The Cost Of A Sexless Marriage

I have spent much time reading the stories on this thread, and I have been led to this conclusion: When one partner withholds sex, it costs the emotional intimacy of a relationship as well.

I feel that all too often people give the advice to 'live without it or get out," and shame the poster for (usually) HIS words. Why should anyone be shamed for desiring the most beautiful gift that two can share? It is the glue that holds couples together. (And please tell me why, when a woman complains, she is met with sympathy!?)

Now ladies (yes, I'm one of you), before you come after me please listen. I understand that we don't always have the time or energy to give to sex. Working full-time and taking care of the kids and the household can really place a physical and emotional toll on us. And, sometimes frankly, it just isn't that good to be worth it. By nature, most of us are very nurturing and give and give and give. I understand that at the end of the day you do not have much left to give your partner. You are all touched and emotioned (yes, I made up that word) out. But I also understand that I need emotional intimacy, and let's be honest, if I want my man to be emotionally intimate, I need to show him love through GOOD sex.

Back to the men (and women for that matter) who are feeling shamed for desiring sex to the point that it is costing them their marriage. You have a few choices (none of which are very good):
1. get out
2. do without
3. cheat

1. Well, we all know that getting out is easier said than done. We have the children, finances, family, and friends to deal with. Divorce does not only cost the two getting divorced; it affects everyone. It is not a decision to take lightly, so I have to poo-poo all that try to make it sound so simple.
2. To do without is laughable. The body is built to be touched. It has a desire (for most of us) to be stimulated and released of its tension. Sex was designed to allow for a deeper connection. And to have to do it alone again and again leaves one feeling empty.
3. Finally, option 3. How many of us living in a sexless marriage think of cheating on their spouse? I know many 'cheaters' who did not set out to cheat, but they were looking for something more. I do not believe that it was sex. I believe it was a connection. The emotional intimacy that we all crave.

So, now I am back to my original thought.... A sexless marriage has nothing to do with sex, and those who complain of a sexless marriage are not being selfish for their physical needs. Instead, they are desiring the intimacy that sex with the one you love brings.

SoftBlooms SoftBlooms
51-55, F
20 Responses Aug 19, 2012

I fully endorse the views. As a male partner in an almost sexless marriage, I feel it is the lack of emotional attachment in sex. I would say less frequency (days/week or month) may not be a problem but lack of intimacy in whenever it is done is a problem. Further, on the choices part, it will vary from person to person and for some the bodily desire may lead to choice 3 but even then the prime objective is to seek the intimacy that is missing and not a relation with a new person. I believe that cheating is not the first word in vocabulary of even a desperate man. For choice 1, yes many people suggest it very easily but the cost is high in terms of disintegration of a family. I guess, choice 2 (although not a desirable one) is the only option adopted by persons who are not ready for choice 3. This choice 2 has many higher and lower forms like indulging into some hobby, getting close to kids, addiction to internet and so on. We are actually associating ourselves with something else as a replacement of our disassociation with the partner. It is human nature, the void created by disassociation from the partner has to be filled with something else.

The penny dropped for me just recently. I thought it was just sex that I needed when in fact I long also to be held. Terrific post, bravo! X

Thank you. Good luck to you!

Very clear and direct view. Nice post!

Thank you!

Wow, what a post. Good job by all. Sorry I missed being in on this. I've only been in EP for 2 months or so. I have learned so much.........wish I learned it 15 years ago. I feel like Mr. Fix it without any of the benies. I know this year is going to be different. Pausing here for a second or two.
Yesterday I was preparing a kitchen countertop by removing old grout replacing caulk. Small job….came to my mind without suggestions from anyone. A couple minutes ago, on her way shopping, she said, why don’t I finish the caulking. I was like WTF…………… I should have said…..get your *** up stairs and take your clothes off. Let me caulk your useless pleasure palace. This after yesterday going shopping with her to JC Penny . I hate JCP’s ……… It just keeps on building.

Now I’m paying myself an extra $500 to take to Vegas next week. Anyone want to join me 

Great post guys.

Very well said :)

thank you tank you THANK YOU<br />
<br />
sexless marriage doesn't ruin sex, in my opinion, it ruins everything .it jacks up your mind big time

I know what I want is emotional connection. It's not something my spouse is good at currently.<br />
But she's trying. At the same time I flat out told her that "mutually-pleasurable sex is a must." I was (oddly enough) not to get her aroused at all, it feels overwhelming to her. And that began to feel sooo empty.

"Give and give and give", and when it's time for a romp, X "cannot give any more". This is at the foundation of a refuser's choice and behavior. In general sex is both giving and getting. For people with healthy drives, what they get out of sex clearly feels so intensely good they don't even notice what they have to give, for the most part. Owing to a host of reasons, the refuser's balance is upset: X feels that sex is mostly giving and little or no getting, whereas, presumably the partner Y (letters chosen deliberately!) is getting a lot out of sex, and, in X's perception, perhaps not giving as much. We are fundamentally self-centered creatures: once sex becomes more giving than getting, who wants it? For quite a large fraction of Xs in the world, sex simply isn't that much fun, compared to the time commitment and risks. They get into chasing Ys purely from peer pressure and the urge to make babies. They should really get out of (poor-quality) partnering and live independent lives. The only sacrifice they have to make is single parenting. But it's much more honest, and everyone will be much happier that way.

I would agree with that if not for the fact that I am the 'giver' in the sexual relationship. If I say, "You want a bj?" He is so there. He'd take on every day if it meant he didn't have to return the favor. And, as much as I enjoy giving them and seeing the pleasure wash over his face, I want more than that. I know that he is becoming older and his parts don't work as well as they use to.... but that's another story. Maybe it should be my next one.....

I agree to a point. I loved the sex too... but after fighting over the lack of sex for years I finally gave up. Giving up didn't mean that I just quit asking... but it also meant that I totally withdrew all forms of affection towards her....from holding hands... backrubs... special dinner dates and going out to movies ect. In fact... I have not even touched her in 10 years now. I moved out of our shared bedroom to my own room right after my last child left home. I felt if I had to be miserable... then she would get the same treatment in return.

Why not leave? When the children are gone, I won't live this way. I have promised myself that.

I havn't left because I am down to being home only 5 days a month now... and to hell if shes going to bankrupt me at this age.with a divorce. I will just have my fun outside the marriage

I agree. Mind you there are men that are cheaters at the core. I try to manage with option 2 for a while, but if things don't change, I move to option 1. I never do option 3. It's just not in my ethics.

I wish this wasn't an issue.....

Hello,I do agree,,but as a woman what do you do when your the one who's in need of affection,,it's always said that the man wants it but the woman doesn't but what about when it's the other way around?

Neednsome --
How do you know you are the only one? I assumed that it was only me who wanted that physical intimacy until we finally talked. Sex is a difficult subject. Do you talk about it? Have you asked him how he feels about sex? What he likes/has liked about it? In my experience, a man can feel just as uncomfortable broaching this subject as a woman.

I am a woman who was denied sex from her husband. You are not alone. There are a few of us on this board. It almost seems worse for us - it's pretty typical to hear of wives making excuses and denying but men should want it all the time. Right?????

Yes,I've talked about it,he says my attitude,makes him not want too,,,but how can I be happy when it's been months?? And I even textedhim kne day asking him too,and he said NO! That hurted to the core!

So, what's the conclusion? Is there something making him not want sex? In ability? An affair? ****? It seems he is blaming you for his lack of desire.

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Whether we stay or go there is always a penalty involved.<br />
<br />
Stay Strong & Good Luck

This all boils down to choice.<br />
<br />
Spouse chooses to withold intimacy.<br />
<br />
You choose whether you are going to stay married to them or not.<br />
<br />
Choice is difficult. Choice is painful. Choice is harsh and unforgiving.<br />
<br />
And, no-one gets a pass on it. No-one.<br />
<br />
Tread your own path.

bazaar --
You are correct. Life is about choices, but some are more difficult than others, and all cause a ripple. Heck, some even cause a tidal wave. But there is another choice, too.... Talking. Talking about the fact that sex is important. Talking about the connection that your relationship lacks. I learned that once we began talking about these things, the choice to walk away became lower and lower on my list.

I think it depends on how long this was an issue. For me (and others) we do talk. I talked with him every 3-4 months for 6 years. Never got me anywhere. He listened but never acted. No progress. I'm done.

I am personally very guilty of never speaking with him about it, and instead, acted out by having dinner with an old hs boyfriend as I alluded to below. I didn't speak to him about sex because I felt that I was wrong or bad for wanting sex. If my husband wasn't interested, it wasn't my place (gosh, that's another post for what mom taught me about sex). I also thought that he just might be getting it somewhere else. I didn't question it because, otherwise, life was good. I was just feeling very lonely.

Why did it end, Mike?

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As a WOMAN who was refused sex from her husband I feel I need to respond. I love sex. Always have. Always will. You have to change it up and take an interest in pleasing your partner for you to both enjoy it. (i just mean different positions etc I haven't tried toys or anything more than that in my current relationship). My husband couldn't figure out why he turned me down nearly every single time I made a pass at him. The first 3 years were fantastic, I realize now that I initiated nearly that whole time. The last 6 years were so devastating to me. It's not just sex. It leads to feelings of not being worthy enough, not being good enough, attractive enough, which erode the emotional connections. Constant refusal and rejection eventually leads to bitterness and anger. I felt I was almost repulsive (and I'm not that bad looking I wouldn't think). A friend came along and we talked about our marriages and we became incredibly close just by talking and holding hands and holding each other (no sex). So it wasn't just sex I was missing. It was emotional closeness and the need to feel important to someone. I am still struggling to overcome the feelings of self doubt and insecurity and low confidence. Now we are together he tells me over and over that I'm beautiful and to be comfortable naked with him and it is taking me a long time to do that. And now that we both want to fill the needs we have been refused for a decade each it just brings us closer and closer emotionally, which in turn makes us even more crazy for each other.

Thank you for your insigt loveconfused --
I must admit, I was not openly denied sexual contact. I mean, he did not say, "No!" What happened was a gradual change. He began sleeping on the couch, kissing me less and less, and speaking to me only when the need arose. We had sex about once a month, and I think that was due to the fact that I was on the pill and he didn't want to waste the money by not having sex. (She's on the pill, so I better have sex or I've wasted money this month on contraception.) Sex became an obligation.

Needless to say, things occurred and he learned that I was about to travel elsewhere for the connection I desired. When he felt he might lose me, he became interested again.

In return, I decided to never say, "I'm too tired," again. That was nearly 3 years ago. We have had some wonderful slow love-making sessions, and some out of this world kinky, crazy sessions. Sex still occurs only about once a month, which is not often enough for me, but the act itself is much better than before.

It is nice to hear that you made some progress at least. I think one thing that impacts the outcome if the marriage holds together or not is the length of time there has been discord about the issue. For me, I would start initiating by touching my husband or kissing him (anywhere from sweet or playful or sometimes quite forwardly depending on how bad I needed it) and he would either roll over or kiss me and walk away. He knew what I wanted and wasnt interested. He never out right said no but he might as well have. Near the end there were a few times he would be interested (finally) and I would "work on him" and i would break down and cry because I couldn't get him all the way hard. That never happened to him before and it was only a few times right before the marriage blew up but it was the last straw for me. And he wouldn't see a doctor. For me. His embarrassment was of more importance than ME.

Oh my goodness! I am right with you here, too. I have not walked out. But I have often thought, "If he truly loved me, he would do something about this." I get angry that I am not, and our love life is not, a priority.

Sometimes I still feel a tinge of bitterness even now that I've moved on. I feel betrayed by my marriage because I put everything I had into building it and fixing it. And I sometimes have a moment when I even feel a bit of anger for a second towards my STBX because I can't understand how someone who was suppose to love me could have done that to me.


You mean his ego?


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I agree.

Too much sex is not good either. 4 kids and a husband of 19 years and work 12 hrs a day 6 days a week. My husband want sex talk about it all the time. Keep waking me up. I never never sleep through the night. When I said no . He would abuses me. This happens regularly. I feel exhausted. Feel like I am working 24/7. I think not enough is better than too much. When it's not enough u have an alternative to find other way to keep you happy. When it's too much u stuck. I can't find solution. Just try not to drop dead.

This is sad, and has nothing to do with a sexless marriage. This is a marriage of entitlement and abuse. I am sorry.

You are in an abusive situation, and there is help. here is a list of services to start, you can always also contact your local women's shelter and the police:

It's not ok to abuse someone if you ask for sex and are turned down. It's not ok to abuse anyone, period. I suggest you find help and get out. (((((HUGS))))))

A sexless marriage has everything to do with sex, and perhaps much more. You are falling prey to the same guilt that you ask us to shed: nothing wrong in admitting we want the physical process of the root! It's not like I denied other forms of intimacy to my wife to start with, so what's wrong in saying, yes, I'd really have liked the sex act itself?

Interesting take ulae. Actually, I was saying that the sexless marriage was about so much more than sex (possibly your "perhaps much more.") I find nothing wrong with sex at its base level. Heck, I like sex at its base level, but I feel people are judging those who want sex in their marriage and believe they are nothing more than simple-minded. I believe quite the contrary.

I am somewhat confused by your initial story, though. I think you're "preaching to the choir," meaning that we here are the last to judge others for wanting sex, because we are the ones who want sex. Soooo, I'm sorta confused. :)

This post actually came as a response from another's 'Sexless Marriage' story. I was watching people hit him (and others who post the same frustrations) for being selfish and undeserving. It saddened me tremendously. It is my hope that those who see it will also be outside of our circle and come to realize that desiring sex is more than about desiring sex. Thank you MissLee

you are correct ohgal01, there is a 3rd option, self service. but that does NOT satisfy the intimacy void you speak of. UI guess we should just pray and plan on ending in a calm, responsible and amicable fashion, if thats possible~

er, 4th option.

Yes, I hear you. I sort of placed this within option 2.


Being left to my own devices gets so, so lonely and sad after a while.



Evolution messing with your brain. Don't give in! Devices are great! They never pout. If they stall, all you need are fresh batteries. And for most guys, a palm is device plenty.

But lonely.....

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Very well written.. I think you are absolutely correct, I was one of those women who would without sex, not on purpose but just because I was too tired and well frankly it wasn't worth it. I felt bad about it because I know our relationship is strained when we don't have sex, and when we do it's so much better. So I decided tired or not there was going to be sex at least once a week and it wasn't just going to be get it in and get it done sex either. So now my partner and I do have sex more often and we try to mix it up a little.. although I would like more.. but it's great. So for all you ladies out there that are too tired.. suck it up, literally it is worth it!

That's what exercising sometimes feels like: you may feel like skipping a session, but you get this "moral" glow after you are done, because, hey, discipline builds character. I don't agree that sex should be undertaken if it feels like that. In particular, if (some) women need sex intrinsically once a year, they should not be doing it "for god and country" every week to maintain domestic tranquility. Clearer communication between the genders about what exactly sex feels like to each partner, and a clear protocol that pleasing you is your own business, are the only hope for humanity. "Hey you can't shoot and go limp before I am even warmed up at t+40 minutes" is a recipe for disaster.

I think we are learning about the give and take.. we have never talked so much about sex as we do lately.. I want to be more adventurerous than he does.. I think researching sex and reading different peoples experiences have helped get me in the mood on many occasions. Sometimes a quickie is good for both of us, but we both have to agree on it.

Actually, I see where bella is going here. Sometimes you begin by taking 'one for the team," but then you find that it becomes something that you really enjoy, appreciate, and look forward to.

My point was that when I have sex, I want it to be good. If I continually 'took one for the team," resentment would grow and fester. And heck, if your lover has that type of attitude, you might as well buy a heavy duty blow up doll.

I couldn't agree with you more.....

Exactly ohgal01 and like they say "practice makes perfect" so if the sex isn't that great.. remember to talk about it and tell each other what you like and want, it ain't going to get better if you don't try to fix it..

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You may well generally be right, but lets face it, there is that select band of people who profess to love their partners but all they really want is sex from them and sometimes one or two show up here declaring "Woe betide me!" Only problem is that they are usually pretty transparent and I for one can have no sympathy for them. It is a reasonable expectation but it ain't a right, irrespective of the circumstances, and once you start claiming it as a right you are already well up ****-creek.

I couldn't agree with you more. I am talking within a marriage. Think about it this way, when you married you signed a contract. That contract, in essence, is broken when partners go in with the reasonable expectation of sex (especially if there is a history of sex) and the sex disappears. Unfortunately, all too often people play that 'Woe betide me" card without ever communicating with their partner or renegotiating the contract.