I do not live in a sexless marriage. DH and I still desire one another and have sex regularly. But we have had, for lack of a better concept, sexless periods in our marriage. And frankly, I’m not having as much sex as I’d like right now. I empathize with those who are in a sexless marriage, and it’s one of the reasons I write this blog.

WHAT IS SEXLESS MARRIAGE ANYWAY?

The statistics are shocking to me. The number of couples who are in marriages that are “sexless” is 15-20%, based on studies. But based on conversations I’ve had, and books I’ve read, I believe the number is easily be over 30%. Sexless marriage affects all ages of men and women, and touches new and seasoned partnerships. Even the phrase “sexless marriage” is misleading, since it’s a term that is applied to marriages that are both “low sex” and “no sex.” But what is “sexless” anyway? Well, sexual frequency is unique to a couple, and what one partner considers to be “not enough” may be the other partner’s “just right.” Partners may have sex once a month and both be quite satisfied…or not have sex for years, leaving one partner desperately unhappy.

But I need to back up to my story.

MY STORY AND MY REALITY

Almost five years ago, a series of events propelled my libido into overdrive–I started a job after being home for 10 years. I had a reason to wear heels, earn a decent check, and (a surprise to me) get attention from men. Suddenly, I wanted to have sex with DH all the time. The adrenaline was addictive.

Meanwhile, DH’s body was changing, too. He started experiencing erectile dysfunction–having trouble getting and staying hard. He also had constant pain in his genital region which, to this day, is undiagnosed–every single day. Nothing gives him relief, only finally laying down at night.

All this was in the middle of a decade where our relationship took some significant hits. The stress and anger depleted our physical intimacy at times. But we decided, after much talking, to stay married.

Instead of quickies, sex takes longer.

Today, our sex life has evolved from periods of daily sex to an average of once a week. Instead of at any time of day or night, we usually have sex before dinner. Instead of sleeping in each other’s arms, we sleep back to back. Instead of quickies, sex takes longer, primarily because we have trouble getting aroused, and we needed a longer window of opportunity. Sex left the car and the backyard, and now is firmly grounded in the bedroom.

Some of these changes are due to normal aging. Also, with DH’s issues, his mood and how he feels physically dictates our sex schedule.

HOW LACK OF INTIMACY FEELS

What does this have to do with sexless marriage? DH has said that I am now the high-sex partner (whereas he used to be), and that I am in a low-sex marriage with him.

The reason I can relate to sexless marriage, or a low-sex marriage, is that we have had periods of not having sex. Timing, emotions, physical problems, and just life got in the way. And of course, I missed DH. I missed the intimacy–playing grabby ass in the kitchen, slow kissing, simply touching or hugging. That was almost gone. I felt lonely and sorry for myself, which made me more needy. Repelled by my needy nature, DH retreated even more.

The truth was that it hurt. I took it personally and started feeling unattractive, overweight, undesirable to him. I was sad–a deep down sad that couldn’t be eased. I talked less to DH.  I knew he loved me. But without the physical intimacy, I felt rejected and my self esteem plummeted. I just wanted my husband. I wanted attention and I longed for his touch. Why couldn’t I have that? What was wrong with me? Even now, I feel the ache that I felt then.

Without the physical intimacy, I felt rejected and my self esteem plummeted.

Eventually, our relationship issue or family stress, or whatever had been going on during these empty periods, was resolved, and we came together again. We would have sex and be back to our PDA-prone selves. And the relief was immense for me. I felt validated and loved. Most of all, I felt comforted.

WHAT IT’S LIKE TODAY

This cycle still happens. Being the high-desire partner at this time in our lives, I want to have sex more often than DH does. If he even so much as hints that he would like to have sex, I make myself available. Because I don’t know how much longer I may have to wait for the next time. Strike while the iron is hot and the dick is willing.

But when it’s been two weeks, even three, and we haven’t been able to connect, I miss him terribly. There is no other way to word it.

This is why I say I can empathize. I have many online friends and IRL friends who are in low sex and no-sex marriage and I hear their stories–bewilderment, frustration, pain, anger and fear. I wish I could take their loneliness in their marriage away, a relationship that may have been red hot at one time. But the fact is that many of these relationships are in the chronic phase of being low-sex. Many count the no-sex period in years, not months.

Over the past two years, DH and I have overcome a lot of our misunderstandings that were separating us emotionally. We have talked our asses off. We rarely fight anymore. We try to have sex once a week and, if we are lucky, we can. DH talks about the future, that he may just want to quit having sex, at least the amount of sex we have now. What does that look like? I don’t know and it scares me.

I take the problem into my own hands–literally.

I have been asked, what do you do when you can’t have sex with your partner? I often distract myself. If need be, I take the problem into my own hands–literally. I try not to make every remark to DH sexual. DH may need his space. I see if I can help him emotionally at all. I have online and IRL flirtations and friendships with men. I try to avoid self-pity. And I wait.

Like most of our peers, life and age has forced us to be to adapt to a new reality. We have had to talk more about sex, explore our fantasies, and figure out what doesn’t fit for us and what really does turn us on (score!). We are quite a playful couple, and I would like to have tales of lust and silliness to write about for many, many more years.

For support, I suggest iliasm.org. The discussion is well-balanced and might help!

 

Photo used with permission of @Blu_Id_Hooligan on Twitter.