One night, Dawn sat talking with her girl friends when the conversation turned to sex. Surprisingly, they all talked about how they wish they had more sex with their husbands. It just seemed that they were always too tired, or something else got in the way. One friend complained she hadn’t had sex in two weeks.
After a while, they noticed Dawn hadn’t said much. Finally she said, “My husband and I haven’t had sex since last year.” Blank stares. As it turned out, since Dawn and her husband had experienced infertility for many years—but had since been able to have two children—unfortunately sex had become all about trying for a baby and less about connection and fun. At the moment, they were both okay with the long break. Eventually, she added, things will change. But for now, they were fine.
If you are experiencing no sex in marriage at the moment, you are not alone. According to Newsweek magazine, somewhere between 15-20 percent of couples may be experiencing a “sexless marriage” which some say is having sex less than 10 times per year. In 1994, the US National Health and Society Life Survey reported that 2 percent of married couples were having no sex in the previous year.
Why? The reasons are quite varied. Perhaps a major life event or disability has caused changes in the sexual routine. Perhaps you both just aren’t in the mood anymore, for either physical or emotional reasons. If you are both okay with the current lack of sex in your marriage, then just make sure to keep the lines of communication open in case those feelings change.
However, if your sexless marriage does bother one or both of you, then here are some ways to approach it:
Have the conversation
If you and your spouse haven’t discussed the lack of sex in your marriage yet, set up a time to do so. It may feel awkward, but it’s a conversation you need to have. Avoiding the subject will not make the issue go away. So sit down, just the two of you, and talk about it.
Maybe you both have talked about sex until you are blue in the face, and it hasn’t done any good. Perhaps you need to approach it in a different way. Sex is an emotional act, so it’s no wonder that talking about it can bring out a lot of emotions as well. The important part in talking about it is to try to understand where you are both coming from.
If you are having trouble knowing how to get started, each of you answer these questions:
- Are you happy with the current level of sex in your marriage?
- What would be an ideal amount of sex per week?
- Why do you think there is a lack of sex right now?
- Any outside factors contributing to that?
- What are your beliefs about sex?
- How do you feel about sex overall?
Go for marriage counseling
If it’s been several months or longer that you and your spouse have had a “sexless marriage,” then go see a marriage counselor. The sooner, the better. If you let pent up frustrations build for a long time, they may become harder and harder to unravel.
A good marriage counselor will help each of you talk openly about sex and get to the root cause of why there is no sex. For many, it can be hard to talk about. It’s such a personal subject. But it’s important to discuss things in order to face the issue and work through it. A good marriage therapist can help you get past old hurts or beliefs that are standing in the way of a better sexual experience.
Have realistic expectations
As you go on this journey, you may want to know what is “normal” with other couples. While it can be comforting to know that other couples are going through similar issues, seeing those who have more sex than you can put a damper on your progress. So try not to worry about what other people are doing. Your relationship is unique. Don’t expect things to be a certain way. You have each gone through your own trials, and you each have different wants and needs.
Work with your spouse day by day and try to be realistic. Maybe you both want more sex, but that doesn’t mean it’ll automatically happen. Give each other time to get back in the swing of things. Realize that sometimes there will be setbacks. Be patient and loving along the way.
Develop a game plan
It’s really important that you and your spouse are on the same page about this. Talking about it and going to therapy are great options, but you need more. You both need to develop a game plan and act on it. Get out a piece of paper and write down your ideas. Weekly dates are a good idea—not only do they help you connect more, you can hold hands and kiss and develop the bond that can eventually lead to sex. If sex is difficult due to scheduling, then schedule it! There is no shame in that. If sex is not happening because you are both exhausted, then take a sleep test, take naps, or have sex in the morning. Sometimes, these things take extra planning—and that’s okay.
Sex is an important component to marriage. It helps us feel closer and it also relieves stress. If you are experiencing a lack of sex in your marriage and it bothers one or both of you, then don’t wait. Address the issue now. Perhaps with a little more understanding, you two could be having more fun between the sheets. In the meantime, try to be patient. Talk about it, go to a therapist, be realistic with your expectations, and develop a game plan. Be loving as you work to make things better—together.