Common Causes Of a Sexless Marriage | Engaged Marriage

Common Causes Of a Sexless Marriage

By Dustin | Sex & Family Planning

Sexless MarriageIn recent years, more stories and reports of sexless marriages appear in the media.

This is not because the prevalence of such marriages has risen, but due to the fact that we, as a society, have become more open in discussing this issue. I’ve even seen stories about the sexless relationships of various celebrities, which goes to show how mainstream this topic has become.

And it should be mainstream because sexless marriages are much more common than you would suppose. According to a survey done a few years ago, more than 15% of couples have sex less than 10 times a year, the criterion for being classified in the sexless marriage group.

So, we know that this is a common problem, but why?

What causes a Sexless Marriage?

There are a few known culprits:

1. Physical issues – various medications may lead to side effects which include a loss of libido. In addition, surgery to the pelvic area and numerous medical conditions may also disrupt a person’s sex drive or their ability to have sexual intercourse. It is important to discuss this issue with your doctor.

2. Stress – The ultimate mood killer is stress. It can take on many forms: economic stress, fatigue-induced stress, excessive workload, and so on.

Being in the mood for intimacy requires a certain calmness. Being under too much stress can place a great strain on any relationship. In today’s fragile economy, excessive stress and anxiety are more common, which may lead to even more sexless marriages.

3. Fatigue – There’s a reason why many couples report that the frequency of their lovemaking plummets in the first year after having a baby. All those nights of disrupted sleep and endless crying can take their toll. When you or your spouse are exhausted, sex may become less common.

4. Lack of variety and excitement – The excitement of a new relationship is like no other. For many couples, maintaining a similar level of excitement is a challenge that they fail to meet. Many marriages grow stale due to lack of variety and excitement in the bedroom and out of it. This can lead to a sexless relationship and make the relationship less stable as a whole.

5. An affair – When either the wife or husband have an affair, the damage to their love-life can be big. This doesn’t just happen when the affair is exposed and one spouse’s feelings are hurt by the action of the other, but may also occur while the affair is concealed.

There is only so much sexual energy and attention that a person can give. If this energy is expended outside the marriage, little of it is left.

6. An unresolved fight – A fierce argument or a fight that has not been adequately resolved can lead to a continual rift in a marriage. In such cases, the lack of sex can be a form of punishment due to the hurt feelings and anger resulting from such a past fight.

What can you do to fix your sexless marriage or prevent one from happening in the first place

1. Make sure that you’re both healthy and aren’t taking any medications which may be lowering your sex drive.
2. Maintain a calm and relaxed atmosphere at home and work to relieve each other’s stress.
3. Make time for lovemaking. It is an integral part of marriage and should be treated as such.
4. Be open to new things.
5. Keep the lines of communication open between you two and be ready to resolve problems as they arise.

If you do all that, there’s a good chance that you will enjoy a healthy sex life and a good marriage.

Have you had any experience with a sexless marriage – any advice you can share in the comments?

Kate Dixon is the author of Fix Your Sexless Marriage, a program that offers sexless marriage advice for men and women who wish to improve their marriage.

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About the Author

Dustin Riechmann created Engaged Marriage to help other married couples live a life they love (especially) when they feel too busy to make it happen. He has many passions, including sharing ways to enjoy an awesome marriage in 15 minutes a day, but his heart belongs with his wife Bethany and their three young kids.

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(25) comments

Where would opposite schedules fit in here? I work M-F 8-5 and my husband works Wed-Sun all evening into middle of the night. We do our best…but with 5 kids ages 11 down to 1, sometimes it is very difficult to work sex into our schedules.

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Hi Michelle,

I know how challenging this can be. You and your husband simply need to find the time for both a “date time” and a “lovemaking time”. If you have a date night at the same time every week, your kids will also get used to it and it will be easier to continue having one.

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It may seem like a total challenge to find time to do everything that you’re supposed to do — take care of the kids, do household chores, go to work — and be with your husband or wife, but the simplest way to do that is the most obvious: MAKE the time to be with him or her. Cut out the things that can be pushed and postponed for later on and spend that time with your partner instead. The importance of date nights, or just nights off from everything to be precise, should be reiterated because it really is important to set aside time that will only be for you and your spouse. And, like it says on #6, be open to your partner about your feelings, your wants and your needs, and encourage him or her to do the same. This will make both of you aware of each other and of the things that need to be worked on in your relationship (if there are any).

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This is a good article, but I challenge the statement that there is no increase in sexless marriages. I can’t find a study to support it, but it seems many who have been watching this for decades think there is an increase.

Some of the things mentioned, like stress and being tied, are more common today than in the past, so I’d expect sexlessness for those reasons to be up. Porn is also a factor, and that is certainly more common.

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    @Paul I too tend to think there is an increase of sexless marriages.

    Reply
    E.J. Smith

    Paul, I wonder if there is a true increase in sexless marriages, or if the social taboo surrounding talk of sex has finally relaxed enough that more people feel comfortable admitting about troubles in their sex lives?

    Reply

The truth is that a sexless marriage is very hard to move back on track – it all begins to feed on itself. i blame a lot on unrealistic expectations in the media especially magazines that suggest that sex should be continually amazing and passionate. As Paul points out, porn is certainly a contributory factor. Sure, date nights can help but the fire is very hard toi rekindle.

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@Paul, I too tend to think there is an increase of sexless marriages.

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Steve

Scheduling time for sex… Sounds great. I have tried. Wife complains that all I want is sex and that it is never enough. We are married 22 years and in the last few sex has become infrequent. I would say for the most part we do it once a month but there are occasional bursts where we might do it a couple times in one month or even one week, but then if that happens, it ill usually increase the time to the next time. And when we do have sex, it is usually very aggressive. Sex does not cross her mind at all. She is tired all the time, fatigued, works long hours (as do I) and she has had a lot of stress lately with her father passing. Ok. I get it. I have to give her time and space. But I have done that. I have tried date nights, walks on the beach, dinners, rub downs, ect. I have tried porn to get her in the mood. I have bought her toys. I have bought toys she could use on me to alleviate the thought that she needs to actually have sex to satisfy me. I would be happy with her masturbating me once in awhile. I would be happy to watch her do it. But sex just does not cross her mind. She says she hates that I make her feel guilty about the frequency but she doesnt care because she could do without it. She says it pisses her off when I try to initiate sex and she turns me down because I pout. I have been told by other women to just take it, that once it starts she will get into it and the few times I tried, she did after the first few minutes. We had great sex and then it was over. Then she got mad that I kept trying. Her answer is “its never enough”. She has body image issues but I have made it clear that I still desire her and find her attractive. But lately I am so hurt and angry about it that I dont even look at her when she gets undressed for the shower. I avert my eyes when she is naked because it just hurts to look and then not be able to do anything. I have tried to masturbate for her and she would let me look at her while I do it, but no interaction. And like I said, when we do have sex, it feels like its a chore to her. And it usually becomes very hard aggressive sex. We havent made love in years. And the last few weeks, I think she knows I’m upset so she teases me even more. She will drop sexual innuendos or she will do something that I find sexy in front of me. But god forbid if I make a sexual comment to a funny joke on tv or if I try to push a conversation to the sexual side. Its very frustrating and I’m at the point that I will jump on the first woman who offers herself to me. What are my options here? Really. I could grin and bear it and accept that I will live the rest of my life without sex, I could masturbate and become more emotionally distant as I do so, or I could have an affair. Heck, even porn doesnt do it for me anymore, but the minute I see my wife naked I’m up and ready. She doesnt think there is a problem and when I showed her articles and information on the importance of sex in a marriage, she just ignores me. I even pushed her to go for her anual Pap and Mamo and when I made the appointment for her, I told the doctor to mention blood work to check for hormone or chemical issue that could explain her lack of sex drive. The doctor said she could do that and talk to her about how easy it is to get back on track if an issue is found. She went, had her pap, scheduled her mamo, but she has refused to go to the lab for the blood work. Shes just too busy she says. That to me means she is not willing to even try. Kids are grown and for the most part hardly ever home, so that is no longer an excuse. So back to the scheduling thing…when I sit and think about it, I get more depressed. After being rejected, I think about when our next opportunity might be and then I realize that between our differing schedules and the myriad other things going on in our life, and it could be weeks before we have another opportunity. Like today, we had opportunities all week long but nothing happened. It has only been 2 weeks since last time but knowing we are running to another state this weekend for family events, and then knowing that she is working 1 to 11 most nights next week, its obvious that sex isnt happening for at least another 2 weeks. And knowing that just really bleeping hurts….

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    Pink

    Steve…. This situation really sucks! After reading your story, I feel sick to my stomach. I guess I’m just wondering how you could still be in this relationship. The only thing that keeps me away from my husband is….Fuck, I cant think of anything right now. I couldn’t imagine being in a relationship like this. I think that if you’re considering an affair, you should consider divorce or separation first. You deserve to be loved intimately. Sorry if I’m harsh but I just don’t understand how you could put up with so much rejection. It would KILL ME! LOVE YOURSELF AND RESPECT YOURSELF ENOUGH TO WALK AWAY.

    Reply
    Brokenwings

    Steve there is another thing you could try. Find a way for her to quit her job. You mentioned she’s exhausted all the time, and that you frequently have scheduling issues.
    I know what she is doing is wrong, but there is obviously something serious going on for her do things like refuse the blood test. She may be scared that it will show something is wrong with her physically (she may fear finding out she’s seriously ill if she’s so tired all the time) and she may be scared the blood test shows nothing wrong at all, in which case she fears you will get angry at her for not having a (discovered) medical reason for her lack of interest. No matter what the outcome of the blood test, she is scared of the outcome – either finding out she has a serious medical condition or you possibly being angry. Or maybe she’s just similar to my husband who refuses to get his testosterone levels checked because he sees that as somehow an insult to his manhood. He’d rather suffer the severe complications of low testosterone in the future than to accept he may have them now.
    Your wife may not be actually teasing you – she may just be saying the occasional sexy comment because 1. she doesn’t realise they are sexual and 2. doesn’t realise their effect on you. My sister says accidentally sexual stuff all the time and doesn’t realise it til after she says it and then would be horrified if someone said something similar to her. She may be totally unaware that what she is doing is sexy or innuendo – a lot of women who are out of touch with their sexuality end up like this – they can spot it instantly in others but can’t see when they themselves are doing it.
    But ultimately, I really think it comes back to your wife’s fatigue. You’re at least in your 40s, possibly 50s. Women find it much more difficult to work long hours at that age than men. She could be just burnt out by the long hours, or she could have an underlying medical condition such as thyroid problems or chronic fatigue syndrome or vitamin/mineral deficiencies or anything – the problem is most people fight against finding out they are sick. Or simply she could be depressed. Even if it’s been several years since her father died, while normal grief passes usually within a year, depression left untreated, can take years to get over – sometimes when left untreated, some people never get rid of their depression.
    Your wife needs to understand she needs to go get medically checked out. A total lack of interest in sex can mean serious underlying conditions and she needs to face that.
    But ultimately, your wife may just be too exhausted from the long hours she is working. What is a good sex life worth to you? Is it worth being the sole financial supporter of the household? You may want to talk to her about either cutting back her work hours or quitting work altogether. Letting her physically recover from the exhaustion and seeing if that makes a difference – because a lot of women I’ve known who are suffering from severe exhaustion have said getting REAL rest is the only way they were able to get their drive back.
    I do understand your frustration – I really do. I’m in the same situation with my husband. Except rather than work long hours, he comes home after work and plays computer games for hours and then says he is too tired for sex and rejects me constantly. And it’s not just about the lack of sex (I survived 6 years with no sex between losing my first husband and getting married again despite having a high sex drive), it’s about rejecting me physically altogether. He never looks at me when undressed (he avoids looking at me), never touches me in any kind of sexual way outside of the rare occasions we have sex, never makes sexual inuendo anymore, etc. It’s really hard to deal with at times. I know how frustrated you feel, especially with him when it’s so obvious the problem (low testosterone, untreated depression and a gaming addiction) and he won’t do anything about the first two which are so easily fixed. But I think with your wife, it may be as simple as fixing her exhaustion – maybe consider looking into it.

    Reply
Adam D. Oglesby

My take: The reason your mate won’t have sex with you is because he/she doesn’t like you anymore. At least not the kind of romantic like that one has at the beginning of a relationship.

Being married, you can easily become a roommate, a business partner, a co-parent, even a brother/sister. The more you become any of those things the less your mate will consider you as her lover, intimate friend, sex partner, f..k buddy.

Does that answer the question for every couple? No. But for probably 90 percent of them, yes.

If she likes you–I mean, really romantically likes you–she can’t wait to spend some quality time with you, in your arms, in your bed, staring in your eyes while you screw the sh$t out of her.

It’s not a chore. It’s not a duty. This is her man we’re talking about. And what she does between the sheets is suppose to be for both you and for her.

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    Brokenwings

    And if your spouse has been like that since the day you were married? What then. And before you ask, he was a virgin when we got married, porn isn’t an issue, nor is masturbation. He just simply isn’t interested in sex. He never initiates and rejects my initiation constantly. We do it once a week and only because he feels he has to so I stop asking.

    Reply
Amy

We have been sexless for 45 years ! I only had sex once in my whole life and that was our wedding night. It was my first, last and only time. So I can’t really say it was that enjoyable. Husband on the other hand had alot to say. He told me that sex was disgusting, messy, stunk, had no meaning at all, no passion, excitement and it wasn’t worth all the effort. I was told that he never ever wanted sex again with me or any one else, and to this day we haven’t had a sex, intimacy, or love. He moved to the basement and worked midnights all these years so he wouldn’t have to be with me. There isn’t any communication between us its like were apartment dewellers who live in the same building but on different floors. I always wanted to know what married life was like to have kids and a loving family. But it will never happen, my family is depression, lonelyness , my doctor and shrink.

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Kandice

Sex? Whats that? Even the few times we have had it, he got off and left. No emotion at all, no contact really, just like I was a 2 cent hooker. Tried sexy outfits, handcuffs, taking him to naughty stores, researching new positions, etc… Nothing works.

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Brokenwings

I can’t even get my husband to see we have a problem. He thinks once a week, always initiated by me and only to stop me asking is “normal”. It hasn’t helped that the counsellor we saw (with no medical background) told him his near total lack of interest is “normal”. I, on the other hand, do have a medical background (and am a trained psychologist previously too) and know his lack of interest is very, very far from normal.

But he won’t acknowledge there is a problem, and what I can do when he won’t see that there is?

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Lauren

We have sex rarely because of my chronic pelvic and other musculoskeletal pain. Sex does not feel like a comfort or joy or communication … it feels like a painful and invasive procedure. We try to do other things, but it is not quite the same and I am often sick. I did want to point out, though I am grateful for the article, that we cannot always simply “make sure you are in good health.” If I could I would. It is hard to see God’s goodness in our sex life, but I know he works all things out for the good of those who love him.

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    Hey Lauren,

    We heard from one of our listeners about physical ailments that have caused them to have sex much less than they both desire. Recently we did a show, 171 Sex Hurts, dedicated to the inability to have sex because of physical ailments. http://www.oneextraordinarymarriage.com/171-sex-hurts

    He wrote us back afterwards and shared that we had brought up some ideas for them to think about. It might be something to listen to as what we share may give you some ideas as well.

    Blessings.

    Reply
Secret Squirrel

It started out with us I think when I was taking anti-depressives years ago to try and stop smoking. They killed my sex drive and made me fall asleep early at night. I needed a friend then because those worse than illegal drug drugs also caused me to feel depressed( the opposite of what they claim to be effective against.) I had no friend in her. Her response was anger that I should be depressed. That plus my wife’s frequent insults took me really low. She thinks if she has a bad day at work it is totally Ok to unload on me. I feel like a zombie now. We live like roommates now after decades of marriage. She is polite most of the time but doesn’t hesitate to unload on me with personal insults if she has a bad day. I suspect she has somebody on the side but if she does she has been very discreet because I have yet to find out for sure. A pastor I spoke with told me I am supposed to live in a miserable marriage if necessary rather than divorce. I know the Bible says adultery is the only valid reason for divorce so unless I find out she is doing that I guess I’m stuck. I don’t know why God only gives that reason for divorce. I don’t know what profit there is in being a depressed doormat for somebody.

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    Brokenwings

    SecretSquirrel, there is a third option.

    Separation without divorce. It is only for extreme situations, but sometimes it gives a bad spouse the wakeup call they need to stop the mistreatment.

    The other thing you may want to look at is hiring a private investigator if you believe your wife is cheating. NOT to justify a divorce (as adultery allows divorce but it’s not required – you could still forgive her and work through it if she’s willing to repent), but purely for your own safety.

    I am someone who has picked up a potentially fatal STD from my cheating (now ex) husband and will have to live with invasive painful tests every 6 months for life. And that doesn’t even include the one surgery I’ve so far, at least one more after I’ve decided no more children (doctor wanted to do it straight away but I refused because I’m not giving up having children because of something that might kill me one day when it’s not definite), and potential many more. and maybe death if it progresses.

    I mean, if your marriage is totally sexless, you can’t catch an STD, but even if you do it once a year, if she is cheating, it can kill you.

    And it would be good to know for your own peace of mind. If you get a private investigator to follow her and she ISN’T cheating, then you get your peace of mind back about that issue at least.

    Reply

[…] you think I’m horribly naive, I do recognize there are marriages stuck in sexual discord because one spouse or both are steadfast against even beginning the process of digging into the […]

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Albert Soo

Thanks for the excellent short article, I was looking for information similar to this, going to look at the other blog posts.

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Burton Schearer

Thanks for the good post, I was looking for details similar to this, going to take a look at the various other posts.

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aetb

Dude… leave. She’s just punishing you to be mean and nasty. I’ve been in your spot, but my wife wasn’t “teasing” me like yours does; mine was just ‘cold’ all the time.

Get out. There’s more to life than torment.

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