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Coping with a Sexless Marriage: Best Practices

By nature, we are sexual beings, so coping with a sexless marriage can be an isolating experience. That's because sex and physical intimacy are the main distinctions between being roommates and lovers. 

If what you’re looking for in a marriage is a roommate and partner in life, and you can both do without the physical intimacy, then there is absolutely no problem with a sexless marriage. For example, a large American study in 2017 showed that sexless people from 18 to 89 years old had very similar levels of life satisfaction compared to their sexually active counterparts.  

However, if one or both people in a couple become upset by the infrequency or loss of sexual connection, it’s time for a change.

If you’re wondering how often married couples have sex, the first and most important thing to know is that there is no one answer. The numbers vary across the board. While normal for some couples might be once a month, for others it might be twice a week. 

Frequency of sex can also vary greatly based on different factors including health, age, pregnancy, and the postpartum period. There may be times in life when your libido is very high, and others when sex is the last thing on your mind — and that’s okay.

There is no right frequency of sex for all couples. Frequency of sex can vary greatly based on different factors including health, age, pregnancy, and the postpartum period.

Experts do agree that a completely sexless relationship is one that is more vulnerable to anger, estrangement, and, ultimately, divorce. 

There is no right frequency of sex for all couples. Even more, as researchers from Carnegie Mellon University found, increased frequency of sexual intercourse does not make couples any happier. So, instead of focusing on a target number, instead think about connection, intimacy, communication, and bonding. These things can, in turn, lead to sex, but they are much more important to your marriage than the number of times you have sex each month.

If there is one thing that is certain across the board, it’s that every single person rides highs and lows throughout their life. Changes in health, libido, hormone levels, and more all play into the frequency with which you engage in physical intimacy. A couple is made up of two people, each bringing in their own personal factors, plus a complex and intricate relationship dynamic that has an impact on physical intimacy. 

Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional to help you work through the issues together — that’s what they’re there for.

These are just some of the reasons people may find themselves in a sexless marriage, although often there are multiple factors at play. 

  • Low libido — When one or both partners have a low sex drive for whatever reason, the couple may find themselves waiting for a long time until both parties are feeling it. Some people naturally have a lower sex drive than others, or they go through periods in life when their libido is low. This can be caused by hormones, weight, pregnancy, the postpartum period, and more. It’s also common for married couples to have a mismatch in libidos. This can lead to tension, especially when it goes undiscussed, which can easily result in a sexless marriage. 
  • Stress — Life is full of stressors that seem to come from every direction. During periods of high stress, sex is often put on the backburner. Once that happens, you or your partner may become hesitant about initiating sex even when the desire does arise. It can help to talk about the problem instead of leaving it undiscussed. One thing that can help in this situation is to schedule sex, and the mood will likely follow. 
  • Mental health issues — Depression, anxiety, and other mental health issues are common reasons for a sexless relationship. If you or your partner is struggling with mental health problems, it’s a good idea to see a therapist.
  • Relationship problems — If you’re going through a rough patch in your relationship, there may not be much going on in the bedroom. When you’re feeling frustrated, angry, disappointed, disconnected, or betrayed, physical intimacy may not be something you’re looking for. It can be difficult to work through these issues on your own. Sex therapy or couples counseling can help you work through these issues together in a healthy way.
  • Sexual dysfunction — Relationships have their fair share of hurdles, and sexual dysfunction, caused by biological factors or sex-related performance anxiety, can break a couple apart when they are not communicating about it. Erectile dysfunction and other types of sexual dysfunction are quite common and nothing to be ashamed of. Talk it out, and make an appointment with your doctor to rule out medical causes.

Many other factors can affect a couple’s sex life, most of which are complex and multi-faceted. Don’t hesitate to reach out to a professional to help you work through the issues together — that’s what they’re there for. 

The first thing to know when you find yourself in a marriage without sex is that you are not alone. It is much more common than you think for couples to go through long stretches with little to no physical intimacy. 

If there is something wrong, your marriage is not going to magically fix itself. Communication is essential for you to move forward together. Open an honest dialogue and bring up your concerns. Explain why sex is important to you, and don’t be afraid to talk about your needs, desires, and expectations. Avoid playing the blame game, and try to keep the conversation positive. Remember that the goal is to move forward and improve your sex life, not to get into an argument. 

Ask your partner if they have been frustrated by the lack of physical intimacy as well. Give them a chance to speak without interrupting, and find out their needs, desires, and expectations.

Marriage takes work. Relationships need to be nurtured to thrive, so come up with a few games, exercises, or activities that you can do together regularly to build intimacy. These things don’t necessarily have to be sexual.

Marriage takes work. Relationships need to be nurtured to thrive, so come up with a few games, exercises, or activities that you can do together regularly to build intimacy.

In fact, it’s important to connect intellectually and emotionally as well to build a strong relationship. Even if you don’t have a specific activity in mind, just setting aside time to spend together can do wonders for your marriage. 

If your efforts to turn your sexless marriage around are unsuccessful, it’s time to turn to a professional for help. A mental health therapist specializing in human sexuality can provide you with tools for effective communication and exercises for building intimacy and, ultimately, a better sex life

If you’re currently living in a sexless marriage, your relationship is by no means doomed. Like all things, your sex life has ups and downs, and if you’re ready and willing to put in the work, it can most likely be fixed. Don’t hesitate to see a therapist who will give you excellent insight, objective advice, communication tools, and intimacy-building exercises. 

Remember that a sexless relationship is only a problem if one or both people in the relationship are unhappy about it. Open and honest communication will help you understand each other’s love languages and bring you to a place where your needs are being met.

https://www.issm.info/sexual-health-qa/what-is-the-normal-frequency-of-sex/

https://www.nature.com/articles/nrdp20163

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