I have been married for a year. It was a love match. My husband and I love each other, but to date he has not consummated our marriage. He does not initiate intimacy, and when I am in a romantic mood, he will push me away, saying he is sleepy or tired. He shows absolutely no interest in sex.
I try to console myself by telling myself that sex is not the most important thing in a marriage. But sometimes I feel worried, stressed and sad over this issue. We are a young couple, yet we do not have a normal sex life. Do you have any advice for me? – Miss X
Dear Miss X,
There can be many reasons for which people are not interested in sex. Whatever it is, the only way to deal with the situation is to confront it directly with your hubby and discuss possible solutions together.
This is a delicate matter to raise in a relationship, and it is very important to be tactful. Before you even broach the subject with your hubby, there are a few things you have to come to terms with. Sex is not love and neither is it a sign of love. It is something that happens consensually between two people who are in a relationship. So just because your husband is not having sexual relations with you, it does not mean that he does not love you or care for you.
WHAT ABOUT HIDDEN ASEXUALITY?
My own story began 14 years ago when a lovely young lady entered my life one night at a friend’s party. To be honest, she wasn’t striking to the eye. As many of us know, some woman attract attention instantly. Some are all legs, some have hair that floats and bounces as if controlled by a magic hand, while others have haunting eyes that mystically taunt men with a single sideways glance. Sam wasn’t any of these types. A fair judgement would be to say that she was a middle-of-the-road girl. Little makeup and little height, Sam never stuck out in the room made up mostly of similarly unattached twenty-year-olds.
But looks aren’t everything, right? Although I have the same red blood running through my veins as any other fertile man, I rarely take people on appearance alone, including unattached women. I look first but I also listen, making assessments after some significant contact is made. Sam and I made some great contact that night. It was a perfect connection. She made me smile. I felt comfortable in her presence. I drove her home and she asked me to call her sometime. I took it as a sign that the night went well for her too.
Before you get ahead of my story, no, ‘contact’ does not mean I slept with her. We only talked. We talked so much that night that we forgot the time. We got to that point when we suddenly realised the sun was lighting the sky again. I didn’t want her to go. I don’t think she wanted to go either. No, I didn’t bed her. I simply enjoyed her company.
Calling her wasn’t an easy thing do, not at first. It’s not that I didn’t want to, I did, but my previous relationship had left some residuals behind. I wanted to be fair to Sam. I hadn’t quite let go of Nina. Going backward wasn’t an option but I knew I needed to move on… without dumping any garbage on the new girl. I decided I`d ring Sam but if we were to date, I’d prefer to take the whole process very slow. She agreed to my offer. She even liked it. I think she felt I was being responsibly sensitive, a most admirable and rare quality in a man.
The topic of sex didn’t arise again for another three months, when it did, the topic of religion immediately followed. She’s Catholic and I knew Church meant a great deal to her. I respected her Faith and I also respected her wish to remain celibate. At the time it didn’t matter. It worked well with my go-slow approach. If it weren’t for the movie we’d been watching beforehand it’d never come up. At least I knew the deal and we’d begun to make plans for a future.
Two years passed by and I was ready to proceed. Love had grown and I was certain she was the one. My motives were honorable and I felt my conscience was clear. We’d spoken of sex many times by this point, quite frequently too. I made my move. The move was rejected. The aforementioned reasons remained unchanged. She wanted to wait until we were married.
What do I do?
My mother had two simple rules for me: Never call and ask to be picked up from the police station and when a girl says no it means no.
I loved Sam but I couldn’t… you know, love her that way until we were married. That would be another five years away. She smiled and said, ‘Don’t worry, it will all be perfect then, I promise you.’
I was deflated… frustrated… but optimistic… a promise is a promise… and she was always good with hers. If you love somebody then it shouldn’t matter, right? In dreams it’s a perfect way to build love. Besides, I would’ve felt superficial to abandon this relationship over sex. A deep and meaningful relationship is built on things more important, like respect. Respect begins and ends with trust. She trusted me and I trusted her. I had no reason not to trust her. Respect is earned and we had much in our bank. Why end such a rich relationship when a promise is sealed with long-tested trust?
Was it too long?
The wedding night wasn’t perfect. Anxieties that had been building for almost a decade prevented her from relaxing. I didn’t like hearing the screams. I hated seeing the tears. It wasn’t the magical moment we’d dreamed it to be. I took it slow and she tried so hard but when the word was shouted over my shoulder, my mother’s voice was heard in its echo: ‘No means no.’
I should’ve known it was already too late. Long term abstinence had turned sex into a monster. It placed it on a plane we could no longer reach… and the course was set. By not going there so often we couldn’t get there at all. The habit of stopping was so ingrained into my routine and the habit of saying no was so buried inside of hers that we knew nothing else. An unpleasant first-time didn’t help and all-others reinforced it.
This year now marks 7th year of our sexless marriage, 7 more if you add our dating years. She wants a baby this year and I know what you’re thinking, she’ll be onto it and all that won’t matter. That’s where all gets super-weird, she isn’t onto it. We want to have a baby and she’s telling her friends all about it… but it’s a joke because there’s no sex to make one. I’m in a joke but I’m not laughing. How do believe you’re having a baby without any sex?
Now I’m bitter and disappointed. I hate myself for being fooled. I hate her for not taking the same care I did for her. I feel she has used religion to cover her asexuality and me to present to her to the world as a normal person. She broke her promise and now she breaks it again every day that passes.
-K (My own sexless marriage is written in SEETHINGS)
- The foolish cruelty of Catholic conservatives who want gays to disappear (theweek.com)
- 6 important things every woman should consider before saying I do (citifmonline.com)
- Catholic Bishops Have The SCOTUS Sadz (joemygod.blogspot.com)
Ashley Madison — a dating site for married people looking to have affairs — surveyed 74,600 members from 26 different countries about how often they have sex with their spouses and U.S. women topped the list when it came to sexless marriages.
Specifically, 22 percent of the American women surveyed admitted to having no sex with their husbands at all. The numbers were lower in other parts of the world; 18 percent of women from the UK, 16 percent from Hong Kong, 12 percent from Spain, 9 percent from France, 8 percent from Italy and 8 percent from Brazil said the same.
“Married people in the U.S. face the same dilemmas as their international counterparts when it comes to keeping their marital bed active,” said a rep from Ashley Madison. “But our unprecedented global study showed nearly 1 in 5 unhappily married women in the U.S. are in a sexless marriage, and I’m fairly sure that was not what they committed to on their wedding day.”
Of the 74,600 people surveyed, 33,500 were from the U.S.
THE SECRET to marital bliss is not very sexy, researchers announced Wednesday.
Couples having sex every day are not necessarily happier, a new study published by the Society for Personality and Social Psychology reveals.
Those doing the deed once a week are just as cheery, researchers said.
“Although more frequent sex is associated with greater happiness, this link was no longer significant at a frequency of more than once a week,” lead researcher Amy Muise said.
“Our findings suggest that it’s important to maintain an intimate connection with your partner, but you don’t need to have sex every day as long as you’re maintaining that connection.”
Couples shouldn’t put “too much pressure on engaging in sex as frequently as possible,” she suggested.
The study was based on data collected over four decades from a survey of 30,000 Americans in relationships.
“Our findings were consistent for men and women, younger and older people, and couples who had been married for a few years or decades,” Muise said.
But there was no association between sexual frequency and happiness for singles, noted Muise, a social psychologist at the University of Toronto-Mississauga.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: This is in response to 65 Year-Old Man with a 45-year-old Approach to Life who complained about his wife’s lack of desire. Really? I would love to hear her side! Methinks she would speak the truth and put an honest spin on “Mr. Romance, I need stimulation.”
I also live in a sexless, lonely marriage. Sports and drinking are his first loves. He gained a lot of weight in our early years together and ignores his doctor’s advice to lose it. He used to fall asleep on top of me after having sex, snore all night and awaken refreshed while I stumbled through my day exhausted from lack of sleep.
I struggled through years of feeling very lonely as he isn’t a talker. We stopped going out to restaurants because he doesn’t talk, and I got tired of having a one-way conversation. I cook great meals and keep a lovely home because it gives me a lift. He has done some pretty horrible things in our years together, and I chose to be the loyal wife and stood by his side. He has never protected me, never looks into my eyes or has romantic conversations with me.
We have no dreams, no goals and no desires. He gets excited when there are two hockey games on TV at the same time. How could I possibly get stimulated enough to be intimate with this man? If I could write a song describing our life together, it would be titled “I lost me when I met you.”
— Sadly Coping, Winnipeg
Dear Sadly Coping: And your husband is sadly coping too, as you are not intimate with him and don’t like his personality anymore. Why did you stay and waste all those years? Why not leave now and both of you can salvage the years you have left? The divorce taboo is over, and there’s nothing worse than feeling desperately lonely while trapped with somebody who keeps you from finding a companion with mutual interests to love, enjoy and have a sexual relationship with.
Are you unable to work and support yourself? It’s not too late to change your life. In fact, you would be free and less lonely if you dumped this man who is such a negative influence. You sound like platonic roommates. What was he like in the beginning? Why did you marry him? Why stay after he did “some pretty horrible things?”
Life on this planet (if you are lucky enough to have the wherewithal to live, eat and be comfortable) is a gift to make much of. People can do that if they surround themselves with the right people. You know he is wrong for you. You’re being loyal to someone you say is causing you to lose your very self — your soul. You can’t give that away to anybody. It’s all any of us have.
In reality, surviving a sexless marriage is impossible. The best thing you can do really is to try and fix it. Do not suffer through it.
Instead of merely surviving a sexless marriage, I want to encourage you to do more. You can’t survive a relationship that exists with no intimacy. You must either move on, or repair your relationship so that you can bring the fire back in your life.
Surviving a sexless marriage is not enough.
I want you to fix it because miracles do occur, and you never know. it could be your relationship that gets the miracle. Surviving a sexless marriage is not only possible it’s expected if you follow all of the available advice.
The problem CAN be fixed
It’s not enough to try and just survive in a sexless marriage. Surviving a sexless marriage is the minimum goal. Let’s go beyond that and find a happy, balanced marriage.
Don’t allow your sexual frustrations to bubble over; don’t wait to get angry, feel rejected and not feel good about yourself. Part of surviving a sexless marriage is realizing how bad you are feeling while in it. If you start blaming your partner for the situation you could only make things worse.
There could be a very simple and easily understandable reason for your sexless marriage. To move forward, you need to find out what the cause of your sexless relationship is.
First, I want you to work on your attitude. Surviving a sexless marriage really does come down to your mental approach. In fact you’ve got to be mentally tough. I want to encourage you not to put up with a substandard relationship. A key to surviving a sexless marriage is not tolerating things that you don’t like. This is about self respect.
Have higher standards for your marriage!
There isn’t a benefit for putting up with a low-quality marriage. This WILL affect your happiness and other areas of your life. It’s mentally draining and hard to live with, as I’m sure you’ve already found out. This kind of a marriage limits what you do with your life.
The attitude that you will simply “surivive” a sexless marriage is the kind of attitude that will not only prolong it but will lead to your unhappiness in life. For example, take two couples. In the first relationship, the husband is a heavy smoker and the wife hates it. She complains about it but doesn’t do anything about it.
In the other relationship, the man is a heavy smoker and the wife hates it. Instead of complaining about it, she does something about it. Every time she catches her husband smoking she leaves for a period of time or she kicks him out for a period of time.
The first wife wants change but isn’t going after it. The second wife wants change and decides to create change. See the big difference?
Guess which wife is going to get her husband to stop smoking? It’s the same with your sexless marriage. It’s time for you to play hardball.
You’ve got to take it more seriously and make more of a point that you won’t tolerate it. You will need to be able to provide other options for your partner which may involve finding a good relationship therapist.
Even if sex isn’t the most important thing in your partner’s life, it will still be important to them if they know it is important to you.
Now that you’ve read tips on surviving a sexless marriage, don’t miss my FREE video presentation that’ll show you how to rebuild the chemistry you once had. If you know the 4 stages of a relationship and which ones are best to be in…your sex life and marriage will never be boring ever again. Click here NOW for the powerful secret to success.
More than half the couples I counsel each week have not had sex with their partner in over a year. A large number of these couples are over 40 years of age and use the changes to their physiology as their excuse to avoid sexual intimacy.
For others, sex ended with the birth of their children or due to plain ‘ol repetition and boredom.
However, these are all excuses for the real issue. Can’t quite put your finger on it? Here are some of the top “reasons” couples settle for a sexless relationship:
1. You don’t like talking about sex
While many couples are uncomfortable talking about sex, in my experience, they’re generally not comfortable talking about anything with each other and have huge communication issues. After tons of medical advances I’ve yet to hear of anyone reading minds, thus, it’s important that you sit down and discuss your pleasures and desires (both current and potential) with your spouse. Be sure the two of you build a safe place, for you to discuss these topics without judgment.
2. You don’t really understand the mechanics of sexuality and lust
There are specific stages that sexual activity generally move through (desire, arousal, plateau, orgasm, refractory) and many couples don’t understand how to utilize this knowledge for the deepest, and most satisfying connection.
3. You’re on antidepressants
Many antidepressants, typically, have a sexual side-effect profile, which can typically impact many men and women. Perhaps, speak to your doctor about alternatives or new ways to boost your libido.
4. You rarely get enough sleep
In our under-slept culture, sleep deficiency drains us of energy for sex play, thus impacting our mood and desire for intimacy. Make sure you’re catching the recommended amount of z’s for the best performance possible.
5. You’re ignoring the effects of aging
As the “baby boomers” advance in age, issues involving menopause and erectile dysfunction become more prevalent. If this is the case, I recommend getting your doctor’s opinion. These types of conditions don’t have to mean the end of your sex life, it simply means adapting.
6. You view the sexual problems as your partner’s issue, instead of yours as a couple
Issues of shame and guilt prevent us from acknowledging, communicating, and solving our sexual issues as a team. The sooner you can admit and pinpoint your role in any issues the two of you are having in the bedroom, the sooner you can get things booming again.
If you are experiencing some of this and have a question for me, I hold a free tele-seminar every month where I answer your most important questions about relationships, romance, intimacy or sexuality. You can find out more at askadamnow.com
Why do relationships become sexless and how do couples cope?
We’ve come to assume that the long-term intimate relationship involves physical as well as emotional closeness. However, couples may decide for a variety of reasons that sex is not a key feature of their particular relationship. Over time, some may evolve through a set of phases from passionate to companionate marriage. For other long-term relationships, however, the ties that bind are intrinsically linked to physical expressions of affection. What determines which couples choose the sexless route and which remain sexually active well into their later years?
A recent New York Times interview(link is external) with family sociologist Denise Donnelly explored the factors that contribute to sexless marriages, incorporating data from the General Social Survey to understand how these relationships come about and what keeps them going. I decided to explore the published literature on the topic and came across a 2008 paper written by Donnelly and fellow sociologist Elizabeth Burgess. This landmark paper identified the complex factors leading up to the sexless marriage and points to ways that couples in these relationships adapt and evolve over time.
The paper by Donnelly and Burgess is based on social exchange theory, a perspective that emphasizes the costs and benefits of remaining in a long-term relationship. Applying this lens to the sexless marriage, the authors looked specifically at the case of “involuntary celibacy” in which partners remain sexless for 6 months or more. “Sexless” in this case is defined as not having any physically pleasuring sexual activity not because the couples choose to become celibate, but because circumstances lead to this outcome.
According to social exchange theory, women who would otherwise prefer a relationship involving sex stay in one that does not because they regard the costs of being on their own as higher than the possible rewards of being on their own and free to have sex with someone else. Traditionally, particularly as they get older, women have fewer options to have sexual partners than do men because the older woman is seen as less sexually desirable than her same-age male counterparts. Women may also, traditionally, be more dependent on their husbands for financial support (though this is changing) or at least feel that they couldn’t raise their children alone.
Adding to this basic formula are the investments that couples make in relationships in terms of the time and effort they put into their marriage. The more they invest in their marriage, the greater the likelihood they’ll stay in it. In terms of sexuality, social prescriptions also play a role. These include the social norms that committed couples remain sexually exclusive backed up by the legal norms that make it difficult for couples to end their relationship when it becomes less than satisfying.
With this backdrop, let’s examine the reasons that couples choose celibacy in their committed relationships:
- The passage of time. The longer a relationship endures, the greater the chances that the couple’s sexual fires will diminish. Even so, many older adults do remain sexually active. For aging women, the issue may be not only one of time changing the nature of the relationship but the fact that their partners are no longer alive or are in poor health.
- Stressors in the relationship. Even relatively young couples can become voluntarily celibate if they are facing enough outside pressures. Late in a woman’s pregnancy, the couple may decide to cease having sex, and even after the baby is born, she and/or her partner may simply not have the energy to engage in sexual activity. Eventually, most couples do become sexually active again after 6 months, but they may then run into other competing demands on their emotional energy.
- Illness in one or both partners. The development of chronic physical or mental illness isn’t necessarily the deal-killer when it comes to sex, but it may significantly interfere with one or both partner’s libido. It may be fairly obvious how physical illness can become a limiting factor, but as Donnelly and Burgess point out, people with psychological disorders may lose sexual interest as a result of medication or self-doubts associated with stigma. Declines in sexual activity can also contribute to mental health problems, particularly if one or both partners feel that they are less attractive and desirable than they once were.
- Guilt or conflict. Certainly, many people with strong religious convictions continue to enjoy a satisfying sex life, particularly if their religion places high value on propagation. However, a lifetime of being exposed to religious teachings that place proscriptions on oral sex and masturbation may leak over and hamper the expression of sexual activity within even the marriage.
What happens when couples find themselves having slipped, for any of these reasons (or others) into celibacy? Is their relationship doomed? According to Donnelly and Burgess, the impact of involuntary sexlessness depends in part on a person’s reference group. Going back to the social exchange perspective, if they see their own celibacy as not that different from that of others in their own normative group (based on age, gender, illness status,religiosity) then entirely negative outcomes may be mitigated. In general, sexual activity is positively linked to relationship satisfaction, but there are still couples who don’t fit this pattern. They can maintain high relationship quality because their view of their relationship has shifted to define the sexless life as normative.
On the other hand, if a couple is celibate because their sexual relationship was unsatisfying or unfulfilling, then it stands to reason that they will experience high levels of sexual dissatisfaction. They may also start to stray from the marriage and seek sexual gratification in an extramarital affair which may exact a high emotional toll both on the cheater and the cheated-upon.
Despite these potentially negative consequences, couples do decide to remain in the relationship rather than leave their partner. From the exchange theory perspective, they feel they’ve already invested so much time and energy into the relationship that it would take a great deal to tear them apart. They may also value the shared affection they experience in non-sexual ways, what Donnelly and Burgess call “we-ness.” The social supports of remaining together as a couple, if not a family, also keep the sexless couple together. Emotionally, a couple may remain together in a sexless marriage because their partner is their best friend or their “ideal” partner.
In examining the data from a sample of 77 couples, Donnelly and Burgess identified a handful of basic strategies. About one-third gave up and stopped asking their partner. Others sought sexual gratification outside the marriage. For the majority, investing their energy in other things (work, school, hobbies) provided the greatest emotional relief. Some redefined thestress of their relationship as a challenge of their coping abilities and sought spiritual or self-growth. For another third of the sample, though, marriage or sexual counseling was the preferred route though, by definition, this intervention was ineffective for the current sample.
Sifting through the information provided by this unique study, it appears that one of the key factors is perceiving that the rewards of being together with your partner outweigh the costs of leaving. Love, shared values, and mutual goals, values, and experiences are the glue that can keep a sexless relationship going. Coping with a sexless relationship may involve a variety of strategies, then, whether or not that relationship occurs within the context of marriage. If you’re in a relationship in which you are celibate due to circumstances outside of your control, if you’re like the majority of people in this study, you find ways to cope.
Knowing that you’re not alone may be the greatest solace in coping with a sexless relationship. Social norms may make you feel like an oddity and the distress you experience may be very real. It’s possible that, like some of the least happy in the Donnelly and Burgess study, you decide to leave the relationship. Even though it may be difficult, however, it is possible to find ways to work through its challenges.
Follow me on Twitter @swhitbo for daily updates on psychology, health, and aging. Feel free to join my Facebook group, “Fulfillment at Any Age,” to discuss today’s blog, or to ask further questions about this posting.
Copyright Susan Krauss Whitbourne, Ph.D. 2014
Donnelly, D. A., & Burgess, E. O. (2008). The decision to remain in an involuntarily celibate relationship. Journal Of Marriage And Family, 70(2), 519-535. doi:10.1111/j.1741-3737.2008.00498.x
A new survey has revealed that one in three couples (32%) in a long term relationship or marriage have sex so infrequently now that they can’t remember the last time they had it, with one in ten (10%) even admitting to no longer having a sexual relationship at all.
The study by The Fantasy Box also shows that 61% of those surveyed admit to enjoying a better sex life in previous relationships, with over a third of couples (38%) aged 25-44 blaming family life getting in the way, and nearly half (49%) putting it down to not having the confidence to communicate regularly about their sexual fantasies desires.
For younger couples aged 18-25, work life priorities were cited as the most common reason (19%), and for the grey generation aged 55 plus, not feeling as fit as healthy as they once affected half (50%) of respondents.
Over a third (39%) also admitted to hiding their sexual fantasies from their current partner, stating also (38%) that they just don’t talk about sex anymore. Over a quarter also confessed to being scared of their partners’ reaction (27%) and suffering from a lack of confidence in the bedroom department (27%).
For those couples citing sex as the number one “elephant in the room” in their relationship, nearly a quarter (24%) felt there was not enough information on products and services out there out there to support affected relationships. Half of these of these respondents (50%) suggested they would consider trying dedicated date nights, with nearly one in five (18%) admitting to wanting to experiment more with sex toys to spice things up.
Mariah Byrne, the co-founder of The Fantasy Box said: “This research shows just how much our sex lives are suffering, and how much of an impact it’s having on the happiness of even the most committed relationships. But it’s not that we don’t want it, we just don’t talk about what we really want!
“Our research showed that whilst a quarter (25%) of the UK have read 50 Shades of Grey, (raising to over a third for those couples aged 18-34) many more of us are too afraid to share our own fantasies with our partners or even talk about sex at all. It appears we’re happy to read about it, but when it comes to our own relationships, we take the stiff upper lip approach and become rather reserved!
“As a woman, I founded The Fantasy Box with my partner Chris with one mission – to bring back our happy sex lives! We believe that a happy sex life is one of the, if not the, most important elements in a happy long term relationship. And it all starts with talking to your partner, sharing what you really want, getting over the fear of rejection or embarrassment. And then doing it! So we started a subscription service that will not only help you take your intimacy to the next level, but also rediscover your relationship, inside the bedroom and out. Our aim is make monogamy the sexiest thing on the planet!”
TOP 10 FANCY DRESS FANTASIES
1. Doctor & Nurse
2. French Maid
5. Playgirl Bunny
6. Air Hostess
9. Victoria’s Secret Angel
The Fantasy Box launched in the UK on 13th-15th November at Sexpo, and aims to help partners discover what they like, both individually, and as a couple, through communication and discovery. For more information on the revolutionary date night tool, please visit www.thefantasybox.com.