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Relationships

5 Women Sound Off On Their Sexless Marriages

If you struggle to recall the last time you had sex with your spouse, you're not alone.

If you struggle to recall the last time you had sex with your spouse, you're not alone. According to one study that analyzed survey data back to 1972, approximately 15 percent of marriages are “sexless,” meaning the couples say they haven’t had sex in the past six months to a year. But that doesn't make it any easier — for some — when a week without sex turns into a month and a month turns into a year or longer. Some couples see a lack of sex as a sign the relationship is over; others don't.

To find out more, here are the stories of five women and their sexless marriages.

Christine B.
I have been married almost 20 years. I married a man knowing he had erectile and performance issues. I was in denial, but married him anyway. We have lived a tumultuous marriage, almost divorcing. We have three kids. Two were conceived through artificial insemination (twins). We have been in and out of therapy, dealing with everything. I have worked on talking about our sex life. I started marking off time to have sex to make sure we did so at least every six months. Sex has always been way more important to me than it has ever been to him. He has taken performance- enhancing drugs. The difficulty with this throughout our marriage has turned me off to anything physical with him. I am no longer yearning for a physical companion. We are friends, and I stopped trying for more. He — 100 percent — is not having an affair. This is working for us for now, but deep inside I don’t think it will be forever. Life is busy for now, raising my kids and working full time. I have to say, given financial freedom and stability, I would not be where I am today.

Judy M.
I want to stress that it’s important for women NOT to ignore their gut feelings, or their honest concerns, about their husband’s lack of a sex drive. I was dissuaded from standing up for myself in part by the data that suggest a percentage of men just aren’t interested in sex. As I explain to my friends today, “you can convince yourself of anything because you can usually find an article or some research that ‘proves’ it.” This is what happened with me. I was concerned about our lack of intimacy, and I was concerned that my ex-husband was gay … but I could always find articles or research stating that in some percentage of marriages, this lack of intimacy was normal. In my case, my ex-husband was attracted to men for almost our entire 25-year marriage. Many times, I initiated what I thought were honest discussions about the fact that he was seldom interested in having sex with me. After these discussions, he would make an effort, but it was never long-lasting. At times we went as long as nine or 12 months without sex. Eventually, on Jan. 1, 2014, he finally said out loud that he was attracted to men. He told me in the weeks afterward that he had no plans to tell me that day, and that he had hoped to continue keeping it secret while he dabbled on the side in a “safe” way. To this day I beat myself up for not speaking up louder, being more decisive — doing something — to produce some true honesty on this issue. This is the advice I have for women: Speak up! You deserve honesty, and you deserve a full expression of marital love.

Sara T.
As of July 2019, I joined the ranks of those who have not had sex with their spouse in over a year. My husband has health issues that cause him to be in constant pain and, to top it off, he has low testosterone. He has no interest in sex anymore. In the past I have tried to talk to him, but it always sounds like I am putting him down, and I know he feels bad. We are just stuck in this pattern of me wanting sex but not initiating it, because I know either he will turn me down or if he manages to get an erection, it goes away within minutes. This leaves neither of us satisfied — and me feeling unsexy and unwanted. I can't seem to talk to him without crying, which puts him on the defensive. I know he loves me, and I love him. I am just lonely in our relationship.

Teri G.
I have been in a sexless marriage for over 15 years. My husband and I are very much in love, and I am sure that we both wish that things could be different. I went into early menopause at age 31, which did slow things down a bit. But at the same time, my husband suffered erection issues, and I can see that this bothered him immensely so I guess as time went on, intimacy became less and less important. The frustration that we both would experience was becoming ridiculous. As time went on, it became a two-year, four-year, seven-year, 10-year stretch with no sex. And then came prostate cancer, and after this surgery erection was virtually impossible. Do I wish that things were different? Certainly, but I don't focus on that aspect of our life. All day and every day I enjoy what we do have, which is each other.

Meg S.
I have been in a sexless marriage for the past six years. It all changed when I had a hysterectomy in 2010. I tried for the first few years after the hysterectomy ... I tried hormones orally and some vaginal prescription to increase secretions. I tried lubricants and ended up with just using vaginal estradiol to keep atrophy from occurring. Then I finally gave it up, as it was just too painful for me. He says he still loves me, and I do love him, too, but now we don’t do anything at all. No kissing, no holding hands and no intimacy of any sort. I don’t do anything because, personally, I don’t have any desire, plus I think I have a mindset that it will hurt regardless of what we do or don’t do. Then I worry about getting carried away and knowing I can’t allow him to penetrate me. I miss having sex, but we didn't really have sex on a regular basis throughout our marriage. I think we had more sex in the beginning. But then kids came around, there were activities, and life took over. We almost divorced in 1999, but then moved from one state to another. There was one more time with a brief separation during our first year in the new state, and another time later. Then things resolved themselves and we are still together. We have not considered counseling. On occasion, I think it would be good for us. But I don’t think my husband would behave the way he does at home. I think he would put on a show for a therapist just to get through the sessions.

Are you in a sexless marriage? We will be covering this topic again in the near future. If you'd like your story included (you can remain anonymous), please email us at thegirlfriend@aarp.org and put "marriage" in the subject line.

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