Three Couples Dealing With Sexless Marriages
In our sex-obsessed culture — where everyone seems to be wanting some, getting some, or sneaking some on the side — it may surprise you to know that an estimated 10 – 15 per cent of married couples are sexless (defined by less than 10 times per year). A further 5 per cent have no sex at all.
But what’s unclear from these statistics is how many of these couples are truly happy. Are they dutifully “holding the course”, yet praying that this drought is temporary? Are resentment and detachment slowly growing beneath their skin? Can friendship and companionship really be enough to bind a couple together, especially if they’re in their thirties or forties?
What follows are the opinions and insights of three young couples, who have – or are – dealing with sexlessness in their marriage.
Shawna and Matt – Married 16 years
“Nothing kills sex more than having kids,” states Matt matter-of-factly. The now 38-year-old father of two teenage girls shakes his head as if wiping away the memory of sleepless nights, changing diapers and tantrums. “My advice to men is to brace themselves for a drought.”
His wife Shawna, 36, playfully punches him. “Or maybe men just need to help out more!”
She turns to me. “No doubt, when the kids were babies and toddlers, our marriage went through some very dark times, our sex life too – it halted for a few years.
“But sex wasn’t a priority to me – I was at home all day and night with two very needy kids while his life seemed to stay the same merry way. Even when I went back to work, I ended up having to take care of the home and the kids’ stuff too; it was like he was oblivious to the chores, no matter how many times I asked him for help. What can I say? I was exhausted, resentful, I felt fat, I was probably hormonal much of the time too, and the last thing I wanted to do was have sex.”
Today, however, Shawna and Matt say their sex life is both fantastic and frequent. What pulled them out of their drought?
“BSDM,” states Matt. “Nothing makes my lady smile more than a set of handcuffs.”
Shawna punches him again. “Yes, BDSM added a whole new dimension to our sex lives, a whole new level of discovery and excitement. But it was also because I – sorry, ‘we’ – wanted to stay together and make our marriage work. I wanted to let go of the resentment and knew I needed to take better care of myself. It also really helped when the kids entered school full-time. I think that if couples can come out the other side of those toddlers years and still love each other, their relationship can become extremely close provided not too much damage was done and they are really committed.”
Matt adds: “Women may not want to hear this but they also need to put a reasonable time limit on the ‘drought’. When I went to poker nights with the guys back then, I heard the same complaint going round and round the table from the other dads. It was never about the wife being a bad mom or being too fat – it was that they weren’t getting enough sex. And I know for a fact that some ended up having affairs.”
Madeline and Eric – Married six years
“I have zero interest in sex,” says 41-year-old Madeline with a look of disgust. “I mean, it resulted in my having my daughter and I’m so happy for that. But from the neck down I feel no passion whatsoever: Boobs are for nursing; vagina has closed shop.”
Madeline and her husband Eric haven’t had sex in almost two years. Not even once. But one glance at their six-year history together garners sympathy: Not only did they face severe challenges in conception, Madeline also suffered three miscarriages.
“The emotional rollercoaster of trying to get pregnant — which reduced sex to something mechanical — combined with the anguish and fear of losing another baby really took its toll on me,” says Madeline. “On top of that, my dad suffered a severe stroke three years ago that left him partially paralysed. It’s a miracle I was even able to carry a baby to term.”
Husband Eric says he thinks Madeline is the “strongest and most amazing woman” he’s ever known. “If I focused on sex as a measure of our relationship, I think that would make me a Neanderthal, not to mention a selfish ***hole. I find Madeline sexy and beautiful on the outside and the inside. She’s my wife, the other of my daughter and my best friend. Sex or no sex, I will stand by my family till the day I die.”
Madeline says, “Back when I was in my twenties and early thirties, sex was way more of a focus. Maybe that’s why those relationships died because they were primarily built on sex.
The intimacy I have with Eric goes way beyond the sexual. We’re very cuddly and affectionate with one another, but more importantly, we talk and laugh and share in a way I’ve never done before. I feel unconditionally loved and understood…and that’s way more important than the frequency of orgasms.”
Tara and Jonathan – Married 13 years
“How would I describe my sex life with Jonathan? ” Tara, age 35, laughs nervously, then gazes at the wall beside the couch.
Finally: “Well….I’d have to say it’s pretty crappy.” She laughs again.
She then makes me promise not to interview Jonathan or mention this article to him.
Tara — who, by the way, is a drop dead gorgeous former athlete — then proceeds to tell me that she has been sexless for four years. And it’s not because of lack of interest on her part, rather his.
“It doesn’t matter what I do – whether I try to initiate something during the day or at night, whether I give him a sensual massage, a romantic meal, or dress up in something sexy to seduce him. Ninety-nine per cent of the time he rejects me.
“The few times a year we do have sex, it’s never anything extraordinary – like missionary only. But I’m so pent-up and ready that luckily I can orgasm really quickly. I’ve tried to introduce some spicy moves and techniques into the repertoire… but he said it was slutty and a turnoff.”
Tara says that they’ve been in marriage counselling on and off over the last five years. She once tried to address their sexlessness while in therapy. “His back went up and he said he had no issue with sex or our sex life. He then refused to go back again.”
Tara admits that his constant sexual rejection has negatively affected their marriage – and her self-esteem. On some level, it translates into “You aren’t desirable, as a woman or a person.”
But Tara reminds herself that he is an excellent provider, a decent father, and overall, a good man. “No marriage is perfect,” she says matter-of-factly. “I need to focus on what we do have; be grateful instead looking for a reason to be unhappy.
She adds: “Sex is apparently overrated anyway.”
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