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 impact the future of the relationship as well as the mental and physical 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 that sometimes marriages do survive in the absence of a sexual connection. The reasons for that could be varied. A couple could lose interest in sex after having children or as they age, they might get busy with their careers and be okay with the intense and passionate routine taking a backseat. In such circumstances, the effects of lack of sex in marriage are not felt as acutely by either partner.
However, when the man is interested in sex 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 Survive A Sexless Marriage?
Why would a man stay in a sexless marriage? Is living in a sexless marriage possible for a man? Questions like these are bound to come up when the issue of a no-sex marriage is discussed. The truth is that a lot of married couples continue to stay together without having regular sex. In fact, according to a New York Times report, 15% of all marriages are sexless and the cause for it can just as easily be a man’s lack of sexual desire or struggle with issues like hormonal changes or erectile dysfunction. In such cases, of course, men in sexless marriages feel less frustrated, stuck, or resentful.
Although a lack of sex drive, especially when his spouse has sexual needs, may make a man feel ashamed, insecure, bitter, or struggle with low self-esteem. And that can lead to a host of different relationship problems. So, no matter where it is stemming, lack of sex has some kind of impact on the relationship. However, the acuteness of the dangers of sexless marriage depends greatly on the stage of life a couple is in.
Dr. Bhonsle says, “When a couple is young, in their 20s maybe, sex is a far more important aspect of a relationship for them than when they are in their 40s. That’s when other priorities like children, investments, and travel may take precedence. Sex life takes up a more comfortable rhythm and both partners are satisfied with that. As long as both partners have similar sexual needs, they won’t feel disconnected. They are sexually compatible.
“The issues start when a couple has mismatched libidos – for instance if the man wants sex far more frequently than his spouse – and this is a common relationship problem. It could still be handled if a couple can communicate openly and come to a compromise. When a relationship lacks intimacy on the sexual front, it needs other forms of intimacy and a strong bond to survive. If not handled the right way, it can become a breeding ground for issues like resentment and extramarital affairs.”
As pointed out by the sexologist a man can live in a sexless marriage. But it also depends on at what point in time the marriage becomes sexless. 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.
Related Reading: You Want To Talk To Your Wife About Lack Of Intimacy? 8 Ways To Do It
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. While this frequency may be dissatisfactory for someone with higher sexual needs, such a marriage cannot be labeled as sexless. Based on the findings of this survey, which has become the baseline for defining a no-sex marriage, a marriage is considered sexless if a couple hasn’t been intimate in more than a year.
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.
In fact, a study found that lack of intimacy or absence of a love life is the most commonly cited reason for 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. Here are 9 ways how a sexless marriage affects a man:
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, the emotional connection a man feels with his spouse may begin to weaken. If despite having tried countless times, he doesn’t succeed at reviving the intimacy in the marriage, he might lose patience and look 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.
This is not to justify his cheating but to drive home the dangers of a sexless marriage. Dr. Bhonsle explains, “The partner who still has sexual urges and desires to be sexually active may indulge in sex outside the 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.” That’s why sexless marriages leading to affairs is all too common.
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.
A resentful husband may become bitter and irritable, lash out, and become distant. He might even lose interest in shouldering domestic and parenting responsibilities with his spouse. This is a common sexless marriage effect of the husband. This, in turn, leads to the wife becoming resentful because she feels “he is not doing enough”. Without the couple even realizing it, the impact of a sexless marriage can spill over to other aspects of their life as well.
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
Another one of the common effects of lack of sex in marriage is that you and your spouse drift apart. Not having enough sex might lead to a lack of interest in other areas of the relationship. Your partner may no longer be interested in spending quality time with you because of his unmet needs. Perhaps, to him, watching porn seems like a better use of his time than hanging out with you because of the constant rejection of his sexual needs.
A sexless marriage affects a man on an emotional level as well. The manifestations of it may make him check out of the marriage emotionally. Since for most women, their sex drive is typically closely tied to the emotional connection they share with their partners, this can further minimize the chances of fixing this niggling issue. 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 root cause 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 different stages of intimacy. Just the way building emotional intimacy and intellectual intimacy helps you to survive in the long run, sexual intimacy helps you cement your bond, and foster a sense of attachment in the relationship. When the intimacy declines, the bond between the couple finds itself on shaky ground.
A study found that sexual desire discrepancy between partners can negatively impact relationship satisfaction. This is an alarming impact of a sexless marriage on a couple’s bond. Why would a man stay in a sexless marriage in such a situation, you may wonder. Well, from familial to social and financial, there can be a lot of factors that can make a marriage survive in principle even in the face of an acute lack of intimacy, but it undoubtedly chips away at the quality of the connection.
If the couple doesn’t start making adjustments and finding a middle ground where the sexual needs of one partner are met without the other feeling pressured into doing something they don’t want to, a complete detachment may take hold. Soon, you may find yourself in a sexless marriage, separate bedrooms situation, and things can go downhill from there, pretty quickly.
5. Sexlessness can lead to depression and irritability
If a man’s sexual needs are not met in his primary relationship, it could lead to a host of behavioral and health issues. 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 issues, especially in the context of a current romantic relationship.
A healthy sex life keeps you physically and mentally fit. A lack of it may lead to depression, anger issues, erectile dysfunction, low libido, and mood swings. This is how a sexless marriage affects a man. 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 anymore?” 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
According to a report by the American Psychological Association, higher sexual activity can help men manage stress better. Sex releases hormones like serotonin and dopamine that help a person de-stress. That’s why it’s not hard to see why men in sexless marriages may have higher stress levels. This bottled-up stress can lead to sexless marriage symptoms like frequent fights, lashing out, anger issues, and much more.
This can, in turn, lead to poor communication in the relationship and exacerbate the emotional disconnect you may be feeling in your marriage. 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 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 future plans, or major career decisions together. But as the sex recedes to the backdrop, the sense of being a team, a unit, also begins to fade away.
You could end up treating each other as roommates who share a living space but lead more or less separate lives. This is one of the most dangerous side effects of a sexless marriage. When this happens, you may quickly end up in a sexless marriage, separate bedrooms situation. You’re together but your marriage is on the rocks. You cannot start fixing the damage unless you get to the root cause of your issues – a lack of intimacy and connection – understand the triggers behind them, and find a way to fix that.
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.”
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. Or perhaps, you can introduce sex toys and role-playing into your equation and see if that helps resurrect the lost intimacy. If nothing else, making an effort will certainly help alleviate some of the sexless marriage symptoms and restore some harmony in your relationship.
9. Thoughts of divorce
As we said before, lack of intimacy and love are among the most commonly cited reasons behind divorce. 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.
If a man has already checked out emotionally and mentally, it may seem to him that walking away from a sexless marriage is the right thing to do. If you’re stuck in a sexless marriage and fear that it could take a toll on your future together as a couple, consider seeking help from a marriage counselor and get to the root of your issues.
- Sexless marriage effects on a man can be profound – from feeling rejected to struggling with mental health issues and even physical ailments
- Lack of sex in a marriage becomes an issue when both partner have mismatched sexual drives and needs
- From infidelity to deep-seated resentment, unmet sexual needs can translate into other relationship problems
- Seeking professional help or going into therapy can help you get to the root of issues that inhibiting you and your partner from enjoying a fulfilling sex life
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 advice 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.
Has Your Husband Checked Out Emotionally? 12 Signs Of a Failing Marriage
Does Your Wife Hate You? 8 Possible Reasons And 6 Tips To Deal With It