How Long Do Sexless Marriages Last?

How Long Do Sexless Marriages Last?

How big a deal is sex in a relationship? For some people, the idea of a totally sexless marriage means misery and the end of your relationship.

But the truth is that these types of relationships do happen and there are couples who are happily abstinent with one another. So when it comes to removing that kind of physical intimacy, just how long can a sexless marriage last?

RELATED: What Causes A Sexless Marriage & How To Fix A Relationship Without Sex

For some, sexless unions can last a lifetime, but for others be intolerable after two weeks. Couples don’t like to discuss this openly because they're under the impression other couples are having sex all the time.

Does infrequent sex or no sex mean you have a problem that will spell the demise of the marriage?

How do you know if your sexual relationship is problematic? Marital therapist Bonnie Eaker Weil defines sexual problems very simply: "If one person thinks there is a problem, that is the definition of a problem."

But if you can talk to your spouse about your feelings and sexual needs, that's what counts. Many couples, especially those who are on a spiritual path, find infrequent sex to be enough for them.

When they do have a physical encounter and take their time, it is fulfilling and lasting. It may be an energetic thing. They may be relating on a chakra level that maintains the connection, even if they are not actively having sex.

If one spouse needs more physical attention, it's important they discuss this openly and without embarrassment.

Just as they can be in different places on the spiritual path, they could have different physical needs. People end relationships all the time because they don't have the patience or openness to find common ground.

In the U.S. alone, an astonishing 20 percent of marriages are sexless.

Roger Nyland, author of The Nature of Existence and the maker of the documentary The Truth About Marriage defines sexless as "couples having sex less than once per month." And he says the numbers probably rise to at least 40 percent when you add in couples only having sex out of duty, guilt, or religious obligation.

"For many people if there was a disclaimer before marriage warning that sex is likely to drop to less than once a month in five years, they might think twice before getting married," says Nygard.

But there is also the belief that couples don’t want to admit that as they become more emotionally connected and spiritually intimate, sex simply becomes less important and they're OK with that.

Sex isn't the only form of intimacy there is in a relationship, and so they're not necessarily losing passion, rather than just changing the form it takes. It depends on how you define it.

In the early days of relationships, couples express themselves with a physical connection. Roger interviewed couples who said initially, they were having sex sometimes up to five times a day. Then after a few years, it came down to about once or twice per week.

RELATED: I Stopped Having Sex With My Husband And We're Closer Than Ever

"In the romanticized notion of marriage, people think sex should stay wild and crazy, even 10 or 20 years later. But that's not realistic," says Psychologist Ty Tashiro.

Even if you wanted to keep the original passionate intensity raging at full volume for an entire relationship, is it possible? Dr. Tashiro's answer is that if you did, you would die.

"The butterflies-in-your-stomach is a stress reaction — a pleasant one — but it would become toxic to your body over time to keep releasing that level of hormone. 'Pounding heart' is another way to say 'high blood pressure.'" 

The ability for relationships to change over time and adapt a form of physical intimacy into more of an emotional or even spiritual connection is part of a natural decline.

If there are no children or the couple is now in an empty nest, there can be a new level of passion that reflects trust, understanding, and intimacy. There may be sex, but more importantly, there is commitment. On the other hand, couples who find themselves with less stress may experience a renaissance of sorts.

So if a couple is in a “sexless” marriage during the stage of marriage that involves homemaking, children, and in today’s world with a great deal of uncertainty, they should hang in there because there is great reward in their future.

You don't need to worry about not having sex as frequently as you used to as a couple. It doesn't have to mean you're losing one another or bound for a breakup.

The important thing is to discuss with your partner what you feel the problem is and have a frank conversation about how much sex you need to feel comfortable in your relationship.

This will allow you both the opportunity to address the need for intimacy with an honest and open mindset.

Sexless marriages don't have to mean the end of your relationship.

And depending on how you and your partner are able to connect, you could end up with a tough-as-nails marriage that still stands the test of time, even if your levels of intimacy aren't rolling in the bedroom anymore so much as snuggling together on the couch.

RELATED: How To Save A Sexless Marriage When You're More Like Roommates Than A Married Couple

Deborah Herman is a former divorce and custody mediator and an intuitive counselor. For more information about how she can help you, contact her via her website here.

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