Sexual intercourse is one of the most defining parts of any relationship but for various reasons, some couples may find that the physical intimacy that they once had with their partner has disappeared.
Although it is common for many married couples to have sex less frequently than they did at the start of their marriage, some relationships may have an extremely low amount of sexual intercourse, which can lead to problems in the marriage.
While there is no generally documented number for what is considered a sexless marriage, several therapists agree that couples that have sex 10 times a year or less may have a sexless marriage…
(This article is a guest post by Carole Cullen of MyTherapistNC.org)
What Causes a Sexless Marriage?
You should never think you are alone if you and your partner are experiencing a sexless marriage as they happen far more frequently than you may think.
A study conducted by the General Social Survey in 2018 found that up to 19% of all couples had sex less than three times in the previous year. However, many couples do not outrightly decide to stop having sex with their partner due to a particular reason. Instead, marriages often become sexless slowly over time, with less sex occurring due to various factors such as:
- Introduction of a child into the home
- Unmatched libidos
- Communication issues
- One or both partners are asexual
Fixing a Sexless Marriage
Some couples are happy without having frequent sex, and in such cases, their marriages may likely continue to blossom without any intercourse. Sexless marriages will mostly pose a problem when at least one of the partners is unhappy with their sexual life. This frustration can seep into the other parts of your relationship and can lead to problems in the marriage.
People who are unhappy in a sexless marriage may let this anger affect them, destroying their relationship in the process. However, this does not have to be the case. If you are in a marriage and desire more sex from your partner, there are several things you can do to fix this issue.
If talking to your partner alone seems daunting, then it is highly recommended that you visit a professional Marriage & Family Therapist who can provide balance and help you and your partner understand each other much better.
Here are some more tips you can follow to fix a sexless marriage:
Communication is Key
“Communication is key” is generally an overused phrase, but it cannot be overstated here. In some cases, your spouse may not be aware that you are unhappy with your sex life. However, if you and your partner communicate your true wants and needs, then you can work together to find a balance.
Both partners need to feel safe to share their needs, wants, and insecurities. Safety is a crucial element in building an environment that supports this type of honest communication. For this to happen it requires vulnerability and honesty.
Maintaining a healthy sex life requires ongoing conversations about sex. Couples that report having healthy sex lives are more comfortable talking with their partners about sex.
It’s common to feel awkward or uncomfortable talking about sex. Most people do. No one really teaches us how to have these conversations. However, talking about sex is an important step in prioritizing and building deeper intimacy and connection in your relationship.
Here are some tips for how to talk about sex and physical intimacy:
- Be kind
- Be patient
- Be accommodating
- Don’t take it personally
Remember, don’t critique your partner during these talks. Express positive needs! Make suggestions rather than complaints. Using complaints to get your point across can wind up hurting your partner and turning them away from talking to you about sex in the future.
Here are some questions to get you started:
- What makes you feel connected to me?
- What parts of kissing, touching, caressing, love talk and so on work for you?
- What has been your favorite experience we’ve had physically, and why?
- Initiating intimacy: What do you prefer to begin with? Words? Touch?
- Refusing Intimacy: How can we gently refuse physical intimacy?
Think Back to the Main Cause
You cannot fix the issue if you do not know the cause. Take some time out of your day to think of the root cause and what could have resulted in the sex becoming less frequent. Once you have an idea of what this issue is, then both you and your partner can find ways to either solve or work around the problem.
Find New Ways to Build Intimacy
As a relationship carries on, you would need to find new ways to fan the flame that had burned so brightly at the start of your marriage. Physical intimacy does not only include sex but there are also many other things that you and your partner could do to ensure that you remain emotionally close. After a long relationship, you likely know your partner better than anyone. By creating new ways of building intimacy with them, having sex becomes much easier.
In an online study of 70,000 people in 24 countries, The Normal Bar researchers found that couples who have a great sex life make sex a priority rather than the last item of a long to-do list. These couples connect both emotionally AND physically by building their knowledge of their partner’s sexual world.
Taking the time to prioritize sex and physical intimacy in the relationship by gaining a deeper understanding of your partner’s inner world and thoughts on this issue will help you enhance romance both inside and outside of the bedroom.
Get help from a marriage and sex expert. This could be a therapist who provides couples counseling or specialized services such as sex therapy. Finding a therapist that is certified in EFT (Emotionally Focused Therapy) is particularly helpful because EFT is designed for couples experiencing issues with intimacy, both emotionally and sexually.
Whether you are struggling with wanting more sex in your marriage or just want to increase the emotional connection with your partner, know that you are not alone. Even the best of marriages will struggle over time with connection and intimacy. Over the years a marriage can go through ups and downs that can create disconnection and distance between partners.
These hills and valleys are a normal part of any relationship and when couples address these issues in their marriage from a loving place, it can bring them closer to each other and create a deeper connection.
No matter where you are in your relationship, I hope you’ll consider making time to talk with your partner about the physical part of your relationship. By doing this, you will both feel more open about sharing what you need to feel loved leading to a more connected and fulfilling relationship.
If you are finding it difficult to speak with your spouse, then you should contact a licensed marriage and family therapist to help guide you through the best ways to approach the topic.
Carole Cullen is a Relationship Expert and Licensed Marriage and Family Therapist. She believes that marriages should thrive, not just struggle to survive. Carole has a group practice of marriage therapists that specialize in helping couples reconnect and find the practical tools they need to create a lasting love. To learn more about Carole Cullen and her team of Marriage Therapists go to mytherapistnc.org.