Many couples complain about their lack of sex -- and then there are those who brag about it. Take Charlotte and Chris Everiss. They've been married for a decade but haven't had sex in two years. They say they kiss and cuddle on the couch but "don't want to take it any further," and Charlotte says she has a difficult time getting turned on knowing that their 4-year-old son is in the next room. "He doesn’t seem to want to go back to having sex, either," Charlotte says about her husband. Yet they describe themselves as "content." Hmmm. Denial? Prudishness? Genuine happiness?
A recent survery says that 15 to 20 percent of couples are in "sexless marriages," defined as having sex less than 10 times per year.
I know a few couples in this position -- and none of them are happy about it. The reasons are many. Usually one person loses interest in sex and the other gives up on trying to get that person interested.
I definitely think that sex is overrated in terms of what keeps a relationship working. We're constantly bombarded with sexual images in this country -- and we start to get the idea that if we're not knocking boots with our partner 24/7, there is something terribly amiss.
Might be. Might not be. It's very hard to tell. I look back on my own relationship with a man I was with for 10 years. Our sex life had dwindled down to the point where one time we didn't have it for almost eight months. And yet I'd read articles about the "sexless marriage" -- such as the one quoted here -- and that would give me the idea that it wasn't that strange. And yet. It was. Because really what was happening was that he was gay and sleeping with men behind my back. So then I felt kind of like a fool for not delving deeper into it and deciding to accept the fact that although we didn't have a lot of sex -- we got along, we liked each other, we gelled, we worked well together. It was only after he came out that I felt like I had deliberately ignored something so obvious.
But what about these other couples? Could they be right in that their relationship truly doesn't need sex to work?
Not every person is sexually driven -- there are people who identify as asexual. There are also times when it's perfectly normal to not have any sexual desire -- after a baby, after a death in the family, if you're on certain medications, etc. Sexual desire also fades after awhile. Let's face it and stop pretending that doesn't happen.
My great-grandparents were together for 70 years. For the entire time I knew them, they had separate beds. And yet they seemed quite happy together. I doubt either of them was gay, but you never know.
If BOTH parties are happy with a sexless relationship, who is to say it's wrong? As for one person eventually having an affair -- well, that happens with couples who have active, passionate sex lives too!
HOWEVER. I would say that most of these sexless couples aren't being completely honest with themselves. Or with the other person. There's usually a reason behind these things.
Charlotte, for instance, had a traumatic ectopic pregnancy and hysterectomy that killed her sexual desire. Chris says he wants more sex, but believes marriage is for life and isn't about to walk out over it. So Charlotte isn't dealing with her trauma -- and Chris doesn't want to rock the boat. Neither approach is healthy.
I think if you're avoiding sex -- there's something going on. It may not be an affair, homosexuality, or a health problem. But something is going on. And even if you don't want to save your marriage, or don't even feel it's in trouble, lack of desire is still a symptom of something. And you should know what.
Do you ever go long periods without sex? Do you know why? Are you happy with it?
Image via KatyBate/Flickr