An intimate relationship and sex are expected to go hand-in-hand. But the reality of long-term relationships is often far removed from this expectation, and the brutal truth is that over time the passion wanes. Sexless marriages are all too common, and depending on the relationship stage a couple is in and the reasons for the lack of sex, it can have detrimental consequences for the future of the relationship as well as the physical and mental health of the partners involved. Today, we will focus on one side of the sexlessness spectrum and explore the sexless marriage effect on the husband.
There is no denying the fact that sexual compatibility in a marriage is as important as emotional and intellectual intimacy. But sometimes marriages do survive without sexual compatibility and there might come a time when sex can come to a halt. The reasons for that could be varied. A couple could lose interest in sex after having children, they might get busy with their career and family, and they might even start treating sex as a fun thing and be okay with not having it regularly.
Sometimes a couple may even be perfectly content with fostering financial security, focusing on parenting duties and building a family together and may not pay so much heed to the lack of sex in the marriage. That’s how couples often survive sexless marriages without cheating. But when the man is interested and his spouse is not, the sexless marriage effect on a husband could be disastrous. Let’s look at what it’s like living in a sexless marriage for a man who still has a healthy libido with insights from sexologist Dr. Rajan Bhonsle (MD, MBBS Medicine and Surgery), Head of the Department of Sexual Medicine at K.E.M.Hospital and Seth G.S.Medical College, Mumbai.
Can A Man Live In A Sexless Marriage?
Is living in a sexless marriage possible for a man? This question is bound to come up whenever the issue of a sexless marriage is discussed. Dr. Bhonsle says, “When a couple is young, in their 20s maybe, then sex is far more important than when they are in their 40s. That’s when life has other priorities like children, investments, and travel and they are happy being involved in other things. Sex life takes up a more comfortable rhythm and both partners are satisfied with that. As long as both partners feel the same, they are sexually compatible.”
“The issues start when a couple has mismatched libidos – for instance, if the wife wants it once a week and the husband wants it every day – and this is a common relationship problem. It could still be handled if a couple comes to a compromise. If a couple had their share of good sex in their youth and are more focused on other things in their 40s and are not interested in sex anymore, then a sexless marriage may not be an issue at all. But once again the feeling has to be mutual. It cannot be that one person isn’t interested and the other is. In that case, the marriage becomes a breeding ground for an extramarital affair.”
As pointed out by the sexologist a man can live in a sexless marriage. But the question is at what point in time the marriage becomes sexless? Sometimes men don’t bother that much about a sexless marriage when they are in their 50s but if in the early stages a marriage lacks intimacy it becomes difficult for a man. Simply put, being in a sexless relationship at 30 or even in the late 30s can be a lot harder than being in one post-45 or so.
9 Top Sexless Marriage Effects On A Man
Sexless marriage statistics published in an article in Newsweek pointed out that 15 to 20% of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which is how the experts define sexless marriage. This might be a conservative estimate and marriage counselors and authors, who have written on sexless or sex-starved marriages, say the problem runs deeper. So what is considered a sexless marriage? It’s a marriage where sex happens 10 times a year or less or doesn’t happen at all.
Famous psychologist and family therapist John Gottman points out that intimacy is a glue that holds a couple together and if that intimacy suddenly wanes, it could have a devastating impact on the relationship even leading to divorce.
If your husband is interested in sex and your idea of turning in for the night is a hot bath and loads of moisturizer on the face, then it is inevitable the sexless marriage effects on your husband will start showing. In such a situation, it is important to be aware of and look out for the sexless marriage symptoms before the rot begins to run deep. Here are 9 effects he might be grappling with.
1. Sexless marriage and affairs
A study shows oxytocin released during sex helps in cementing a bond, especially for men. When a marriage becomes sexless and he cannot see any way of reviving the intimacy in the marriage, he might be looking for fulfillment outside the marriage. Although there isn’t enough data on the sexless marriage divorce rate, it can make your relationship vulnerable to issues like infidelity, which can be hard to recover from for a lot of couples. Your husband may have an affair, jeopardizing your future together.
Sex usually takes a hard hit in a marriage when you are between 45 and 50 and that’s also the time when your husband’s midlife crisis starts. He might be looking for fulfillment with someone young and youthful who would make him feel young too. Sexless marriage and affairs are common. This is the most obvious fallout of a marriage where intimacy has come to nil.
Dr. Bhonsle explains, “The partner who still has sexual urges and desires to be sexually active may indulge in sex outside marriage. People who take the route of infidelity to cope with the effects of a sexless marriage often use “valid needs going unfulfilled in the marriage” as a justification for straying and this offers them a guilt-free zone to continue with their transgressions.”
2. Resentment in a sexless marriage
A husband might be too busy at work and a wife might be exhausted at the end of the day after handling a career, home and kids and the first thing they both want to do at night is hit the bed. When two people are so tired, action between the sheets is unthinkable. They might give sleep an instant thumbs up over sex but they do not realize that a pattern like this could lead to growing resentment.
Sexless marriage effect on your husband might lead him to be angry, upset and irritated around the house. He might lose interest in the chores and the children, which would lead to more resentment on the part of the wife, who would say “he is not doing enough”. Without a couple even realizing the sexlessness in the marriage could have a deeply negative impact on the family relationship.
This is among the most unpleasant sexless marriage symptoms that can leave you walking on eggshells around your partner and vice versa, and eventually, make you more distant. The more distant you grow, the lesser your chance of reviving sexual intimacy. And so, living in a sexless marriage can become a vicious cycle that feeds itself.
Related Reading: 12 Warning Signs Your Partner Is Losing Interest In The Relationship
3. You drift apart in the relationship
You could drift apart in the relationship. Not having enough sex might lead to a lack of interest in other areas of the relationship. The effect of sexless marriage on the husband could lead to him not enjoying the activities he used to enjoy as a couple or a family. If you watched 50 Shades of Grey together, earlier it was inevitable that it would lead to some great action on the couch.
But now watching it together could feel like torture because he knows that you both would slump into bed after that. If you shared a glass of champagne in the kitchen, it led to hot, steamy action on the counter, but now cooking together or taking a bath together feels like a chore because you both know it’s not going to lead to anything more.
When even the possibility of passionate sparks flying becomes obsolete, your spouse may stop enjoying these activities with you. Even before you know it, you may have grown apart. This is one of the most heartbreaking sexless marriage symptoms. Dr. Bhonsle is of the opinion that a lot of times couples misread the realities of a sexless marriage.
“If there are sexual problems in a relationship when both partners have normal sexual function and desire, then the real issue may be something deeper. This typically entails unresolved relationship issues or conflict, unexpressed anger or disappointment, or a lack of trust,” he explains. So, if you feel as if you and your partner are drifting apart and there is an undercurrent of resentment in your relationship, focusing on getting to the core issue can help you tide over this rough patch and repair your bond.
4. You feel a lack of attachment
A relationship goes through stages of intimacy. Like you work on building emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy helps you to survive in the long run, sexual intimacy helps you to cement the bond, and foster a sense of attachment in the relationship. However, as a couple grows and evolves together, different priorities may take precedence over their intimate moments.
One such life change is having a baby. There is no denying the fact that your sex life goes through a dramatic change after you have a baby. Then the child becomes the priority, at least for a little while. Sex nosedives quickly in such a situation. But for the intimacy to stay intact and the attachment to grow, even as parents sex has to be in focus for a couple.
If intimacy is not resurrected, a man can start feeling totally detached. Soon, you may find yourself in a sexless marriage, separate bedrooms situation, and things can go downhill from here, pretty quickly.
5. Sexlessness can lead to depression and irritability
If a man wants sex and is not getting it in a marriage it could lead to anger issues and depression. A study shows that a higher level of sexual satisfaction leads to lower levels of depression and anxiety. The study focuses on the importance of sexual satisfaction as a modifying factor against mental health problems, especially in the context of a current romantic relationship.
A healthy sex life does keep you physically and mentally fit. The side effects of a sexless marriage can lead to a vicious cycle of depression and low libido. A man might feel depressed for not having enough sex. This could lead to anxiety and anger issues that could give rise to erectile issues even.
Matt, a 39-year-old man from Canada, shares how sexless marriage took a toll on his mental health. “When we first got together, my wife and I had fiery sexual compatibility. But a couple of years into the marriage, our dynamics in the bedroom changed beyond recognition. She would turn down my advances, and because of this continued rejection, I even stopped trying.
“Most nights, I’d lie in bed, wondering, “Why is my wife not interested in me sexually any more?” Then, I turned to a coworker for comfort and what was meant to be a one-night stand turned into a full-blown affair. The sexual frustration in my marriage coupled with the guilt of cheating and being torn between not hurting my spouse and falling in love with my affair partner drove me to the brink of clinical depression. And the road to recovery has been anything but easy.”
Related Reading: 12 Things To Do When Husband Is Not Affectionate Or Romantic
6. Increase in stress
A study done on middle-aged women showed that those who had more sex had lower levels of stress. Men can also feel stressed when there is a lack of physical affection and sexual activity. Sex releases hormones like serotonin and dopamine that helps to de-stress a person.
But the sexless marriage effect on husband could be the constant build-up of stress that comes from the workplace or even from having a new baby or handling a family. He has no outlet and it starts affecting him. Women can talk with their girl gang and handle their stress while men tend to keep things to themselves and keep suffering.
This bottled-up stress can lead to sexless marriage symptoms like frequent fights, lashing out, anger issues and much more. If your husband has been the cool, calm and collected kind all along but now loses his temper at even the most inconsequential things and is always short with you, it could be one of the signs that your sexless marriage is taking a toll on him.
7. He treats you like a roommate
The sexless marriage effect on a husband can lead him to start treating you like a roommate. Partners in a romantic relationship are usually involved in each other’s lives planning holidays together, making financial plans about buying a house or making major career decisions together.
But as the sex recedes to the backdrop, the friendship could just stay on and you could end up treating each other like friends living as roommates, keeping the house tidy but leading more or less separate lives. This is one of the most dangerous side effects of a sexless marriage. You stay together but your marriage is on the rocks and you do not even realize that.
When this happens, you may quickly end up in a sexless marriage, separate bedrooms situation. This can drive you further apart, turning you into two strangers living under the same roof but leading completely different lives that may run parallel but do not intersect at any point.
8. Decline in physical health
A study shows sex is good for health in many ways and it is especially great for cardiovascular health. In fact, men who have a good sex life also report better prostate and bladder health and can even keep certain cancers at bay. The sexless marriage effects on a husband could include a decline in overall health because he doesn’t get to experience physical satisfaction and intimacy.
Speaking of the physical effects of a sexless marriage, Dr. Bhonsle says, “When a person is deprived of something they crave or desire, it is only natural for them to feel frustrated because they are suppressing a natural and instinctive urge. This could invariably lead to stress-induced physical or psychological disorders such as hypertension, ischemic heart disease, hysteria, migraine, peptic ulcers, psoriasis, etc.”
Besides, a lack of intimacy also means you and your spouse may be losing out on the health benefits of kissing and the feel-good effects of non-sexual acts of physical intimacy like cuddling. If, for some reason, you do not feel sexually aroused or have been grappling with a non-existent libido, it may help to try other forms of intimacy that do not necessarily involve intercourse. This can help alleviate sexless marriage symptoms and restore some harmony in your relationship
9. Thoughts of divorce
Infidelity, money issues, lack of compatibility, abuse and addiction are the top reasons for divorce in the US. Lack of intimacy is also another top reason for divorce. Instead of grappling with a sexless relationship, men may consider opting for a divorce as the better alternative. Even though the sexless marriage divorce rate remains a gray area, it is not a stretch to say that lack of sex and the myriad issues stemming from it are enough to shake up the foundations of even the strongest of marriages.
Maybe it is a better solution than infidelity and heartbreak. Many people choose to stay on in sexless marriages and are often happy in them. But in that case, they are okay with communicating and building trust in other ways. A person should know when to walk away from a sexless marriage.
Sometimes it is not worth living in one and grappling with the side effects of a sexless marriage. As a marriage progresses, kids, finances, career, new house dreams, and looking after aging parents take on much more important roles and couples do not even realize that sex has become literally non-existent. But sexlessness in a relationship often has a more profound effect on a man, more than on a woman. In that case, communication is necessary to address the issues. If that doesn’t work, then divorce is an option.
Wrestling with the “why is my wife not interested in me sexually” question is certainly not a pleasant place to be in. A lack of sexual intimacy undoubtedly takes a considerable toll on men, especially when they’re the sexually interested partner in the union. While you do not have to resort to mercy sex just for the sake of placating your husband’s desires, leaving this issue unaddressed isn’t wise. More often than not, couples can bounce back from the dark pit of a sexless marriage with the right help and guidance. If you feel that your marriage is in dire straits on account of missing intimacy, seeking professional help can do you a world of good. If it’s help that you’re looking for, experienced and skilled counselors on Bonobology’s panel of experts are here for you.
Sometimes priorities change in marriage and couples get busy with kids and family and sex takes a backseat. If they communicate and are okay with it then it’s not unhealthy. But in a marriage, if one person loses interest in sex and the other person is still interested, then it becomes unhealthy and can lead to frustration, resentment and even divorce.
A sexless marriage can last when there is an emotional bonding and a couple has a shared goal of bringing up the children, looking after the family and doing activities together that they enjoy doing.
A sexless marriage is a breeding ground for affairs. A man, or even a woman, in a sexless marriage, can end up having an affair because they would be looking for fulfillment elsewhere.
The reasons why your husband has lost interest in you sexually could be many. It could be health reasons, excessive stress, boredom or an affair.