It is hard to maintain a healthy level of affection and intimacy in a relationship over a long period of time. However, it is particularly difficult in the current hyper-competitive professional landscape. Pressures from work put further stress on a marriage. As a result, more and more couples experience sexual abandonment in their marriage, making them immensely dissatisfied and unhappy.
In recent years, discussions about the divorce rate have become increasingly more centered around a lack of intimacy. Experts have always been of the opinion that sex, or more so the lack of sex/intimacy in a marriage, is one of the primary reasons behind divorce. But with the growing popularity of social media, divorce due to sexless marriage has become a much more talked about topic in the public domain.
Considering that the legal premise of marriage assumes the presence of sex, a lack of intimacy is a legitimate ground for divorce.
Different couples experience different levels of intimacy
According to a report by the New York Times, 15% of all married couples experience sexual droughts lasting between 6 to 12 months.
Some couples navigate their sexless marriage with relative ease, as they find themselves preoccupied with other things such as children and relatives, shared household and budget, real estate, friends, travelling, and more. However, there are also many couples for whom the lack of intimacy is just the tip of the iceberg. For them, the lack of intimacy is often a sign of deeper, more profound issues that eventually lead to a divorce over sexless marriage.
It would be disingenuous to generalize the effects of sexual abandonment in a marriage. Every couple is different, and there is no particular “normal” that determines how frequently spouses should experience sexual intimacy. However, it is safe to say that divorce due to lack of sex is on the rise, and there is ample reason for some introspection.
When is it truly a problem?
Lack of intimacy genuinely becomes a problem in a marriage if the spouses are persistently avoiding being intimate and there is a considerable amount of time that goes by without any kind of sexual activity. Known as alienation of affection or abandonment, this sexual disinterest starts meddling with the marriage if one of the partners is withholding sex while refusing to communicate and discuss the reasons with their spouse.
If you are experiencing sexual alienation from your spouse, the first step is to communicate and try to get to the root of the problem. However, if the disinterest persists and your partner refuses to seek therapy/medication or any other kind of intervention to deal with the issue, this could be a sign that there are more prominent problems in your marriage that need immediate attention.
Why is it important to address the issue?
It is physically unhealthy, mentally stressful, and emotionally draining to keep dragging out a relationship that is not physically rewarding. This is especially true if you are experiencing constant rejection from the person you are married to. It can take an immense toll on your self-esteem and confidence.
Inability to navigate the issue makes it possible for a person to feel frustrated and suffocated in a marriage that suffers from a lack of intimacy. Physical intimacy is much like any other human need, and no one should stifle themselves in a relationship that does not fulfil this fundamental necessity. Thus, in such scenarios where there is hope to resolve the issue, it is best to proceed with divorce due to sexless marriage.
When to walk away from a sexless marriage?
Inability to resolve resolvable issues
It is crucial for you to break down the situation and find the root of the cause that is leading one or both of you to abstain from engaging in intimacy. Often, the reasons may include events such as children under age 3, a high-pressure job or long-working hours, an illness, or just a rough patch in life.
All of these reasons could lead to a lack of intimacy, but none of these reasons suggests that you and your partner have lost interest in each other or that there is a lack of empathy towards the sexual needs of one another. This only means that you have to put some work and effort into your marriage to improve your sex life.
However, if none of the above reasons is driving your sexual drought, then it is time to assess the state of your relationship and how much you and your spouse care for each other. Inability to solve problems that can be solved means that your relationship has entered a domain where divorce due to lack of sex becomes a possibility.
Lack of communication
If the reason behind sexual abandonment in a marriage is marital discord, then often there is a lack of communication between spouses concerning the lack of intimacy. According to clinical psychologist and famous public intellectual Jordan B. Peterson, spouses must spend quality time talking with each other which will allow them to express and share their needs and expectations more straightforwardly and honestly.
If you and your spouse are suffering from chronic communication gaps, then there is little hope for you to resolve your issues around intimacy (or any other marital disagreements for that matter). Under such an acute lack of communication, your relationship is likely headed towards a divorce due to sexless marriage.
Lack of emotional intimacy
Often when there are prolonged droughts of physical intimacy, it further estranges the couple as partners rely on each other for emotional support and comfort. Many couples who do not fight and do not have any major disagreements tend to think that sexless marriage is not that much of an issue for them. What they don’t realize though is that often, after several years, they have just become accustomed to the rut and don’t actually have a true relationship with their partner.
Lack of intimacy is just one of many things missing in the relationship, along with the warmth of companionship, friendship, reliability, and other emotional needs that people rely on from their partners. If you would rather turn to your friends for emotional support and comfort rather than your spouse, then something has seriously gone wrong in your marriage.
There is a lack of intention on working together to solve the issue
Unlike in other domains of life where you can control change on your own, in a marriage it takes two to make a significant difference. Even if you are determined to bring intimacy back in your marriage, it won’t work until your spouse shares the willingness to do the same.
If your partner demonstrates no intention of engaging in an honest and earnest conversation that could improve your sex-life, then your relationship has taken a nosedive towards divorce due to lack of sex. Therefore, it is important to remember that no one can solve this issue on their own. It will take both you and your spouse to fix the issue of sexual abandonment in your marriage.
Other issues remain unaddressed
Sometimes, there are other significant issues and disagreements behind the lack of intimacy rather than sexual disinterest or lack of affection. When spouses disagree on significant matters such as parenthood, financial decisions, or other such life-changing aspects, then often the tension ends up affecting the love-life as well. In those cases, it becomes impossible to deal with a lack of intimacy without addressing those issues first.
How important is intimacy to you?
Last but not the least, it all boils down to preference. If you are at a juncture in your life when sex is no longer a high priority, then you can probably live within a sexless marriage and be perfectly fine as long as it works for both of you.
If both you and your partner, for the same or different reasons, decide to forego sex and still want to continue living as a married couple, it could work for both of you. As mentioned earlier, there is no “normal” set of rules that apply to every single couple, so feel free to make your own.
Whatever your decision ends up being, you should ensure that your spouse feels the same way. If they are not on board with sexual abandonment in a marriage, then it will be just a matter of time before you find in a divorce due to lack of sex.
How can you make sure that you are making the right decision?
Before you decide to proceed with divorce over sexless marriage, you should try and do everything on your part to better your relationship with your spouse, both physically as well as emotionally.
You must introspect as to whether you are helping solve the issues that are concerning your spouse or just adding to them. By sharing your expectations more collaboratively, you could make your spouse feel more at ease in sharing their reasons for sexual alienation.
Even if this doesn’t necessarily solve the issues, it will assure you of your decision to walk out of a sexless marriage. Divorce due to lack of sex could be tricky to navigate, having a better understanding of where your partner stands on the issue will come in handy.