The mind, once expanded to the dimensions of larger ideas, never returns to its original size. ~ Oliver Wendell Holmes

Monday, August 23, 2010


It is one of the best kept secrets behind bedroom doors - "the SEXLESS MARRIAGE". Oh, I can already hear the cries - young couples saying "That could never happen to us, right honey?" Mental health researchers saying, "Damn! If this gets out, there goes another theory on the status quo down the tubes!" The makers of sexual enhancement products saying, "What can we come up with to cut this train wreck off before it cuts into profits?" Marital Therapists (especially those who specialize in D-I-V-O-R-C-E) etching out their newest book "It IS broken and you CANNOT fix it if it isn't a daily practice!" My favorite though is, “Thank you for bringing this up. We thought we were the only ones and were far too embarrassed to talk about it." 

Don't fall victim to SEX STIGMA; those who try to perpetuate the idea that everyone wants to have sex regularly until the day they die or they are not "normal". That propaganda is made up by money hungry "Marital Counselors" looking to inflame otherwise perfectly happy unions. Lets face it - do they mention the FACT that there are 20,000,000 married couples living in sexless marriages (less than 10 times a year)? They try to make NOT having sex as evil as having affairs.

I too thought my husband and I were "unusual", living in a perfectly happy, loving and rewarding relationship sans that one ingredient - SEX. Well, not completely. We're just more on schedule with Cupid, Paul Revere and the Fourth of July, and the Macy Day Parade than the mail man who comes every day. However, to my surprise, it turns out that we are one of a growing number of successful relationships that have found deeper meaning to "love" other than just trying to keep up with the statistical frequency of intercourse at any given age, made up by others who probably are not doing it as often as they "claim".

After being together 30 years, we have found that marital bliss is not based on how often we jump each others bones, which after age fifty isn't as comfortable or gratifying as it used to be. Personally if I am going to physically exhaust myself; suffer leg cramps and back spasms; work up a sweat and end up with next day muscle pain, I'd be better off joining a gym! All that work, and for what? A moment of, "Was that it? I couldn't quite tell. Maybe it was just another muscle twitch." Or, "I'm sorry honey, I missed it. I was too busy“trying to catch my breath”.

Sorry, but as you age, the days of multiple fire work shows backed up by 1812 Overture becomes more of a game of Jack-in-the-Box with a lot of winding! It takes much longer to get the same effect that turning off a light switch did at age 20. And you know you're taking too long if your spouse says, "Honey? Would you mind changing positions, I need to turn the page."  And it's not that something is WRONG with us, it's that SEX ISN'T EVERYTHING in spite of what some try to tell you. 

Now don't get me wrong, it's not that we've lost interest in each other. We enjoy cuddling, having romantic "dates", being playful and laughing together. You know the tricks that young love doesn't have time for between hormone crazed lust ins. It's just now when we get out on the course, calling out "Fore" is more important than trying for a hole in one! It's more about enjoying the scenic route, rather than arriving at the destination. And we're not bored! Heck, in our earlier days we read "Everything you Wanted to Know About Sex" and the "Kama Sutra". After a while it became, "Uh huh -.been there, done that." Hell, we began writing our own chapters! Anything more erotic would either get us thrown into jail or tear a ligament! Our flexibility just isn't what it used to be.

I realize I can't speak for everyone, but I personally find openness, respect, honesty, mutual support and compassion, commitment, and sharing simple pleasures more sexy than two bodies (now with some extra padding) pounding against each other. Sort of reminds me of trying to work out with a twenty pound weight belt around your waist. It’s even tougher if  you get into the higher weight brackets.

So why is this new trend emerging? Well, there are a number of reasons.

First off, many couples these days are just plain exhausted; both working to survive in today's financial climate while trying to raise a family. Others are forced to live in different states because they either can't sell their house thanks to an upside down mortgage , or one has a solid career on the home front, while the other has to take a job out of state just to remain employed. Yes - you can thank capitalism for not only tanking the economy, but your sex life as well. 

Married couples are increasingly turning to separate sleeping arrangements as a way to resolve conflicts in the bedroom, according to recent studies by the National Sleep Foundation. Not only are home builders seeing increased demand for dual master suites, but other couples may be using the spare bedroom or den as a separate bedroom, according to author Tracie Rozhon in the March 11, 2007, New York Times article, “To Have, Hold and Cherish, Until Bedtime.”
Secondly, you can blame our diet and bad habits. Hormones and additives put in processed food these days, alcohol and recreational drug use, obesity not to mention a number of other factors, are causing changes in our natural hormone levels, affecting libido, causing sexual dysfunction and impeding reproduction. Pour your self one too many stiff ones and well ...  So ask yourself this - is a spouse of a individual that becomes handicapped in any way, shape or form, leaving them unable to function, to abandon his/her better half because of statistics (which by the way are even more unreliable than airline schedules?

Thirdly, thank “Modern Medicine”. How about some truth in advertising! Such as, "SSRI's: the happy pill that insures you’ll be coming back for more!" "Pain killers: Pain is not the only thing you will not be feeling!" "Sleeping aids or Anti-anxiety meds: "You'll feel relaxed, upstairs and downstairs too!" Don't be gullible enough to believe that the loss of libido is "only temporary", unless you also believe that death is "only temporary". Although not an absolute, a large number of patients who have taken or are currently taking these medications will find that sex is not what it used to be. The smile on your face will certainly not be due to what you did last night. (isn't it funny the one's who destroy your libido with a prescription pad are the one's claiming if you don't have sex 3.7 times pert week your marriage is doomed)

Certainly age, financial stress, food additives, bad habits and the prescription drugs do not affect everyone across the board the same way. I'm sure there are o haired hippies out there, still toking, smoking, hopped up on drugs to fix what's broken are still managing to get in some midnight groping. There are plenty of men out there in their fifties on up that have proven their ability to contribute to over population, jumping from one female young enough to be his daughter to another. And some women are seeking equal opportunity by having babies well beyond what Mother Nature intended. But does any of this prove that these people are sexually “active” all the time or that “getting it on” equals a good relationship? Absolutely not! Otherwise, there would not be so many single mothers or fathers paying child support.

Sadly, it’s these statistics or as I call them, “implied expectations for pass or fail” do more harm than good. I’m sure many professionals treat couples of all ages that come in looking to “fix” a perfectly healthy relationship because of something they read in Cosmo; or thanks to the media’s portrayal of a happy relationship (usually based on passionate love scenes), or due to some half baked quiz they took on the internet. “Well it says we should be making love at least 3.7 times per week and we only average 1.3! What’s wrong with us?” People who rely on outside opinions and generalized theories rather than their own hearts will soon find themselves, questioning their relationship; having affairs to hit the target number and ending up divorced hoping the next one will hit the mark. This may work, initially, but when that boil slows to a simmer, you end up back at square one. In couple counseling, this should be carefully addressed - marriage can take many forms and be strong. You DON’T have to live up to Status Quo! ONE SIZE DOES NOT FIT ALL. Also make sure your marital counselor doesn't get kick backs from the local divorce lawyer.

When we first married we saw a counselor for issues derived from what turned out to be a curable disorder. He kept insisting that we should divorce; that there was no way our relationship could survive. Well, here we are 30 years later happily married. His wife left him shortly after we quit seeing him in a messy divorce. His embittered feelings were transferred onto each patient that walked through his door. It's always good to know if your potential therapist might be carrying some heavy luggage of their own before entrusting your welfare into their hands. Sure, it can be argued that they are professionals, but they are also human.

Indeed, there is a nearly extinct species beginning to gain ground again. Those of us who have managed to allow "Burning Love" fueled by an abundance of hormones to gradually soften into warm embers while we bask in the "Days of Wine and Roses". For those who find themselves in this situation, as long as the feelings are mutual and each others needs are fulfilled, you will find yourself in relationship over pouring in love; one where you can develop a deeper spiritual connectedness that does not require nor necessarily desire regular gratification of a bodily nature. Don't allow anyone to tell you that this is a disease, not "normal", or the sign of a troubled or weak relationship. Spiritual fulfillment takes you to a higher realm than those concerned only with the physical can comprehend.

So here's to you who have found that the true key to "Marital Bliss" goes deeper than the skin. Bless those who can love each other without an engine powered by hormones. Let's give credit to those who can break away from conventional thought and create a loving and accepting relationship of their own design. May you enjoy sharing the rest of your life with your “Best Friend Forever”. You are not alone and just perhaps - you are among those who have drunk from the "Fountain of Eternal Love". A sexless marriage is not always something bad. Beware of those who preach it is then ask for a copay to explain why.


  1. It's important for us to remember that different things work for different people. Easy to get caught up in how things are "supposed" to look in relationships and forget that one size doesn't fit all.

    Your point, "as long as the feelings are mutual and each others needs are fulfilled" is key.

    Excellent and important piece, Suzanne.

  2. Lisa - Thank you for insightful reply. It is disheartening to see how many so called "professionals" who still try to push the "one size fits all" ideals on people. While this may help those who "are" in damaged relationships, where one partner is suffering or unhappy, to seek help and "fix" their problems, it is an insult to those to are in perfectly happy, healthy relationships that do not fit the perspective of those who think their degree qualifies them to know it all.
    Why does this happen - money! It gives them something to write about, inflame those who feel insecure because they are gullible enough to believe that statistics are a perfect art where eveyone falls dead in the center of a bell curve. They forget that the whole meaning of a bell currve is that there ARE cases ythat fall OUTSIDE the typical and they cannot claim that the idea that all marriages that arn't jumping each other's bone on a daily basis are abnormal.

  3. Hi Suzanne - Good post, and I can't blame you for being annoyed at a marriage counselor who was "telling" you to get divorced. As a couples counselor, I KNOW I do not make that call, it is the choice of the clients, and there are many ways to have a relationship. And I always remember, that PS the counselor is not the person giving you a birthday card/hug year after year!

  4. Dear Suzzanne

    Hi,I really loved your deep and thoughtful article!!! I wish the number of indiviudals with such thought styles would increase!!!! I think , the culture norms and educational issues need to go under change!!!

    Thanks a lot for sharing your ideas