Intimacy issues are not uncommon, and they can certainly be difficult to handle or awkward to address. The reality of a sexless marriage can be downright devastating for those living in a marriage without intimacy.
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.
Living in a sexless marriage: How it affects partners
A lack of intimacy in marriage for men, can be a major source of anxiety and frustration. Sometimes a lack of sex will trigger a man’s insecurities and over the long-term, can have damaging effects on his self-confidence.
On the other hand, a lack of intimacy in marriage for women, can be just as damaging– however, not always in the same way. Women tend connect on an emotional level, whereas men tend to connect on a physical one. 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 the different social programming in men and women.
Many men for example, subconsciously have set standards for themselves that defines their role in sexuality. His self confidence and ego are tied into his ability to deliver to his partner. Likewise, a woman that 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to nurture, may feel a lack of love and intimacy in marriage, during times when her partner seems less affectionate or withdrawn.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 were wrong. This is not the case for men at all. A withdrawn husband may be deeply engrossed in a thought or project, or he is stressed about a problem at work, for example.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.
Can a sexless marriage survive?
As for those marriages which are sexually inactive for a long period of time, this is a very valid presenting question.
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.
How does one cope in 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.
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 complete stagnancy of sexual marital 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 the state of a marriage without intimacy.
Tips to fix a sexless marriage
Being in a sexless marriage 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. Either ways, a marriage like this has deep rooted problems that need to be dwelled on and fixed.
Here are a few things you can do to:
- Ask yourself and your partner how you both got here.
- Discuss your needs openly with each other.
- Don’t blame your spouse for the situation. Ask yourself what was your role in this?
- Use ‘I’ statements vs ‘You’ and refrain from becoming angry or blaming your partner.
- Tell each other you both will make the commitment to fix your intimacy issues.
- Start by holding hands, looking in each other’s eyes, initiating physical contact
- 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.
- Talk to each other, cuddle while watching movies at night, enjoy a delicious meal together, have a bath together, or massage each other.
- Take care of your health and physical appearance. Keep yourself fit and attractive.
- Stop being clingy or complaining. No one is attracted to someone like that. Instead, cultivate your own interests and pursue your hobbies and passions.
- Don’t be afraid to share your fantasies with your spouse.
- Detox your relationship. This means leave the bitterness, anger, resentment aside and start to treat each other with love, kindness and affection.
- Practice forgiveness in your marriage.
- Get out of your way to love and serve your partner.
- Play sex games.
- Celebrate little successes together.
- Attend a marriage retreat.
- Plan weekends and holidays. You don’t have to go to farflung and expensive destinations – even small picnics together work.
- Look to the past and remember the time you were passionate about each other. Bring those moments back again in your present and in future.
- Seek counseling. Professional experts can help you out in understanding your issues and guide you to work it out together.