Sexless Marriage and Divorce: How Lack of Intimacy Can Affect a Relationship

Marriage is supposed to be a partnership that includes intimacy and affection, but not all marriages are perfect. Some couples may find themselves in a sexless marriage, which can lead to a myriad of problems, including divorce.

Shocking Statistics Around Sexless Marriage

Many experts define a sexless marriage as a marriage in which the couple has little to no sexual activity. This is typically defined as having sex less than 10 times a year. While there is no hard and fast rule, a lack of intimacy in a marriage can lead to emotional and physical problems.

According to a study by the National Opinion Research Center (NORC) at the University of Chicago, around 15% of married couples have not had sex in the past six months to a year. Another study found that around 15% of couples reported being in a sexless marriage.

Effects of a Sexless Marriage

A sexless marriage can have a negative impact on both partners. It can ignite feelings of frustration, loneliness, and depression. A lack of intimacy can also lead to infidelity, as one or both partners may seek sexual gratification outside of the marriage. This can ultimately cause a couple to decide to divorce.

Marriages with a lack of physical intimacy may also experience a breakdown in communication and emotional intimacy. Without physical intimacy, couples may feel disconnected and distant from one another. This can cause a lack of trust and an inability to communicate effectively, which can eventually lead to the demise of the relationship.

Divorce and Sexless Marriage

One of the leading causes of divorce is a lack of intimacy in a marriage. Nearly 40-50% of marriages in the United States end in divorce. This number increases for subsequent marriages, with around 60% of second marriages and 73% of third marriages ending in divorce.

While divorce can be caused by a variety of factors, a lack of intimacy is often cited as one of the reasons for divorce. Couples in a sexless marriage are more likely to get divorced than couples who have a healthy sex life. One study found that 74.2% of sexless marriages end in divorce. Couples who reported being “very happy” with their sex life were significantly less likely to divorce.

Common Reasons for a Sexless Marriage

There are a variety of reasons why a couple may experience a lack of intimacy in their marriage. Some of the most common reasons include:

  1. Stress: Stress can be a major factor in a lack of sexual desire. When couples are stressed, they may be less likely to feel in the mood for sex.
  2. Health issues: Health issues, such as chronic pain or illness, can also contribute to a lack of sexual desire.
  3. Relationship problems: Relationship problems, such as communication issues, lack of trust, and unresolved conflicts can lead to a lack of intimacy in a marriage.
  4. Trauma: Traumatic experiences, such as sexual abuse or assault, can impact a person’s ability to feel comfortable with sexual activity in marriage.
  5. Aging: As people age, their bodies and sexual desires may change, which can lead to a lack of sexual activity in marriage.
  6. Medications: Certain medications, such as antidepressants, can impact a person’s sexual desire and ability to perform sexually.
  7. Lifestyle factors: Lifestyle factors, such as lack of sleep, poor diet, and lack of exercise can also impact a person’s sexual desire and performance.

Should You Divorce Over a Sexless Marriage?

A lack of intimacy in a marriage does not necessarily mean that a couple is no longer in love or committed to each other. It’s a common issue that many couples face, and it can be addressed through open communication, seeking counseling or therapy, and making lifestyle changes to improve overall physical and emotional health.

However, if having physical intimacy with your partner is important to you, and your partner isn’t satisfying those needs or isn’t willing to work on the underlying issues causing the lack of intimacy, you may want to consider whether staying in the marriage is what’s best for you.

Are you in the stay-or-go stage of your marriage and looking for more advice? Check out these blogs:

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Essential Resources

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The National Domestic Violence Hotline
The National Coalition Against Domestic Violence (NCADV) Resources Marital Life Inventory
Divorce Lifecycle Document
Divorce Process Overview


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