A sexless marriage can be an issue for both partners, and can leave you feeling lonely, rejected and hopeless. However, a lack of sexual intimacy affects men differently than women. Men typically have a tougher time expressing their feelings and sharing personal issues. If left unchecked, this can lead to poor choices down the road and further erode the already diminished connection with their spouse. A sexless marriage can also be the precursor to an emotional or physical affair, putting the marriage at risk.
Let’s take a look at 3 major ways a sexless marriage affects men and what you can do to rekindle your spark. And if you’d like to understand the issue from both sides, learn how a sexless marriage affects women. Rest assured, there is a way back to a healthy, happy and fulfilling sex life, even after long stretches of sexlessness.
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What Is A Sexless Marriage?
Different people have different definitions of what constitutes a sexless marriage. According to the American Association of Sex Educators, Counselors, and Therapists (AASECT) a sexless marriage is a relationship where the couple has sex 10 times or less in a year. In the past, AASECT used to specifically say intercourse, not just any sexual activity. We call this a low-sex relationship. A definition of being sexless should be saved for the situation where a couple has no sexual connection at all. While they might have an emotional connection, they do not have a physically active sex life.
3 Ways A Sexless Marriage Affects Men
1. Seeking connection outside the marriage
Typically, men are less likely to discuss personal matters with friends or family. Feeling stuck in a sexless marriage and not being able to share or vent their feelings, you start to feel isolated, alone, and depressed. The longer this goes on, the worse you feel. Hopelessness takes over and you become vulnerable to embarking on an emotional or physical affair. You are hungry for connection, validation, and intimacy which they are not getting within the marriage. In this vulnerable state, men can be easily seduced.
2. A Decrease in Self-esteem
Most men derive much self-esteem from work. On the other hand, a sexless marriage erodes men’s confidence. So when a man is not desired and appreciated within his marriage, he will likely dive deeper into work. While this is one way to rebalance and recoup confidence, it is ultimately misguided. Taking refuge in career and work can make us human “doings” instead of human beings. Moreover, men may pick up bad habits along the way such as drinking, smoking or gambling. It’s always better to reinvest in your relationship than seek out unhealthy confidence boosters.
3. Long-term Effects
The longer you’ve been stuck in a sexless marriage, the harder it is to bounce back. Without intimacy with their partner, many men turn to other means (affair, porn, etc). Therefore, it becomes increasingly difficult to become aroused with their partner. Think of it as being out of practice and needing to ease back in.
Moreover, studies have shown that over 50% of men over 40 struggle with erectile dysfunction (ED). This can be an additional obstacle to overcome in your sexless marriage, both physically and emotionally. It is certainly possible to revive your sex life after a long pause, but it’s usually a slow and delicate process.
How To Reignite The Flame At A Marriage Retreat
A marriage retreat is the fastest way to revive your sexless marriage. With the help of an experienced couples counselor, you’ll identify and address the issues which led to the lack of intimacy with your spouse and then learn how to build back your relationship. Here are the 3 ways a marriage retreat can help you heal and get your marriage (and your sex life) back on track:
1. A retreat levels the playing field. Most spouses blame their partner rather than themselves for problems in marriage. There’s too much keeping score and finger-pointing. I refer to this as the dis-ease of marriage. A retreat allows you to have a real conversation about how each partner contributed and not focus on blaming.
The goal of the retreat is to clean up the past so you can move forward, making room for your renewed relationship. You’ll identify what you need to clean up as a couple and what you need to clean up in yourself (interpersonal and intrapersonal). The intrapersonal has to do with your relationship with yourself, how do you evaluate and feel about yourself? The interpersonal deals with the dynamic between the partners, their triggers, communication style, and the like.
It’s important to note that 90% of conflicts stem from your respective background, childhood, culture and religion. The remaining 10% has to do with present issues which affect your relationship such as money, family issues, health and daily stressors. A good couples retreat gives you the opportunity for self-reflection. It feeds two birds with one seed. Unlike individual therapy, you work with your partner to understand yourself better. This makes the therapeutic process work faster. It’s what we call “warp speed therapy.”
2. You’ll learn how to bring fun back into your marriage. You and your spouse will be reminded what you had and felt during happier times in your relationship and what attracted you in the first place. You’ll honor your history together – the ups as well as the downs. When you acknowledge the life you’ve built together you’ll be better able to appreciate, love, and show grace for your history with each other. There’s a lot of power in that.
3. A retreat helps to bridge gaps between fantasy and reality in your sex life. It’s extremely common to have differences in desire, interest, and kinks between you and your partner. A therapist will help you find ways to express your turn-ons in a way that your partner won’t get turned off. You don’t need to have the same desire and fantasies in order to have a good sex life.
A couples retreat can help you and your partner meet your sexual goals and gain tools to achieve them. A good retreat should involve conversations about sexual activities including fun and creative ideas, things that turn you on and what turns you off, how you get in your own way, and what your partner can do to help out. When you are ready to take steps toward a better sex life, let us help you on your sexual exploration journey.