the question, what is a sexless marriage?
The definition of sexless marriage as per The Social Organization of Sexuality is this- it is the one where couples aren’t engaging in sexual activity or are having minimal sexual encounters.
Sex and marriage are not mutually exclusive.
The effects of this on husband and wife include lack of emotional connection, conflicts, relationship dissatisfaction and even proclivity towards committing infidelity in marriage.
Also Try: Are You In A Sexless Marriage Quiz
What is intimacy?
Intimacy denotes mutual love, sharing, and openness. A comfortable equation between partners where they can be easily vulnerable to each other.
There can be numerous reasons behind the lack of intimacy in a marriage, like menopause, age, hormonal issues, and sexual dysfunction.
Physical intimacy being an indispensable element in a relationship, marriage without sex can pose a threat to a relationship. But, it is even more difficult to find out how to survive a sexless marriage.
Intimacy issues are not uncommon, and they can certainly be difficult to handle or awkward to address.
No sex in marriage is not something extremely unheard of, there are many couples that struggle with this.
There are marriages that survive without sex, intimacy, and romance, however, these are the attributes that set the relationship between a husband and a wife apart from all other familial ties.
Sex and intimacy are crucial for sustaining a healthy marriage and the effects of lack of sex in a marriage can wreak havoc on a relationship.
Intimacy pertains to the close, connected feelings partners build with one another over time; and the physical and emotional bond that is achieved in healthy relationships.
Related Reading: Reasons for Sexless Marriage
Are you in a sexless marriage?
If you have drifted into such a marriage but aren’t sure if it’s right to keep it in check lest it should backfire, you can always check for certain signs of lack of sex that will help you identify the problem.
Check out these signs that your marriage lacks sex:
- Constant feeling of disconnect
- Comfortable without sex for longer duration
- You both don’t flirt often
- You both rarely touch each other
- You enjoy a work schedule more than spending time with your partner
- Either or both of you make fun of the other one’s fantasies/ sex drive
Effects of living in a marriage with no sex
What is it like to be in a sexless marriage?
Being with your spouse in a marriage without sex means you both lose a lot on the connection and intimacy. The relationship might look healthy on the face but underneath, there could be chances of discomfort and problems that will only grow bigger in the longer run.
So, what is it like to be in a marriage lacking sex? The effects hit both men and women in a lot of similar and different ways.
Effects of lack of intimacy in a relationship can be devastating. No intimacy in marriage from husband or wife can be a major source of anxiety and frustration for her, but more for him.
So, how important is sex in a relationship?
How does a sexless marriage affect a man?
A sexless marriage effect on husbands can be inevitable. Sometimes a lack of sex will trigger a man’s insecurities and in the long run, such an effect can damage his self-confidence.
Many men, for example, subconsciously have set standards for themselves that define their role in sexuality. His self-confidence and ego are tied to his ability to deliver to his partner.
Related Reading: Sexless Marriage Effect on Husband – What Happens Now?
A withdrawn husband may be deeply engrossed in a thought or project, or he is stressed about a problem at work, for example. When he is done mulling it over, he will come back and give his wife his attention again.
Also, if you are a man grappling with the challenges of a sexless marriage, reading sexless marriage advice for men can be helpful in overcoming the sexual drought in marriage.
Related Reading: How Important is Sex for A Man
How does a sexless marriage affect a woman?
On the other hand, there can be a sexless marriage effect on the wife. A lack of intimacy in marriage for women can be just as damaging– however, not always in the same way.
Women tend to connect on an emotional level, whereas men tend to connect on a physical level.
This is not to say that sex is not an emotional experience for a man, or that women don’t receive physical pleasure. It is about different social programming.
Related Reading: How Important is Sex for Women
A woman who has most likely been socialized to nurture may feel a lack of love and intimacy in marriage, during times when her partner seems less affectionate or withdrawn.
This is because women equate affection with love, and a woman would only withdraw affection if something went wrong.
How common are sexless marriages?
If you feel you are in this kind of marriage, you are not alone. Most couples assume sex fades over time and it is one of the key features of marriage as couples grow with time. However, this should not be the case, especially when the lack of sex is bothering one of the partners.
Intimacy is an important ground to keep the relationship thriving over a long period of time. It lets the partners have an unspoken vent and only leads to making the bond more personal and strong.
According to the research, a sexless marriage is one where the sex happens less than once a month or less than ten times a year and nearly 29% of the relationships can be sexless. Lack of sex is also affected by age. To be precise:
- 18% of such couples are under 30
- 25% of such couples are in their 30s
- 28% of such couples are in their 40s
- 36% of such couples are in their 50s, and
- 47% of such couples are 60 or older.
Related Reading: Emotional Effects of Sexless Marriage
15 reasons of sexless marriage
So, what constitutes a sexless marriage?
There could be several reasons why couples fall apart. When it comes to a drop in the sex drive between partners, here are a few factors that can be a cause:
1. Withholding sex in marriage
Withholding sex in marriage can be due to a lack of affection or an attempt to convey any form of frustration or anger. For a lot of manipulative partners, it can be a reason to punish their partners and it counts as a form of emotional abuse.
The breakdown in the relationship after childbirth, especially when it comes to sex, is something that most couples face. Breastfeeding, body changes, and exhaustion can be a few causes of sexless marriage after childbirth.
Related Reading: Sex After Birth: What to Expect and How Long to Wait
3. Substance abuse or addiction
When one of the partners is caught up in substance abuse and addiction, it can be difficult for the relationship to survive as it turns toxic and one partner suffers alone. So, it can ultimately kill intimacy.
Related Reading: How Drug Addiction Affects Relationships?
4. Sexual blocks or regressive views on sex
If the couple’s sexual thoughts do not match or either of them has regressive thoughts on sex, it can be difficult for them to communicate effectively. They might not match on several levels and thus, lose the spark.
There can be two scenarios.
If one of the partners is cheating on the other, this can lead to that partner not being interested in their spouse. On the other hand, if one partner has practiced infidelity and the other partner learns about it, there can be a rift in the relationship.
Related Reading: Most Common Causes of Infidelity in Relationships
6. Chronic illness
For obvious reasons, a partner’s ailment can make the couple take an unwanted break from sex in the relationship.
Here, one partner will also be engaged in taking care of the other and this can be a valid reason for the lack of sex in the relationship.
Related Reading: How Illness Affects Relationships
7. Traumatic sexual history
If one of the partners has suffered sexual issues in the past or has had a traumatic experience, it is natural for them to abstain from sex as this has been the root cause of pain in the past.
8. Poor work-life balance
There could be reasons like no time for sex. This is real and this exists.
If one or both the partners are too busy for some leisure time or quality time with each other, this can be detrimental for the relationship, overall as well.
Related Reading: Achieving Work Life Balance for a Healthy Relationship
9. Unresolved grief
Did your partner have any resentment in the past with you and it’s not resolved yet?
Well, you might think things are fine but below the surface, it could be long-standing grief. It is time to discuss it with your partner or seek therapy.
Being uncomfortable with your partner can also be one of the main reasons for a sexless marriage. If you and your partner are not comfortable talking about sex or having sex with each other, this can be problematic.
Any kind of stress, whether it’s work-related or family-related can take a toll on your relationship. This is because stress can grab your maximum attention.
Also, it can lead to emotional breakdown time and again.
Related Reading: Relationship Strategies & Techniques to Eliminate Stress
12. Mental health problems
If there are mental health issues like depression, a person needs support from their partner along with the right therapy and medication. During this time, couples must work on emotional intimacy first.
13. Critical partner
If one partner is critical or makes fun of the other, there are chances that the other partner will retract from any form of intimacy.
This could be a great relationship killer in the long run and can cause the relationship to break, if the issue is not discussed openly.
Related Reading: Critical Spouse Signs and How to Deal With It
It could be possible that boredom has crept into the relationship and one or both partners have drifted away from each other.
Boredom usually comes into the scene when spouses stop paying attention to each other or stop putting in efforts.
Related Reading: How to Fight Boredom in your Marriage
15. Unrealistic expectations
As a couple, each partner should keep their own expectations in check because it creates unnecessary pressure in the relationship. This cause also leads to discomfort between partners which they both might not communicate to each other. Consequently, this gap can be a cause of sexless marriage.
Still wondering what are the factors responsible for the lack of sex?
Talking to a sex therapist who specializes in relationship and sexual challenges can be helpful in keeping a finger on the pulse of your sex life. A sex counselor or a therapist can help you figure out a definite answer to the question, “how to overcome intimacy issues”.
Related Reading: How to Recognize and Tackle Unrealistic Expectations in Relationships
Can a sexless marriage survive?
As for those marriages which are sexually inactive for a long period of time, this is a very valid question. Marriage without sex is rarely heard of and learning how to survive a sexless marriage is not easy.
Yet, many marriages do survive without romance, emotion, passion, and sex, but even in cultures where marriages are strictly utilitarian, engaged in for the purpose of economy, religion, or duty, sex and intimacy are often still integral in these situations as a duty of a wife to her husband, and vice versa.
Though it may sound strange, it’s actually pretty smart and sensible –the people of these cultures recognize the undeniable existence of their basic primal urges, and whether for the purpose of procreation or not – they support one another in this area as well.
No intimacy in marriage means loss of connection, which is actually what a marriage stands for.
Related Reading: Can a Relationship Survive Without Sex?
How to cope with a marriage without sex
This may be an unfair question; the question essentially asks how to do more with less. Coping with a marriage lacking in intimacy looks like a plant trying to cope without water. Coping with a lack of sex first requires you to identify when did you stop having sex in marriage.
A better question might be, is a marriage without physical intimacy really a marriage?
We’re not talking about the normal ebb and flow of things; when intimacy decreases and rises.
We are talking about the complete stagnancy of sexual marital intimacy or marriage without passion and intimacy. A plant without water might still have green leaves, might enjoy the rays of sunlight, and it might even be alive, but the truth is, it is droopy and lethargic, it’s sad, and it has lost its vibrancy.
This metaphor resembles marriage without sex, affection or intimacy.
Related Reading: When to Walk Away From a Sexless Marriage
Do sexless marriages end in divorce?
Can a marriage survive without sex?
Over a period of time, sex and romance in the marriage fade away and couples stop putting in the effort. They unconsciously contribute to sex, without really knowing or being aware that lack of intimacy could be the cause.
A good marriage takes work. An alienation of affection or abandonment can lead to divorce. According to the reports, over 16% of the couples have abandoned sex or so to say, have been in a sexless marriage.
Lack of sex can also be a sign of other problems in the marriage, some of which have been stated above. However, you must be aware of when to walk away from such a marriage.
The times when you must consider a divorce from your sexless marriage are:
- When your partner refuses to work on the issue
- When the sexual interests of both of you are poles apart
- There are other major issues in marriage apart from sex
- Your marriage is sexless because of infidelity
Related Reading: How to Deal with a Sexless Marriage
20 Tips to address and fix a sexless marriagearriage
Being in a state where there is no intimacy in marriage from husband or wife is always awful.
Most often, partners realize that it happens slowly as the sex dwindles and happens just once in a month or less frequently.
It can get frustrating or partners may become complacent (like roommates) or both. A sexless marriage effect on the husband is bad, but it is worse for the wives.
Either way, a marriage like this has deep-rooted problems that need to be identified and fixed.
So, how to survive a sexless marriage?
Related Reading: Few Practical Tips on How to Repair a Sexless Marriage
If you are living in a marriage without intimacy, here are a few things you can do to fix the lack of intimacy in your marriage:
1. Discuss the issue
Ask yourself and your partner how you both got here. Communicate with your partner to understand what could have led to the downfall of your relationship. A healthy discussion will help you both find a solution.
Related Reading: How to Communicate Sexless Marriage With Your Spouse
2. Know each other’s needs
Discuss your needs openly with each other. It could be possible that your sexual interests and your partner’s don’t match. This can be resolved by letting each other know what interests you both.
Related Reading: How to Communicate Your Needs in a Relationship
3. Avoid the blame game
Don’t blame your spouse for the situation. Not every time, it could be your partner’s fault. Ask yourself what was your role in this or how reactions or inactions could be leading to fights.
Related Reading: The Blame Game Is Destructive to Your Marriage
4. Use ‘I’ statements
Use ‘I’ statements vs ‘You’ and refrain from becoming angry or blaming your partner.
“I” statements can be helpful in giving your partner clarity on what you feel as they concentrate on the specifics without beating around the bush.
Related Reading: Using "I" Statements in Relationships
5. Practice assurance
Tell each other that you both will make the commitment to fix your intimacy issues. Sometimes, assurance can be extremely helpful in keeping the relationship peaceful. So, keep telling each other that you are doing the best you can while you put in efforts.
6. Small acts of love
Little acts of intimacy are helpful to start with when the relationship is going downhill. Start by holding hands, looking into each other’s eyes, initiating physical contact.
This will also ensure your partner and they will understand your efforts.
7. Long-distance love
Even when you are long-distance in marriage, you can do your own bit to make things work out. During the day, when you are away at work, send each other romantic texts, express how you miss them and how you can’t wait to get back home.
8. Quality time
When intimacy is gone in a relationship, concentrate on spending quality time with each other.
Talk to each other, cuddle while watching movies at night, enjoy a delicious meal together, have a bath together, or massage each other.
Check out this video to learn more about how to spend quality time with your partner:
People often take themselves for granted once they get committed. They ignore self-care. Take care of your health and physical appearance. Keep yourself fit and attractive.
Related Reading: The 5 Pillars of Self-Care
10. Don’t be clingy
Stop being clingy or complaining. No one is attracted to someone like that. Instead, cultivate your own interests and pursue your hobbies and passions. Certain boundaries are necessary.
Also Try: Am I Clingy Quiz
11. Share fantasies
Don’t be afraid to share your fantasies with your spouse. Be adventurous and keep discovering new things that could keep you both in awe every now and then.
Also Try: What Is Your Sexual Fantasy Quiz
12. Detox from time to time
Detox your relationship. This means leave the bitterness, anger, resentment aside and start to treat each other with love, kindness, and affection. If you feel there’s some kind of tension in the marriage, simply discuss and dissolve the issue.
13. Forgive each other
Practice forgiveness in your marriage. Forgiveness in the relationship is proof that the relationship is mendable, no matter what. It gives the relationship time to heal and grow stronger.
14. Put extra efforts
Sometimes, you need to step out of your comfort zone to make the relationship work. Get out of your way to love and serve your partner and soon your sexless relationship will be a thing of the past.
15. Sex games
Play sex games. Spice up your sex life with creative adult games that will add fun and laughter. This will also help couples know each other’s intimacy language. Some examples are Strip Twister, Scavenger Hunt, Dirty Jenga, Find the Honey, etc.
16. Share everything
Couples, undoubtedly, share an intimate relationship and that is why they must share all their joys and sorrows with each other. In fact, this is the minimum that both the partners are going to expect.
So, celebrate little successes together.
17. Marriage retreat
Attend a marriage retreat. This can be a great distraction from the usual life and the couple will have enough time to focus on each other and rejuvenate the relationship.
Plan weekends and holidays. This will help you both know each other better. You don’t have to go to far-flung and expensive destinations – even small picnics together work.
19. Focus on qualities
Know why you both fell in love with each other in the first place. Look at the past and remember the time you were passionate about each other. Bring those moments back again in your present and in the future.
20. Get help
Seek counseling. Professional experts can help you out in understanding your issues and guide you to work it out together.
Related Reading: What Can a Wife Do When She Is in a Sexless Marriage
What to do when sex just isn’t possible
However, there are couples with a relationship completely devoid of sex and want to take baby steps towards building intimacy without sex first, and then find an answer to the question, ” how to fix a sexless marriage”.
Also sometimes sex isn’t just possible.
Sexual issues like erectile dysfunction, sexual pain disorders, sexual arousal disorders, and pelvic floor dysfunction to name a few, can also be the factors responsible for lack of sex.
So, how is it that the two of you can maintain intimacy without sex?
- Hand-holding while walking along or talking, to maintain intimacy and closeness
- Following the ritual of touching each other, exploring the potentially erotic areas of each other’s body
- Joining a couples activity like learning a dance form or a cooking class, together
- Creating relationship goals to foster closeness
- Taking up a credible marriage course online to restore the health of your relationship
- Having inside jokes with your partner to add fun back to your marriage
Related Reading: Ways to Fix a Sexless Marriage
How to be intimate in long-distance relationships
There is no way you have to believe that just because you are geographically apart in a long-distance relationship, you can’t build or sustain an intimate relationship if you are both equally willing to make a dedicated effort towards overcoming the lack of intimacy in your relationship.
If you are starting a long-distance relationship or maintaining a long-distance relationship with your partner, keep making efforts to overcome the lack of affection and intimacy in a relationship by doing little things religiously.
Indulge in video chat, share photos, share information about your whereabouts and day-to-day events, and design your visits aimed at enhancing physical intimacy with your partner.
Related Reading: How to Be Intimate in a Long-Distance Relationship
A sexless marriage just needs work and attention along with the right approach to solve the problems. Once both the partners identify the issue and discuss them, the solution is not far away.
Wondering how to survive a sexless marriage? Well! Now you have your answers here.
Share this article on
Want to have a happier, healthier marriage?
If you feel disconnected or frustrated about the state of your marriage but want to avoid separation and/or divorce, the marriage.com course meant for married couples is an excellent resource to help you overcome the most challenging aspects of being married.