How To Find Hope (And More Sex!) In A Sexless Marriage

Photo: Photo by Clarisse Meyer on Unsplash
how to fix a sexless marriage
Love, Sex

You can save your marriage.

Evidently, “sexless marriage” means different things to different people.

For some, it means never having sex  not even on their wedding night. Or, it means that it was sizzling hot before the marriage but soon afterward it simmered and fizzled. For others, it’s NO SEX EVER!

Basically, it means a relationship between two committed people in which there is little or no sexual activity between the two spouses.

Even if we can’t agree on the definition, we can agree that “sexless marriage” is common.


What does it mean to be in a sexless marriage? 

The National Health and Social Life Survey (Feb./2017), identified that 20% of couples were in the “sexless” category —  meaning they engaged in intercourse less than ten times per year. 

The Guardian (Oct. 2016) reported on a study by Georgia State University which suggested that 15% of married couples have not had sex in the past six to 12 months. All the while, a Huffington Post article by Abby Rodman revealed that most survey participants defined “sexless” as having sex on an average of once a month!


So, who cares if people's marriages are sexless? A lot of people! 

The New York Times reported that renowned data scientist Seth Stephens-Davidowitz says “sexless marriages” is the top-searched marriage complaint on Google!

In fact, on average, more than 21,000 people scan the internet monthly with online searches for sexless marriages!

Whether we talk about it or not, we all care.


What happens that causes a marriage to become sexless?

Kids, schedules, exhaustion, rejection, blame, finances ... take your pick. Then, sprinkle some resentment and you’ve got a recipe for no communication and a lot of unexpressed hurt feelings!

The number one response in a Huffington Post survey, was: “My wife isn’t interested.” In that same survey, only 21 percent pointed to the husband as the culprit.

Despite what the media depicts, there’s a significant percentage of couples not having sex for a wide range of reasons: emotional, psychological, physical, religious or other reasons.

The biggest barrier is a build-up of silent resentment over time. It’s a pile-up of past hurts left unspoken.

It’s all the conversations that resulted in you projecting blame onto your spouse for what’s happening in your marriage now; or, the blame you put on yourself for your role in this bed of silence.

It’s both the frustration and confusion as to how to start disentangling yourself from the jumbled mess you find yourself in now.


Ask yourself what changed between you.

Remember when you used to talk about sex with each other?

You discussed your sexual activities all the time and even made sexual innuendos to him. You laughed and teased and flirted with each other. You even shared your sexual fantasies with each other.

Now you don’t.

Something shifted in the relationship between the two of you and neither of you noticed it or talked about it at the time.

Isn’t amazing how life can interfere with your sex life? How can anything interfere with sex? Well, it does!

First, you’re exhausted and then your routine changes. After that, your sexual habits change, you do more of this and less of that.

Over time, the excitement fades and so does the anticipation. Finally, everything stops including the excuses.


What can you do?

The most important thing for you to do is to figure out for yourself what you need and how you feel about what’s happening to the two of you right now. Once you figure that out then you can decide next steps.

Despite the external pressures, the best thing to do if it bothers you is to talk about it!

The more time passes and there’s no conversation, the more awkward and disconnected you may feel. Lack of sex is not an easy topic for conversation, but the strategy is simple: Just talk!

Remember, if you keep doing the same thing (not talking), don’t expect a different outcome!

Start a safe dialogue between the two of you and see what you’ll discover.

Do you still love him even without the sex? Have you ever talked about it to each other without resentment and blame? Have you each discussed the lack of sex in the marriage and how you feel about it?

Have you listened to his perspective without the finger pointing, blaming or yelling?

This is about having a compassionately kind discussion between the two of you. Express your sincere desire to start having sex again with him.

Also, touch, feel and love.

Remember, whatever you’re feeling and thinking, he probably feels the same way too! The awkwardness, the hesitation, the embarrassment, the desperate need to go back to the way it was.

Talk honestly and respectfully to each other like good friends.

Reach out and touch his hand while you look into his eyes. Tell him how difficult it is to speak your unspoken thoughts and feelings and that you really miss feeling close to him.


Don't expect anything, just talk.

If you hit a roadblock and there seems to be less dialog from your spouse, then, gently, let him know how it feels for you to be with him now, to sit and talk and to look into each other’s eyes.

Check in with him. How does he feel? What’s going on with him?

When one thing happens in life, sometimes that one thing by itself is not difficult or significant. However, it quickly gets more complicated when the first problem gets covered up with layers upon layers of other problems that are created by the first problem. That’s when, it gets compounded with time, silence, and disconnection.

Don’t be too critical of yourself or him —​ life happens!


Remember, it takes courage to break the silence!

What a huge step you took! First, you thought about talking to him; then you practiced how to say it to him; then you chose the right time to discuss it with him; and finally, you gently spoke to him with love in your heart. What a statement of love to reach out with kindness to your best friend and loving husband!

Your biggest fear is that your marriage can’t recover from this stillness between you. You keep thinking that he’ll leave you, or that he’ll cheat on you without a word spoken between you.

When you decided to sit down and have that conversation with him, you expressed your fears of being alone in this marriage. You told him your hopes for the future together. The hardest thing of all was when you waited for him to speak.


Don't stop now!

While you’re talking, if you sense that your spouse doesn’t know what to say but is listening to you without getting defensive, perhaps you can tell him how important it is for you to hear what he’s thinking and feeling right now.

Ask him what he thinks you can do as a couple to move forward from this stuck point? Does he want to move forward together? Would he be open to suggestions, such as: seeing a professional counselor, a couples therapist or sex therapist?

Whatever you do, don’t shelve it. Keep the dialogue going.

Margot Brown has helped couples and individuals create happier lives for over 20 years. She’s the author of “Kickstart Your Relationship Now! Move On or Move Out.” You can find it on Amazon and in local bookstores near you.

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