Sitcoms lead us to believe that women pretend to have headaches to avoid sex. But more and more often I encounter couples where the man is either not interested or is unable to perform sexually.
Whether it’s you or your spouse who doesn’t want to initiate sex, falling into the trap of a sexless marriage is dangerous. It can lead to depression, unhappiness in your marriage, and both physical and emotional affairs. About 15-20% of people are in a sexless marriage — and sometimes they don’t even know why.
It’s easy to blame busy schedules and lack of time, but you can always schedule in time to be intimate. So what is leading to all these platonic marriages? And how do you bring passion back?
What leads to a sexless marriage?
Between work and kids and life, it’s easy to come up with excuses for not wanting to be intimate with your spouse. But the longer it continues, the harder it can be to reconnect and feel passionate again.
The quicker you can determine what’s causing your lack of intimacy, the faster you can work on fixing the problem.
Medical problems are a good place to start when it comes to determining why you or your partner have zero libido. Often hormone deficiencies like low testosterone can lower your sex drive.
Loss of libido is also linked to conditions like depression, high blood pressure, and diabetes. Certain medications, including antidepressants, can cause you to lose interest in sex.
Stress makes you feel sluggish, which in turn affects your metabolism and weight and inadvertently leads to poor body image. Stress also affects your body by overproducing a hormone called cortisol that directly reduces your libido.
People often think that a loss of interest in sex means their partner is no longer physically attracted to them. But reduced attraction usually has less to do with appearance and more to do with unexpressed and unresolved unhappiness in the relationship or marriage. When you feel emotionally detached from your partner, it’s hard to want to be physically intimate.
Lack of romance
This can go hand-in-hand with emotional disconnection. A lack of romance often leads to a lack of intimacy. If you think back to when your relationship first started, there were probably a lot of romantic gestures that made you feel close to and engaged by your partner. When these go away, it can be harder to feel the excitement and connection that lead to sex.
Unless you talk to your partner about how their lack of interest affects you, they may have no idea. Failing to communicate your needs and desires can directly impact how often you have sex.
Fixing a sexless marriage
Maybe you haven’t had sex with your spouse for months, or even years. Once you get into the routine of not having sex, it can seem impossible to fix. But you can find your way back to each other and reignite connection and passion in your relationship.
The first thing to do is talk. Talk about your sexual needs and how they aren’t being fulfilled. Just the act of talking alone can lead to the closeness and connection that may have been missing.
Learn to reduce your stress. Stress management is an important step in bringing intimacy back into your relationship. When you can let go of some of those things that bring you the most stress, you leave yourself more open to spend time with your partner and be relaxed.
Check in with your doctor. Get a check up at the doctor to rule out underlying medical conditions or have your meds changed. Once medical problems are ruled out, then issues such as stress, mood, and marital satisfaction can be addressed.
Get counseling. Talking through issues of intimacy may be hard for you or your partner for many reasons. Connecting with a couples therapist can help you learn to talk about the issues that have led to your sexless marriage and help you find ways to be intimate again. Tools like Gottman’s online marriage assessment can help me quickly hone in on issues in your marriage. Together, we can work on addressing those issues so you feel closer again.
Bring back the romance. Romance doesn’t have to be grand gestures or long weekends away. Those may not even be possible if you have a demanding job and kids. Romance could be laughing with your partner for a few minutes every night, picking up your spouse’s favorite food for dinner, or spending time on the patio listening to your favorite songs.
Change the emphasis. Men’s sexuality is often defined by society and themselves as the ability to perform on demand. If they can’t achieve an erection or climax, men often develop performance anxiety and become withdrawn, angry, or suppress sexual desires. Women often need more emotional connection when it comes to sex and may feel even more detached and self-conscious if they can’t get aroused as quickly as they once did.
Removing the emphasis from intercourse and refocusing on things like cuddling, foreplay, and flirting reduces the pressure and allows you to redefine your sexuality in a different context. By replacing intercourse with physical and emotional intimacy, a couple can actually reinvigorate their sex life and bring romance back into their marriage.
Don’t despair. If you’re with a compassionate, loving partner your sexless marriage can be transformed to a hot one in no time!