Sexless marriage is something that is rarely discussed. I have found that the most vocal people are the ones who are having sex and those that are not tend to keep quiet. This is horrible because myths about how effortless sex can be continue to be perpetuated. I find that in general once couples are married the conversations about sex die down completely and that is detrimental for everyone. I am not proposing that people gossip about their spouses or reveal anyone’s proclivities, but rather that honest discussions about sex with people you trust may help everyone. Sex patterns change over time for everyone, single or married, young or old.
“Married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouse 58 times a year, a little more than once a week, according to data collected from the General Social Survey, which has tracked the social behaviors of Americans since 1972. But there are wide variations in that number. Married people under 30 have sex about 111 times a year. And it’s estimated that about 15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year, according to Denise A. Donnelly, associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University, who has studied sexless marriage.” This is a from the article in the New York Times by Tara Parker Pope titled, “When Sex Leaves Marriage”, published in 2009.
Pope explores many dimensions of a sexless marriage. She also included a conversation with Donnelly who says that marriages with more sex are generally happier and that the tricky part is repairing a sexless marriage. Donelly said that what often happens when marriages become sexless is that people split and then move on to a next partner. She said what she would like to study are more longitudinal patterns within couples to see what happens in marriages over time. I generally come in to a couple’s life at the point at which the lackof sex is becoming a serious issue. I can not comment on whether those marriages or relationships might dissolve, but I can certainly say that the amount of suffering caused by couples no longer connecting physically and emotional is serious.
Another problem is that not only do friends and spouses stop speaking about sex, sometimes therapists don’t talk about sex, which leaves couples without assistance when trying to discuss these loaded and uncomfortable issues. I have often seen this with my patients. Many of them have been to individual or couples therapy and never discussed their sex lives. This is extremely unfortunate because once you do give couples the space to talk about sex and intimacy, I find they can make major steps towards re-connecting. What is frustrating is that people often think these issues will resolve with time and when they don’t couples can grow more distant and the rupture may become more and more difficult to heal. If you find yourself in this situation, reach out, we successfully help couples coping with no sexual activity, little sexual activity or an inequity in desire for sexual activity all the time. The right conversations can go a long way towards getting your sex life back on track.