It’s easy to judge someone for thinking ‘I want a divorce’ because of no sex in marriage.
It sounds very trivial to some when someone says he or she is getting divorced because the marriage is sexless--as if sex is the most important thing to that person and they aren’t grateful for their wonderful marriage. I could not disagree more. Why? Because when there is no sex in marriage, and one person wants it, there are usually many more underlying problems.
Let me back up. There are basic needs every person has: sleep, food, water, love, shelter, clothing, etc. What else is on that list? Sex. (For most people, in my opinion.)
Some people crave sex more than others, and if someone has no interest in sex, it can be for a variety of reasons. These can include depression, bad timing, physical issues, low libido, stress, addiction, medications that might have this side effect, an eating disorder, lack of sleep, or they are having sex elsewhere.
But there’s another HUGE reason why some people don’t want sex: built up resentment and anger. Who would want to have sex with a spouse if they have this secret anger and feel that there are many things from the past that they resent? Would you want to jump someone’s bones who you feel has wronged you? No way.
Here is an email I received from a woman in her late thirties, who has been married for 5 years and is now thinking of separating because her marriage is sexless:
My husband and I are having sex twice a year. Over the years, I got tired of always being the initiator and the one to make the first move, so I stopped. This lead to us not being intimate, and now me no longer being attracted to my husband. When we do try to be intimate, it is awkward and doesn’t turn me on. My husband no longer knows my body, where to touch me, or what to do to please me.
My husband and I have each been to our own therapists, couples therapy, and also have talked endlessly about the topic. He admitted he has had this issue in past relationships, and he said not having sex is not a deal breaker for him in a marriage. I admitted for me it is. I am now finding myself seeking attention elsewhere. I am in the BEST shape of my life, feel beautiful and not getting any younger. The tough aspect of this is I have a wonderful husband in most other aspects. He is respectful, loves me to pieces, is patient, goes out of his way to help me, is always here for me to support me, and he really wants our marriage to work. Others tell me it sounds like he is just merely my best friend.
I keep convincing myself divorcing over sex is not realistic because eventually that aspect fades. But I know in my heart that intimacy may fade, but usually not after such a short period of time. There is so much more I want to do to explore my sexuality and sensual side, and know in my heart it won’t be with my husband. But is that a reason to leave? He is definitely not open to a having an open relationship or infidelity. Can we really have it all…emotional love and physical love?
Being an outsider and just reading this one email, here is what I see: The husband for some reason does not want to have sex. I do not think it is resentment towards his wife or that he is not attracted to her. I also don’t think he is cheating, but that is always a possibility.
He sounds like a good man and a loving husband in many ways, but something is bothering me about him. He knows his wife isn’t happy, he knows she wants to be intimate with him and he isn’t giving her any options. He isn’t giving her sex, and he isn’t open to her sleeping with someone else. And, he doesn’t want a divorce. So, what is she supposed to do? Accept this aspect of the marriage that has been making her miserable and unhappy for years?
If his attitude is, “Sorry, I don’t want sex and that’s the end of it,” than he is really saying, “I don’t care enough about this marriage to save it.” He might want to stay together because he is complacent, scared to be alone, or deep down he knows this might happen in his next relationship.
I did follow up with some additional questions for my reader and in her next email back to me, she explained that her husband isn’t active, and that he drinks every night. So, there you go. Something is going on with him and he isn’t willing to really face it. Sure, you can go to couples therapy and talk and talk and talk, but nothing will get solved until he looks in the mirror and gets up the courage to truly lay his issues out on the table. From there, he can begin to get help. In other words, nothing will change or get better until he is willing to verbalize what’s going on with him, no matter how hard it is for him to do that.
Usually, when people tell me they aren’t having sex in their marriage, that is just the end product of years of unhealthy communication, resentment, anger, and sadly, dislike. Or, one person is cheating.
But in this case, I don’t see any of this at all. I see a good man who needs help and who needs to figure out a way to make his wife happy.
I am not saying the wife is perfect. I have no idea what he would say about her if he wrote to me. But, if she is saying that he is “respectful,” “loves me to pieces” “goes out of his way to help me,” than the no sex part is something he needs to answer to, and if it is simply, “I just don’t have the libido,” than get help from a physician to get it.
That said, he might be over-compensating in all these other areas, and treating his wife wonderfully because he feels guilty for the lack of sex. He might think if he is this perfect husband, she will never leave. Unfortunately, it doesn’t seem like she will accept the marriage on his terms.
In answer to the title of this blog post, “Does No Sex In Marriage Justify A Divorce?” I think it does and it doesn’t. The answer to this question depends on so many factors. But, it all boils down to the reason for the no sex, and if the person is willing to make an effort to give the other what he or she needs. I recently heard a very smart and insightful comment from a woman who has been married for 50 years: “Love is not a feeling, it is a choice,” she said. She is so right! If two people want it badly enough, it will work out. Love will follow the choice.
Like this article? Check out “Women Dating Over 50: Are We In No-Man’s Land?”