13 Reasons Why You Should Leave a Sexless Marriage

by Lauren Cook-McKay | Last Updated: May 14, 2022
reasons to leave a sexless marriage

Let's be honest — one of the primary benefits of marriage is sex. Once married, you've committed to your partner, love them, and are looking forward to tangibly and physically sharing that love. 

While sex is not and should not be everything, it is in our nature, and it's only natural to want to share that with the person we've committed to spending the rest of our lives with.

After all, we've now officially made them the only one who gets to enjoy this side of us!

However, just as no healthy relationship should revolve around sex, a relationship without it is just as unhealthy.

According to relationship counselors and experts, sex matters in a romantic relationship. If you and your partner aren't on the same page, your relationship is bound to be strained.

Maybe that's you. You're married, but this has become a definite issue between you. Before considering anything drastic, you'll need to think about why this is happening.

Once you've got that figured out, spend some time brainstorming how to solve the problems to regain the relationship.

When all else fails, you may need to make the decision to walk away.

Let's go through 13 ways you should know when to walk away from a sexless marriage. For most relationships, there’s more than one reason behind the sexless status.

Identifying these issues is the only way to move forward, no matter which direction forward is. 

1. Communication Failures

For anyone seeing a mismatch between their libido and their partner's, the first step is to just talk about it. Sometimes a lack of intimacy is due to conflicting schedules or increasingly busy lives. You can address these problems with simple communication, so don't just sit there in silence. 

By communicating with your partner, you can identify the reasons why sex is lacking in your relationship. However, if your partner isn't receptive to communication, it can make talking about your sexless marriage nearly impossible. 

If your partner fails to communicate effectively about the problems in your relationship, it may mean your relationship isn't fixable. If you and your partner aren't on the same page about the root of the problem after several attempts to talk it out, there's no way you can resolve it. 

A failure to communicate isn't a reason to leave a sexless marriage by itself, though. It can be aggravating, but you owe it to yourself– and your partner — to take more steps to figure out the problems in your relationship.  

2. Therapy Didn't Help

If communicating with your partner one-on-one failed to yield results, your next step should be to visit a therapist or professional counselor that specializes in relationships or sex.

We know– nobody likes to hear that. Sometimes we might even feel embarrassed about it. But these experts will help you and your partner communicate effectively about your issues.

picture of couples therapy not working to fix a sexless marriage

But therapy can't solve your relationship woes if both parties aren't honest and open about the issues they're facing. Although therapy can be a help for some couples, for others it doesn't help.

For some couples, therapy can't help because one partner refuses to engage in meetings or fails to show up. These are signs that your partner lacks interest in investigating why you have a sexless marriage, and is probably a sign of something deeper.

3. Non-Sexual Relationship Issues

Non-sexual relationship issues, such as financial stress, children, or anything else that may be a problem, can also impact the sexual relationship between you and your partner. Nobody wants to have a good time in bed when you're fighting over debt or who's taking the kids to school tomorrow.

Getting to the root of these issues is the only way to overcome them. Your partner may not feel attracted to you because of the stress these problems cause. If you don't find healthy ways to overcome the issues that led to a sexless marriage, it might be time to leave.

You can help resolve non-sexual relationship issues by opening up effective means of communication, whether in the privacy of your home or with a professional. Understand that these issues are just as important as sexual relationship problems and need just as much attention, so make sure you treat them that way.

Read More: How To Survive A Sexless Marriage Without Cheating

4. Different Sexual Interests

Let's face it. As we get older, we might not be as interested in some of those young-love kinks. Or, we may develop new ones. It's common for couples to prefer different activities. Some people can overcome these types of issues. For others, the differences between their sexual interests are too much. 

In these cases, you may consider leaving your sexless marriage. Different sexual interests are hard to overcome.

They become even harder to overcome if both partners are unwilling to indulge in each other's sexual interests. (Pst, that is kind of what you signed up for in marriage…to be selfless to one another. We're not condoning abuse, but to a degree, you're putting their needs above yours).

It's okay to be uninterested in your partner's sexual interests! People have likes and dislikes, which are perfectly normal. But when the issue progresses to the point of a sexless marriage, it's healthier to move on and find someone more compatible. 

5. Differences in Sex Drive

Sex drive, or libido, can change for multiple reasons. Most people know that women’s sex drive changes as they age and enter menopause, but men’s libido can also change. Changes in sex drive are a normal phenomenon that almost everyone undergoes. 

But an incompatible difference in sex drives can occur. As a couple goes through their marriage, their sex drives can change dramatically. These dramatic changes can cause a union with a healthy amount of sex to alter into a sexless marriage. 

picture of married couple unhappy in bed together and not having sex

A sexless marriage caused by different sex drives is hard to work through. You might find steps you can take to increase sex drive, from eating better and getting more exercise to medical interventions, such as medications. 

But if both parties in a marriage are unwilling to work on their differences regarding libido, it can be impossible to overcome. You can't convince your partner to want to be intimate, but you can work on the underlying problem.

6. Withheld Sex

A marriage where the other party withholds sex is a nightmare. Withholding sex occurs when one party refuses to have sex until they get what they want, usually using the promise of sex to get what they want.

In some cases, one partner might withhold sex because of a non-malicious reason, such as a low sex drive. Low sex drive can make someone feel less desirable to their partner, and in turn, they withhold sex to compensate for their insecurity.

These cases are frustrating, but effective communication can help.

But bear in mind; sometimes, witholding sex is outright malicious.

Your partner may withhold sex because they are angry at you and aren't willing to communicate why. Others will be angry at something you did and withhold sex for an indefinite time.

Using power to manipulate someone is never okay. Actually, it may be abusive. 

Ultimately, not having sex isn't the issue here. The ineffective communication paired with the punishment of no sex is an unhealthy relationship dynamic.

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

7. Resentment

If your sexless marriage is starting to make you resent your partner, it's time to consider leaving the union. Marriage isn't going to be all roses and champagne, but it shouldn't cause you to resent the partner you're supposed to love.

A lack of sex can make that possibility a reality. If you begin to resent your partner for the lack of intimacy in your relationship, it may be time to wrap up the covers.  

picture of a married couple resenting each other in bed

There's no point in a relationship that creates resentment between people. If you've attempted to work on your relationship problems between yourselves and with a counselor, with neither option working, it might be time to cut your losses. 

8. Causing You Stress

Stress is often a cause of a sexless marriage, but it can also be a symptom. Much like resentment, stress shouldn't always be a fundamental part of marriage. Yes, you will have stressful seasons of life, but if you're constantly pulling your hair out, something isn't right. 

Knowing that you'll go home to a potentially stressful home isn't conducive to a healthy marriage or sex life. Anxiety and stress can shape the way we behave and act in several ways, and it may impact more than just your marriage relationship.  

9. Personality Changes

If you notice that your personality is changing in ways that you don't appreciate, maybe it's time to stop kicking the tires. You should be aware of your personality before your marriage becomes sexless to determine whether the changes were negative. 

To be clear, not all personality changes someone has while in a sexless marriage are negative. Some people take up more hobbies to entertain themselves or choose to exercise more often. These are not negative changes in your personality, but rather growth while in a trying situation. 

But some personality changes are dramatic and negative. Some people will feel more irritable or angry, while others will feel downtrodden or sad. Some people may even feel depressed. A relationship shouldn't be dictating your overall happiness.

10. Chronic Health Problems

Before jumping into this section, it's important to note that chronic illness doesn't mean terminal illness. Terminal illnesses may cause your partner to not want sex, but that's because other aspects of their life are more important to do with their limited time. 

By chronic health problems, we mean things that can cause a lack of sex but aren't necessarily going to result in death. One of these is smoking. Smoking can cause erectile dysfunction in men, which can lead to a dead bedroom. 

picture of a married man smoking a cigarette and having erectile dysfunction problems

We're not saying you should dump your partner if they develop health problems. You did swear, “until death do us part,” right? But if those issues are self-imposed (like smoking) or they refuse to get treatment, there's likely something else underlying the problem, and if your partner won't address it, it may be time to leave. 

11. Sexual Desires for Others

If you begin to have sexual desires for others while in a sexless marriage and you're strongly considering acting on them, leave the relationship. Healthy relationships are based on trust and respect, and neither can happen if you're planning to get in bed with someone else. 

It's important to note that having sexual desires for others while in a sexless marriage is normal. If you aren't having sex with the person you're in a relationship with, it's normal to want to have that relationship somewhere else. 

It's when those thoughts become actions that we have a problem. Don't let it get to that point. You don’t want that reputation. 

Read More: 21 Signs Your Man Is Not Satisfied Sexually

12. Sexless Marriage Caused by Infidelity

The final two reasons why you should leave a sexless marriage are very similar. Essentially, they're two sides of the same coin. On one side of the coin, your sexless marriage may have been caused by one (or both) partner's infidelity. 

Infidelity is one of the worst things to put a relationship through. It ruins the trust built between two people and can utterly destroy a marriage. When one partner starts an extra-marital affair, no sex is no problem.

picture of a married man having an affair

If you're surprised, you shouldn't be. 

The lack of sex usually happens for one of two reasons. The partner cheating may be satisfied with the sex they get outside their marriage. Alternatively, once the truth is out, the partner who was cheated on may refuse sex due to a lack of trust and honesty. 

We can't blame that partner. Infidelity is a betrayal of everything promised in the wedding vows. 

Most marriages don't recover from cheating, so it might be best to end the marriage.

13. Infidelity Caused by a Sexless Marriage

On the other hand, infidelity might happen because of a sexless marriage. This ties back into a sexual desire for others. If two partners are sexually incompatible, they may search for a compatible partner outside of their marriage. Extra-marital affairs like this are the result of poor communication and major differences in sexual desires. 

If a partner is unwilling to have sex with their partner but is willing to have sex with someone outside of the relationship, then the marriage is already irrecoverable. They have already decided their needs aren't being met in the marriage and need to get it somewhere else. 

If you want to prevent this, then you must identify and try to solve the issue causing your sexless marriage before infidelity happens. If it's already occurred, you, or your partner, has every right to leave.  

Read More: Here is EXACTLY How Cheaters Hide Their Tracks

Wrapping Up

There's no doubt that marriage is one of the hardest relationships to maintain. It requires more than commitment, but effort every single day. Without the proper amount of effort and communication, almost any marriage has the chance to devolve into a sexless one. 

When you notice you and your partner aren't being as intimate as often, it's essential to begin communication as quickly as you can. Proper communication can help prevent heartbreak in the future. 

But if you've exhausted your options and your marriage is still sexless, it might be time to move on. 

 
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.