how to survive a sexless marriage

Major points out that desire for a partner “is often dictated by life stages; after the first rush of being together doing nothing but sex. Side jobs, having children, having to take care of people, general stresses of everyday life ensure that things go uphill and downhill. It’s normal.” And even if interest in sex wanes for a period of time, that doesn’t mean it won’t return.

Maya Kelman* stopped having sex with her husband six years after their marriage. “I don’t feel like we’re missing out,” she says, but she’s open to the idea that they could reconnect sexually. “One day we might start again, but for me it’s not a matter of ticking a box or doing it because I feel like our relationship requires it.” Kelman, 47, says that many friends engage in performative coitus are involved and sleep with their husbands out of anticipation rather than desire: “I’d rather not have sex than have bad, awkward sex.”

Along with the high-profile job, exotic vacations, perfect home, and kids, “regular sex can feel like yet another expectation… I think how we define marriage changes and our expectations about sex may change as well.”

Kelman admits that the physical stress of going through menopause and running after her kids has affected her libido. Social media and other distractions may also play a role: The 2019 National Survey of Attitudes and Lifestyles saw a decrease in the number of times couples had sex each month, noting that phones and “distracting stimuli that take up your free time can…can prevent intimacy.” Weiner-Davis says the best way to deal with a lack of sexual desire, especially for women, is to let a partner’s physical cues guide you. “I wish I had a pound for every time a woman said to me, ‘I wasn’t in the mood when we started, but once we started doing this, it was great.’” She believes women are more likely to deal with responsive desire than spontaneous desire (feeling in the mood right away, aye, nothing) — they just need “some kind of trigger to remind them that they’re interested in physical closeness.”

It can even be a conversation, she says — and it doesn’t always have to lead to sex or an orgasm. Even the smallest amount of physical intimacy has the power to “make the world seem right; it does [people] feel so close and connected to their partner and make them feel wanted and loved.”

With a degree of closeness — Kelman and her husband “snuggle and massage and hold hands” as well as being open about how they’re feeling — experts say marriages are more likely to last. Major adds that Covid “has been a giant pressure cooker for a lot of couples, both in terms of their emotional intimacy and their sexual intimacy,” but that relationships that can survive global pandemics and sexual hiccups are likely made of strong stuff. “The only thing that matters is would your partner be there for you through a crisis and beyond?” asked a Marriage Diaries reader in response to last month’s column. “If so” – sex or not – “there is no problem.”

How to regain intimacy

Be careful

“Very often people come into therapy and one or both of them say, ‘Looking back, it’s been like this for years,'” says Major. When you first notice something is overcooking or not feeling quite right, address it sooner rather than later: Addressing issues “starts with a conversation.”

Share – carefully

Talking about problems is okay, according to Major. So instead of saying “I think this is your fault,” start with “I’ve noticed,” or “I’m sad because we don’t seem to be as close as we can.”

“Owning it for yourself invites a partner to own it for themselves,” says Major. Blame will “invite a very defensive, defensive position in your partner and they will feel down.”

Check in

Assess your own confidence and self-esteem: “Feeling attractive, sexy, and generally good about yourself is often attractive in a partner.”


That’s the “bottom line,” says Major. “It’s not fair to say to your partner, ‘I don’t like sex and I never want to have sex with you again because I just don’t care, but I expect you to stay in the relationship.'” Speak up about what a meeting in the middle looks like and how to get there. “Settle for a little more reality,” says psychotherapist and author Phillip Hodson. “If you can’t get what you want, can you want what you can get?”

Take your time to rebuild

“Accept that things are rocky today and don’t expect it to go from cold to hot in a day,” advises Hodson. Warming up often requires a change in behavior: “Be nicer [and] learn to listen properly.”

maintain physical contact

“Foreplay should be redefined as the art of making someone feel wanted far more times than one could ever have sex — hugs, brief touches, praise, appreciation, saying thank you, giving time, fixing things — all of which lead.” to ultimate closeness,” says Hodson. “It’s a lot easier to have sex with someone when you’re already in touch distance.”

Think emotionally

“What’s on your partner’s mind most and worrying about him (besides you) right now? If you don’t know, try to find out.”

*Names have been changed

Would you stay in a sexless relationship? Let us know in the comment section below. how to survive a sexless marriage

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