It's not a given that a couple's bedroom activity will fizzle over time—we all know a randy couple who've been married for decades—but any number of factors could start the tailspin. Psychotherapist Tina Tessina, PhD, author of Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage, lists these as the most common causes of sexless marriages: one partner had their feelings hurt or got turned down too many times, one got too busy or neglectful, or one or both partners has a communication problem of some sort.
Judith Steinhart, a clinical sexologist in New York City, is yet more specific: "Problems in a marriage [like] lack of trust, anxiety, financial issues, misunderstandings, pressure from children, all can impact a couple's sexual patterns." The question, of course, is whether refraining from sex causes other problems, or if the other problems stop the sex in the first place?
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"It's a cycle," says Mason. In other words, one can exacerbate the other—and before you know it, no one can remember what came first.Read: UK Dating Site Caters To Sexless Relationships
As for how much sex a healthy couple should be having, that varies—and is up to the couple to figure out. Tessina's best advice is at least once a week, saying that "intimacy keeps you glued together. It's what you need in order to nurture your connection to your spouse. You'll be a lot happier with each other and feel more cared about if you're regularly having sex."Read: How Often Do Your Neighbors Have Sex?
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Couples shouldn't feel like they have to stick to once a week during stressful or tumultuous times. And of course, there can always be an off-week—or longer. As Steinhart notes, "Sex and sexual expression change along with the longevity of a relationship, ebbing and flowing during a lifetime." But the good news, she says, is that the ebb is "natural—and you can get back to the flow easily."