Sexless Marriage: A Silent Epidemic

Double bed limbo. Photo: ‘I Love Lucy’ (1951–1957).

Imagine overhearing a boisterous restaurant patron babbling about his erectile dysfunction, sexless marriage, or decade-long addiction to Oxycodone. As an outsider you wouldn’t hesitate to lift an eyebrow or at least develop second thoughts about ordering the Sea Bass.

While such a scenario may be a commonly scrapped sitcom idea, it’s about as likely as sighting a dashing, two-legged hairy crab in the wild. Some troubles are too emasculating to talk about, even when confiding in the closest of friends.

Coupled with the blissfully naive “it won’t happen to me” syndrome, silence about sexless marriages leads to new generations of hopeful newlyweds unable to assess pitfalls that may lie ahead. Put alongside grim divorce statistics and factors such as biologically programmed boredom for the same sex partner, shifting personalities over time, plus the fickle nature of love, and it becomes difficult to build a strong case for marrying for happiness. In a purely rational sense what is its utility beside an ideal arrangement for the breeding and rearing of children?

Marriage norms play cruel tricks on men. Young bucks that struggle to bed lasses while single look at matrimony as a way of securing regular sex. When they do find a regular lover they’re sucked in by the primal urge to seal off competition and the socialized way to do so is by sacrificing three months salary at De Beers. Although they’re semi-conscious their lust will wane someday, current longing for their partner and a healthy libido trumps far off concerns. Eventually men are weaned off of sex, the root of their pair bond, and their primary reason for marrying in the first place.

Christa D’Souza’s article in The Guardian titled ‘Life after lust – the appeal of sexless marriage’ attempts to normalize the tendency of older couples to avoid sex. She concludes that married folks are pressured by sexual themes in the media, leading them to believe all the youngins are having fantastic sex while their love life is practically non-existent. Isn’t it strange those whom make up the media are always trumpeting the harm it does, even when it’s largely irrelevant?

Is tossing out sex really a mutual decision or is it actually friend-zoning a spouse then rationalizing the arrangement is better for both involved? Women are notorious for the latter, although some men do lose interest in banging their wife first. As it takes one to call off the tango, the likelihood of both sides swearing off sex simultaneously as implied by D’Souza is laughably improbable. From what my gut tells me and from what I’ve learned on one of the biggest groups on Experience Project, ‘I Live In a Sexless Marriage,’ the arrangement usually leaves one half of the union in a state of quiet desperation (if not the whole).

The delusion is strong in D’Souza:

One couple I know, who are the same age as me, have children and live in the US, have not been having sex for a few years now. They seem to have arrived at a way of dealing with it. He goes to massage parlours for a “happy ending” every now and then, but would not dream of getting involved with anyone else. She, who is still as attractive as she was 30 years ago, doesn’t ask. He doesn’t tell, and they are fine. Ditto the 50-something friend with grownup children who, though happily married, has not had sex with her husband (or anyone else) in eight years. “People say sex cements a relationship,” she says. “But at this stage of our lives together, I think it would actually impair it.”

Where to begin? If a man admits to his wife he’s getting handjobs from a Thai babe named Lawan there’s a decent chance he’s nailing escorts too. The massage parlor tidbit is a smokescreen, as he’s admitting to a degree of wrongdoing to cover his butt without disclosing the brunt of it. Also, how would she know he’d never get involved with anyone else? If he has an ounce of sense left he considers bolting whenever he pours himself a dram of scotch.

As for the woman that said sex would impair they’re relationship “at this stage,” I wonder if her husband shares her sentiments. Somehow I doubt it.

For insight into how people really feel about their sexless marriage without the PC-filter and a haze of self-deception, explore this group on Experience Project. There are a staggering 28,497 members sharing 12,557 stories. Situations like this are too embarrassing to disclose properly without the mask of anonymity, so it is only now honest representations of sexless marriages are coming to light via the internet. Judging from the stats on EP, separate beds ala I Love Lucy are rampant.

Just when I thought the institution of marriage couldn’t fall more short of its supposed merits an astonishing truth has dealt another hefty blow.

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  1. The moral godless

    Why have sex with the man when you can get his resources for free?

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  2. Trott

    In an ideal world, a wife who abdicates her duty to satisfy her husband’s sexual needs by refusing sex or getting fat would constitute cause for the man to file a fault divorce against her and not have to pay a cent in alimony or child support, but this is the real world and the real world is full of manginas with too much power over other men.

    Why should a man agree to ignore other beautiful any of which would jump at the chance to be his bitch when his own wife denies him 2 of his most basic needs: sex and respect. Not only is she selfish and vindictive by refusing to make this one little sacrifice of having sex with her husband even if she isn’t in the mood, she is also ignorant.

    After all, a man in a marriage makes dozons of sacrifices (works longer hours, agrees not to fuck much hotter/kinder women than his warpig wife, protection from harm, a roof over her head, pays for 3 square meals a day for his entire family, funds his wife’s shopping sprees) and yet he is still disrespected, taken for granted and left unappreciated by an entitled cunt and a society who rewards and encourages that non-reciprocating cunt’s selfishness.

    If you think I’m telling you my story, you’d be wrong. I just have deep empathy for all those fags who throw their lives away to a bitch because they want/need society’s approval of their masculinity.

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  3. I actively mock and disdain the sexless marriage in my personal life. People around me know how I feel, and the women I date do as well. I’m not setting up a frame where a sexless marriage is anything other than totally unacceptable.

    When asked, I state that it just don’t make any sense to me – the whole point of marriage, for a guy, is to have a regular sex partner you don’t have to pick-up on a regular basis.

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  4. This is indeed very common and I know of hundreds of stories, some of which may leave you amazed. I’ve had contact with people who have been living in such a marriage for over 10 years!

    The reasons and causes are varied and each story is unique. It’s good that you’re helping to give more attention to this seldom discussed issue.

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  5. I’d tell this to any man living in a sexless marriage. I’m stereotyping here I know–but I think most would agree that the most likely instigator of a sexless relationship is the female rather than the man. You could apply this to either gender, however:

    The reason your wife won’t have sex with you is because she doesn’t like you anymore.

    That, I think, is the cold hard truth of the matter. Now we can delve deeper into the why of it–why she’s fallen out of love with you. But really, that’s a different issue.

    Does that answer the question for every couple? No. But for probably 90 percent of them, yes.

    If she likes you –I mean really romantically likes you–she can’t wait to spend some quality time with you, in your arms, in your bed. It’ll be that way whether you’ve been together 20 days or 20 years.

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  6. Mr. X

    My marriage morphed into a sexless one. I have developed a severe health condition largely disabling me in that area. My wife and I are both busy, lving iwht children in a small apartment and she is going through menapuse. Its the way it is. We are looking for a bigger place to live. She wants more comfort and I want more intimacy. What saves us is that we cuddle, and hold hands. At this point, we are not infatuated with one another, its love & friendship (with feminism today, most unusual), which is more important than sex at least for me at my current age. But, of course, I sneak off for a massage therapy once in a while. Its not the same, but if I was single, with feminism thats the way it is, I would refrain from traditional dating in any event.

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