Sexless Marriage

Help I’m in a Sexless Marriage! 10 Ways to Get Your Married Love Life Back on Track

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How long have you been living in a sexless marriage? Months? Years? Whether we are comfortable talking about it or not, we cannot deny the crucial role sex plays in our spousal relationships. Sex helps develop intimacy and strengthens long-lasting connections. When it’s good, it’s great. It keeps the spark alive even decades into a marriage. But when it’s missing, or too infrequent, the relationship suffers.

What is the Definition of a Sexless Marriage?

A sexless marriage is one without any sexual activity. Usually, this definition kicks in after one year of abstinence. Although, opinion varies about frequency and duration of abstinence. Some experts feel that if a couple has sex ten times a year – this still qualifies as sexless. Using the broadest guidelines, roughly 15 percent of marriages tend to fall under this threshold according to some data. [1]

In a marriage, it is very common to see the passionate frenzy of the initial few years die down into a slower but still steady experience. Your sexual activity might go through quiet periods, only to ramp back up. Over the course of the marriage, there will be hiccups, but also love fests. Again, this fluctuation is healthy relationships. But, if all passion dies out, there may be broader issues to deal with than just a lack of sex.

10 Ways to Fix a Sexless Marriage

If you find yourself struggling in a sexless marriage, all is not lost. There are as many different methods of healing a sexless marriage, as there are reasons behind it. To get your marriage back on a path of sexual rediscovery, here are a few suggestions.

1. Work Towards Intimacy Inside and Out of the Bedroom

Intimacy isn’t just about sexual activity. Intimacy plays a vital role outside of the bed sheets as well. For some people, it’s just as important to feel loved and wanted in non-sexual ways as in the sexual ones.

Boosting intimacy outside the bedroom might mean tuning into your love language, a concept made famous by 5 Love Languages by Gary Chapman. Chapman outlines five different ways people show and receive love. Maybe you express love by cooking dinner or doing chores, maybe you receive love through public displays of affection. Learning to show love in a way your spouse naturally receives it, can boost the love inside the bedroom as well as outside of it. [2]

2. Put it in Your Schedule

Do you or your partner frequently use the excuses of timing and sleepiness to get out of getting it on? Sex therapists almost always recommend making it a priority by putting it into your schedule. If you are too tired by bedtime to fool around, plan to head to bed sooner. Or if you both head to bed at different times, schedule a morning date instead. Whatever makes sense for your schedules, be sure to pencil it in.

While this may seem counterintuitive and even boring to schedule in sexual activity, around the groceries and daily appointments – it’s one of the most effective ways to increase the frequency. By planning (with a babysitter, an alarm clock, and appropriate bedtime) you can prepare yourself mentally. Scheduling helps to set the mood and ensure sex is the only priority during that time.

3. Sex and/or Marriage Counseling

One of the most obvious, but often underappreciated ways to get your love life back on track is by going to couples counseling. Couples counseling isn’t just for marriages on the brink; marriage therapy works to bring couples closer, to increase intimacy inside and outside of the bedroom, and improve communication.

Marriage counselors are an unbiased, supportive resource for couples to rely on in order to strengthen their relationship. If there are barriers between you and your spouse, sex-related or not, it’s well worth speaking with a professional trained to help married couples work through the issues

4. Make the Bedroom a Negativity-Free Zone

Criticism hurts, and there is no better way to kill the mood than to criticize your partner. Even something said weeks ago can have lingering effects in the bedroom. Repair the damages done through poor-word choices, sarcasm, or disrespect by working towards positive communication. No more harsh words, no more cutting comments, instead strive to communicate healthily.

If you find your relationship typically revolves around only harsh words and negative feedback loops, it may be time to learn new approaches to communication. Sometimes couples can get into patterns of bad behavior without realizing it. Break out of these negativity traps through relationship counseling.

5. Start Talking About It

Is there an elephant in the bedroom? In some cases, couples might choose to ignore the glaring lack of sexual activity, because it’s uncomfortable, its taboo, or it’s more convenient to talk about your day at work. But the first step to fixing a sexless marriage is to communicate about it.

According to Suzanne Phillips, a contributor to the blog Healing Couples, “The reality is that silence, the avoidance of talking between partners,  jeopardizes mutuality and erodes sexual intimacy because it is rarely interpreted in a positive way. A sexless marriage is often an unhappy one because the lack of verbal exchange makes it sexless by default.” [3]

Healthy communication on what might be a taboo or uncomfortable subject matter isn’t going to be easy, but it’s critical. You’ve got to talk about what’s important to you, and the marriage. What are the roadblocks preventing you from spending time together at night? How does it make you feel to be rejected? Talking about the barriers, the feelings, and the problems is the first step to working through them.

6. Individual Therapy

There are many individual reasons which can lower sex drive. Depression and anxiety are two common mental health issues which reduce libido, but there are many more. Sleep disorders, trauma, and general stress can also make it hard to get into the mood.

While it is true that almost all relationships, sexless or not, can benefit from marriage counseling, sometimes the first step is to go through a few individual sessions. Especially for those who already know the reason behind the low sex drive is not related to the relationship, why not talk to a professional to work through the underlying issue?

7. Talk to Your Physician

One in ten women find intercourse extremely painful; a disorder called dyspareunia. Roughly 50 percent of men will at some point have problems with erectile dysfunction, a number which tends to increase with age. If you or your partner have a physical condition with makes sex unpleasant, or embarrassing, it’s worth speaking with a physician. [4]

You may be surprised to find out the options available to treat sexually-limiting physician conditions. A doctor can present you with the options, and help you make the right choice. In some cases, they may also refer you to a talk-therapist, or a specialist.

8. Make a List, and Check it Twice

Schedule a sit down with your partner to get to the bottom of your sexless marriage. Make a list of every reason for the lackluster love life, no matter how mundane or embarrassing. Is one of you constantly too tired? Are you still co-sleeping with your toddler? Is there a more profound tension, or resentment between you both?

Having a list is a way to lay the concerns out in the open, and give each of you a sense of where to start. For example, if the kids are in the way, hire a babysitter, or if the TV is always killing the mood – turn it off! Understand the list of issues isn’t meant to point out the other’s flaws, or lay blame. Approach the conversation with care, respect, and love.

9. Explore New Sexual Adventures

If sex has fizzled because it’s boring, it may be time to make it adventurous again. Often couples fall into the same old routine after years together. It’s not bad, but it’s no longer exciting and therefore no longer a priority.

If you suspect the lack of sex is just because it became a chore, rather than a fun activity, ask yourself (and your partner) how you might improve it. Open any Cosmopolitan or Men’s Health magazine, and there are hundreds of articles about improving your sex life – take your pick of suggestions.

From exploring fantasies to bringing new toys into the bedroom to merely switching up the position or location – there are unlimited ways to make the bedroom a little more exciting than the same old routine. Be safe, and have fun as you explore new ways to get it on.

10. Spend Quality, Alone Time Together

When was the last time you went out on a date or had the kids go to the grandparents for the weekend? Eventually, even the best relationships can fall into a pattern of chores, errands, and routine. Families are hard work, and often the first thing to go is the intimate couples time, especially if there are young children.

Again, intimacy is about more than what happens behind the bedroom door. It means having flirty, casual conversations that aren’t about who’s picking the kids up from school or mortgage payments. It means spending quality time together, doing something fun. If you never get time alone together at all any more, this will eventually turn into fewer sexy times. For some couples, the first step to fixing a sexless marriage is to spend more quality time together. Once this connection is rebuilt, then you can work towards fixing the missing sexual connection

How Often Should Couples Have Sex?

How frequently you should be having sex is a tricky question, and arguably one without a definite answer. While some marriages may thrive off ten times a year (which according to certain experts qualifies as sexless), other couples may need to connect multiple times a week. Age, libido, health and wellbeing, children and many other outside factors influence how frequently you both get in the mood.

Sex, as it plays a part in marriage, is a well-studied concept. On average, a happy couple has sex at least 54 times a year – or roughly once per week. There is some correlation between the frequency of sex and the happiness of the relationship.[6]

David Schnarch, Ph.D., an expert on intimacy has surveyed more than 20,000 couples on their sexual activity within a relationship. His data says 34 percent of couples have sex once or twice a month, 26 percent have sex once or twice a week, and only 7 percent are nearly daily. If you look at Schnarch’s data a different way, that’s 67 percent of couples have sex less than twice a month. [7]

But you are looking for answers! How often should you and your partner have sex? As much as we would all love a single solution to this puzzle, there is no one-fits-all answer. Your sexual relationship is entirely unique to your marriage, and the frequency will depend on your individual situation.

Instead of focusing on numbers, focus on opening up the conversation. Are you both happy with the frequency? Are there issues between you in the bedroom? Work on developing healthy discussions about your sexual relationship, and seek help from marriage or sex therapists who are well equipped to help you both work through incompatibilities.

Sources

[1] https://www.rd.com/advice/relationships/are-sexless-marriages-more-common-than-we-think/

[2]https://www.huffingtonpost.com/audrey-van-petegem/5-languages-of-love_b_4781589.html

[3]https://blogs.psychcentral.com/healing-together/2011/09/sexless-marriages-a-closer-look/

[4]https://globalnews.ca/news/3207835/sex-is-painful-for-1-in-10-women-study/

[5]https://www.bcmj.org/articles/hot-topics-erectile-dysfunction

[6]https://www.prnewswire.com/news-releases/64-percent-of-americans-say-theyre-happy-in-their-relationships-300595502.html

[7]https://www.psychologytoday.com/ca/blog/intimacy-and-desire/201105/normal-healthy-couples-have-sexual-desire-problems