While I don’t regret my marriage, I do wish I had gotten out earlier so that I could have had more years of great sex! Most relationships start with love and passion. But routine coupled with boredom often replace those feelings and lead to sexless marriages. When couples stop having sex, it weakens the marriage. Yet, a sexless marriage feels like an insurmountable problem for couples. They might not even be sure how or why the sex stopped and feel embarrassed and depressed about the situation. Never fear: you can learn how to fix a sexless marriage.
Sexless Marriages Hurt Women, Too
When you think of a sexless marriage, you probably think of a man complaining about his wife. Maybe she stays home to take care of the kids, and he works hard, hoping for a little TLC when he gets home at the end of the day. But he gets nothing. It’s a stereotype as old as time. In fact, it’s so pervasive that we expect people to change in certain ways during a marriage, which can lead to some pretty negative opinions about the whole institution.
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While it is generally true that men have higher sex drive than women , it’s not always true. There is lots of variation in the level and type of sex drive that women can experience. In fact, we have an entire post on how to increase your sex drive if you’re a woman.
Coming to terms with the fact that you have the higher sex drive or that your man isn’t always ready or willing to have sex at the drop of a hat can be difficult. It might feel like a blow to your ego. We often base our perceived worth on how much our partners want us. But your world changes when you realize that sometimes it’s a man who isn’t in the mood.
All of this is to say, that sometimes it’s often women who complain about their sexless marriages and not men. It’s the woman who wants more or better quality sex, but her man isn’t able or willing to make an effort behind bedroom doors.
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In fact, when we put out a survey asking people about their experiences with sexlessness in their marriage or relationship and advice for people who might be in this situation, many women complained about their lack of sex.
Note: Now, it could be that readers of the Bad Girls Bible, who are mostly women, are more likely to be highly sexual and our survey attracted responses from women who wanted more sex, but that their partners do not necessarily suffer from low sex drive. The opinions from those women who aren’t visiting the site (and their partners) might be quite different from the responses that we received. For example, they might be more content in their marriages and less likely to suggest divorce.
All this to say: it’s not just a man’s problem. But even when it’s afflicting a husband more negatively than a wife, a marriage without sex is an issue that you both must work together to fix. To start, you must determine why you’re not having sex with your spouse.
Reasons for a Sexless Marriage
Sex can stop in a marriage for many reasons. Maybe you and your husband don’t get any private time together anymore because you fear others in the house will hear you. Or maybe you work opposite hours. Maybe no one is initiating sex because the other partner said “no” one too many times. There are many reasons for a sexless marriage. Learning the reasons is the first step to changing the problem.
1. Sex-Negative Attitudes
The attitudes we learn about as we’re growing and entering relationships can be killer for our sex lives in the long term. For example, some people might have been taught that sex is bad or evil when they were children and have a difficult time having sex as a result, even after marriage. Some people’s religious beliefs teach that sex is for procreation only. They might have been taught that sex is sinful except for procreation. That thinking can lead to a sexless marriage if you aren’t trying to have kids.
The idea that there is a correct time and method to have sex can lead to boring sex lives from which people check out because they need something else to really enjoy sex. Sex-negativity also hinders talking about sex, which is crucial to asking for and getting the sex you desire. Alternatively, repressing your sexuality can cause you to deny your urges only to act out in unhealthy and potentially unsafe ways later.
One of our commenters mentioned how she only had sex five times in the first year after her marriage. While she had originally ignored red flags, she soon realized that her husband was likely gay, and this was the cause of their sexless marriage. Of course, there’s nothing she could have done to solve the issue, but if her husband had been able to be honest with himself — and her — from the beginning, they never would have entered into a sexless marriage.
2. Health and Medication Issues
Health problems and the medications prescribed for these problems often lead to a drop in sex drive that results in a sexless marriage . Some of the most common illnesses that cause sex to end are lupus, fibromyalgia, rheumatoid arthritis and chronic fatigue syndrome. Drugs used to treat those conditions could also hinder sex drive (blood pressure medication makes it difficult to get aroused, for example ), as can drugs prescribed for depression and birth control.
One respondent, a doctor, even cautioned that hypothyroidism could affect libido. She also mentioned how sleep is a major detriment to sex drive, which may be at the root of many dead bedrooms.
Several of the women who replied to our query about sexless marriages mentioned hormone replacement therapy. Testosterone can help increase libido and the ability to obtain an erection in men while hormones can similarly benefit women [4, 5, 6, 7]. Some women swear by it!
I then found a doctor that provides bio identical pellet hormone replacement therapy that is inserted in the hip. WOW, what a difference that has made. I cannot get enough sex with my husband. I have never experienced anything quite like this. My husband is over the moon with how sexual I have become. I recommend HRT to anyone having a lull in their libido. It has awakened my fantasies as well as released my sexual inhibitions.
Women who mentioned hormone therapy in their responses were often around menopause age or married to men of a similar age who were experiencing an age-related drop in sex hormones. However, a drop in estrogen and testosterone can even affect younger people or potentially be caused by another condition. Pregnancy and breastfeeding both alter your body’s hormones.
Of course, health issues can make it difficult or even impossible to get and maintain an erection, which can lead to a sexless marriage. If your husband hasn’t agreed to sex in a while, it could be that he’s hiding his shame and ED.
Interestingly, certain health issues and medications can make a person constantly sexually aroused. If you are one of those people and your constant sexual arousal is interfering with your life, then check out these tips to stop being so horny.
3. Past Trauma
A past trauma involving sex can disrupt any sexual feelings you might now have , which can lead to a sexless marriage. If you’ve been a victim of sexual abuse and never were properly treated for it, you can be suffering from depression, anxiety or post-traumatic stress disorder — all of which can make it difficult for you to want to have sex.
It’s often particularly difficult to maintain a healthy sex life if you suffer from PTSD, which may be caused by prior (sexual) abuse [9, 10, 11, 12, 13, 14, 16, 17, 18]. PTSD causes withdrawal, recreating the event in your mind and avoiding any circumstances that remind you of the abuse.
If you were a victim of assault or abuse, you can call the National Sexual Assault Hotline at 800.656.HOPE (4673) for immediate assistance and advice.
4. Emotional Problems Within the Marriage
The quality of your sex life might indicate problems in your relationship . If you and your husband aren’t getting along, it’s difficult to want to have sex. If you are always irritable with each other, judgmental toward each other, critical of each other or blame each other whenever there’s a problem, you won’t feel much like having sex, and you might find yourself in a sexless marriage in no time.
It seems like many of our readers realize this because responses to our survey question often touched on relationship issues at the root of a sexless marriage. Some people view the state of their sex life as a measuring stick of the relationship overall. One of our readers described it as a “barometer,” and went on to say:
If a couple is not emotionally connected, then their sex life will reflect this, I believe this works the same for men too.
Another woman said that she thought if “a couple is going for a long period without sex, there is something seriously wrong with their relationship, and lack of sex is symptomatic of a deeper loss of intimacy.”
Yet another woman discussed with her friends and
found out that a lot of them whose marriage was on the rocks were also in sexless marriages.
Finally, we have the following quote.
My theory is to have a successful sex life you need to both understand each other emotionally.
These are just several of many responses along the same lines. If you’ve got trouble bubbling just below the surface of your relationship, you may find yourself not having as much sex as you once did, or any at all! If you want to work on issues inside the bedroom, you need to open that door and work in things outside the door.
Sometimes the lack of sex within a marriage is on purpose: people withhold sex as a power play in the relationship, or they do so in a passive-aggressive way to punish the spouse for something. So a sexless marriage could indicate that one partner is actively upset with the other and is trying to punish them rather than work it out (or simply ending the marriage).
Note that makeup sex happens when you have an active sex life and are happy with each other but have had a fight about something.
5. Porn Addiction
Porn addiction sometimes causes sexless marriages. It’s one thing if you or your guy watches porn sometimes, either alone or together, and another altogether when one of you becomes so addicted to porn that it affects your everyday life and your relationship.
People who are addicted to porn want to stop watching it, but they can’t. The urge is just too great for them to control. This can hurt a partner in a marriage, making that partner feel rejected, not good enough or even unloved. That makes it difficult for two people to have sex.
6. Alcohol or Drug Problems
If one partner has a substance abuse problem, the marriage will probably suffer, and so will the sex. When one partner abuses drugs or alcohol, the marriage is probably an unhappy one, and the couple usually experiences an emotional distance. There are often fights about the substance abuse and things related to the substance abuse, such as money problems, trust issues, and anger at the substance abuser for neglecting responsibilities. There might even be physical fighting.
If you or your spouse has a problem with drugs or alcohol, the problem won’t go away on its own. It will probably get worse without treatment.
Cheating often leads to sexless marriages. Even spouses who are happy in their marriages sometimes cheat, but there’s often a big price to pay. If a spouse is caught cheating, it’s very difficult for a marriage to stay together, and it’s sure to suffer. The person who was cheated on may not trust cheater or want to have sex with them. Alternatively, someone who is cheating may no longer have sex with their husband or wife, leading to a dead bedroom.
8. Sexual Boredom
One of the recurring themes of our survey answers could be summed up with the following words: You’re bored. Sex had become stale and routine, so one or both partners weren’t really interested, and the frequency greatly decreases. More than one woman described using tips from Bad Girls Bible to seduce her husband and treat him to sex like he’d never had before. Our readers told us that doing so often kickstarted their own desire to have sex.
Furthermore, trying new things in bed helped readers finally have their first orgasm (“I thought because I was wet I had [an orgasm]. Lol no wonder I never wanted sex.”), discover sex that could be enjoyable, and move away from sex that was always painful or too short. We’ll discuss what you can do to alleviate boredom in the next section about fixing your sexless marriage.
Fixing a Sexless Marriage – The 9 Steps
When you’re in a sexless marriage, it usually means there’s an underlying problem in the marriage. Once you and your spouse can figure out the problem and then learn how to fix it, you’ll have a much better chance of having a happy marriage, complete with sex.
1. Talk with Each Other
It might be difficult to bring up the subject at first, but it’s important that you and your spouse talk about the lack of sex. Don’t blame your partner or sulk about it. This is a time to bring the problem to the open and then share your wants and needs. Then let your partner share his. Get tips for talking about the tricky subject of sex.
It’s okay if you’re scared though. Vulnerability can aid connection. Honesty is essential for relationship health .
I guess we all fear exposing who we really are for fear of rejection. But often that’s what brings people closer together. It’s those ‘secrets’ that we know of each other that makes us close. Hiding ourselves from others may lead us to not feeling close to others. It’s the honesty and openess that brings us together in love.
Many women had to figure it out the hard way when they wound up in a sexless marriage. But others clued into the secret sooner, preventing such misery. We agree with these wise words from Julie (and appreciate the compliment!)
In almost every article you’ve written, you stress the importance of communication, and rightly so, as this can often solve many issues. And while a sexless relationship can of course stem from many things, improper communication or an entire lack of it could also cause this.
After her own struggles Julie and her husband…
spoke at length about all the issues we had, sexually or otherwise. Now we sit down and talk every week or so about these things to prevent such a problem again. The thing is, without talking about and solving this problem things would have gotten worse and we would have broken apart under the stress and tension.
One reader discovered that she was bumping her boyfriend’s diabetes pump during sex, so he tried to avoid it. Once he filled her in, she was able to be more careful, and their sex life could resume. The fix was really simple, but they needed to talk about it to fix it!
Another couple simply needed to confirm that they both wanted more from their sex lives. From there, they started experimenting and wound up rediscovering one another again. The wife wrote us one of the most inspiring emails about the process:
For a good 2 weeks I felt like we were just becoming intimate for the 1st time ever. I was shy, blushing, giggling like a school girl. I didn’t know him like *that* anymore. So after 12 years together, 9 married, I got to feel like he was someone new all over again. Something I NEVER thought I’d experience again in my lifetime […] I could go 2 or 3 times a day […] It’s like I’m trying to make up for 3 years, plus I wanna try all sorts of new stuff because I found that my body is reacting completely different than before our “sexual hiatus” [..] I had never had even one single vaginal orgasm before, or female ejaculation but suddenly now, it’s easy! He was making me feel ways that words can’t describe[.]
The sooner you can talk about it, the better. One reader regretted not trying to connect with her husband sexually before he, unfortunately, passed away.
I wish we had talked about it and yes done something about it. But again we ignored the help out there and chose to pretend everything was ok. Even if we couldn’t have full sex we could have found other ways to satisfy each other and cement our marital relationship but sadly we didn’t.
If your sexless marriage has come to be because of relationship issues, you’ll probably talk about a lot more than sex, and that’s okay. Several of our readers talked about how they saved their marriage and got back to having sex once they talked about their issues openly and honestly.
For those who find it difficult to talk about their lack of sex face to face, an email or letter might work better. One woman even told us that she created an entire journal with inspiration for new things to try, entries that revealed her feelings about sex, and pages for her and her husband to fill in their thoughts about their play dates. She even included a bit of erotica and has now written an erotic novel for them to read together. Talk about saying it all!
That’s a lot of work, so you might just want to try what another reader did:
I got us a little book and wrote in it that if there was anything sexual he wanted to try but couldn’t tell me to write it down and leave it out and I would read it and make a decision on if we could do it or not […] Our sex life went from a quick fuck to extremely exciting and new. We have tried loads of different sex techniques, from tying me up, spanking, biting me and I have him take full control, I became his sub and we couldn’t be happier. […] I have recently learned that it’s not me who was the problem it was his self confidence and letting him be the dominant one and doing stuff i never dreamed i would do and thought I would never enjoy but really do we are happier then ever.
2. Fix Your Relationship
Perhaps your sexless marriage isn’t a sign of the end of times; it just means you need to foster emotional intimacy once more to get back into the sexual groove. Readers suggested nonsexual touching such as massage or cuddling, which may lead to sex but feels good and can help you connect nonetheless. Hugs, kisses, and other touches throughout the day can make your husband feel loved and desired. Playful behavior and eye contact can be a subtle way of getting on the same wavelength as your husband.
Check out these sweet reader’s words:
Once our needs are met on an emotional level, great sex has a tendency to follow. Let’s face it, we are all looking to connect and bond on the deepest level. We were created first and foremost for companionship. Sometimes after we have talked awhile we will make love passionately 5-6 times throughout the evening. Our motto is Don’t take our time away from us.
If you can make his daily existence easier, that may be helpful, too. Your husband might want sex but simply find himself without time or energy to have it at the end of the day. Could this be why so many women find partners who do their share about the house an arousing idea? Help your husband have time for sex by assisting with a few tasks.
Another reader responded that sex isn’t everything in a relationship and emphasized the importance of doing things together where you work well as a team. These activities, whether they be sports, volunteering or crafting together, bolster your faith in you and your husband as a unit and…
when they realize that they’re a good complement, that they are the A team, they can take back their sex life.
Take it from one woman:
Try to do more non-sexual things for you partner, whether it be to help them work on their motorbike, make them their favourite meal, do that one thing they keep asking you to do but haven’t got around to, buy or make them something just-because. Take interest in their hobbies and just have fun with them! And once your partner stops feeling pressured to have sex they’ll start having fun again and do it because they WANT to be with you.
Don’t trust the readers? Research shows that couples who had sex at least once a week were happiest [21, 22]. So having sex, even when you aren’t craving it, might be one way to improve your marriage!
3. See a Professional
Because health concerns are the cause of so many dead bedrooms, a visit with your doctor may be able to ameliorate or rule out underlying conditions that affect your libido. Viagra might be all your husband needs to get hard and ditch his shame and anxiety over sex. Tips for dealing with sexual anxiety here.
Sometimes you need a different type of doctor to get you back on track. A therapist who specializes in intimacy and sex difficulties can offer suggestions to bring sex back to your marriage. Typical suggestions a therapist or counselor might make would be for the two of you to talk about the problem when there are no distractions. Make sure you’re tactful with what you say and that you listen to what your partner has to say without interruptions and without being defensive.
You then might be asked to list the barriers that are preventing sex. Sometimes, writing down the problem helps you take the steps needed to fix it.
A therapist may suggest activities to do together or ways that you both can improve separately. If one or both of you struggle with shame, sex-negative thoughts, or insecurity, it may be hindering your sex life.
The key is that you both want to improve, follow instructions, and talk openly and honestly. One reader was blunt:
Go to counseling and be [h]onest don’t hold back
4. Try New Things Sexually
If you’re struggling with a sexless marriage, it might help to check out the following posts on Bad Girls Bible, which are all about igniting that sexual spark (as opposed to fulfilling your greatest desires, which we’ll touch on shortly).
- 9 Ideas to Spice up Your Sex Life
- The 6 Best Sex Games For Back Arching Pleasure!
- 16 Incredible New Things to Try in Bed
- 5 Super Hot Sex Games For The Bedroom
- 16 Kinky Sex Ideas to Spice Up Sex
- 8 Hot Sex Games To Keep Your Sex Life On Fire!
- 12 Sizzling Sex Games For Couples
- 5 Kinky Sex Tips For Hot, Nasty Sex!
Two specific things that you can do to kick things up a notch and convert your sexless marriage into a sexy one: switch up positions and add toys.
Try some or all of the 100+ sex positions in this sex position guide (we bet you haven’t tried them all!). Even if some of them aren’t your favorite, it’s fun to just try. Plus…you’re having sex again. Some positions are better for a woman’s orgasm, some are better for a man’s, and some are just as good for both of you. You might even find a new favorite when you experiment.
Go shopping together for sex toys. Some people mentioned that just stepping into a sex toy store was a way to boost libido. There are many couples toys that pleasure both of you at the same time (we have recommendations for the best sex toys in this post). Sometimes you just need a little bit of lube to get you going.
5. Go On a Marriage Retreat
You can find marriage retreats designed to give couples a vacation while working on the marriage with a counselor. You’ll learn tools you need to succeed in the marriage at these retreats. Marriage retreats that you can sign up for are all over the United States. Some retreats take place out of the country. When you go on these retreats, you are with other couples, and you can have discussions with other people if you choose to in a group therapy type of fashion.
6. Figure Out What You Want
The two of you should tell each other your sexual desires to get the sex going again. Here’s a list of some the top fantasies of men and woman. Maybe one or more of them are yours:
- One of you be in charge: the person who’s in charge directs the sex that night (these 6 BDSM games are great for power play, or you can take charge by denying him orgasm)
- Have oral sex: if oral sex stopped, start it up again
- Have anal sex: you can find anal sex tips right here on this site for doing this in a pleasurable way
- Watch each other masturbate. Female masturbation tips & techniques.
- Watch porn
- Have sex in a public place (making sure you won’t be caught) or try these different places to have sex.
- Role play with your man.
- Get a motel or hotel room for a rendezvous
- Have a threesome
- Tie each other up (tips for light bondage)
Get more ideas in our post about the most common sexual fantasies.
When you’re trying to figure out what you want and need from sex, we recommend masturbating (How To Masturbate (For Women): 7 Step Orgasmic Guide). This enables you to try new things without any pressure. Then, you can bring them to the bedroom and bask in the anticipation of amazing sex!
7. Build Sexual Tension
Building sexual tension helps put you in the mood to have sex. You can build sexual tension in many ways.
- Start by flirting with your husband as you did when you were dating: look him in the eye when you talk to him, and even talk dirty. All our flirting tips are located here!
- Touch him when you pass by. Rub his back, or put your hand on his shoulder.
- When you’re apart, send him a sext message. It can be as simple as telling him you can’t wait until he gets home.
- Sit next to him on the couch when you watch TV.
- Wear clothing that looks flattering on you that you know he likes. Learn more on dressing sexy.
- Give him a long hug before he leaves or when he comes home.
- Whisper something to him when you’re out together in public. Here’s some dirty talking ideas to get you started.
Interested in more advise for sexual tension?
When you put it all together, you might have a marriage that looks something like this one as described by a happily-married reader:
My husband and I make time for us, whether it’s date night, a night away, lunch dates, etc. We try to have fun together and remain as connected as possible. Neither of us use social media, so being consumed by our devices is not an issue. We go to church together, snowmobile, fish and do enjoyable things as a couple. I’m pretty assertive, so I don’t have issues communicating when things go astray, I try to lay it all out, talk and move on.
We talk about sex too. We are both very open-minded and communicate easily about our needs.
Not always, but many mornings I wake up and ask him or think about what I can do that day to make his day better. The thing is, I have a great man and all my effort comes back around. He treats me as well as I treat him and all this culminates into a very satisfying sex life.
Just because you’re married doesn’t mean you cannot masturbate. In fact, women who are sexually satisfied may do it more ! Masturbating was mentioned by a few women who responded to our question about sexless marriages including the woman who described the following:
Rather than pressure him, I upped my masturbation game. I discretely ordered a couple of toys & watch some porn for women (which is not quite my cup of tea, but is better than nothing). I don’t want him to feel bad and I still want to feel good. So far (6+ months), it’s working well-still happily married.
If you’re having some sex but not as much as you’d like, why not get yourself off? It requires no partner or preparation and can be less stress than sex.
Even if you’re the one who isn’t interested in sex, masturbating might be key to getting there. One reader, Belle, chimed in:
The best thing I did to get me interested in sex again was to start masturbating.
The woman who said that also started focusing more on her own pleasure during sex.
9. Give Your Desire Something to Respond to
This following bit of advice is for a specific group of women (or men) who have low desire that might be the cause of their sexless marriages. You probably feel bad because you don’t want sex and your partner isn’t getting his needs met. When you’ve eliminated other reasons for you not wanting sex, consider whether you don’t want to have sex or you don’t want to start having sex. If you find yourself liking sex once you’re in the middle of it, you might have responsive desire.
Responsive desire isn’t the same as low desire [24, 25]. It just means that you don’t immediately want sex when your husband initiates it. And keep in mind that it’s been shown that a large component of women’s sexual desire is responsive rather than spontaneous . This also varies on a person-to-person basis. Some women find that are wired almost exclusively for responsive desire.
For some women, it might be better if their husbands initiate sex with actions rather than words. Other women find that if they say ‘Yes” when they’re only lukewarm to the idea of having sex, they’ll enjoy it once it starts happening [27, 28]. Their desire responds to the action rather than waiting for the desire to start the action.
Other things you can do to invite desire to make an appearance include writing or reading erotica, watching porn, sexting your husband, touching yourself, or pouring yourself a drink. Understanding how desire works might be the key to saying “Goodbye” to sexlessness once and for all!
Sex Frequency and Drive Rises And Falls
While many people who want to change their marriages from sexless ones to sexed-up ones have been dealing with sexlessness for a long time, it’s not always the case. Some people become concerned more quickly. But this concern isn’t always warranted.
The frequency of sex will change over the course of any marriage. It’s usually higher at the beginning of a relationship and drops to a stable amount after a while. Similarly, satisfaction peaks toward the beginning of a relationship before falling .
Having children in your house and a lack of sleep (which often go together) can preoccupy you and your partner . Pregnancy and even nursing your children can also mess with your hormones that in turn, messes up your sexual desire . Many women see a drop in libido after giving birth . Sex wanes in mid-life but picks back up eventually .
Moving, changing jobs, or dealing with an aging parent are other stressful life events, and stress wreaks havoc on libido . However, many stressful periods even out after some time. Recognizing that your sex life won’t always be red hot and that you cannot control desire may be crucial to your understanding and the health of your marriage. There is no constant, as one wife explains:
What I have learned and continue to learn is that sex, both the desire and act comes and goes through out the years. When we were young we both wanted sex all the time and anywhere. We were blessed with two children and my desire for sex dried up for a while. […] We are now in our late 40’s our children are mostly grown and stable people. I now have the desire but had noticed over the last couple of years my husband was not enthusiastic about sex.
After talking to the doctor, the husband realized he had low testosterone and was able to use hormone treatment to remedy the issue.
Wow!! What a difference! We are happy adventurous honeymooners once again! We are both looking forward to the next 25 years.
Be sure not to close the book if you haven’t yet found a happy ending. There might yet be another chapter!
Dealing with Rejection
If our responses were any indication, being rejected can make you feel unworthy or unloved, even humiliated. Being rejected is never easy, and it can be frustrating if you’re the one typically initiating sex only to be turned down time after time. Understandably, you might feel hurt or confused, but if you respond with negative emotions such as anger or resentment, you’re unlikely to help the situation and end the sexless period. One reader put it well:
As frustrated and rejected you feel, the other person feels annoyed and pressured too.
Even if you’re trying not to be angry, constantly nagging for sex might send your spouse running. It can make him feel guilty and anxious, which means he’ll want to have sex even less. People who find themselves in this position can easily feel like their partner sees them as sexual objects and not as human beings to whom they pledged to share their life.
They need space and time to enjoy their life and marriage without worrying about how much you want sex. This time can also give them the opportunity to want sex.
It’s better to accept a “No” rather than to whine or coerce. You want your husband to have sex with you because he wants to, not because he thinks he has to. If he’s able to offer some sexual activities but not penetrative sex, be happy that you can share pleasure and intimacy in this way and try not to push the issue. You may benefit if you can increase your definition of sex from specific actions (PIV sex, for example) to cover a wider range of sexy activities.
Having Other Sexual Partners
Only a few women who responded to our survey mentioned having other sexual partners. Some talked about cheating without their partner’s knowledge, while a couple discussed arrangements that allowed them to have sex outside of their marriage with their husband’s consent — an open marriage. Obviously, we do not recommend cheating. But open marriages may work for some people, especially if the reason you’re in a sexless marriage is that you can’t have sex rather than don’t want to.
However, this solution may not work for everyone as it requires trust and sexual partners who can be discreet. Even then, the solution may not solve issues within your relationship as one sad email described:
His solution was to offer me an open relationship, he can’t be bothered so Im allowed to go elsewhere. But deep down, his lack of interest leaves me feeling very lonely.
Another woman simply told her husband she was going to cheat. Initially, this led to a couple of weeks of sexual contact, which dwindled once more. She wrote in to tell us that her situation was not ideal but currently works for her/them.
However, one man said that he stopped seeking sex from his wife and started seeking escorts. He’s worried about his wife finding out but summed up his current feelings.
Frankly, I think the escort services has saved my marriage. My wife and I are both happy with our sex life (or none in her case), so that is no longer an issue driving a wedge in our marriage.
When You Can’t Fix a Sexless Marriage
Although it would be nice if you could revive every dead bedroom, sometimes that just isn’t an option. When we asked readers how they dealt with their sexless marriages and relationships, a surprising number of them lauded divorce as a cure. Of course, this didn’t mean their marriages and sex lives were saved. Rather, these women chose to end their marriages and leave behind relationships were no longer meeting their needs, and these women were not shy about expressing their need for sex.
While this article focuses on sexless marriages, many readers pointed out that a lack of sex also corresponded with a general lack of respect and care in their marriage as well, and this often bred resentment. A few readers commented on how their relationships were otherwise strong with only sex being a weak point, but others recognized that their sexless marriages were symptoms of greater problems, some of which were insolvable, denied or ignored by partners, or simply too entrenched to be resolved. So divorce was recommended time and again.
Several women wondered why they had waited so long to get divorced while others lamented pressure from friends and family or expectations of marriage keeping them trapped in their sexless marriages.
Don’t think this means that divorce was easy or that readers didn’t worry about how it would affect their lives and children. The opposite is true, and respondents expressed feelings of trepidation about leaving their partners. Yet they knew that they could no longer remain in a sexless marriage and something needed to change and that if their partners weren’t going to make the change, they would have to be the one to do so.
Despite mixed feelings about getting divorced, almost all of the people who responded about divorce were happy that they had done so. Many of our readers had moved on to happy and healthy relationships that included sex. Perhaps they had learned what they need and were no longer ready to settle for less. Even readers who were single or who had experienced heartbreak since their divorce were glad that they finally went through with it.
As one reader put it:
While I don’t regret my marriage, I do wish I had gotten out earlier so that I could have had more years of great sex!
Now, we’re not here to say that you should end your marriage because you’re not having sex, especially if you haven’t tried anything to fix it or if the reason is obviously temporary. But you might consider divorce if this has been going on for a while. It could be just one sign that your marriage is over and maybe has been for a while.
One woman did have this to say, however:
The scars divorce leave behind are far more outweighing than the marital blues.
One study found that many people stayed married or in a long term relationship despite not having sex .
All of these points center around the bigger question: how important is sex to a marriage or relationship. The answer is truly one that depends. Only you know what is acceptable to you in your relationship, and only your husband knows the same. All too often, husbands and wives realize they aren’t meant to be together sexually.
We talked and analyzed it to death and with the help of the counselor figured out that we were better friends than married people. I know you have to be friends first, but in my marriage, the sex part was lacking and that’s a part of marriage. Without it, you’re just friends or room mates.
Another woman echoed these sentiments:
But the truth is if you can’t connect with a lover physically then they are in the friend-zone!
You can come to an understanding with your partner by talking about it. Ideally, you’ll do this before you get married.
Read More: How Important Is Sex to a Relationship?
A few of our survey takers commented on how compatibility from the start is a must, but they ignored the warning signs early on. For them, sex might be a deal-breaker, but this isn’t the case for every person or couple. For instance, one 67-year-old woman described how it was difficult to have sex with her husband because of aging. She would have liked to have PIV sex, but it wasn’t where she drew the line.
If [penetrative sex] happens it happens, if not it doesn’t change the way I feel about him.
Other women responded similarly, saying that sex wasn’t the most important aspect of their relationship or, at least, it wasn’t more important than other aspects that were strong and positive. Here’s just one more example:
I seriously enjoy my time with my partner, all the time. We will go months at a time without having sex and it doesn’t [a]ffect our relationship at all.
While lack of sex is often a symptom of other relationship problems, it isn’t always so. Sometimes you just can’t do anything about the fact that you can’t have sex, but you make the conscious choice to stay with your husband, anyway. Sex is only one facet of marriage, after all. If you have determined that your marriage is otherwise strong and neither of you is overly distraught by your lack of sex, you might just continue on like you have been.
As you can see, many things can cause a sexless marriage. But the good news is that these problems are often completely fixable. It takes some work and some time. After all, your sexless marriage probably didn’t happen overnight. But it’s worth all the time and effort to get the sex back.
Once you start having sex again, you should feel happier and better about your marriage. Sex promotes oxytocin, the feel-good hormone, and it’s a fun way to keep your marriage strong.
Because you’ve had a sexless marriage at one point, it’s important for you to remember how your relationship got that way and to recognize if you’re slipping back to your old patterns and into a sexless marriage again. By recognizing the signs early, you should be able to apply your fixes and start having sex again.
- /r/DeadBedrooms is a Reddit subforum where people discuss their sexless relationships and offer consolation and advice.
- Dr. Justin Lehmiller has discussed how common sexless marriage is as well as how sexual satisfaction changes over time on his blog.
- You’re not alone if you’re younger and in a sexless marriage. In fact, millennials have less sex than any generation according to this article in the LA Times.
- The people at Relationships in America examine how common “sexually inactive” marriages are, even though 70% of people report wanting a happy sexual relationship 
- One couples talks to The Guardian about their happy but celibate marriage.
- Tracy Clark-Flory of Salon tackles how women deal with their sexless marriages.
- Kelsey Borresen interviewed sex therapists seeking advice for people in sexless marriages and shared their thoughts on Huffington Post.
Frequently Asked Questions
FAQ #1: Is a sexless marriage bad?
Some people are dissatisfied when they find themselves in a marriage with little or no sex, perhaps because they prioritize sex more, but this isn’t always the case. It might be hard to imagine if you’re frustrated with your lack of sex, but for some people, sex is less important, and a sexless marriage isn’t necessarily something to worry about.
Our reader Belle summed it up by saying
If you are happy then don’t judge yourself by other peoples expectations
One thing to take out of this is you shouldn’t worry about how often other people have sex (find out here). Instead, focus on how often you want to have sex. However, issues arise when one spouse is okay not having sex, and the other isn’t, which often leads to building resentment and pressure.
FAQ #2: Is there any way to prevent a sexless marriage?
While certain injuries or conditions may make it impossible to have sex, you can take a few steps to ensure that you’re never in a sexless marriage. First, remain healthy. This helps to ensure you’ll be fit enough (and perhaps remain attractive to your partner) to have sex even as you age.
Secondly, make sure you’re sexually compatible with the person before you get married. Compatibility can include concerns such as the type of sex (rough or gentle, kinky or vanilla, etc) and how often you have sex. Being more compatible means there will be fewer issues as your relationship progresses.
One way to be more sexually compatible is to be open to a variety of sexual activities. If you’re more conservative, there will be fewer potential sexual flavors to sample with your husband. Plus, trying new things keep your sex life exciting even if you’ve been married for years or decades.
If you’re talking about compatibility, you’re setting the foundation for open and honest communication about sex from the start. This is crucial to avoiding the sexless marriage: talk about your needs, fantasies, and concerns to have the best sex possible and smooth out any potential issues before they become insurmountable. It also means you don’t expect your sex life to suddenly get better once you get married if it’s been lackluster up until this point.
This sort of proactivity means you don’t expect sex to just happen (and frequently enough for your tastes) or just be good or that your partner will be able to read your mind. In short, you plan for sex to be good and determine how to make that the reality rather than just hoping it will be.
Once you’ve created a strong sexual foundation, you can reinforce it by continuing to making time for sex (perhaps by scheduling it), talking about sex, and experimenting to keep your sex life interesting.
FAQ #3: Does not having sex mean we’re not in love?
Sex is one way to express love to your husband and to feel loved by him. If your husband doesn’t want sex or rejects your advances, it might feel like he doesn’t love you. However, there may be reasons why your husband doesn’t want sex such as confidence or erectile dysfunction. He might be stressed at work, which has nothing to do with you. His libido may have dropped due to a new medication or a health concern. A lack of interest on his part doesn’t mean he doesn’t love you or even that you’re doing something wrong.
Furthermore, if you find yourself with decreased sex drive, it’s not necessarily a sign that your relationship is lacking or that you’re not meant to be. It could just be that you need to work to find your sexual groove or that something is wrong physically, not romantically.
FAQ #4: We haven’t had sex in a while, should I be worried?
It’s been so many days/weeks/months/years, and you haven’t had sex. It might be especially shocking if you once had an active sex life. Before you start worrying or wondering if your husband is cheating on you, sit down and have a discussion with him. Talk about any issues affecting your relationship, lives and even health. Talking might seem like a small step, but it can be a giant leap toward rekindling your sex life.
Don’t let your mind run away with worry, especially if it hasn’t been that long in the grand scheme of things. A week, for example, where you had houseguests or were sick or a particularly busy month. Your lack of sex may mean nothing more than you’ve been tired and overwhelmed and need to schedule a date.
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You're also going to hear a story of how one woman used them to overcome a potential divorce and make her marriage stronger and more passionate than she ever thought possible.