Can a No-Sex Marriage Survive Over the Long Haul?

black and white illustration of man and woman sitting back to backYour marriage is much more than sex. But what do you do when your union involves no sex at all? With no end in sight? It certainly did not start out that way!

No doubt, you have realized that your marriage can very quickly, and contentiously, become all about the lack of sex. On the other hand, as an emotional defense, perhaps you have simply resigned yourselves to more of a roommate connection than a romantic or sexual relationship.

And as time goes by, you may wonder (as many partners in marriage counseling do), whether you can really make a life together work happily and long-term with one of the most intimate bonding acts afforded a couple completely off the table.

Can a no-sex marriage make it?

A sexless marriage can wear on your individual self-esteem and drive wedges of resentment and anxiety between you and your partner. With that in mind, consider the reasons for your no-sex marriage and how they might affect you long term.

Understanding why you gave up on sex matters

Couples generally agree that a sexless marriage born out of traumatic or medical reasons feels more acceptable than a no-sex situation resulting from emotional problems. If no illness is putting sex on the back burner and no major injury or past abuse is causing you major discomfort, a marriage without sex is in danger of not lasting.

Identifying where things went wrong is key. Life experiences can weaken and wear on a once healthy sexual connection. A new baby, demanding careers, blending families, and lessened interest in maintaining physical attractiveness for each other can tempt you to put sex aside. Before you know it, putting sex aside can become the norm.

On a deeper level, agreeing to marriage counseling may also help you both uncover any unresolved problem that blocks physical sharing and intimacy. It is important to identify what you have been unwilling or unable to face productively.

Couples often abandon sex because they have allowed hurt, resentment, and discontent to fester. The vulnerability of having sex can feel like too much to bear when emotions are raw or either partner feels disrespected, unheard or unappreciated.

Recognize that this is bigger than a lack of sex.

The truth? A no-sex sex marriage is difficult to sustain. It simply works against your need to connect and belong to your partner in a special, intimate way. If you and your partner are choosing to live without sex or one of you is withholding sex from the other, the strain you are putting on your marriage will likely be too much for you both to manage successfully.

At the heart of a no-sex marriage, there is something missing, apart from the sex itself. It is likely that a certain degree of emotional isolation exists between the partners.

Typically, it is more than just sex that is lacking in the relationship. Spouses need to ask themselves:

What is the true nature of our relationship? Are we indifferent roommates? Are you angry and feeling rejected? Is your relationship loveless and devoid of connection or affection as well as sexless?

Figuring out what keeps a sexless marriage an option, rather than an obstacle to overcome, could provide some valuable insight regarding the future of the relationship.

Do you want to survive or thrive?

Long-term, toughing out a no-sex marriage is possible. There are other ways to be intimate.
Toughing out a lack of sex in a marriage that is lacking emotionally is infinitely harder; and most couples find that too much to take.

Generally, spouses want more than to simply survive the circumstances of their marriage. Finding the motivation to have sex is also finding the courage and commitment to reconnect on all levels.

To survive over the long haul a couple needs to find the support and tools to restore an interest in a fully connected relationship.

Can a no-sex marriage survive?

Maybe, but ask this question instead:

Am I willing to make my no-sex marriage better?

Instead of boxing your marriage into a sexless corner, seek help.

Challenge yourselves to focus the remaining affection, goodwill, and commitment between you toward something proactive. Through marriage counseling and sex therapy, you can overcome the sense of helplessness that keeps your relationship less than ideal emotionally and physically.

Click here to learn more about how to have a successful sexual relationship.

About the Author

Dr. Stan Hyman is a licensed psychotherapist, clinical sexologist and life coach in private practice in Miami, Florida. He works with couples struggling with powerful issues such as sexuality, infidelity, careers, and intimacy. He also specializes in treating addictions, anger, anxiety, stress, depression and work-life balance.

Call or email for a cost-free telephone consultation. Services are rendered either at the office located at 2999 NE 191 St. Suite 703, Miami, Florida 33180 or through video conference via Skype or FaceTime. .

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