Living with ED - can a sexless marriage survive?

Coping with a sexless marriage caused by erectile dysfunction

A sexless marriage is defined as ‘a marital union in which little or no sexual activity occurs between the two spouses’

It is rare that marriage becomes sexless overnight and it tends to happen for a variety of reasons over a period of time. There is, of course, a natural reduction in the frequency of sexual intimacy in a marriage that happens over the first few years but when the frequency drops to zero unless both partners are happy with the situation, this may indicate a problem within the relationship and so action needs to be taken

 

Reasons for sexless marriage

Sexless marriage may not be as rare as we might first think with some estimates suggesting that as many as 15% of married couples have not engaged in any sexual activity in the last six months.

There are many possible causes of marriage becoming sexless, health issues being a major cause along with lifestyle changes

  • Health issues both physical and psychological may have a major impact on the libido of a person and even affect their physical ability to become sexually aroused

  • Childbirth is a massive upheaval in a relationship with physical, emotional and practical implications. After childbirth, women are advised to abstain from intercourse for six to eight weeks so this along with the accompanying stress of caring for a new baby, changes in the body, fatigue and hormonal issues can seriously affect a woman’s libido.

  • It may be that a couple each have different libidos and do not desire the same amount of sex as each other. This can lead to a situation where their desire for sex only coincides very rarely

  • One or other of the partners may suffer from a low sex drive.  This is different from libidos that are mismatched in that the low sex drive does not have the natural ebb and flow and the desire for sex may be very rare or even never

  • Stress can have a massive effect on many areas of life including health and sex drive. The stress hormone cortisol can contribute to reducing your libido. In addition, the psychological effects of stress can leave you feeling fatigued and anxious so that sex is the furthest thing from your mind!

  • Mental health problems such as depression can lead to tiredness, lack of self-esteem, disinterest and withdrawal from real life, all of which are likely to result in a person avoiding intimacy.

  • The side effects of the medication may also contribute to sexual dysfunction, for instance, decongestants, some antihistamines, antidepressants and hypertensive drugs.

  • Erectile dysfunction has obvious effects in reducing or preventing sexual intercourse completely. Alongside the physical problem that may be manifesting as an inability to achieve an erection the man's levels of anxiety are likely to be raised which will also have a negative effect on his ability to perform

  • If there is a history of sexual abuse for one of the couple, this can have left some deep-seated issues regarding sexual intercourse. There are likely to be many emotions involved including shame, fear and low self-esteem

  • Communication issues or any conflict between a couple are likely to have a negative effect on any desire for intimacy. It is unlikely that you will break off during a row and jump into bed!

 

There are a number of issues that may contribute to poor communication between a couple; 

  • Repeated arguments and conflicts
  • Negative emotions
  • Aggressive or violent behaviour
  • Infidelity
  • Finally, a couples sex life is constantly being eroded by the pressures and situations that arise in life in general. Worries surrounding jobs, finances, tiredness, boredom, grief, ageing and body issues can all contribute to a loss of interest in sex.

 

What can we do about it?

It is first necessary to recognise that a problem exists within your marriage. If the lack of intimacy is not an issue for both of you then there is no problem, however, if either person in the relationship sees it as a problem it needs to be addressed. We re going to look at a few ways that this can be done:

  • Communication - talking to each other about the problem is probably the best place to begin. This may not be the easiest problem to discuss but only by doing so do you stand a chance of resuming a fulfilling and intimate relationship. It may be that the lack of sex in your relationship is more down to not having enough time to devote to each other and finding time to talk is a good first step.

 

Some people may find that they need some help with this and so both talking to a marriage counsellor or other professional may be beneficial

  • Be more intimate with each other - make time for each other and make time for sex. Scheduling sex may not be strange as it first sounds as it can be something to look forward to, perhaps at the end of a date night. Scheduling intimacy also demonstrates a commitment to your relationship.

It is important to remember that sex is not the only form of intimacy that you can practice; go for a walk together, start a new dance class, getaway for the weekend - the possibilities are endless.

 

  • Find some help - Talking to your doctor is a good place to start when seeking help. Firstly they will be able to eliminate any physical problems if erectile is the reason for the lack of sex in your relationship. They will then be able to direct you to whatever help seems to be the most appropriate to the situation

 

Sources

  1. Lack of intimacy: living in a sexless marriage https://www.marriage.com/advice/physical-intimacy/lack-of-intimacy-living-in-a-sexless-marriage/
  2. Sexless Marriage Reasons and Remedies https://www.verywellmind.com/sexless-marriages-2303254
  3. Are you spouse's or just roommates? https://www.webmd.com/sex-relationships/features/are-you-spouses-or-just-roommates#1
  4. What to do if you have a sexless marriage https://www.betterhelp.com/advice/marriage/what-to-do-if-you-have-a-sexless-marriage/

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