How To Survive A Sexless Marriage Without Cheating

by Lauren Cook-McKay | Last Updated: May 1, 2022
picture of a married couple in a sexless marriage

Marriage is the idea that two people are meant for each other. Most people become and stay married because they found someone they can connect with on a completely different level.

It's fair to assume that you'll battle all odds together once you find your one true love – your soul mate.

In the beginning, it's almost impossible to believe the passion, fire, excitement, and commitment for each other would ever end.

Until one day you've noticed many things you used to do with and for each other have stopped.

Maybe the spark didn't end abruptly, but gradually, sex became less, your connection seemed to fade, and the idea of eternal love became questioned.

Now you feel as though you're stuck in a sexless marriage.

How do you deal with it? You may be wondering why has my sex life come to a halt? What do I do now without hurting my spouse's feelings?

How do I get what I need without cheating or pressuring my significant other? 

Common Reasons For A Sexless Marriage

Although sex is not everything, going without it can strain any marriage. If one partner is no longer intimate, it can cause mental breakdowns, cognitive distortions, and constant arguing, among other uncomfortable feelings. 

Every marriage promises to accept your partner for who they are, how they'll change, and go through the ups and downs many relationships endure – including when there is a lack of sex. 

But, how do you stay faithful to your significant other? How do you open up about how you're feeling without hurting them? 

Perhaps changing how you think about sex and your relationship will help. Also, understanding empathy above all else for your partner will help you understand the reasons behind their low libido. 

The following are a few of the many common reasons for a sexless marriage. 

Diminished Sex Drive

It's normal to have a lower libido than your partner or vice versa. Still, if the condition persists, it could mean that you or your spouse has an underlying issue that needs to be addressed. 

A low sex drive could signify hormonal changes such as pregnancy and breastfeeding or menopause for women. Psychological issues include trauma, stress, or mental health issues such as anxiety. 

Men who experience a low sex drive could have low testosterone levels or chronic illnesses such as diabetes and blood pressure or cholesterol problems. 

Suppose you and your partner experience low libido at different times. In that case, it may be caused by personal insecurities, medications, or lack of connection.

There is no sure way to tell what is causing a weakened sex drive, so it's best to seek a doctor or specialist's opinion to find the root cause.

Lack of Emotional Connection

Emotional connection or intimacy is the connection between two people that goes beyond the physical appearance and sexual desire for a spouse. Usually, during the honeymoon stage of any relationship, you experience desire, want, and closeness with your partner. 

The emotional connection stems from seeing the same perspective and feeling that someone just gets you without judgment. Occasionally, a relationship may have never had an emotional connection if the relationship started as a sexual one or began out of different interests. 

Sometimes, couples can lose emotional intimacy based on a lack of trust, communication, and hidden emotions. Some signs that emotional intimacy is lacking in your marriage are:

Read More: How To Win Back Your Wife And Get Her To Love You Again

Needs Not Being Met

Just as an individual needs food, water, and shelter for basic survival and comfort, every relationship has emotional needs that need to be met. 

If you have a non-existent sex life, it may be because your spouse feels as though their emotional needs are not being met. 

Consider if you are doing any of the following:

It takes two to make a marriage work, so while looking internally, remember to understand what parts your partner has played in not meeting your needs. 

Read More: Here’s The Signs Your Woman Is Sexually Starved And Needs More Intimacy

Love Language is Not Met

Speaking of emotional needs, lack of sex can result from having an empty love tank which means neither of you is speaking your partner's love language. What is a love language? 

According to Gary Chapman, there are five love languages:

  1. Words of Affirmation
  2. Quality Time
  3. Receiving Gifts
  4. Acts of Service
  5. Physical Touch

While it's good to speak every language of love with your significant other, each person has a preferred love language. When you are not filling your partner's love tank, emotional intimacy stays non-existent, sometimes leading to a sexless marriage. 

Read More: 21 Signs Your Man Is Not Satisfied Sexually

Medical Problems

A lot of sexless marriages are due to medical problems. It can be hard to ‘get in the mood when you're in constant pain or have a physical ailment that contributes to low libido. 

picture of a woman with a medical condition

Common medical issues include: 

Some medical conditions cannot be resolved, which needs to be understood. In this case, you must support your partner and encourage your partner to get the help they need – not just for their health but for your needs as well. 

Disabilities

A disability means that something is going on that disables you from thinking or doing certain activities. 

There are seven types of disabilities, such as:

  1. Vision
  2. Hearing
  3. Mental
  4. Intellectual/Learning
  5. Physical
  6. Brain injury
  7. Autism Spectrum

So, you can imagine how difficult it is to get some exercise with a life-long disabling impairment. While not all disabilities are the culprit of a sexless marriage, most are extremely difficult to live with. 

Mental Health

Speaking of mental health disabilities, one in five Americans struggle with a diagnosed mental disability such as anxiety, depression, bipolar disorder, body dysmorphia, schizophrenia, psychosis, and many others. 

The thing about mental disabilities is that while not all of them can be cured, most of them are a lifelong commitment to success and are mainly invisible to others. 

For example, you wouldn't know a stranger is having a panic attack right in front of you unless you had anxiety yourself or knew someone that struggled with it. 

Anxiety and Depression

Anxiety and depression are debilitating disorders that stem from a chemical imbalance. These disorders create cognitive distortions in one's mind. It becomes challenging to get out of the rabbit hole once the thoughts, emotions, and physical symptoms start. 

The disability interferes with daily life and can cause paranoia, agoraphobia, hypochondria, and other ailments concerning the brain. 

Bipolar Disorder

One minute you're laughing with your spouse; the next, something is triggered, and they seem upset or distant. While this is an extreme example, bipolar disorder causes shifts in mood, energy, brain fog, and the ability to think about or engage in certain social activities. 

picture of someone going through bipolar disorders

Bipolar sufferers may feel bad for their behaviors which will cause them to think they don't deserve what they have or become distant because they feel bad for their recent demeanor. 

Sex is rarely an option when someone is constantly inside their own mind about what they do or don't do for their significant other. 

Body Dysmorphic Disorder

Body Dysmorphic Disorder or BDD is when the sufferer has difficulty seeing what's good and attractive about themselves. BDD contributes to people fixating on small things they wish were different about themselves, such as facial features, skin and vein appearance, and genitalia. 

Anyone experiencing BDD may find it extremely difficult to have sex or get into a sexual relationship with someone based on their personal beliefs about themselves. 

Children

Your sex life after children may never be the same as there are many changes that each spouse experiences, such as:

Aging

As you get older, your desire for sex significantly decreases due to pain and aging. You feel you're not as attractive as you once were, your personality changes, and your overall activity level lessens. 

Other times sexual misconduct can result in sexual desire discrepancy or SDD, which happens as we age. SDD is when your sexual libidos do not sync anymore. Your partner may want sex, but you're not into it, or vice versa. 

Anger Issues

Suppose your partner is always angry, or you feel uncontrollable and involuntary anger within yourself. In that case, it can be challenging to find the time or motivation for anything intimate-related. 

picture of a man with anger issues causing lack of sexual motivation

Chronic anger can lead to many relationship problems such as lack of trust, lack of communication, and overall disregard for the other person. 

Other times, anger can lead to sexual desire, except the angry partner has inappropriate or different sexual interests, damaging the relationship. In any case, anger management courses and self-help are required to understand what's causing hostile feelings. 

Ensure you communicate with your partner about your beliefs and concerns. 

10 Ways To Stay Faithful Without Being Sexually Intimate

So, you're not having sex like a horny teenager anymore. Maybe you're wondering why or if it's worth it to stay married. How do you go on without cheating? How do you fight the urge to get it elsewhere?

Sex is an essential factor in any marriage or relationship. It's normal to have sexual desires and physical needs to feel wanted and craved in your relationship. When it stops, you may fantasize about the mailman/woman. 

However, there are many ways to battle your emotions and fix your sexless marriage before doing something you'll regret. The question most ask is, how do I survive a sexless marriage? 

First, learn how to connect with your partner on a deeper level. If you can't, you need to ask yourself if you can live with the fact that sex may never be a part of your life again.

Before we dive into that, here are ten things to consider.

1. Decide What's Really Important To You

While sex is important, it is not the most critical thing in a marriage. Consider the reasons why sex has been non-existent lately.

If your spouse has a medical ailment or disability that prohibits them from being sexually intimate, know that other factors that contribute to a happy sexless marriage; such as:

If one or more of these contributing factors are lacking, you need to decide what you can live without and what is worth giving up for your partner. 

2. Use Strong Communication

Communication is the key to conflict resolution and healthy relationships and makes life easier. Ensure you use clear and precise language, actively listen, and validate the whole experience. Couples who communicate have fewer divorces than ones who don't. 

picture of a couple communicating about their relationship and sex life

It's one thing to hear what your spouse has to say and another to engage in an understanding nature where neither of you feels judged. 

Some tips on how to communicate effectively are:

3. Accept That Your Marriage is Sexless

Acceptance is one of the hardest things most people struggle with. Perhaps, what makes acceptance easier is first allowing yourself to go through the grief stages of living without sex. 

Through that experience, you'll find things about yourself you may not have known before. 

Know that you're not alone and find support groups or individual therapy that helps you come to terms with the idea that sex within your marriage has come to a halt. 

During the process, ensure you are being communicative with your partner so that they can understand and come to an acceptance with you. Staying on the same page is essential when undergoing any change. 

On the other hand, if you cannot reach a point of acceptance, your sexual desire may outweigh the ability to come to acceptance. In which case, you need to be fully open and vulnerable with yourself and your spouse. 

4. Sex is Just One Part of A Relationship

Part of accepting that sex is non-existent or very rare within your marriage means that you have a deep understanding that sex is not the only thing that counts towards being a happy and healthy couple. 

For example, one part of being happy is filling each other's love tanks through speaking love languages and meeting each other's needs. 

Find out what your spouse needs, and be willing to replace sex with something vital to them, such as better communication, financial help, or understanding mental health.

5. R-E-S-P-E-C-T Your Spouse

A lack of respect within a marriage can result in feelings of control, power, and toxic thoughts or behaviors. When you fully respect your spouse, you're willing to support them for who they are and what they want and need while also accepting that you have different opinions or perspectives. 

On the other hand, you'll need to communicate your boundaries and trust that they'll respect you back. Finding common ground can help when it comes to finding ways to respect your partner, such as taking intercourse off the equation and finding new ways to enjoy each other. 

6. Watch Out For Emotional Cheating

Emotional cheating can often happen when a marriage begins to fail in the intimate department. If you notice yourself anticipating any of the following signs, you are emotionally cheating on your partner:

If you notice you might be emotionally cheating, be honest about how much sex means to you, as emotionally cheating can damage your marriage.

If a nonsexual relationship exists, you'll need to find ways to reconnect with your spouse on a different level, such as going on date nights, exploring different ways to be close, and finding personal outlets for your sexual energy, such as masturbation or working out. 

7. Masturbate Like A Teenager Again

Perhaps a fun way to accept a sexless marriage is re-learning how to pleasure yourself so that you're not dependent on your spouse for sexual pleasure. 

Masturbation is normal, and many healthy relationships make time for themselves to masturbate as it allows freedom to explore themselves. 

picture of a man masturbating with a sheet covering his lower body

When you opt to masturbate, you're not cheating on your spouse, but you're healthily releasing your sexual energy. Don't worry if you can't get an orgasm the first few times you masturbate. It's normal to engage in change and be skeptical of the outcome. 

Read More: Here is EXACTLY How Cheaters Hide Their Tracks

8. Focus On Your Work Or Charities

Often, people who aren't sexually active dive into work or volunteer to distract themselves from their sexual urges. When you fill your daily calendar with work and other activities, you have less time to think about your sex life. 

Find something that boosts your serotonin and dopamine levels. Serotonin and dopamine are the active hormones that stimulate you during sexual activity – which is what you're body and mind are craving. 

9. Find New Hobbies

What do you like to do? Aside from exercise. What are your interests and hobbies? Take a personality test or adopt a dog. Here are some ideas that you may find inspiring or would like to try:

10. Start Trying To Have Sex Again

It can be hard to get back into the idea of sex if it's been a while, especially when there is a mental or physical ailment from your partner's side. With open communication comes learning to compromise and understanding boundaries about what you can sacrifice (and what you can't). 

picture of a couple trying to initiate sex after a sexless marriage

If sex is not off the table for you, ask your partner about scheduling sex once a week or twice a month with the hopes that you both find a comfortable balance for what works for the relationship. 

11. Try Marriage Counseling

When all else fails, and you feel like you're at your wit's end, marriage counseling can do wonders for a couple's sex life. Maybe the counselor has ideas that you haven't thought of, or perhaps they are willing to open your spouse's mind to the possibility of a sexual relationship again. 

A therapist's job is to help individuals come to terms with their psyche and find the root problem of struggles that may not have been clear before. If your spouse is willing to see a marriage counselor, there may just be hope for you yet.

12. Decide If and When You Should Walk Away

Not every relationship is perfect. Marriage is about finding a person you most connect with and sharing your journey with each other. You're not always going to see eye-to-eye, and there will be times when you're so upset and frustrated that you'll want to give up. 

You have the power and control to decide whether this marriage is worth saving. On the one hand, if your partner is willing to try as hard as you are, there might be some hope for a successful relationship. 

On the other hand, if there are clear signs that you should walk away from a sexless marriage, you need to come to an acceptance within yourself about it.

Some signs a marriage may be hard to fix are:

Read More: How To Accept That Your Marriage Is Over In 9 Steps

FAQs

Here are some common questions that come to mind regarding sexless marriages. 

  • Is it okay to cheat when in a sexless marriage?

    It is unethical to cheat on anyone, regardless if you're married or not. While it's not illegal, it creates a world of problems that only avoids actual conflict. Get permission from your spouse or communicate divorce options.

  • How many sexless marriages end in divorce?
    It is unclear what percentage of sexless marriages end in divorce. However, in a 2017 study, approximately 15% of marriages haven't had sex in the past year. It depends on your personal aspects of what sex means to you. For one person, they don't need sex to stay attracted to and fulfilled with their partner. Others need sex to stay happy and fulfilled for themselves.
  • How can I satisfy myself in a sexless marriage?
    First, understand that you're not the only one experiencing a sexless marriage and there is support out there. Sex stimulates the “feel good” hormones in your brain, so to be satisfied, you need to find what feeling you get when you have sex to replace it so that you're still getting your needs met.
  • Summary

    So, how do you survive a sexless marriage without cheating? Firstly, figuring out the root cause as to why your spouse no longer feels sexually active can give you the answer to what to do about it. 

    Remember to respect, understand, and validate your significant other when communicating about sex. If you're having thoughts of cheating, there are many ways you can replace sex and try to find a solution that works for both you and your partner. 

     
    Lauren Cook-McKay is the Vice President of Marketing at DivorceAnswers.com. She holds a Master’s Degree in Marriage and Family Therapy (MFT) from the University of San Diego and applies her training in private practice to helping couples struggling in their marriage. She strongly believes there is hope in all marriages and strives to provide therapy to couples that will lead them back towards a loving marriage, or an amicable divorce that brings peace and closure. Connect with Lauren on LinkedIn here.