Marriage Without Intimacy: Sexless Marriages Are More Common Than You Think

Updated March 7, 2024by Regain Editorial Team

Every marriage has its ups and downs; that includes how much time you and your partner spend between the sheets. A healthy relationship isn’t solely based on sex, but it can be an essential part of your connection to your partner. If you haven't been feeling connected to your partner or valued in your relationship lately, there may be some steps you can take to revive the passion and save your marriage.

Living in a sexless marriage? You aren't the only one

Marriage can be challenging

Perhaps the most important thing to realize about living in a marriage without sex is that you aren't alone. While a marriage without sex is defined as couples who have sex less than ten times a year, about 15% of couples report not having sex with their partner within the last six months to a year. Twenty percent of those couples were younger than forty years old.

The lack of physical fulfillment in a relationship could be something that you don’t want to talk about either with your partner, a friend, or a health professional. Yet, more people search Google for tips on how to cope with a marriage without sex than any other marital issue. 

Sexless marriage quiz: How much is too little?

When you and your partner aren't having sex, it can be hard not to play a numbers game. Breaking down the number of times you and your partner had sex or shared physical intimacy in the past month or year might not help. That’s because "right" number may be different for everyone.

As with many aspects of a relationship, what works for one couple may not work for another. Every couple may need to navigate their own relationship, figuring out for themselves how often to make love so that they are both satisfied. Uncovering how often you should take the time for physical intimacy may require both time and patience.

Lack of sex in a marriage

There are many possible reasons a couple may have stopped having sex. It could be that one of you doesn't have the desire, or you both may be busy with work or parenting. Maybe the life you share with your partner has become routine and mundane. Stress could also be a culprit.

Other health factors, including physical, emotional, and psychological health, can also impair your activities in the bedroom. Some people with a decreased sex drive may have a medical condition that influences their desire. Psychological trauma may make others feel uncomfortable in sexual situations. Other emotional issues such as betrayal in your current or past relationships, for example, can make it hard to make and keep that connection with your partner.

Keep in mind that a decrease in sex is typical in any marriage. When the lack of sex produces a lack of intimacy in marriage, though, then it may be an issue that deserves your attention. Lack of sex in a marriage isn't always one-sided. Both partners may notice it, but one partner is usually more vocal about it than the other.

How to fix a sexless marriage

If you are in a marriage without sex, it may be helpful to address the issue as soon as possible. Many couples may struggle to communicate their physical desires and needs, which can lead to another set of problems. Living in an unfulfilling relationship could also lead to resentment between both parties, which can increase marital discord. Learning how to tackle your intimate life head-on may be vital to reviving the spice in your marriage.

Make an appointment with your primary care doctor

Some spouses may assume that their partner's lack of interest is related to their attractiveness or desirability. Before personalizing your partner's decreased sex drive, consider looking for potential medical causes first. 

Certain medical conditions such as chronic pain or illness, for instance, can reduce desire. Also, several medications, including antidepressants and birth control, can affect sex drive. Talk to your doctor about your symptoms. If there isn't a physical explanation for your loss of interest, the issue may be emotional or psychological.

Remember that sex and intimacy go hand-in-hand

A lack of sex doesn't mean you can't have a fulfilling relationship. However,  if your partner is starting to feel like someone you simply share space with, it may not be surprising that your intimate life has taken a nosedive. Still, many couples living in a marriage without sex may feel just as satisfied because they engage in other forms of intimacy.  You can have a close bond with your partner without sex through other intimate acts such as touching, flirting, laughing, and just being close to one another. 

Come up with a plan


You may think sex is supposed to feel spontaneous and fun, but this might not always be the case. Many sex therapists advise their patients that the longer they wait to address the problem, the more challenging it is to reactivate the intimacy in a marriage. The longer you go without sex and intimacy, the less desire you may have. On the other hand, having more sex could lead to increased desire. 

Reviving your intimacy doesn't necessarily mean going from zero to 100. You and your partner can start slow. There are several forms of intimacy in marriage. Many sex experts suggest starting by kissing more. Kissing stimulates the same pleasure centers in your brain that are activated after an orgasm.  

If you aren't having sex, chances are you aren't engaging in non-sexual forms of intimacy either. Try cuddling, kissing, or just lying in bed with your partner. These are all ways you can slowly enhance the intimacy in your marriage, making the transition into having sex more often that much easier.

Pencil-in your alone time

Whether you are starting slow or trying to have sex more often, consider creating a schedule with your partner. Choose a time that works best for both of you and be present in the same space. You don't necessarily have to have sex. You might want to use this time and space to enhance your intimacy, whether that includes sex or not. Dedicating your attention and focus on your partner regularly may be beneficial. 

Stop delaying it

Living in a sexless marriage can complicate the emotional connection you have with your partner, not just your physical one. Both partners may need to make a commitment to improving the intimacy in the relationship.  This may mean getting on the same page with your sexual desires and needs. When you have sex, the chemical oxytocin flows throughout your body, connecting you to your partner.

It is okay to start small. You could begin by creating intimate scenarios with your partner, even if they don’t include sex. Make an effort every day to reconnect with your partner, even if it’s just by having a conversation. 

Some couples may not know how to address the issue, so they choose not to bring it up. Not asking may feel safer than dealing with humiliation or disappointment. Once you stop talking about it, though, your sexless marriage could begin to impact other elements of your relationship. Consider listening with an open mind to your partner's concerns. Communication without judgment or fear may be key to restoring intimacy in your marriage.

Spice it up

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Marriage can be challenging

Couples going through a dry spell in the bedroom could simply be bored. Perhaps they know exactly what will happen in bed since they’re used to their partner's style of intimacy. To reignite the passion in your marriage, spicing up your bedroom play can work wonders. There are several ways to make sex more exciting.

No matter your age or how long you have been with your partner, introducing toys and lubricants can add some extra stimulation to your erogenous zones. This is an opportunity to communicate with your partner about what makes you feel safe and what makes you feel uncomfortable. Choosing toys and lubricants together to try can be fun by itself.

For couples where a physical issue is causing a low sex drive, there are also ways to relieve your symptoms. Men with erectile dysfunction can use prescription or non-prescription pills and creams to help maintain an erection. Women experiencing vaginal dryness or lack of stimulation in their erogenous zones can find various lubricants, creams, and gels that enhance the sexual experience.

Seek professional help

Couples who do not consider sex an element to maintaining their relationship are more likely to live in sexless marriages. If you have tried speaking with your partner, but you don't seem to be getting anywhere, talking to a licensed professional can guide you through this roadblock in your marriage.

Sex is something that can be difficult to talk about in traditional therapy. Online therapy could make you feel more at ease talking about the intimacy issues in your marriage. This form of therapy is also more convenient since it can be accessed from home or anywhere you have an internet connection. 

Extensive research has been conducted on the subject of online therapy, but much of it has been focused on individual therapy. Still, a recent study showed that counseling delivered via videoconferencing technology was associated with positive outcomes for couples and families, not just individuals. 


Sex therapists are trained in helping couples communicate their needs and desires to one another. They can facilitate a conversation between two people that may be challenging outside of therapy. If you are struggling in a sexless marriage, online couples therapy can help—get matched with a counselor today

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