When clients report being in a “sexless marriage” where sex is either non-existent or negligible (i.e. except for special occasions like birthdays or Christmas), I know sex is not the fix. Instead, barring any physical issues making sex challenging, this is one of deep, emotional turmoil.
In graduate school, some professors have challenged us to ask about a couple’s sex life early in therapy as opposed to waiting until we’re comfortable. In their opinion, why dance around this subject and waste their time and money when we could get to the heart of the issue by being extremely direct.
While I still don’t have the courage to do so up front, it does eventually get asked and when clients respond about being in a sexless marriage, there’s the potential this is a troubled relationship.
Some dismiss it saying, “Everything’s great except the lack of sex,” while others have become resigned to living out their marital lives without any physical intimacy.
If you’re in a sexless marriage, you have to ask yourself what’s going on? Once again, I suggest seeking out a medical professional to rule out any physical or health issues. Besides the lack of sex, what is the emotional climate of your relationship? If it’s deteriorating or feeling disconnected, is a partner cheating either physically or emotionally? Is one side addicted to something (i.e. porn, video games, gambling, alcohol, etc.), as addictions are a way to disconnect relationally?
Maybe other issues of trust, safety, or security have come up that haven’t been thoroughly resolved. Couples who struggle with sex are often the least likely to talk about their struggles thinking it’s a no-win situation.
While I’m not a sex therapist per se, I do know the emotional barriers that arise in life (i.e. career, children, etc.) can take a toll on a couple’s intimacy. Physical intimacy cannot be resolved without emotional intimacy, so take the courageous step and voice your concerns either to your spouse or a trained professional.
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