11 Critical Sexless Marriage Effects On Wife

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The renowned American comedian Chris Rock talked about the importance of sex in a marriage. In his Netflix Special Tambourine, he opines that as long as you keep having sex, the relationship will flourish. He rather candidly admits that his porn addiction led him to neglect his wife, eventually leading to a divorce. That was the perfect example of sexless marriage effects on wife. 

While watching the special, I thought about conversations with my married girlfriends about their sex lives. To them, sex is so much more than fleeting moments of orgasmic pleasure. The simple act of two bodies coming together plays a big role in building an emotional connection. So, what happens when sex is no longer or barely on the menu, thus leading to a sexless marriage? 

To answer the question of what is a sexless marriage and how it affects a woman, I spoke with sexologist Dr. Rajan Bhonsle (MD, MBBS Medicine and Surgery), who specializes in premarital counseling and has over three decades of experience as a sex therapist. 

Sexless Marriage Effects On Wife — 11 Ways It Takes A Toll

In understanding the sexless marriage effects on wife, it’s important to understand the role of sex in the relationship. Sex is one of the fundamental aspects of a happy marriage. It is the ultimate definition of physical and emotional intimacy in a healthy relationship. A healthy sex life is one of the signs that you have an emotional connection with your partner. Yet the running theme for some women is “my husband has no sexual desire for me”. They have to contend with a no-sex marriage.

That leads to the question, what is a sexless marriage? The simplest definition is a marital union experiencing low or non-existent sexual activity. A BBC report shows that the number of millennials living in sexless marriages is on the increase. That’s interesting in itself as it would be easier to think that older couples would be the ones facing these challenges. Yet these demographics are reporting declines in sexual activities due to various reasons such as: ·

  • Coping with childcare
  • The reality of marriage    
  • Low libido
  • Consumption of pornography 
  • Retreat from sex with reports of lower sexual desire, etc
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In understanding the emotive component of the impact of a sexless marriage on a wife, I asked Dr. Bhonsle whether men and women view it differently. This is what he had to say. “Of course, men and women view sex in a marriage in very different ways. Men and women differ in their bodies, hormones, thinking, and how they emote, feel, and approach sex. Women do attach more emotion to sex and that arises from the emotional closeness they have to a person.” 

For a woman, the “my husband has no sexual desire” realization can be a debilitating blow to her self-esteem and sense of self. Sexless marriage effects on husband can be markedly different from sexless marriage effects on wife, as you will see:

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1. Emotional distress

One of my girlfriends told me, “My husband loves me but not sexually, what should I do about the lack of physical intimacy?” It was obvious she was going through serious emotional distress from his lack of sexual attraction to her. The lack of physical and emotional intimacy made her feel unloved and undesired. It was difficult for her to deal with the sexual rejection from her partner.

Ironically, in all other aspects, he is an exceptional husband and father. I could see the toll on her because she was always anxious, depressed, and suffered from low self-esteem.  Dr. Bhonsle agrees that sexless marriage effects on wife can be devastating. “Women desire physical intimacy as a way to express their feelings and love. The lack of sex can make her feel unloved or rejected.”

A Reddit user shares her experience of being in a sexless marriage: “I started to feel like things were never going to improve. We’d have each other maybe 2-3x/year. I’m not a particularly high-libido person, but even that is desperately little for me. I completely stopped attempting to initiate because each rejection came with more defensiveness and just felt like a total gut punch. I felt ugly and unwanted. He’d make comments when I’d put on 2-5lbs. I stuffed down all sexual feelings, figuring that the rest of our relationship was good enough, maybe sex just wasn’t meant to be for me.”

2. Strained relationship dynamics

no sex marriage
Lack of physical intimacy can put a strain on the marriage

A common concern for many wives is, “My husband has no sexual desire and it is impacting our relationship.” With the lack of emotional intimacy and physical intimacy, my friend has to deal with hurt feelings due to the rejection she feels. That makes it hard to talk to her husband leading to a very strained situation in the house. Her husband treats any sex conversation as a taboo subject or an attack on his manhood. I can see them slowly but surely drifting apart with increased resentment between them.

3. Lack of sex causes decreased relationship satisfaction

The sexless marriage effects on a woman can negatively impact the relationship. Chris Rock says relationship issues won’t seem as bad as long as there is frequent sex in the marriage. That begs the question, how often do married couples have sex? With so many things going on in daily life, it’s hard to give a definitive answer. But there’s no doubt that an active sex life translates to higher relationship satisfaction for wives. 

Related Reading: Solutions To 10 Relationship Problems After Having A Baby

4. No-sex marriage hurts self-esteem

“Do you think he finds me unattractive because of the weight I gained after giving birth?” How could I convince my friend that she was still as beautiful as ever? To see her self-esteem drain out of her had me feeling emotionally enraged and exhausted. She was displaying signs of low self-esteem. It was rather apparent that she attached a lot of her self-worth to her husband’s sexual desire for her. 

5. Heightened vulnerability to infidelity

Marriage and affairs tend to go hand in hand. To convince herself that she was still an attractive woman, my friend engaged in several meaningless sexual encounters. The lack of a healthy sex life with her partner, communication breakdown, unresolved conflicts, and a lack of emotional connection had her on the edge. For a few minutes, she was able to put aside her negative feelings and feel like a woman again. I found it hard to judge because I understood that living in a sexless marriage is one of the reasons why women cheat. 

6. Impact on physical and mental health

The dangers of sexless marriage can be very pervasive. Anxiety, depression, low self-esteem, loneliness, frustration, and unmet needs will take a toll on the woman’s mental health. The same applies to her physical health. Studies show that a lack of sexual activity can result in thyroid disorders, obesity, hypertension, fatigue, back problems, etc. 

I am glad we were able to talk my friend into seeking professional help for herself. She first had to heal emotionally and deal with her negative feelings before suggesting couples therapy or seeing a sex therapist with her husband.

Related Reading: 9 Sexless Relationship Effects No One Talks About

7. Erosion of trust

“My sexless marriage is killing me because I am losing trust in my husband. I know he has a high libido, so who is satisfying him right now,” asks my friend all the time. Her misgivings are on point since in many instances sexless marriage and affairs are familiar bedfellows. Yet it is possible to survive a sexless marriage without cheating, but no one says it is an easy task. 

8. The sexless marriage effects on wife include decreased libido

“I know my husband loves me but not sexually and it is impacting my libido,” says my friend, “I am afraid he has lost interest in me.” Despite her numerous sexual encounters, my friend admits that the risky liaisons are more about making her feel good about herself. She actually has no desire for sex but looks forward to the physical intimacy of the act. The lack of physical and emotional intimacy with her spouse has severely impacted her libido. Right now, she is seeing a sex counselor to hopefully turn around things. 

9. Communication breakdown

Many couples find it hard to discuss sexual intimacy or why it may be fading. The lack of physical intimacy further exacerbates the situation. The loss of trust and budding resentment will make it hard for the wife in the sexless marriage to communicate her true feelings. It’s important to learn the right mechanisms for how to cope with a sexless marriage, otherwise, the relationship can unravel quickly.

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10. Loneliness

A sexless marriage causes a sense of loneliness since there is a breakdown in the physical, sexual, and emotional connection. Since her husband does not talk to her, my friend feels like she is alone in the marriage. That gives her immense anxiety and a sense of constant dejection. In such situations, it’s important to identify when to walk away from sexless marriage lest it leave one’s mental health in a shambles.

11. Divorce

My friend asked a lawyer, “Is a sexless marriage grounds for divorce?” She was surprised to learn that it is. Denying your partner sex without good reason amounts to cruelty in the marriage. When there is no possible resolution to the lack of sexual intimacy, divorce may become imminent for a lot of couples. If you also wonder, “My sexless marriage is killing me, what are my options?” or when to walk away from sexless marriage, you may already be at the end of your rope.  

More on marriage problems

Can A Woman Survive In A No-Sex Marriage?

If you undertake a cursory internet search on how long do sexless marriages last, the statistics do not look very positive. As many as 50% or higher end up in divorce. Here are some interesting statistics.

  • At the end of the first year of marriage, sexual frequency reduces by nearly half
  • 1.7% and 1.3% of men and women respectively in a marriage do not have sex at all
  • 12% of women within the midlife range self-report low libido within the sexless marriage     
  • 33% of women above the age of 45 deal with stress due to their lack of sexual desire
  • After 4 years of marriage life, only 48% of women want to have sexual intimacy with their partners

Despite the statistics, yes, a woman can survive in a no-sex marriage. True, you may not experience optimal well-being or happiness. But the trick is to learn how to survive a sexless marriage as a woman, which I will discuss next.

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Before that, I want to touch upon another important question: how devastating is it for a woman if there is no sex in a marriage? Dr. Bhonsle says, “It depends on various factors. We are all differently constituted with different preferences. So, not all women will be devastated by sexual rejection or lack of sexual activity in the marriage. Some think and feel about love and sex differently. The same applies to their need for physical intimacy. A woman can be content with other expressions of intimacy like an emotional or warm connection. In such cases, surviving a sexless marriage isn’t hard.

A Reddit user shares their experience to the question of how long do sexless marriages last compared to normal ones. “It’s everything until you either no longer have a marriage or just move past it. I stressed for about 5 years over my sh*tty sex life and this year I finally got it into my head that “this is life now.” Been feeling better since. Before the comments came in: divorce was never an option I would consider initiating, and neither is an open marriage/infidelity an option.”

Related Reading: Sexless Marriage and Affairs: I’m Torn Between Pleasure and Guilt of Cheating

Sexless marriage causes

Why does intimacy fade in a relationship? According to Dr. Bhonsle and other experts, the reason are causes are numerous including,  

  • Lack of emotional connection or passion
  • Lingering hurt/Unresolved conflict resulting in lack of emotional intimacy
  • Sociological, spiritual, or religious ideals such as once you get children, sex should no longer be part of the marriage·        
  • Situational reasons such as lack of privacy
  • Inability to openly communicate about sex
  • Exhaustion     
  • Technology and gadgets intrude on the time couples could spend together
  • Physical incapability of engaging in the act such as injuries or chronic health conditions      
  • Aging
  • Boredom in the bedroom 

 It’s possible to find a solution to some of the sexless marriage causes. But what happens when the man treats the topic as a taboo subject? Dr. Bhonsle says “I would explore the reason for his refusal to address the topic. It could be biological, relational, spiritual, misunderstanding, or conflict. Also, a resolution is possible only if a person or couple is willing to get the necessary help to overcome the situation.”

How To Deal With A Sexless Marriage As A Woman

how to cope with a sexless marriage
Honesty about the impact of lack of sex is critical to finding a resolution

Learning how to deal with a sexless marriage as a woman is not easy. Remember, the marriage may not be loveless, just sexless. So, if you want happiness and fulfillment you need to learn how to survive a sexless marriage as a woman. Instead of merely surviving, how about learning how to deal with the lack of sex? And, if push comes to shove, know when to walk away from sexless marriage. 

My friend was not ready to divorce, so she had to learn how to be happy in a sexless marriage. Some of the steps she took, after talking to a counselor, include the following:

1. How to be happy in a sexless marriage: Honest sexual communication

Even though her husband viewed talking about sex as a taboo subject, she stuck to her guns. It was important to her to voice her feelings and concerns about the lack of sexual intimacy with him.

Is it hard to keep the spark alive in a marriage?

2. Surviving a sexless marriage as a woman requires self-care

Self-care and self-love are key to learning how to survive a sexless marriage as a woman. After her mental and physical health took a beating, my friend learned to prioritize herself. She took up new hobbies, went on solo trips, and spent time finding herself once again. 

3. Reframe expectations when dealing with a no-sex marriage

“My husband loves me but not sexually, what should I do?” Well, look at the bigger picture of your marriage. Numerous aspects, other than engaging in frequent sexual activity, define a healthy relationship. My friend’s husband is a wonderful father and provider. She extended the grace of recognition of his efforts to break down some of the walls resentment was bringing up.

Related Reading: Expert View – What Is Intimacy To A Man

4. Explore other forms of intimacy

“My husband does not want me sexually.” True, this can be a heart-breaking realization but that does not mean you cannot explore other forms of physical intimacy. Hold hands, cuddle, kiss or just gaze into each other’s eyes. Before you know it, the low libido could be a thing of the past.

5. Work on recreating a healthy relationship

Is lack of sex enough grounds for divorce? Yes, lack of sexual activity or being in sexless relationships can be grounds for divorce. But that should not be the first option. True, dealing with sexual rejection from your partner is tough. But, roll up your sleeves and work at regaining what brought the two of you together. Communication, respect, and trust in a relationship are key factors in the process.

 6. How to cope with a sexless marriage: Get professional help

The best way to tackle the question of how to cope with a sexless marriage is by seeking professional help. My friend credits her therapist for regaining a lot of her happiness. She got to see that while an active sex life in a romantic relationship is important, it should not be the defining factor of relationship satisfaction.  

I asked Dr. Bhonsle to respond to the issue of when to walk away from sexless marriage. Indeed, is a sexless marriage grounds for divorce? Or is there any hope for a sexless marriage? “I would never advise a woman to walk away from a marriage because of sex. Marriage is so much more than just sex. There’s love, care, and respect for each other, and there’s also the aspect of companionship. But sometimes for factors beyond their control, there is no sex in the marriage.

“Even then, as an expert, I would never advise her to walk away. If she is feeling deprived of sex and he is denying it due to conflict, infidelity, vices, or physical incapability, there is a need to rectify the situation. This could be through seeking treatment for medical issues, therapy from a counselor, etc.”

Related Reading: Men Share How They Feel When They Are The Only Ones Initiating Sex Every Time

7. Seek understanding

Don’t be quick to castigate your partner because of lack of sex. As Dr. Bhonsle says, there could be reasons for lack of sexual intimacy that are beyond your spouse’s control. With a better understanding, you can both work toward finding a solution to the lack of sexual intimacy.

Key Pointers

    • How long sexless marriages last depends on whether you want to work on the issues or quit. Seeking professional help from a sex therapist or sex counselor can get you back on track once again to a healthy relationship
    • How to cope with a sexless marriage requires acceptance, self-love, seeking professional help like sex therapy, and looking for other forms of intimacy
    • Dangers of sexless marriage include infidelity, resentment, low self-esteem, depression, and anxiety
    • When to walk away from a sexless marriage? You should consider it only if you have exhausted all efforts to rectify the issues
    • Work on building emotional intimacy to bring the spark back to your life. Sex therapy and open sexual communication are also critical

A sexless marriage could mean the total absence or lack of frequent sex. It is hard to know how to cope with a sexless marriage. The emotional impact on a wife living in a no sex marriage can be profound. It will affect your emotional well-being, healthy relationship dynamics, and overall satisfaction with life. However, there are ways to cope with and address these challenges.

The answer to how to be happy in a sexless marriage lies in open sexual communication, seeking professional help, or considering alternative solutions. Finally, prioritize your happiness and fulfillment, and most importantly do not fall into the trap of sexless marriage and affairs. You already have your person, so work on making it work.

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