So often when doing consultations with men, they will share with me they are in a sexless marriage which has led them down the path of seeking a divorce. After explaining how they were not experiencing the occasional dry spell, many of them had gone several years without being intimate with their wives. As hard as this may be to imagine, it’s more common than most people think. It usually begins with the ordinary stresses of life, especially when there are children involved. However, often these ordinary dry spells go on long enough to become a full-blown sexless marriage, which in turn, leads to a divorce.
If this experience sounds familiar to you, you’re not alone. In a survey conducted for a book called The Social Organization of Sexuality, 14.1% of married men and 13.9% of married women reported that they engage in partnered sexual activity a few times a year or less, which means there is a significant segment of the married population that is simply not having sex. Perhaps the slight discrepancy indicates that a man and a woman in the same marriage might estimate the frequency of sex a little bit differently. In any case, there is a significant segment of the married population that is simply not having regular sex.
There are so many obstacles to sex in a relationship, so there are many things you may need to talk about and change to create a sex life that you can both enjoy, but when you’ve exhausted all options, divorce is most likely on the horizon.
Let’s look at some signs you may be experiencing, and considering a divorce:
- Your spouse refuses to acknowledge or work on the issue. Unfortunately, many couples find it easier to have no sex at all rather than addressing and dealing with underlying issues, and the feelings of hurt which led to the problem becoming so deeply rooted it’s almost impossible to repair. Therefore, you are most likely headed for divorce. Without any effort from your spouse, things most likely have become worse over time. If your spouse refuses to discuss it and won’t be a collaborative teammate with you in improving your physical intimacy, it could be time to leave.
- Lack of compatibility in sexual interests. Let’s face it, some people are just not sexually compatible, even if there is love there. This doesn’t mean both spouses have a lack of desire for sex, but rather have radically different sexual needs and desires and cannot agree on how much or what kind of sex to have. Because many couples have difficulty discussing this, they will default to what they consider boring sex with their spouse. This usually doesn’t last too long before other problems arise such as adultery.
- Your marriage has significant issues. So many factors can deeply affect your sex life; lack of communication, toxic behaviors such as gaslighting, conflicted parenting styles, disagreements about money, infidelity, or lying are just a few examples of issues that go much deeper than the lack of sex in your marriage. A sexless marriage doesn’t always equal a loveless marriage, but when it does, divorce is, unfortunately, the best worst option. When you and your partner are particularly busy or stressed, sexual intimacy can become more of a luxury, but love and affection more broadly are actual human needs. We all know how when a relationship begins lust is often enough. However, over time lust will fade and is often replaced with a deeper, durable bond that allows for a great sex life. I’m willing to bet you know in your heart as to whether you’re just in a sexless marriage or an overall unhappy one. If your spouse isn’t providing you with the love, tenderness, and intimacy you want, your sex life is most likely the symptom of the serious issues involved.
- The lack of sex has led to adultery. When a couple’s sex life has been suffering for a while, it might motivate one or both parties to look outside the marriage for the fulfillment they’ve been lacking. According to studies, 48% of men cited emotional dissatisfaction as the primary reason they cheated. Cheating in a sexless marriage truly adds insult to injury, and it might be the breaking point where you and your spouse realize that you’re better off pursuing a divorce. When you or your spouse have strayed, it’s often too painful to recover from.
Whether sex was the issue or just the symptom of other problems, research suggests that couples in a sexless marriage are more likely to get divorced than their sexually active couples. If this sounds familiar to you, you are far from alone. I can say that lack of sex shows up in my divorce coaching practice regularly as my clients are pursuing a divorce.
The Divorce Coach for Men