Do sexless marriages survive?

Is sex an essential ingredient for a marriage to survive? Our relationship expert Jo Lamble answers this very question.

Most couples go through periods when there is little or no sex – e.g. when they have newborn babies, when there is a health issue or when one person is extremely stressed. These stages usually pass and sexual intimacy resumes. But sometimes a couple simply stops having sex. There is no discussion had, no informed decision made. They just have less and less sex until one day it stops. Various studies report that 15–20 per cent of Australian couples have little to no sex.

Our sex drive is similar to any other drive. It relies on habit. The more you exercise, the more you want to exercise. The more sex you have, the more you want to have sex. So it’s easy to see why sex can go by the wayside, in the same way as many people can stop exercising.

If having a sexless marriage doesn’t bother either of you, then it’s not really a problem. Sexless marriages can definitely survive. But if you or your partner is quietly wishing that you had more intimacy, then resentment may build up – and resentment can be very destructive in a relationship.

Remember that sex is only one form of intimacy. To increase intimacy, you need to share your thoughts and feelings with each other, and that includes how you are feeling about the lack of sex.

If one of you wants to resume a sex life, then the responsibility falls on that person to initiate a discussion. Wait for a time when you have enjoyed some relaxed time together and you’re feeling quite close. Tell your partner that you love them and find them incredibly sexy. Reassure them that you don’t want to put any pressure on them, but you wish to explore ways to become physically closer. Be empathic if they express fear or anger. Be patient if they ask for some time to get used to the idea again. Be open to suggestions about how to get them in the mood – even if their suggestions have nothing to do with the bedroom!

Most couples find that if they put in the effort, the closeness they feel when sex is back on the agenda is worth the work. To rekindle sex, it’s a good idea to reminisce. Take out some old photos. Laugh about old times. Visit old stomping grounds. Talking about sex can get so heavy, but it’s meant to be fun. So, go on dates. Watch romantic movies. Drink champagne. Light a fire. Act like the young people you are inside.

Jo Lamble recommends reading:

  • Detox your Relationship by Jo Lamble
  • Good Loving Great Sex by Dr Rosie King
  • Where Did My Libido Go? by Dr Rosie King
  • Perfectly Normal: Living and Loving with Low Libido by Sandra Pertot

Related articles:
Should we talk more about sex?
Sex and older women

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