If you are young and not yet married or have been married for only a few years, you might be wondering if a sexless marriage is really possible. How can two people survive a loveless, sexless marriage? How can partners live in a sexless marriage and be happy? Most importantly, how do you stay faithful in a sexless marriage? Or is it ok to cheat if you are in a sexless relationship?
Well, believe it or not but a marriage like this is a truth in every society. It is rarely discussed in the open but lived under one roof day after day. In the book Chaos: Romance, Sexuality and Fidelity, author Raksha Bharadia explores how happy marriages have cracks and fissures too that couples are always dealing with. People don’t talk about their physical illness until they see a doctor. In the same way, it’s only when people are dealing with a dead bedroom, they go to a marriage therapist to seek help in surviving a sexless marriage without cheating.
We spoke to life coach and counselor Joie Bose, who specializes in counseling people dealing with abusive marriages, breakups, and extramarital affairs, about ways to survive a sexless marriage without cheating. She also spoke about the emotional effects of a sexless marriage on partners and how to deal with the same.
Living In A Sexless Marriage
In India, separating a bedroom often makes things apparent, which couples don’t want. This is the reason they continue to sleep in the same bed despite being in a sexless marriage. A 2003 survey done by Newsweek shows that 15-20% people are in sexless marriages. A lot of factors lead people to push away sex like stress, the need to give all their attention to children, household chores, work pressure, or even health issues.
Couples who stop having sex do not necessarily fall out of love but when they realize that sex is no longer a part of their lives, there could be a lot of frustration, fights, and blame-shifting involved in the marriage leading them to grapple with the idea of surviving a sexless marriage. But is a sexless marriage unhealthy? No, not really.
Many people are in sexless marriages and are doing absolutely fine. A few couples, who have chosen to be celibate after having kids, often say that not having the pressure to have sex has given them peace. They feel happy channelizing their energies in creative directions. Some couples treat sex as a fun activity. If they are having fun doing other things, they don’t miss sex. There are also couples who are asexual, therefore, the sexlessness is the way they want their marriage to be.
But there are other sexless marriages that often lead to extramarital affairs and create the propensity to cheat. Is it okay to cheat if you are in a sexless relationship? According to Joie, “The essence of marriage is commitment, which is why cheating is never an option. You have to decide whether sex is important to you. If it is important but you are in a sexless marriage, you have to figure out a solution instead of resorting to infidelity.”
While many would say that the hardest part of being in a sexless marriage is to not cheat, there are probably many others who would also say that marriage is not only about sex and that there are a lot of other factors that help a marriage thrive. In this article, we discuss ways to survive a sexless marriage without cheating on your partner.
How To Survive A Sexless Marriage Without Cheating
A sexless marriage will inevitably lead to cheating, that’s what a layperson would say. The sexlessness of the marriage might entail one partner’s disinterest in sex and intimacy and the other partner’s effort to control their urges. But when, where, and how this urge to have sex unleashes itself, you never know.
Ray (name changed) was in a sexless marriage for 16 years. For the first year, they did show some enthusiasm, then it waned over the months till it peaked when they tried to have a baby, mainly scheduled sex with meds and Viagra. Once she conceived, it was all over. She got busy with the child and he got busy with his job and they would discuss over coffee, “We should do it sometime. It’s not a good thing that we are not doing it.” But the ‘doing it’ remained limited to conversation only. It never materialized in the bedroom.
Recently, she met a colleague and started feeling attracted to him. She felt the urge to have sex, something that she thought had long died in her. At home, she hoped that this urge would help her get intimate with her husband but she realized she didn’t feel any physical attraction toward him anymore, although she still loved him and cared for him a lot. Now, in such a situation, would she cheat on her husband or continue surviving a sexless marriage without cheating? We tell you 10 things that people in sexless marriages can do to avoid cheating.
1. Ask yourself what’s important
Sex or the peaceful set-up you have with your children and partner? Cheating for sex will rock the boat inevitably. There will be complications and the whole sexless marriage effect on the wife or husband. There is no guarantee that the sex that you have outside of your marriage will also not fizzle out. You could be blamed for ruining your marriage or even pressured to walk out of it.
According to Joie, “Ask yourself what’s important to you. If sex is really important, then have a conversation with your partner and figure out a solution for the sexlessness of the marriage. Also, look at other aspects of the marriage like financial security, respect, love, and romance. There are several couples who are in open marriages. Figure out what’s important and then make a decision.”
People could start with a simple hookup, indulge in casual sex, but when two people are in a marriage, it is almost impossible for expectations to not take over. Sometimes it’s best to stay put even when the grass is greener on the other side. Surviving a sexless marriage without cheating means looking at the bigger picture and deciding what you really want.
2. No sex but there is respect
How do you stay faithful in a sexless marriage? Well, here is some useful sexless marriage advice. Sex might have fizzled out of your marriage but if you still have mutual respect and shared dreams, then you might just survive a sexless marriage without cheating. Focus on the respect you have for each other.
If you ask around, couples will tell you that they could have the most mind-blowing sex but as soon they get out of bed, the bickering starts and their relationship hits the pits. Would you want to be in a situation like this? Or do you value what you have? Respecting each other is one of the best ways to survive a loveless, sexless marriage. Sex may have died out, you may even have fallen out of love. But you can always have respect and affection for a person you are not intimate with.
3. Sexless marriage and emotional cheating
There are emotional effects of sexless marriage. A sexless marriage can have an effect on your wife or husband due to which they might get into an emotional affair without even realizing it. Having such an intimacy with someone outside of marriage is often a prelude to sexual infidelity. However, to handle a sexless marriage, it is sometimes a good idea to have an emotional connection with someone. As long as it does not lead to infidelity and you know where to draw the line, you will be able to survive your sexless marriage without looking at cheating as an option.
Related Reading: Expectations In Relationships: The Right Way To Manage Them
4. Sex is just a part of an intimate relationship
If you have love, trust, mutual respect, and effective communication within a sexless marriage, it is possible to survive it without cheating. After a long day, if you can sit together on the couch and have a conversation, exchange the day’s happenings or discuss future plans or even holiday ideas, it’s good enough. This leads to an intimacy that is often stronger than a sexual bond.
While narrating a client story, Joie says, “I talked to this couple who had not been having sex for a long time. But they were emotionally connected to and depended on each other like friends. Sex was never an issue between them. There were other problems but sex was never one of them. If there is an intellectual or emotional connect between partners, sex doesn’t hold importance.”
5. Accept the sexlessness of your marriage
How to live in a sexless marriage and be happy? Well, one way is to accept the sexlessness of your marriage. Good communication can help you have a discussion on why sex is not working for both of you anymore and what you would want to do to keep the spark alive. You might want to do the things you love doing together like gardening, watching movies, traveling, and so on and so forth. Many couples stay close by doing shared activities.
6. Opt for self-pleasure
How to survive a sexless marriage without cheating? Both partners could opt for self-pleasure and even take the help of sex toys. Sex is a biological need and, sometimes, the lack of it might lead to pent up feelings. In that case, both partners could decide to pleasure themselves. In Indian society, women are averse to self-pleasure and feel that sexual pleasure lies in their partner’s touch. That’s not really true. Women can pleasure themselves without feeling ashamed about it. This would keep a sexless marriage healthy and prevent partners from cheating on each other.
7. Travel a lot
Fez (name changed) travels a lot with his spouse. When he looks back, he says that he has no memory of making out in a hotel room because they actually never did. They were always so excited about exploring new places that sex would be the last thing on their mind. Traveling or even weekend getaways could be a great way of getting back the excitement that’s missing in your sexless marriage. Plan an exotic couple’s trip to an exotic location and enjoy some quality time together.
8. Explore creativity and cultivate hobbies
There are many people who are celibate by choice and do not miss having sex. They channelize their sexual energies to creative, productive activities or spend time cultivating new hobbies. One way to live in a sexless marriage and be happy is to indulge in things you always wanted to try. Join a cooking or a pottery class or learn a musical instrument. Take some art lessons or join a tennis session with your partner to feel that adrenaline rush.
Related Reading: 20 Fun Things To Do As A Couple
9. Start having sex again
Whether you can start having sex again depends on why you stopped in the first place. If it was due to stress at work or because you got busy with your children, then it can be renewed assuming that both partners are interested in doing so. If it happened due to more complicated issues like constant quarrels, communication problems, and hatred that might have taken over the relationship, then it is going to be difficult. Maybe that’s when you should see a therapist and try to sort out issues that have led to sexlessness. Bonobology’s panel of licensed and experienced therapists is only a click away.
10. When to walk away from a sexless marriage
Lastly, if nothing seems to work, you may have to think about getting a divorce. Sometimes, the best way to survive a sexless marriage without cheating is to walk away. It keeps the relationship amicable without causing the heartbreak that comes with an extramarital affair. If you are grappling with the emotional effects of a sexless marriage or feel that the sexlessness is eating into your relationship and turning it into a dead weight that you have been carrying around for a long time, then it’s better to walk away than stay in the marriage.
A sexless marriage can be a ground for divorce. Says Joie, “Marriage is based on consent. If you and your partner have not reached a common ground, ask for a divorce if you don’t want to stay in a sexless marriage. The legal system allows partners to separate due to lack of sexual or physical intimacy. There is a clause that allows couples to get a divorce if there is no sex in the relationship.”
Is no intimacy grounds for cheating? Yes, sometimes it is, when lack of intimacy could not be compensated by love, respect, and care. It doesn’t excuse cheating though. An article in Huffington post says: “A marriage can last long term without sex if both people are not bothered by the lack of sex in their lives,” said sex therapist Celeste Hirschman, co-author of Making Love Real: The Intelligent Couple’s Guide to Lasting Intimacy and Passion.
“For some people, sex is not a particularly high priority. For others, it is quite high, just like any other activity,” said Celeste. In the same way, you have to decide what your priority is in the marriage. Once your priorities are in place, you can survive a sexless marriage without cheating.