According to a survey, about 2% of marriages are completely sexless. Or, according to another study, couples are only having sex 10 times a year. Now, if 10 times a year is agreed upon by both parties, then that’s great. But what happens when you don’t agree on the frequency of sex? In this episode, we’re going to take a look at 5 steps to create that intimacy in your marriage again. Passionate marriages take work but it is so worth it!
In 1992, the US National Health and Social Life Survey found that 2% of the married respondents (aged 18-59) reported no sexual intimacy in the past year. According to the same study, 20% percent of couples are having sex less than 10 times a year. Esther Perel, in her book State of Affairs jokingly says “so if you have sex eleven times a year, consider yourself blessed.” Data analyst Seth Stephens-Davidowitz reports in the New York Times that Google searches for “Sexless Marriage” outnumber searches related to any other marital issue. And there are even more who may meet the requirements for sexual frequency but lack any satisfaction. The number of times you have sex is only problematic if the one or both see it as problematic. If both are in agreement on the frequency, no matter what that number is, then it’s not a problem. But, from my experience, frequency and desire discrepancies are a huge problem in many marriages, and not just within our faith community.
“I don’t know what happened. When we were dating and engaged we couldn’t keep our hands off of each other. But as soon as we said “I do” all the desire just disappeared.”
“All he wants is sex, all the time. I don’t even want him to touch me anymore because everything is sexual. And I never initiate any sort of touch because he sees it as a green light. Touch equals intercourse, and I’m just not in the mood for that, so I’ve just stopped everything.”
“Things were fine until I got pregnant with our third. My desire usually comes back but it just never did. I’m exhausted with three kids under 5 and totally touched out. The last thing I want to do is take care of someone else’s needs.”
“He tells me that I’m sexy, but I don’t feel it. How can he still look at me that way after I’ve had 5 kids? I’ve gained a lot of weight, have tons of stretch marks and cellulite. I hate my body. But I feel like just an object to him.”
“He snores so bad, I can’t sleep. So we’ve started sleeping in separate rooms. We used to just have a quickie before he went off to the guest room, but now even that doesn’t happen.”
“When he touches me it doesn’t feel good. He wants to do things that I’m not comfortable with. I’m worried about doing something wrong and being unworthy. He keeps telling me that he wants me to feel as good as he does, but I just don’t.”
“He plays video games and hangs out with his friends online until all hours of the night, and then climbs into bed and wants to get it on. No way. I have no desire to engage with someone who I don’t feel emotionally connected to first.”
“We have sex but I really don’t enjoy it. It’s just something I do for him and then I get to mark it off my to-do list for a few days.”
“We have kids ranging in age from 3-18. Between jobs, callings, taking care of household chores, running kids to all their activities, we just can’t find the time.”
When couples begin noticing a lack of sexual connection in their relationship, it’s important to address it directly and figure out what is causing it.
Here are the top reasons marriages become sexless
- Low or non-existent sex drive
- Relationship issues
- Lack of love or closeness
- Unresolved trauma in one or both partners past
- Chronic illness or medical reasons
- Sexual dysfunction or sexual pain
- Childcare stresses or family dynamics
- Lack of sexual desire or attraction
- Hormonal imbalance
- Mental health issues
Having a sexless marriage doesn’t mean that the couple doesn’t love each other. I talk to women every single day who love their spouse tremendously, they just don’t like, want, or desire sex.
“Relationships don’t die because of a lack of love, they die because of a lack of passion.” – Tony Robbins
But, when couples have frequent, mutually satisfying sex, they are less likely to divorce and report an overall higher level of satisfaction when compared to sexless marriages. Sexual frequency is usually related to marital satisfaction. When a marriage stops experiencing sexual frequency, it may serve as a signal of a problem underlying the relationship.
I always recommend couples have sex no less than 1-2 times every 1-2 weeks to ensure that they are experiencing enough sexual intimacy. But it’s about more than just sexual frequency. Sexual intimacy is about sharing emotions, being vulnerable, and taking risks. It involves experiencing something inside the bedroom that is different and special. Something you don’t do with anyone else besides your spouse. It’s what makes marriage different from any other relationship that you have.
So what are the consequences of a sexless marriage? Well, the marriage is usually unhappy for at least one of the individuals and I typically see one of three things happening.
- There is some sort of affair or cheating. As humans, we are wired for connection and if we aren’t getting that at home, we often seek it elsewhere. Is it right? Probably not. But it happens nonetheless.
- Divorce. Within a sexless marriage, you are basically holding your spouse hostage. It’s enforced celibacy. Which isn’t right and isn’t fair. Marriage is essentially a sexual contract. Sex is what sets marriage apart from any other relationship. If that isn’t happening, the contract is broken. So often divorce is an inevitable consequence.
- Silent suffering. I often see spouses that say “divorce isn’t an option” and an affair is outside of their value system, and so they suffer, often in silence. These are the people who are so committed to the vows and covenants that they made, which is admirable, but they often don’t see their own value and know that they deserve to have happiness in this life. Many want to stick it out for the kids, or they know that the grass isn’t always greener, so they just decide to stick it out. They love their spouse and are willing to stick it out, even if they are unhappy.
What can you do to change things if your marriage is sexless or nearly sexless?
If you are the one who doesn’t desire sex any more, you need to address the root problem and ask yourself what you could be doing to fix it. Even if you have health issues that prevent you from being sexual with your partner, you can seek to create intimacy in other ways. But working to restore passion and intimacy is imperative. It was there once, it can be there again.
Step 1: Change your mindset
You need to understand what you are currently thinking and believing that is creating this lack of desire and passion. This is one of the first things that women learn in my membership. How to become aware of their thoughts and belief systems and what those thoughts and belief systems are creating for them. We don’t always have to change. Sometimes it’s good judgment to not change things. But we need to be aware and see what your mindset is creating and then from there you can decide whether or not you want it to change.
Step 2: Realign your polarity
In Episode 187, I discussed different sexual energies. Yin and Yang. These contrasting energies create polarity in a relationship. Feminine energy (yin) focuses more on emotion and connection, while the driving force behind masculine energy (yang) is working toward an end goal. Regardless of gender, there must be both types of energy for a relationship to succeed. Examine the roles that you and your partner have taken on in your marriage. Have they changed over time? What can you do to realign those energies in your relationship?
Step 3: Date Each Other
Over time, if you aren’t intentional about creating it, excitement and passion fade as you settle into the comfort of everyday life. Dating each other isn’t just about going out on date nights, although those are great. It’s about being intentional in the way that you think, feel, and act about your spouse. Think about all the little things you used to do for them before you were married. What was the first thing you did when you woke up? Texted them to see how they slept? Did you buy little gifts for each other and tell them how much they meant to you? Did you plan fun nights out? Why did you stop these things? Because you got comfortable. You stopped treating each other like you were special. You stopped dating each other. Passionate marriages take work, so start dating your spouse again.
Step 4: Communicate
When things get hard in a marriage, it is often our tendency to not communicate because you don’t want to rock the boat. You don’t want another fight. You don’t want more conflict. But nothing will change if you don’t communicate with the one person who can truly help you turn things around. If you need someone to help you have these conversations, consider coming into coaching. Coaching is where we can often safely have these conversations and learn new skills to help you communicate better. When you are communicating better you will be able to have more emotional intimacy which can lead to a deeper physical connection too.
Step 5: Be Vulnerable
The ability to be vulnerable is one of the biggest keys to intimacy and sex. This is one of the things I see most in my coaching practice, women who are unable or unwilling to be vulnerable. And I get it, vulnerability is scary. We are opening ourselves up to being hurt. Our brain says that we can’t do that, it’s not safe. But being willing to be completely open and exposed is one of the best things you can do for yourself and your marriage. It is truly what creates intimacy in all its forms. You will never have the connection and relationship you desire without vulnerability. And that starts with having a better relationship with yourself. Knowing that you will take care of you, that you will have your own back, no matter what happens in any situation. That is why working on your relationship with yourself is one of the keys to my coaching program. It is essential for a good sexual relationship.
If you can work on these five things, you will be well on your way to turning things around. And if you need help with any of them, I would like to invite you into my coaching program where we address all of them. Where you can learn tools and skills and get support with every step.
So what do you do if you have a spouse that does not want sex? That isn’t willing to do the five steps?
- Know that it is ok that you still want to have sex. Your desires are legitimate and important. Often the partner that doesn’t want to have sex will shame their partner for wanting it. They can often take the moral high road and think they are the more righteous one because they aren’t giving into their carnal desires. This is them trying to shift the blame and avoid the discomfort of their own emotions. It’s important to validate yourself and know that despite what they say, your desires are important too.
- Seek to understand the cause of the cessation of sex. Your partner may have legitimate reasons why they don’t want to have sex right now. This is not about shaming or blaming but truly trying to understand your partner and where they are at.
- The only way to change things is to talk about it. If a couple is unable or unwilling to communicate about their sex life, they will probably never have a satisfying sex life. Don’t avoid talking about it just because it makes one or both of you uncomfortable or creates conflict. Good marriages have conflict. But you must work together to work through the conflict, not avoid it.
- Work on you. Ultimately, you can’t change your partner, you can only change yourself. But when you change you, you change the dynamic.