Just Ask Joy: Sexless Marriage – HELP!

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Just Ask Joy Question: “My husband and I have been together for 13 years. We have not had sex in the last 3 years. This pattern began when he was laid off and has continued after he gained employment. He has been to a doctor and his testosterone levels are fine, but our personal life is not. Every time I bring up the subject I am confronted with a brick wall and an “It is my problem” attitude. I am at a loss for what I can do at this point. Obviously he is not willing to discuss it and I no longer know how to be sexy and tempting. Please help if possible. Thank you.”

Joy’s Response: First, I want to applaud you for your bravery, your dedication and your willingness to seek guidance. Second, I want you to know that you are not alone and that I hear you! Here are some statistics on “sexless marriages”:

  • “15 to 20 percent of couples have sex no more than 10 times a year, which experts define as a sexless marriage.” — Newsweek
  • “20 to 30 percent of men and 30 to 50 percent of women say they have little or no sex drive.” — USA Today 
  • “25 percent of all Americans (a third of women and a fifth of men) suffer from a condition known as hypoactive sexual desire (HSD), which is defined as a persistent or recurring deficiency or absence of sexual fantasies or thoughts, or a lack of interest in sex or being sexual.” —Psychology Today
From what you described, your situation is definitely more severe than what a lot of couples face, but I have successfully worked with couples who have not had sex for five or even ten years, so please don’t feel isolated and alone. There are other couples from all walks of life who are facing similar issues. Without knowing more about your specific challenges and dynamics, it is hard for me to make suggestions. Some things that would be helpful for me to know…
  1. Have either of you ever been unfaithful?
  2. Is your overall communication healthy and open?
  3. Are your communication challenges specifically related to this area of your marriage?
  4. Do you ever take time to go on a date, or spend quality time together?
  5. What was your sex life like before the original “trigger” (your husband getting laid off) that began this behavior?
  6. Is there any additional information that you can share that you feel would help me further understand your situation and the dynamics of your relationship?

Without having an opportunity to speak with both of you, I can only provide you with general suggestions. Because of the severity of the challenge you are facing, it is hard to say whether or not anything you do will heal the situation. During a lot of serious relationship challenges, the change has to be initiated by the person who is at the root of the communication breakdown. The change may have to be initiated by your husband. If you have tried everything and nothing works…you have three major options/choices facing you:

  1. Choose not to accept things as they are and leave your husband
  2. Stay without accepting things as the are and feel disappointed and let down by your marriage
  3. Stay and accept your marriage as it is and hope that time and consistent loving effort and continuing to work on open communication will heal your sex life and your relationship.

To me, it sounds like you are committed to your marriage, so I can only assume that you do not plan on leaving. The second option…staying in the marriage, not accepting how things are and feeling negative takes a lot of energy and puts a great deal of stress on both you and your husband. The third option…to accept things the way they are, putting effort into self care and loving your husband unconditionally…obviously with the hope that time will heal your sex life and your relationship, is likely the best option currently facing you.

The first thing I suggest is this….please take a few moments to self reflect. Are there communication patterns between you and your husband that you can shift by changing how you handle yourself and your communication? If you can identify the ways in which you either directly or indirectly contribute to the communication breakdown, it might be possible for you to change your communication style, which may allow some healing and facilitate more openness between you and your partner.

Next, take stock of your personal life…take a look at yourself…the woman beyond your marriage. The woman within. If you can take some time to connect with yourself, to truly dig in and do some mindful breathing, maybe take a walk or do some yoga, you will feel better about yourself, which can only benefit you and hopefully your relationship.

As for your sexual frustration…it will also not help the situation. I assume that you and your husband are a monogamous couple. When you are feeling rejected and sexually frustrated, it is a lot easier to make a mistake that you might regret later. So check in with yourself emotionally. If it is within your spiritual and emotional comfort, I definitely suggest that you find a way to pleasure yourself. You can take time in the shower to explore your body, possibly purchase a sex toy that resonates with you, or even just take time to connect with your sexual energy.

If you want to continue with me, you can email me some additional details and I will do my best to support. Beyond that, I will also email you a free PDF copy of my book: The Guy’s Guide to Multiple Orgasms. There are various techniques in the book that might be helpful, also there is one Case study that comes to mind that I think might resonate with you.

One woman just emailed me about how the book worked for her. Although her husband wasn’t at all into it, she read the book and used some of the breathing and mindfulness techniques herself. Also, she self pleasured in a similar style to the “Joyous Meditation” description in the book…and she found that it really opened her up sexually and emotionally and helped her connect with her husband. She commented that, after practicing the techniques herself, her and her husband had an amazing love-making session, which came as a relief after an extended period without sex.

In addition, regardless of what happens with your marriage, you must find a way to connect with yourself and find happiness within. I hope that having someone to share your pain with and also that receiving some support helps in at least a small way! From my heart to yours, May you be happy!

7 Comments Add yours

  1. bob. says:

    Well , not saying it’s the same as it was for me ( i am a male) ,but when the sex started to become less & less frequent, in my marriage ,i asked all the same ? even ,are you cheating!! NO! was the answer ,but then it all came out ,cheating.I was so much in love i was like a little puppy , i did not see the signs till it was over out of nowhere.Unfortunate , but i know & look for the signs now.
    All the best.Ya live & learn & go on.

    1. Tantrachick says:

      Yes, unfortunately, sometimes cheating is the core issue in a sexless marriage. Luckily, this is not always the case and…sometimes, even if a couple experience the devastating challenge of infidelity…the crisis either brings them together, or tears them apart. I am so sorry for your loss, Bob! Yes, live and learn and go on…it’s all you can do! From my heart to yours, Joy

  2. Hey Joy!
    This is a very strange article for me as I don’t think I am dedicated enough to NOT have sex for someone for three entire years, you would think this would be a reason to seek some type of counseling, which is what she is doing here I guess. I hope her situation gets better!

    1. Tantrachick says:

      Me too! I definitely have have that level of dedication, but it would entirely depend on the reason for the lack of sex. It is so hard to give suggestions to people when you don’t have the opportunity to understand on a deeper level hat is going on for both partners involved…However, I find that just having someone listen and hear them at least helps them feel supported. Sex, even in marriage, is often a taboo conversation that many me an women avoid talking about. Feelings of isolation only add to the seriousness of the situation. Thanks for participating…we still never got together for a photo shoot!!!! Would love to if you’re still open to it! From my hear to yours, Joy

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