Coping With A Sexless Marriage: How To Bring Physical Intimacy Back To The Relationship

By Nicole Beasley

Updated December 03, 2019

Reviewer Chante’ Gamby, LCSW

Most marriages don't begin sexless. There are a lot of reasons that your sex life might change over the years of your relationship. Sometimes the underlying reasons for lack of sex and intimacy lie in physical issues that are not under anyone's control. Whatever the reasons behind the lack of sex in your marriage, there are some ways that you can bring physical intimacy back into the relationship.

Living In A Sexless Marriage


There have been several studies and surveys done to determine how many couples live in a sexless marriage. Some estimates are around twenty percent of married couples. Most studies, however, show less than ten percent of married couples under the age of 50 have not had sex in the last year. These estimates may not be accurate, however, because they are based on answers given, which may not be truthful.

The bottom line, though, is that you are not alone. Many people live in a sexless marriage and are completely happy with their partner. If you are not happy with the level of physical intimacy in your relationship, then you need to communicate that to your partner and work together to remedy the situation.

Married Couples Having Sex

It is important to consider whether or not you are living in a sexless marriage. Most of the time, it is not considered a sexless marriage unless you have had sex fewer than ten times in the last 12 months. Many married couples do not have sex more than once per week. Here are some surprising statistics about married sex from Verywell Mind.

  • The average person has sex about 103 times per year.
  • Ninety percent of couples surveyed said sex gets better after you've been together for years.
  • Forty-nine percent of women and 37 percent of men say stress turns them off of sex.
  • Twelve percent of married people sleep alone.

You can see by these statistics that your expectations of what it means to have an active sex life might not be reasonable. These statistics also show that good sex years into a relationship is entirely possible, and highlights one reason that many people have less sex-due to stress levels. You can also see that you are not alone, and other married couples sleep alone as well.

How Important Is Sex In A Marriage?


Sex in a marriage is very important. Research studies have proven that people who have sex at least once a week are substantially happier than people who have sex only once per month. Some researchers wanted to discover why couples who had more sex were happier. A study determined that the emotional high that couples get from intimate sexual experiences strengthens their connection and makes them happier overall.

Lack Of Sexuality In Marriage

It is important to note that sometimes, a lack of sex or physical intimacy in a marriage is due to physical issues. Women and men both go through physical changes as they get older. Women can begin perimenopause as early as their 40s. Men can also begin to notice hormone changes at this age. If your body is not making enough of the right hormones, your libido can suffer significantly. It can also lead to sexual problems that make sex impossible or uncomfortable. These problems can be addressed with a doctor and remedied with hormone replacement therapy and other treatments.

Withholding Sex In Marriage

One of the worst things that you can do to a relationship is intentionally withheld sex to try to get your way. This is a poor attitude that breeds resentment and drives a wedge between you and your partner. If you have been doing this, it is important to stop immediately. If your partner has been doing this to you, it is past time for you to sit them down and explain to them how what they are doing is affecting your relationship and marriage.

Likewise, you should never use sex to get what you want. Statistics show that nearly 80 percent of women give their partner sex to get them to do something that they want to be done. This is not healthy for a relationship either, because you are then using sex as a bargaining tool. The bottom line is that sex should be about intimacy, emotion, love, and connection. Making it conditional on anything else is not healthy and should be avoided.

Ways To Spark Physical Intimacy

If you and your partner have addressed the above concerns and you still are living in a sexless marriage, you might need to put in some work to spark physical intimacy. There are many things that you and your partner can try to set the bedroom on fire. It is important, however, that you are both on the same page and communicating openly about what does or doesn't work for each other.

Foster Emotional Intimacy


You and your partner must feel emotionally intimate before you work on the physical aspect of your relationship. Sexual intimacy is very dependent on emotional intimacy. If you don't have emotional intimacy, there are a lot of exercises that you can do to learn how to communicate better with your spouse and be more intimate with them throughout the day, which will make physical intimacy better and more appealing.

Rekindle Sexual Chemistry

Has your sex life become humdrum boring? Have you and your partner stopped trying new things? The sex at the beginning of a marriage is always exciting. You are learning about each other and how you connect. If the sex has gone out of your marriage, you need to recapture that sexual chemistry that you had in the beginning. That might mean pulling out some old tricks or learning some new ones.

Change How Sex Is Initiated

Is one partner always the one to initiate sex? Try switching roles every once in a while. Does your partner feel that you come on too strong too often? Find ways to make them feel sexy without pressure for something more unless they are in the mood for it. Simple things like these can decrease how frequently sex is offered rather than turned down, and can increase how frequently sex is initiated.

Don't Underestimate Anticipation

Our brains are wired so that we enjoy sex more when it is anticipated for a long time. Take the time several times a day to send your partner a sexy text or two. Let them know you are thinking about sexually. Touch them, kiss them, and make them anticipate what is coming at the end of the night. Then, allow foreplay to take its time and enjoy every minute. If you anticipate sex in this way throughout the day and the process, you will be more likely to want sex more frequently.

Separate Sexual Intimacy From Routine

The routine of career, home, and family can wear you down considerably, and you might have a lot of stress. Stress is the number one killer of libido. One of the best ways to separate the stress of routines and the mundane is to make the bedroom a stress free zone. None of the household conversations should go into the bedroom. It is the one place that you should be able to be intimate with your partner and feel completely relaxed.

Be Emotionally Vulnerable

Statistics show that most people enjoy sex more when their partner appears to be vulnerable. Being emotionally vulnerable does not necessarily mean being submissive in any way. Being emotionally vulnerable is about trusting your partner so completely that you can tell them how you feel during sex. Discuss with your partner your fantasies and things that you would like to try. Tell them what you like and dislike and encourage them to do the same.

Effective Communication In Marriage


Really, getting the physical intimacy back into your marriage is about communication first and foremost. You have to be able to communicate with your partner openly and honestly about how you are feeling and what the lack of sex is doing to your relationship. You have to be able to talk to your partner about your needs, their needs, and your needs as a couple.

If you are having difficulty communicating effectively with your partner, there are several things that you can do. There are a lot of self-help books and websites out there with exercises that you can use to build communication skills with your partner. However, these do not work for everyone, and they can vary greatly.

Often the best way to open up the lines of communication in a marriage is to get outside help. Marriage counselors and therapists can help you break down the barriers you have to effective communication. They can teach you how to communicate with each other more effectively, openly, and honestly. They can also help you begin discussions about your sexual habits.

If you aren't able to afford or locate a marriage counselor in your area, you still have options. ReGain is an online counseling platform with licensed therapists and counselors with experience in dealing with relationship and physical intimacy issues. This allows you an affordable and convenient way to get the help you need.

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