"It's good to know there are other women who experience this. I thought it was really rare." (Female, 35)
Surveys tell us that 40 million Americans live in a no- sex or low- sex marriage. Some believe the number might be even higher. After all, we live in a culture where everyone, or at least everyone in a committed relationship, is supposed to be having sex, and lots of it. Not having sex equals failure, a lack of desirability. Who wants to check the "never" box on that magazine quiz?
A sexless marriage is defined by experts as making love ten times a year or less. Whether or not that is a problem, of course, depends on the couple. If both are content, if "ten times a year or less" meets their needs and expectations, then they have no problem.
Unfortunately, this usually is not the case. Often the loss of sexual pleasure and intimacy results in depression, suspicion, anger, resentment, and sometimes, infidelity and divorce. Although it is clear that this issue is rarely one- sided, it is nevertheless surprising to many that it is just as often the man who puts the brakes on sexuality as the woman. The late Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld, who was one of America's leading sex therapists, suggested it was more often the man when he wrote, "…in the vast amount of couples consulting me about desire complaints it's the women who want more and the man who always has a headache." These same men who used to do what ever it took to get their fiancées or new brides into bed no longer desire them. What happened?
Why do men stop having sex with their wives? The reason is seldom simple and may have a physiological, psychological, or cultural foundation; recent studies add a ge ne tic component. Often these elements combine.
We looked at the statistical reasons our male survey respondents, who self- identifi ed as choosing not to have sex with their spouses, gave us for no longer being intimate, and we studied their comments carefully. Let's fi rst take a look at some statistics. We asked men to rate a list of reasons on a scale that went from strongly agree to strongly disagree. The following table lists in descending order the percentage of men who agreed with each of the causes.
She isn't sexually adventurous enough for me - 68
She doesn't seem to enjoy sex - 61
I am interested in sex with others, but not with my wife - 48
I am angry at her - 44
I'm bored - 41
She is depressed - 40
She has gained a significant amount of weight - 38
I am depressed - 34
I no longer find her physically attractive - 32
I suffer from erectile dysfunction - 30
I lost interest and I don't know why - 28
I prefer to masturbate, but not online - 25*
I prefer to watch pornography online and masturbate - 25*
I am on medication that lowered my libido - 21
I am/was having an affair - 20
I suffer from premature ejaculation - 16
I have difficulty achieving orgasm - 15
I am too tired - 14
She is/was having an affair - 9
I don't have the time - 6
I wasn't interested in sex to begin with - 3
I am gay - <1
*These figures may overlap.