Sexless marriage

What do I do if I'm living in a sexless marriage?


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Written by Emma Reliason

B.A. - Psychologist

23 Aug, 2022

Did you know 14.6% of Australians are suffering from a sexless marriage, and only 0.7% of these people are okay with this?

Think back to your wedding day. Or, perhaps think back to the months leading up to it. That sweet chapter of your life is full of bliss and excitement.

Amongst the wedding planning, catering orders, and fighting bridesmaids, your mind often slipped into thinking about all the wonderful years you had ahead with your true love. All the nights you’d spend wrapped up in each other's arms, and the burning sex life you’ve been waiting for.

So what happens when you fast forward a few years and the once fiery, passionate intimacy you once shared has dwindled? Between kids, careers, and simply a fading of the honeymoon period it’s not uncommon for couples to experience dry spells.

Thankfully, you’re far from alone in this heartbreaking journey and there are many ways to cope with the blow to your self-confidence as well as reignite the spark you and your partner once had.

What Are The Main Reasons Married Couples Stop Having Sex?

Sex is one of the most sensitive and ‘taboo’ topics of all, even in a marriage. If you find that you and your partner have decreased your sex life to nearly nothing it may be uncomfortable or daunting to even bring up. Due to this lack of communication, your mind may begin to try and fill in the blanks. You may start to feel it’s your fault, or that you’re simply not attractive to your partner anymore. I’m here to tell you this is often not the case.

Here are a few of the main reasons married couples stop having sex:

  • Exhaustion: As I mentioned before, once you become married your lives conjoin. This also means adding on new additions you didn’t have while you were dating. Mortgages, pets, family obligations, and children. Between all of the chaos of life you and your partner may find yourselves too tired at the end of the day. Since you’re married and you know they aren’t going anywhere, you may think to yourself tomorrow. Tomorrow I won’t be so tired and we can be intimate. However, when tomorrow comes, it’s the same thing.

  • Children: Kids are a magical tool that can either pull a couple closer together or tear them apart. Between sleepless nights, crying babies, and the hormones that follow postpartum, sex may be the last thing on your mind. As the children grow older daily life becomes filled with soccer practice, ballet lessons, and school PTA meetings. Priorities change as children join the picture, leaving very little time for sex.

  • Motherhood: I wanted to make this reason separate from children because when a new baby is born, so is a mother. Research has proven a woman's brain literally changes when she becomes a new mom. While dads aren’t looked over or underappreciated by any means it’s biologically different when a woman becomes a mom. Ever heard of the vicious mama bear that will do anything to protect her cubs? The same concept applies. Even if it means staying up all night and leaving little to no time for much else.

  • Boredom: I know, this may be the most difficult reason of all to hear. The novelty and excitement of a fresh new marriage can wear off but it's often not forever. Marriages have seasons. Ask anyone who's been married for a long period of time and they'll tell you, that sometimes you go through periods drier than the Sahara desert, but it often does come back around again. Periods, when both you and your partner have big promotions coming up, may mean little time for physical intimacy, however as time goes on and issues get resolved you may just hop right back into it.

  • Anger: Couples that have been married for long periods of time without the knowledge and motivation to communicate in healthy, positive ways most likely have layers of underlying bitterness. Who wants to have sex with someone they’re mad at? A person who is hurt or angry with their partner is unlikely to want to be intimate with them. Sex life is the first area to be hit hardest with unresolved anger.

  • Parenting Styles: Wait - how do parenting styles affect the bedroom? Simple. When two parents can’t agree on how to parent their children the entire family suffers. Tensions run high, emotions are hurt and resentment begins to stew. When the entire family is stressed so are the leaders of the family, leaving little desire for connection and repair.

How Do I Cope With a Sexless Marriage?

When sex begins to feel more like a chore than an activity to enjoy you’re likely to feel an entire spectrum of emotions. From anger to sadness, to frustration - you may feel like you’re on a roller coaster that won’t end.

Approaching a sexless marriage takes time, effort, and the willingness to communicate. In a general sense, men are far less likely to initiate the conversation around this topic likely due to society's view that men should have these neverending, powerhouse sex drives.

So, if you are ready to talk to your spouse about sex here are a few tips to help:

  • Pick Your Moment Carefully: This is an important and sensitive topic so choosing a time when you’re both relaxed and uninterrupted is key. Try to avoid bringing it up while in bed, and certainly not as a way to bribe your partner into intimacy.

  • Remember To Listen: You may be surprised at what your spouse has to say. They may have been thinking of bringing this up to you as well. Active listening - an incredibly healthy communication skill - means saying your piece and then listening rather than hearing everything your partner has to say.

  • Be Completely Honest: Transparency in this situation is key. Have you both put sex on the back burner? Are you too comfortable in letting the days and nights pass without physical intimacy? The only way you’ll ever get to the root cause of your sexless marriage is by laying it all out on the table.

  • Decide If This Is a Deal Breaker: The importance couples put on sex naturally declines with age however this is not the case for everyone. Talk with your partner about how often a week is ideal for you - and for them. Some people are perfectly happy and content in a sexless marriage but you’ll never know unless you talk about it.

How Can Therapy Help With My Sexless Marriage?

If you’ve pulled out all the stops and tried to fix your marriage to the best of your own abilities it may be time to consider sex therapy.

Unlike traditional couples therapy which addresses a wide range of topics, sex therapy focuses on rekindling the spark you once had and uncovering the root causes behind your sexless marriage.

Sex therapy aims to prioritize pleasure while simultaneously learning about a couple's past history and view of sex in order to fully capture the scope of the problem.

In a nutshell, sex therapy can help you and your spouse learn healthier, more open ways to communicate as well as encourage you to explore other forms of intimacy and connection. Sex therapy can help you and your partner navigate the stresses of married life without damaging physical intimacy.

If your marriage needs professional help, don’t be ashamed. You’re far less alone than you think. Start your journey towards a healthier relationship today.

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Emma Reliason

B.A. - Psychologist

Emma is an accomplished writer with a passion for mental health. She holds a Bachelor of Arts in Psychology where she gained insight into why people think, feel and behave the way they do.

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