A happy marriage is a bundle of joys and responsibilities every couple shoulders at every turn of their lives and evolves with in time. Mature individuals enjoy the good times, make way through struggles and survive through many odds to make it a long-lasting relationship. One of these odds is the peril called ‘sexless’ marriage. If there is ‘no sex‘, can couples enjoy the same understanding as before? Yes, if the decision of withholding sex is mutual, then this situation is OK. But when one of the partners wants sex and the other doesn’t, this ‘married’ alignment fails and brings an irreparable damage to a relationship.
Many who have had not had sex for months/years are prone to many arguments and verbal bickering. Situations worsen to an extent that they just cohabit together for the sake of children and family, like two people sharing a house in a roommate kind of arrangement. All these problems follow a sex-starved marriage. Before finding solutions to save the marriage from the peril, let us first understand what a sexless marriage is all about below.
What is a sexless marriage?
A sexless marriage is not a myth. The dry spell is a reality millions of couples throughout the world grapple with these days. In terms of numbers, it puts sex on the backburner with the frequency lower than 10 times in a year. With no intimacy, many husbands and wives struggle a lot to communicate, share their feelings and suffer through a lot of resentments and problems. They become all too consumed with their other responsibilities, including work, household chores, kids, and in-laws, leaving spousal needs ignored. But you cannot just blame a busy lifestyle for lack of sex in the bedroom. This incompatibility gets translated into a clear ‘no’ to sex time. Low tolerance of the partner’s habits, curbed anger, ego clashes and arguments also dilute marital sensuality. Later, the rift widens when partners make ‘sex strikes’ on each other by denying intimacy to each other citing mood issues, exhaustion, etc.
Vulnerable partner/s, if exposed to this dry spell for a longer time span, may suffer from relationship depression and find themselves a part of many misunderstandings. It degrades not only the quality of life but brings a lot of mental trauma. In the Indian context, denying sex to a partner for a long time counts as mental cruelty. Couples coping with this resentment at times choose to stay quiet and bear the brunt of the situation. But nowadays, many of them are finding the courage to open up on a relationship without intimacy and are walking out of it, instead of living a degraded marital life. This is also one of the reasons for increased divorce rates in the country. But there are certain signals pointing towards the harrowing shadow of sexless marriage which we will explore in the next section.
Causes of sexless marriage
- No ‘we-time’: This is the most common reason for a dry spell in marriage. Spouses who focus on family responsibilities and career over each other for longer periods suffer greatly because of this reason. The intrusion of smart gadgets in the bedroom has also created another challenge for the couples to enjoy quality ‘we time’. Being on social media after work, watching TV are other distractions that keep them away from the quality connection they need to bond for long-term relationships
- No privacy: Indian couples face a lot of problems because of privacy. They find it difficult to find their space while taking care of elders and kids in the family. At times, kids never let moms go away, which also increases the tendency of a dry spell in a sexless marriage
- Looking at sex as a chore: This happens when one of the partners has reached saturation level in their sexual relationship. Usually, women post-pregnancy phase find it difficult to get back their sexual momentum during intercourse. By this time, partners know each other inside out. Their resentments, criticism, blame game, constant fights and negative interactions also crush the hope of having quality time during sex. Many times, the trauma of childhood sexual abuse or psychological reasons of looking at sex as a dirty chore block the comfort zone between many husbands and wives. All these reasons hinder them from exploring their sexual compatibility with each other
- Health reasons: In the case of newlyweds, disorders like dyspareunia and spasms due to vaginal poor lubrication make intercourse a painful ordeal for women. Post pregnancy healing, ageing, side effects of certain medication also lower the sex drive among women. Birth control pills and antidepressants also affect women’s sexual drive. Men also have their own health reasons that hinder their sexual intimacy. These include heart risks, decreased blood flow to the male organ, rheumatoid arthritis, erectile dysfunction, etc. All these health risks keep couples apart from enjoying quality sexual connection
- Not initiating sexual interactions: The law of consent where one of the spouses denies sexual interactions, again and again, erodes the confidence of the initiator. If this becomes a pattern, then most long-standing couples become reticent in launching sexual contact
8 ideas to improve intimacy in an otherwise sexless marriage
A relationship like a marriage is a work-in-progress. If couples face this reality together and lower their expectation graph, they can actually fix a sexless marriage and regain that lost spark in their relationship. Remember, the objective is not just to improve intimacy, but also help the husband and wife bridge their differences and grow together in a strong marriage. A little mindfulness from both sides while working on intimacy can actually be a new beginning for a happy marriage. Let us find out 8 such life-transforming ideas to improve intimacy and enhance bonding
- Make way for ‘we-time’: Sex is a primer for your relationship and ‘we-time’ away from any distractions makes way for it. According to studies, the happiest couples prioritise intimacy every week and cherish their growth as a couple. So, set time aside for sex at least once a week and enjoy the greatest relationship satisfaction for years to come
- Schedule activities together: Enhance your bonding time by participating in activities together. Enjoy some quality time devoid of any responsibilities. Maybe an hour of gymming or jogging together can keep you and your relationship fitter than ever. Late night drive can be a perfect stress reliever for you both. Enrol in ballroom dancing sessions to rekindle the lost couple connection. Or plan a trip to an exotic destination. Just do something that keeps the two of you together regularly and see how it helps you in improving intimacy
- Touchy-feely intimacy: As couples grow apart, they miss out on an important element of intimacy, that is, touch. Our Bonobology counsellors suggest including touch therapy in their lives. To start with, both of you should try to hold each other’s hands and indulge in soul gazing. Initially, you might think this is getting awkward, but don’t hesitate and give up. Try it once. You may blink your eye, but avoid talking to each other. You will realise that after marriage, you fail to notice and admire your partner. In short, you ignore the person you fell in love with. This exercise can help you re-establish that lost intimacy and connection efficiently. Team it up with cuddles and hugs whenever you get time. Hold each other’s hands whenever you get time to reassert trust and faith in each other. This will make you both feel special and work wonders for your intimate relationship
- Listen to your spouse: As married individuals, we speak to be heard and fail to listen to our spouses. This is the root cause of all misunderstandings, troubles, and problems. In short, we forget the art of quality communication. Listening to your spouse without any interruptions will give them an outlet to express their bottled-up emotions and help connect with each other on a regular basis. Make eye contact and try to empathise with them as he/she vents out the uninterrupted stream of consciousness. This activity will make them feel validated and cared for longer time
- Stay away from your smartphone: Believe it or not, smartphones have dulled out couple connections completely. Many times, we see a wife is talking to a husband already busy, in other words, distracted in the world of mobile applications. As a result, your spouse feels ignored, which can bring dissatisfaction to your marriage. A viable solution is to keep away your smartphone, ignore the notifications and enjoy the mutual satisfaction of being in a relationship
- Support the spouse’s health: Understand the struggles your spouse is going through and be there with them in the times of need. A marriage is all about changing wheels of control. Sometimes, when he/she is not feeling good or has some painful sexual health complications, talk to him/her and take an expert consultation. Be there with them emotionally to see how the relationship transforms to another level
- Say thank you often: After marriage, we often start ignoring our spouses and take them for granted. It is corrosive to a relationship. Expressing gratitude by thanking your spouse for both grand and small gestures gives them much-needed respect and attention. Also, according to a study, thanking and appreciating the spouse can also play an instrumental role in improving marriage as well
- Date your spouse: Believe that your spouse is your date for a lifetime. Make him/her feel wanted through little gestures. Plan a date, spend quality
Intimacy has a balmy effect on married life and can conquer the peril called ‘sexless marriage’ easily. Yes, there is hope in ‘no-sex’ marriage, provided the couples take charge of the situation and see the relationship graduate to a newfound levels of understanding, trust and love.