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Sexless Marriage: 10 Essential Questions When I Considered Leaving

The Ultimate Sexless Marriage Decision: 10 Questions I Asked When I Considered Leaving My Relationship

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In marriage, the presence or absence of intimacy can be the pivotal thread that either binds or unravels the relationship. The journey through a sexless marriage is riddled with complex emotions, challenging questions, and the need for careful introspection.

I’ll discuss the various aspects of staying or whether to leave a sexless marriage, addressing key questions and discussing the profound impact such a situation can have on individuals and couples.

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What My Sexless Marriage Taught Me

I am in a sexless marriage and come to think of it, if I am to go by the relationship “experts” my whole marriage has been considered “sexless” although it produced two lovely kids that we both adore without end.

Before we had kids, there was physical intimacy in our relationship, but it was only about once a month – if that. I blame a lot of it on drinking. We were both drinkers for years. It was one of the few things we had in common besides our kids.

In the spring of 2023 I decided that drinking day after day wasn’t my thing anymore – in fact I had stopped enjoying it (the drinking, I mean) for years before that. I kept it up anyway because it was one of the only things we do together. I was finally able to stop and he didn’t.

The chasm between us grew ever larger and deeper after that. Now, he doesn’t have his “drinking buddy” anymore and he drinks alone. Sad.

As I went through my forties, I mourned the things that have aways been missing in our marriage – including intamacy. I mourned my resentment, the dismissive way he spoke to me, his hairtrigger temper, and the complete and total lack of closeness. He, being clueless to my unhappiness, despite our discussions, seems happy as a clam about the status quo, which has always perplexed me.

“How can a guy actually be ok with this??”

My sexless marriage has taught me that it’s easier to not talk and try to push for intimacy that just isn’t there. I had years of trying, crying and cajoling with him. I gave up, sadly. It’s easier to just let those sleeping dogs lie at this point. It is now ‘surface talk,’ and as little as possible so as not to start an arguement.

I think the issue is that he has different standards for what makes him happy in a relationship than I do – sex isn’t a big deal to him – and I don’t think it ever was. It’s not for me either, but to be honest, it’s been so long, and there is so much water under that bridge, that I no longer want it anyway.

It’s just easier to get by with this mindset until I can either learn to live with it, or leave. I can’t picture myself living with this emotional emptiness for the rest of my life while still having to deal with sharing a living space with him. The options seem few and far between.

I have no desire to be with anyone else, yet I don’t want to stay with him either. If I leave, there is a good chance I’ll be sexless anyway, but at least I don’t have to deal with other BS that comes with living with someone else who has totally opposite needs, wants and expectations, than my own.

I feel refraining from sex is abusive, in a way. I have spent many days agonizing over his “lack” and our crappy marriage. I have had to come to accept our relationship is never going to fulfil me mentally, physically, emotionally or sexually. He has many wonderful qualities, and I wouldn’t want to hurt him, but he has hurt me very much by his lack of interest in me sexually.

Middle aged couple in bed

1. Can a Marriage Survive Without Intimacy?

Intimacy is the cornerstone of a healthy and fulfilling marriage. While marriages can endure temporary periods of reduced intimacy due to external factors, a prolonged absence of physical and emotional closeness may strain the fabric of the relationship. Successful survival without intimacy often requires open communication, mutual understanding, and a concerted effort from both partners to address underlying issues.

Intimacy, often viewed as the lifeblood of a marriage, encompasses more than physical closeness. It weaves through the emotional and psychological facets of a relationship, creating a tapestry that binds two individuals together. However, the dynamics of surviving without intimacy are intricate, influenced by various factors that shape the course of a marriage.

Navigating the Ebb and Flow of Intimacy

Marriages naturally experience ebbs and flows in intimacy. External factors, such as work-related stress, health issues, or life transitions, can temporarily affect the frequency and quality of intimate moments. In these instances, the key to survival lies in recognizing these fluctuations as transient and addressing them with resilience and understanding.

The Impact of Prolonged Intimacy Deficiency

When the absence of intimacy becomes prolonged, the foundation of the marital connection may face significant challenges. The strains are not limited to physical satisfaction but extend to emotional and relational aspects. The partners may find themselves navigating uncharted territory where communication falters, emotional distance grows, and the overall sense of connection weakens.

The Role of Open Communication

Surviving a lack of intimacy requires a commitment to open communication. Partners need to create a safe space where they can express their feelings, concerns, and desires without fear of judgment. Honest conversations about the reasons behind the diminished intimacy can uncover root causes, paving the way for collaborative solutions.

Building Mutual Understanding

Understanding each other’s perspective is paramount. The reasons for a decline in intimacy can vary widely—ranging from stress and health issues to changes in personal or relational dynamics. Cultivating empathy allows partners to comprehend the complexities at play, fostering a sense of unity rather than blame.

The Importance of Mutual Effort

Successful survival without intimacy demands a joint effort from both partners. Recognizing the issue as a shared challenge rather than an individual burden is crucial. Jointly identifying strategies to address the underlying causes can reignite the spark and reestablish a sense of closeness.

Exploring Alternatives and Solutions

Partners may find that rekindling intimacy involves exploring alternatives and seeking professional guidance. Couples therapy, sex therapy, or even simple lifestyle changes can be instrumental in revitalizing the connection. The goal is not merely to address the symptoms but to understand and resolve the deeper issues that contribute to the intimacy deficiency.

The Role of Physical and Emotional Intimacy

It’s essential to acknowledge that intimacy encompasses both physical and emotional dimensions. While addressing physical intimacy is crucial, nurturing emotional closeness is equally vital. Partners can engage in activities that strengthen their emotional connection, fostering an environment where physical intimacy can naturally flourish.

Revitalizing the Connection

The path to survival without intimacy often involves revitalizing the overall connection. Shared experiences, quality time, and the cultivation of common interests contribute to a more robust bond. Partners may rediscover the joy of companionship, reigniting the flame that may have dimmed.

Understanding the Individual Needs

Survival strategies should also encompass an understanding of individual needs. Sometimes, partners may have different levels of comfort or desire regarding intimacy. Respecting these differences and finding common ground where both partners feel valued is essential in navigating the complexities of a marriage without sustained physical closeness.

Choosing to Seek Professional Help

When efforts to revitalize intimacy within the relationship prove challenging, seeking professional help becomes a viable option. Therapists, counselors, or sexologists can provide guidance, tools, and a neutral perspective to assist couples in overcoming obstacles and rebuilding their connection.

The Ongoing Journey

In the intricate dance of marriage, the question of whether a union can survive without intimacy is nuanced. While it can endure temporary lapses, prolonged deficiency requires intentional effort, understanding, and a shared commitment to rebuilding the connection. The journey is ongoing, marked by continuous communication, empathy, and a dedication to fostering an environment where both partners feel seen, heard, and cherished.

2. How Long Without Intimacy is Considered a Sexless Marriage?

The definition of a sexless marriage varies, but it is commonly characterized by a significant decline in sexual activity. Experts often define a sexless marriage as one where couples engage in sexual activity less than ten times a year. However, the subjective nature of this term highlights the importance of considering individual needs, expectations, and relationship dynamics.

3. How Common are Sexless Marriages?

Sexless marriages are more prevalent than one might assume. Studies suggest that approximately 15-20% of couples experience extended periods of low or no sexual activity, but I wouldn’t doubt it if these percentages are actually higher. Various factors contribute to this phenomenon, including stress, health issues, and changes in relationship dynamics over time.

Unhappy sexless couple in bed

4. What Eventually Happens in a Sexless Marriage?

The consequences of a sexless marriage are diverse and can manifest emotionally, physically, and relationally. Emotional distance, feelings of rejection, resentment, and a decline in overall relationship satisfaction are common outcomes. Prolonged sexual dissatisfaction may also lead to infidelity, communication breakdown, or, in extreme cases, separation or divorce.

As a sexless marriage persists, the consequences deepen, leaving an indelible impact on both individuals and the relationship itself. Emotional distance, stemming from unmet needs and unfulfilled desires, intensifies, creating a palpable void between partners.

Feelings of rejection take root, eroding self-esteem and triggering a cycle of emotional withdrawal. Resentment may seep in as partners grapple with unaddressed concerns and unmet expectations, fostering an environment of silent discontent. The overall satisfaction within the relationship plummets, as the absence of physical and emotional closeness becomes a persistent source of unhappiness.

Prolonged sexual dissatisfaction often becomes a breeding ground for infidelity, as some may seek the missing connection elsewhere. The breakdown in communication, a natural consequence of unattended intimacy issues, further exacerbates the strain on the relationship.

In the gravest scenarios, a sexless marriage may lead to the contemplation of separation or divorce, or even outright infidelity, as the partners confront the realization that the fundamental components of a thriving marital connection have eroded beyond repair. The consequences of a sexless marriage, therefore, unfold across a spectrum of emotional, physical, and relational dimensions, underscoring the importance of addressing intimacy issues proactively and with empathy.

5. How Are Women Affected by a Sexless Marriage?

Women, like men, experience a range of emotional and psychological effects in a sexless marriage. Common consequences include feelings of undesirability, diminished self-esteem, and frustration. Women may also struggle with the emotional disconnection that often accompanies a lack of physical intimacy.

In a sexless marriage, the impact on women is profound, extending beyond the physical realm into intricate emotional and psychological dimensions. The pervasive absence of physical intimacy can evoke feelings of ugliness, as women may internalize the perceived rejection, questioning their attractiveness and desirability as partners.

The toll on self-esteem is palpable, and a sense of frustration may intensify as unmet needs and desires persist. Moreover, women often grapple with the emotional disconnection inherent in a sexless marriage, a void that extends beyond the physical aspect.

The emotional fabric of the relationship weakens, leaving women yearning for the deeper connection that physical intimacy often fosters. The struggle to reconcile these emotional and psychological effects can create a complex internal landscape, highlighting the need for open communication, empathy, and mutual efforts to address the roots of intimacy issues within the marriage. Easier said than done!

6. On the Flip Side: What Does Lack of Intimacy Do to a Man?

For men, the impact of a sexless marriage extends beyond physical frustration. Men may grapple with feelings of inadequacy, rejection, and frustration, leading to potential emotional withdrawal. The absence of intimacy can strain their emotional well-being, affecting their mental health and overall relationship satisfaction.

In the context of a sexless marriage, the repercussions on men transcend the realm of physical dissatisfaction, delving into intricate emotional and mental territories. The absence of intimacy can cultivate a pervasive sense of inadequacy within men, as they may internalize the perceived rejection, questioning their ability to fulfill their partner’s needs and the core of their masculinity.

This sense of inadequacy can trigger a profound emotional struggle, fostering feelings of rejection and frustration. As emotional distress intensifies, men may grapple with the impulse to emotionally withdraw, creating a further rift in the overall relationship dynamic. The toll on their emotional well-being can extend to mental health, contributing to heightened stress levels and potential depressive states.

Overall relationship satisfaction may plummet as the emotional and psychological impacts of a sexless marriage take their toll on men, underscoring the urgency for open communication and mutual efforts to address the roots of intimacy issues within the marital framework.

7. Is it Okay to Cheat in a Sexless Marriage?

Cheating is not a universally accepted or ethical solution to address the challenges of a sexless marriage – yet people do it in sexless marriages with zero “you-know-whats” given. They seem to feel that sex is owed to them by their partner. They are consumed with resentment and I can’t blame them. Most of us dont marry to take a vow of celibacy!

While cheating may provide temporary relief or validation, infidelity often exacerbates existing problems, leading to further emotional pain and complications. Open communication, seeking professional help, or reevaluating the relationship may offer healthier alternatives.

8. Is it Normal for a Man to Not Want Sex in a Relationship?

Variability in sexual desire is entirely normal within the spectrum of human relationships. Factors such as stress, health issues, or changes in emotional connection can influence a man’s interest in sex. However, open communication and mutual understanding are essential to navigate these fluctuations and maintain a healthy connection.

It is entirely normal for a man to experience fluctuations in sexual desire within the context of a relationship. The intricate interplay of various factors, including stress, health concerns, and shifts in emotional connection, contributes to the ebb and flow of one’s interest in sex.

External pressures such as work-related stressors or health challenges can temporarily impact a man’s libido. Additionally, changes in the emotional dynamic between partners, whether positive or negative, can significantly influence the level of interest in sexual intimacy.

9. When Should You Give Up in a Sexless Relationship?

Deciding when to give up on a sexless relationship is a deeply personal choice. It often involves considering individual needs, exploring avenues for improvement, and assessing whether both partners are willing to invest in addressing the underlying issues. Professional guidance or couples therapy can be valuable in navigating this decision.

Deciding when to give up on a sexless relationship is an intricately personal journey that hinges on various factors unique to each individual and couple. It necessitates a thoughtful examination of individual needs, desires, and the overall satisfaction derived from the relationship.

Assessing whether both partners are genuinely willing to invest the time and effort required to address the underlying issues is crucial. It involves exploring avenues for improvement and determining if the relationship aligns with the vision each person holds for their future. Seeking professional guidance or engaging in couples therapy can be invaluable during this decision-making process.

Trained professionals can offer insights, facilitate communication, and provide tools to navigate the complexities of a sexless relationship. Ultimately, the decision to give up or persevere requires a delicate balance between self-reflection, effective communication, and a mutual commitment to the well-being of both individuals involved.

10. Is it Selfish to Leave a Sexless Marriage?

Leaving a sexless marriage is not inherently selfish; it’s a decision rooted in self-preservation and personal fulfillment. Individuals have the right to prioritize their well-being and seek happiness.

However, the manner in which one approaches the decision and communicates with their partner can significantly impact the overall outcome.

In navigating the complexities of a sexless marriage, individuals and couples must engage in honest self-reflection, open communication, and a willingness to address underlying issues. Whether choosing to stay and work through challenges or contemplating the difficult decision of parting ways, understanding the emotional, psychological, and relational nuances is crucial. Ultimately, the path forward lies in embracing transparency, empathy, and a commitment to fostering a relationship that aligns with the needs and desires of both partners.

In the intricate dance of relationships, the term “sexless marriage” carries with it a weight that can leave partners feeling isolated, frustrated, and uncertain about the future of their connection. In this comprehensive guide, we delve into the various facets of sexless marriages—examining the signs, exploring potential causes, understanding the impact, and offering guidance on how to navigate and overcome the challenges posed by this complex issue.


So, what it boils down to is this: We may not actually miss the physical intimacy in marriage, but the connection. If you can get that back in to your relationship, that is more than half the battle right there.

Recognizing the need for external support is a courageous step toward healing. Professional therapists or counselors specializing in relationship dynamics can offer guidance, tools, and insights to help couples overcome the challenges of a sexless marriage.

Addressing the complexities of a sexless marriage requires a multi-faceted approach. By identifying signs, understanding causes, acknowledging the impact, and actively seeking solutions, couples can navigate this challenging terrain and rediscover the intimacy that is the heartbeat of a thriving marital connection.

Whether through open communication, seeking professional help, or implementing intentional strategies for rekindling the flame, the journey toward a fulfilling and intimate marriage is within reach.

So, Dear Reader – I may not be able to offer you much in the way of how to “fix” a marriage with no intimacy, but I can offer you solidarity. Please know you are not alone, and that this isn’t as rare as you think.

No, you don’t have to have hot, mind blowing sex to have a “good relationship” and it’s not selfish to leave if you decide to. Marriage is a contract of the heart, but it’s also a contract to take care of the other person.

If one or both of you has fallen short of this – it’s decision time. Get help from a professional and figure out an arrangement that makes both of you happy – or get out, but don’t feel guilty for doing so. Marriage is about the connection between you both. When that phsysical and emotional connection is lost, and can’t be found again, what do you have left?

This post contains affiliate links. I earn from qualifying Amazon purchases.

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