Studies suggest that at least 15 percent of married couples are in a sexless marriage. A sexless marriage is defined as partners who have not been intimate within a 6 to 12-month period. So what happens to your marriage when you and your spouse are no longer being intimate together?
Either you’re unhappy with your partner and don’t feel comfortable sharing a sex life. Or you’re blissfully happy together and wondering where your sexual disconnect came from. Either way, a lack of intimacy can be painful and frustrating both mentally and physically.
5 ways a sexless marriage can affect you
Here are 5 ways a sexless marriage can affect both your mental health and your relationship, along with advice on what to do when you and your spouse are no longer intimate together.
1. Temptations Rise
It practically goes without saying that when you are not being intimate with your partner, you are missing out on an important bond. Your emotional and physical needs are not being met. This can cause you to question your commitment to fidelity.
When your partner no longer wants to be intimate with you, it can make you feel incredibly lonely and depressed. This leaves you vulnerable to having an extramarital affair, which will complicate your marriage and likely hurt all parties involved.
2. Reduces Emotional Intimacy
In a sample study done by the Flourishing Families Project, 355 couples discussed emotional and sexual intimacy in relation to relationship satisfaction. The results showed that a satisfying sex life significantly predicted heightened emotional intimacy between partners.
Emotional intimacy is very important to your relationship. It bonds you as a couple and makes sex more enjoyable. It even contributes to the success of your marital friendship. It’s what encourages you to be close with your spouse and share things with him.
When physical intimacy is lacking, your emotional connection will suffer.
3. Destroys Trust
The oxytocin released during physical moments, and especially after orgasm, has been shown to increase trust between partners. This is important since trust is what helps us feel connected to our spouses. It allows us to feel comfortable and safe in our relationships.
The relationship between trust and intimacy makes sense when you consider that during sex you are giving your partner the freedom and consent to explore your body and pleasure you. It is a deeply personal experience that you share with your partner. When this experience is lacking, your trust in your spouse may wane.
If your spouse has lost interest in sex, you may also start to question their loyalty to you. You may wonder if they are uninterested in maintaining a healthy sex life with you because they are pursuing their desires with someone else. Such thinking can damage a marriage.
4. It Ruins Your Self-Esteem
When you are intimate with your spouse, you feel amazing. You feel sexy and desired by your partner. This gives you a pleasant ego boost. However, when such intimacy is lacking, it may cause your self-esteem to plummet. You may start to think that you are ugly, undesirable, or that your spouse is no longer attracted to you. This can cause your mental health to suffer.
Questioning your self-worth can trigger depression.
Once depressed, you will begin to feel unmotivated, helpless, will lose interest in activities, may begin to dislike yourself, feel fatigued, irritable, and you may even start choosing reckless behavior.
5. It’s Embarrassing
You’re out with your friends and someone pulls up a ‘How Wild is Your Sex Life?’ quiz as a silly joke. Everyone begins discussing their hottest encounters or relaying stories about sneaking in an intimate moment while the kids were out. You’re just left there to dread the round-table discussion coming your way.
Not having a healthy sex life with your partner hurts. Since research proves that sex makes you feel socially included, the reality of your intimate life can be embarrassing. This is true even if nobody knows what is going on behind closed doors.
You may start to wonder what is wrong with your spouse. You may start to think that your relationship is not normal – especially if it is your husband who has lost interest in sex.
What to Do When You’re in a Sexless Marriage
Being in a happy sexless marriage can be equally, if not more frustrating than being in an unhappy relationship. If you and your spouse are wildly in love and make spending time together an important part of your relationship, why aren’t you connecting on a sexual level?
Whether you get along or not, it’s important to get to the root of the problems in your sex life. Here are two simple ways you can start to take control of your marriage and your mental health.
- Communication is the backbone of any strong marriage. Studies show that sexual communication is positively correlated with relationship quality and satisfying sex life. Couples must learn how to talk about what is bothering them in order to grow and strengthen their relationship.
- Get Help. Not everyone is comfortable sharing the ins and outs of their lives with a complete stranger, but therapy can be extremely helpful. Whether you’re attending with your spouse or solo, a counselor can help you understand what’s going on in your relationship.
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There are also online marriage courses, such as that I am associated with, that are available to teach couples how to strengthen intimacy, boost communication, and enhance empathy.
Not sharing a sex life with the person you vowed to spend forever can be a sad and frustrating experience – but it doesn’t have to stay that way.
Communicate openly with your spouse about the problems you’re having. Marital therapy, working out together, and spending quality time together can boost your physical and emotional intimacy.
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