Love + Sex, Popular Stuff, Relationships

What defines a sexless marriage?

Melissa Imbesi by Melissa Imbesi
October 1st, 2019

So recently I read an article stating that according to relationship counsellors, 2% of marriages are sexless; a definition that means that in a year there’s been ZERO tango going on between the sheets.

Interestingly, there’s also another category known as the ‘sex-starved marriage’ (or relationship) and what constitutes sex-starved status may surprise you. Here goes: If you and your significant other are having sex ten times a year or less (this averages out to around once every six weeks), your relationship is in sexual starvation mode. And according to the stats, 20% of couples are very hungry.

You’ll likely fall into two camps at this news – a) WTF? Who only has sex ten times a year? or b) Yeah, that sounds pretty ballpark. Chances are, if you took a quick poll of your mates you’d probably find a real mixed bag of responses, with so-called ‘sex-starved’ relationships being way more common than you think.

Here’s the thing I find myself wondering though – ‘sex-starved’ sounds pretty grim, right? The only connotation I get from the word starved is a negative one. How many of those couples that are doing it less than ten times a year are actually super happy with their set up and find sex neither an appealing nor necessary part of their relationship? Probably lots.

On the flip side of that coin – isn’t sex a big part of what defines an intimate relationship like marriage? Without it, are you just really great mates living life together?

So they’ve told us what warrants a sex-starved relationship, but is there a guideline as to how much sex we should ideally be having? Well, according to a recent study out of the University of Toronto-Mississauga that spanned over 30 years and involved 33,000 US participants, once a week is said to be the sweet spot.  The study determined that while having a once weekly sex sesh didn’t result in more happiness for the couples, there was a significant dip in happiness when the frequency of sex fell below that.

For some, this is the dream

I think the decider as to whether a sex-starved relationship is a problem in your relationship comes down to one very simple question: are you BOTH happy? If so, then your relationship is exactly as it should be and you shouldn’t have to let anyone define it as lacking in anything – because for you, it’s perfect.

However, when one partner rates sex as an important part of your relationship and for want of a better term, isn’t getting any, then things get a little more complicated. The thing is, for so many of us, sex not only feels great, but is also really vital for connection. It’s one of the most intimate things you can do with another person, and if you’re in a monogamous relationship, your partner is the only person who experiences that part of you. It’s complicated though, because the reasons for one half of a relationship not wanting to get it on are wide and varied. Fatigue, low libido (hormonal or medication-induced), medical issues that make sex painful, trauma from sexual assault, stress and so many other things come into play, so it’s not always as simple as just not being in the mood.

Like everything in life, there’s no clear right or wrong or definitive answer to how often you should be having sex. What IS for sure is that communication is 100% the most important part of any relationship, so make sure you never stop talking about the stuff that makes you happy or dissatisfied and everything else will fall into place.