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When to Walk Away From a Sexless Marriage

when to walk away from a sexless marriage



Sex. It is a commonly joked about subject but rarely do we take the time to discuss the deeper ways it can impact us and our life partners. What is the solution when you find your marriage has become lackluster in the bedroom, or maybe there’s no sex at all anymore?

While some people place a higher need on sex, others may find it’s not as important to their well-being or romantic life. Sometimes things like low self-esteem, and sexual health issues can get in the way of you and your spouse having a satisfactory or invigorating sex life. Furthermore, some people are asexual and have no desire for sexual experiences in the first place. With all these factors, it’s not surprising that people sometimes find themselves having a mismatch with their partner in what their sex life should look like.

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In an article titled “What’s Sex Got to Do With It?”, Carrie Mead a psychotherapist at discusses the average statistics about married couples, stating, “On average, married couples report having sex approximately 1x week but 15- 20% of couples report a sexless marriage  (sexless meaning it happens less than 10x per year). Once a week could be feast or famine depending on your level of desire and expectancy.” Based on that statistic it’s not all that uncommon to find yourself in a sexless marriage either.

So, what about when sex has been completely removed from your marriage? Sex is a big topic and point of interest in our society, so a lot of us tend to feel or believe that a sexless marriage is wrong in some way or another, but is that actually true? According to Mead, the answer is a resounding no.

She states, “Sexless marriages are healthy if the decision to be sexless was mutually agreed upon. Sex means different things to different people and so there is no right or wrong amount of sex for a successful marriage. As long as you are openly communicating about it, then it is okay.” Mead makes an important point. What we agree upon in our marriage with our spouse is what really matters in terms of having a healthy marriage.

We should keep societal expectation about sex and our social circle’s experiences with sex out of our marriages. It seems obvious, but it can be easy to let those things get in the way of how we truly feel about our sex lives. However, it’s important to address feelings of dissatisfaction if they exist in a sexless marriage.

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Carmel Jones, who is a relationship expert at also mentioned the importance of how the spouses in a marriage without sex feel about this factor of their relationship.  Jones said, “This depends entirely on how the partners in that marriage feel. If both spouses feel genuinely comfortable and content with a sexless marriage, there's no rule stating that you have to have sex. That couple can do what makes them feel comfortable. However, if one or both individuals are unhappy with the state of a sexless marriage, it's bound to cause resentment and negativity if not addressed.”

So, while it’s valid to have any number of sexual needs and desires, the bottom line is about how both partners communicate and fulfill those needs. For those who are unhappy about not having a sex life or even just not having as much sex as they desire, the first step is to communicate and work with your partner. Regardless of the reason your spouse may not be fulfilling your sexual needs or having sex with you, there are a lot of other options and alternatives.

Jones suggested a few being: “1. Broaden your definition of sex [. . .] 2. Talk about your sexual fantasies [. . .] 3. Bring back the romance [. . .] 4. Consider an open relationship.” All of these are perfectly valid solutions that offer a lot of potential to either reignite your sex life or find alternative routes to fulfill your needs. There is also the option of going to relationship counseling of some kind to offer a neutral space to address these topics. Furthermore, there are a lot of stores and shops that offer sex toys and aids of all kinds to get you or you and your spouse in the mood.

The best answer seems to be willing to attempt to work with your spouse to find satisfaction for both of you. If no sex is a deal breaker for you and you’re unable to get your partner to work with you on this topic, that’s another issue that is a lot less about sex than it might seem to be at first. But it seems sex alone is less likely to be the deciding factor for your marriage. Try to be open-minded and work with your partner, and you may be surprised by the results.

Jones, Carmel. Personal Interview, 16 Aug. 2021.
Mead, Carrie. Personal Interview, 16 Aug. 2021.
Mead, Carrie. “What’s Sex Got To Do With It?” Maryland Therapy Carrie, 10 Aug. 2020.

Written by Megan Sheckells

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