There was a disturbing article in the Mail a few weeks ago about these couples who never have sex but insist they are happy.
“It’s not that big a deal”
The article states that most evenings, with their little girl safely tucked up in bed, Charlotte and Chris Everiss enjoy a kiss and a cuddle on the sofa in front of the television. They have been happily married for a decade and they cannot bear to even imagine their lives without one another.
Yet, astonishingly, they haven’t made love for more than two years. Both insist that their marriage, which followed a two-year courtship after meeting on a dating website, is stronger than most. It’s just that sex, they say, is not important to their happiness.
‘We still turn each other on but we don’t want to take it any further,’ says Charlotte. ‘We don’t have the time or the energy. ‘I find it hard switching off knowing that our four-year-old, Addison, is in the next bedroom. I think if Chris really missed sex he would tell me, or I’d catch him watching porn on the internet as a substitute.’
Work and stress
Another couple, Tracey Dowler, 42, and her husband Julian, 55, also do not have sex. Tracey was concerned that Julian didn’t want to make love to her because he was attracted to other women. But she has now accepted that the stress of his demanding job as director of a motor mechanical and haulage company is the reason they no longer have sex.
While she admits there have been times when she has felt like walking out of their immaculate, three-bedroom semi-detached home in Rugby, Warwickshire, over the lack of intimacy, Tracey values other aspects of their marriage too highly.
‘We talk about rekindling our love life but never seem to get around to it,’ says Julian. ‘We had a weekend away at a country hotel a couple of weeks ago and I was so exhausted I spent most of the time asleep.’
It would be embarrassing!
Another couple stated ‘But we’ve gone without sex for so long now, I wouldn’t want Keith to try Viagra,’ she says. ‘Our relationship has morphed into companionship, and I think to have sex now would be embarrassing. ‘We’re used to seeing one another naked, when we undress or are in the bath, but if Keith made advances now it would be like getting intimate with my brother, or best friend. Just not right, somehow.’
Trust and intimacy are paramount.
I think these couples are extremely courageous to come forward as this is an issue which impacts almost a quarter of all relationships. A recent survey estimated that 15 to 20 per cent of couples have sexless relationships – defined by experts as making love fewer than ten times a year – while around 5 per cent go without altogether.
Most couples who find themselves at a point where sexual intimacy has died tend to confide their predicament to no one at all which make these couples all the more amazing. But they are fooling themselves if they think everything is hunky-dory.
Every successful marriage is built on the foundations of trust and intimacy.
When a husband and wife trust each other without reservation, intimacy undoubtedly follows. A deeply trusting relationship usually rewards a virile sex life, therefore suggesting that the lack of intimacy in a marriage is all too often a symptom of a lack of trust.
Since a large proportion of sexless marriages end in divorce there is a real need to address the underlying problems and try to come up with some remedy. Of course, that’s not to say that a flourishing sex life is the only thing required to make a marriage work.
For the vast majority of couples who are asked about what makes their marriage special, sex won’t even make the list; but lack of sex is indeed an indicator for deeper problems which need to be addressed.
Relationship or friendship?
If you are in an intimate relationship and you are not having sex, you might as well be siblings or housemates. Psychologist Leila Collins says it’s all too common for mothers to ‘shut up shop’ and stop having sex with their partners once their family is complete.
I agree with her wholeheartedly, yet I see many people going through divorce and I can unreservedly say that what often follows is that their men then start affairs, or seek out the services of prostitutes.
So what IS the source of sexless marriage?
When something occurs that causes a couple to lose trust in each other, it can take some time to recover fully. Maybe there was a traumatic childbirth OR a life-threatening illness OR perhaps the couple simply got out of the habit of having sex.
If those issues are not addressed immediately and in the correct way, the intimacy in the marriage may dissolve, and the relationship revert to a simple exchange of pleasantries and platitudes, without any real intimacy or closeness. In an intimate relationship, sex is the glue which binds a couple on a very deep level beyond simple friendship.
It doesn’t mean that couples within a sexless relationship are not ‘close’ BUT they are close as friends can be; yet this is not a true marriage as the relationship lacks passion and intimacy.
It’s not a risk I would be willing to make as so many divorces are as a direct result of a sexless marriage at the core; it’s important to recognise the symptoms of a failing marriage, and deal with them in the appropriate way.
Small frustrations can build up over time and, much like the formation of scar tissue upon healing of an incorrectly treated wound, handling this marital frustration inappropriately can lead to irreparable damage to the marriage, and loss of any sexual heat from the relationship.
Discuss any and all problems
The key to avoiding the loss of intimacy in a marriage is to discuss any and all problems fully and without delay. It’s a good idea to set a time each day in which you and your other half can discuss exactly what is troubling you about the marriage, and about each other.
Take turns to divulge fully the source of your frustrations. Most of the time your other half will be completely oblivious to their fault until it’s pointed out, so don’t be afraid to vent your frustrations in a constructive way during your time alone together.
Hear the other person out
There’s no need to be spiteful or resentful; just tell your partner exactly how you feel. Afterwards, it’s their turn to air some of their frustrations. Keep going until everything is out in the open, and both of you have voiced all of your problems.
It’s sometimes a good idea to come up with constructive solutions to the problems, and making suggestions about how these can be resolved. Be careful not to cause an argument by doing so, as some of the issues may be rather sensitive and unpleasant to discuss, even with your partner.
I just want to thank you for..
After discussing your frustrations, shift gears and change topic.
Begin to discuss some of the things that you are thankful for regarding the marriage. Pick around five things you love about your partner, and share them as reasons why it’s worth working hard to make your marriage work.
As well as becoming frustrated by your partner’s actions, when raising your children it can be all too easy to fall into the trap of viewing your partner as less of the person you’re attracted to, and more in the role of a parent or caregiver.
While it IS important to view your partner as a caregiver, and to see in them the characteristics that make them suited for this role, it’s also crucial to maintain your attraction to them and keep the fire going even while raising a family.
It requires hard work and dedication
Letting the passion die out in favor of raising a family or realising career aspirations is all too common these days. Some think it’s a necessary sacrifice, believing that an active sex life and a vibrant family life or a satisfying career are mutually exclusive circumstances, but this is not the case.
It is possible to have both by working hard to maintain your relationship, venting your frustrations, and working to keep the passion burning strong.
Some people have dug themselves into a dangerous rut by assuming that if the marriage was ‘right’, it would be easy to make things work. Some think that it isn’t necessary to work hard on a marriage if you’re really in love, but this is in fact completely untrue.
Even couples who are deeply in love will disagree from time to time, and find reasons to become agitated or annoyed with their partner. It’s important to work hard with the one you love, to make sure that the passion and fire can continue long into your life together.
We are here to help!
If you have experienced any of the issues outlined in the article above, but have not been able to resolve them even with some hard work, get in touch with Naked Divorce. We are experts in supporting you through getting your marriage back on track.
If you are facing a breakdown, we can support you through your divorce or bad break up. All of our Divorce Angels are well trained in how best to deal with a relationship breakdown, so come to us today.