If you are in a sexless marriage, the question of whether to leave your marriage may have presented itself to you once or twice.
Society may suggest that it is usually women to blame for a sexless marriage (where couples have sex less than 10 times a year). In reality though, the men are just as likely to turn and face the wall.
Have you ever wondered why seemingly perfect couples break up?
The lack of sex is usually to blame. It is rare for “lustless” lovers to live happily ever after in platonic bliss. Particularly in long-term relationships, the deprivation of sex is commonly linked to depression and psychological problems, and couples are more prone to arguments and feelings of stress and worthlessness.
In a sexless marriage, there is always one party who is unhappy and will eventually leave or engage in an affair.
The absence of intimacy and the physical closeness of sex causes a relationship to feel hollow: your spouse, the person who is supposed to find you attractive, sexy and desirable, does not.
How can anyone be content with that?
How a marriage becomes sexless
There are many reasons a marriage becomes sexless.
• You and your partner never had much sex to begin with.
• You have become comfortable, even bored, with your spouse.
• A certain event has caused the sex to slow down, or even stop (like an affair or childbirth).
• You or your partner have given in to the pressures of raising a family or putting a career first.
• You or your partner are facing mid-adulthood.
• You or your partner have a low sex drive.
Sometimes, marriage itself is to blame for a sexless relationship. This is because women often do not marry the people they click with sexually.
Women may happily participate in a sexually-rewarding affair with a partner for a five-week fling, but will commit to a long-term relationship for very different reasons.
Factors such as stability, intelligence, kindness, emotional maturity and intelligence often take precedence. Which, while sensible, may not be the best decision in the long run.
Sexual attraction is essential: if it is not there, it is not there.
If you find yourself in this situation, the best thing to do is to acknowledge it and decide whether you can live with it.
If the pros outweigh the cons, such as your partner being a good friend and/or a brilliant father, you may decide that the little or no sex is a fair trade.
A rich fantasy life and a healthy amount of masturbatory sessions might be enough for you.
Or you may resolve to sate your sexual needs outside the marriage and have an affair.
Conversely, you may also decide that it is more honest to leave your partner and look for the whole package, someone who satisfies you both emotionally and physically.
Before making a decision
However, before taking the plunge and leaving a sexless marriage, it is important to first consider a few things:
• What else is going on in your relationship?
• How important is sex to you?
• Does your partner intend to do something about it?
Another point to think about is how long your marriage has been sexless, and if there is a good reason why.
If you have just gone through childbirth and have not had sex for a few months, there is no need to panic just yet.
However, if you are both young and healthy, but have spent four out of your five-year marriage facing away from each other in bed, you are more than justified in feeling peeved.
Examine your relationship
The first step is to admit there is a problem. Saying it out loud makes the problem real, which then forces you and your partner to actually do something about it.
Sometimes, it may even involve getting help.
It is not the sign of a failing marriage if you and your partner decide to consult a sex therapist or a marriage counsellor. In fact, it shows that you love each other and are willing to repair your relationship, to make your marriage as happy as it can possibly be.
Couples who discuss their relationships, including their sex lives, are likely to have healthier marriages.
Unfortunately, marriage counsellors often skirt around the issue of sex during sessions, concentrating instead on other aspects of the relationship.
While these other factors potentially contribute to sexual inactivity, deliberately approaching the issue of sex, or lack of it, is imperative as well.
The critical factor
Talking things through is helpful for you and your partner to figure out what you both want, and to determine whether it is worth the effort to reintroduce sex into your marriage. You and your partner will have to carefully evaluate your shared history, your motivations and your ultimate objectives.
Once you start talking, it will become (sometimes painfully) obvious what the future holds for your relationship.
This is when you will discover if your partner is willing to cooperate to establish a satisfying sexual relationship or has no interest in solving the situation.
If it is the former, that is great news! You and your partner have taken the first, and usually the most difficult, step towards resolving the issue.
If it is the latter, even the most faithful, supportive partner can be forgiven for thinking about leaving, or having a bit on the side.
At the end of the day, remember that sex is only one form of intimacy. Many couples are content, even intimate, despite not being sexually active.
There is no “correct” amount of sex you should have in a marriage. Ideally, both partners are happy however often sex occurs.
When one (or both) become unhappy, that is when marital problems can occur. And that is when it is time to start taking stock of your relationship.
Datuk Dr Nor Ashikin Mokhtar is a consultant obstetrician and gynaecologist. For further information, visit www.primanora.com. The information provided is for educational and communication purposes only and it should not be construed as personal medical advice. Information published in this article is not intended to replace, supplant or augment a consultation with a health professional regarding the reader’s own medical care. The Star does not give any warranty on accuracy, completeness, functionality, usefulness or other assurances as to the content appearing in this column. The Star disclaims all responsibility for any losses, damage to property or personal injury suffered directly or indirectly from reliance on such information.