On a number of occasions, I have made humorous remarks on Twitter about married people not having sex. Judging by the ensuing banter, many people find themselves in the situation of lack of sex in marriage. I have also had numerous private conversations regarding this subject. No doubt there are many married couples who manage to maintain amazing and fulfilling sex lives, but there are those of us that don’t have regular, or indeed any, sex.
Certainly communication is an issue. Sex becomes ‘the elephant in the room’ – it’s too awkward to discuss the fact that there is no intimacy; perhaps too much time has gone by, so we ignore our desire for a basic human need and pretend everything is ok.
No doubt there is a multitude of reasons for this: loss of spark, boredom, physical and mental illness, medication, getting older, incompatibility; I could go on. I suspect the expression ‘familiarity breeds contempt’ rings true in a lot of cases. And, of course, it applies equally to both sexes.
I haven’t had sex with my husband in around 18 months. We haven’t slept in the same bed for 12 months. This is for a number of reasons: incessant snoring, frequent bathroom visits, bouts of insomnia, 3am alarms =8pm bedtime on the previous night, etc… Plus his work regularly takes him away from home for several days at a time. And I do actually sleep much better by myself, so it just seemed easier to sleep separately.
Like most couples, when we first met, we had sex fairly regularly and it was ok. The usual initial passion you find with a new partner, apart from his dislike of oral sex, which was and still is a problem for me. But, I have never truly felt completely and utterly desired by him, as he indicated very early on in our relationship that he had never been sexually attracted to larger women (I was nearly two stones lighter then than I am now), but liked me so was trying to overcome this. This obviously did little for my confidence and ever since have felt unattractive and certainly not desirable. He has never told me that he finds my body beautiful and sexy.
He also told me he had a kink for corporal punishment and its association to footwear. This was a new thing for me, and I was happy to participate in role plays on a regular basis, although it held no sexual appeal for me. As I have mentioned previously, I have an exhibitionist streak, which is not his kink, so this has never been explored together. The suggestion by me, many years ago, of some erotic outdoor photography filled him with complete horror. As does the idea of women going out in public without knickers on. He doesn’t get any sexual pleasure from intimate looking and touching, or from boobs. Only from spanking and footwear.
Looking back, I realise that I was happy to have found a decent man and, at that time, did not see sex as a particularly important issue.
Over time, the number of occasions that we had sex dwindled, as is usual in a lot of relationships. He took a job that involved living at the other end of the UK, so for a couple of years we only saw each other every 6-8 weeks. I lost my sex drive completely due to stress and bouts of anxiety and depression linked to my work. I rejected his limited advances at times because of this. When I did feel like having sex, I felt awkward making the first move due to the length of time that it had been since any physical contact.
As time went by, I became increasingly aware that he found it difficult to have sex without thinking of, or mentioning, corporal punishment in some way. He assured me he didn’t rely on it, but I have never been able to shake off the feeling that he did, and I found this gradually put me off having sex with him, as I felt it was taking over.
So, all in all, since we got married eight years ago, we’ve had sex a handful of times. I bravely made the first move on the last occasion. That was more out of my need than a desire for him. And you are no doubt wondering why we bothered getting married.
Our relationship is akin to sister and brother. We rub along ok in general. We don’t argue very often. We laugh and joke. He’s kind and generous. He’s always there if I need him. He’s thoughtful. He opens doors for me. Together, we’ve been through a lot of the unpleasant things that life throws at you. The emotional connection is there. There are a lot of positives. And yet, occasionally, I feel like I’m living with a stranger.
He has no idea how I feel deep down about sex. I have changed dramatically since we last had sex 18 months ago. I am more confident about my body. I know that I am sexually attractive. My sexual needs and desires are stronger. There are experiences I would like to try. I feel that I am now at my sexual peak and want to make the most of it instead of trying to suppress it.
I have read a great deal around the area of sexless marriages and the advice given is sensible and obvious. Usually centred around communicating with each other about sex, and possibly getting some counselling. But what do you do when the fundamental reasons for not having sex aren’t going to change? Our sexual interests and what turns us both on are so different. He can’t fulfil my needs and desires. I am no longer sexually attracted to him and I don’t think he has ever really had a true desire for me. Yet, our relationship is sound in most other areas. I know that having sex with other people without his knowledge is not the answer.
I have started to wonder whether there is something to be said for consensual non-monogamous relationships. Can we ever be all things to one person? Perhaps we need someone to love and nurture us, with our sexual needs being satisfied by other people. I don’t just apply this to my own needs. I have questioned whether his strong need for corporal punishment is being suppressed by me.
Sometimes, when I think about the area of open relationships, it makes complete sense, yet at other times I feel ridiculous for even considering it. After all, it’s the sort of thing other people do, not me. Isn’t it?
We have never discussed this area, so I don’t know how he would feel.
When I read this finished post, it sounded like a really tragic story, yet I suspect that it is not too dissimilar to other people’s experiences. And I apologise to anyone who thinks I am being selfish and should be satisfied with what I have and the love of a good man.
The elephant in the room is becoming harder to ignore, so I know that we will have to discuss it soon.
Read my update on lack of sex in marriage