Many men are suffering in sexless marriages. They assumed that marriage meant they would be joined to their wives physically, emotionally, and perhaps spiritually. Men look forward to a life together with their wives, and sex happens to be an important part of that togetherness. However, many men find themselves not having sex with their wives, or it is rare. They are routinely rejected sexually by their wives, making the happy relationship they envisioned a once-upon-a-time dream.
Men are negatively affected by the lack of sex with their wives, which involves more than intercourse. Sexless marriages stress the relationship in ways that neither may be aware of nor its consequences. Yes. There are consequences of a sexless marriage, which I will discuss in this article.
In this article, I will address those marriages where at least one partner expects sex, but it rarely happens. The context is not merely someone who doesn’t get sex as much as they want; e.g., the husband’s libido is much higher than his wife’s. The context herein is a marriage where sex is rare, and at least one partner wants it much more.
This article is from a man’s perspective. However, please understand that the converse is true as well. Some women do not get the sex they want from their husbands. Women experience a sexless marriage because their husbands avoid and reject them too. Just remember, establishing a happy and fulfilling marriage requires effort from both husband and wife. However, I find that there seem to be more men who express the pains of a sexless marriage than women.
The Importance of Sex In Marriage
Sex is essential in a marriage in most cases, especially for men. I say most cases because some people get married without expecting sex. Perhaps to them, marriage is more of a business arrangement or contract than a joining of two people emotionally and intimately. That is, some people get married for functionality only.
Researchers have found that sexual intimacy and emotional intimacy are directly connected. Sexual intimacy increases the emotional intimacy between husband and wife, as you might expect. Emotional intimacy includes passion, affection, and empathy between the couple. Sex is like a carrier signal for those.
Sexual intimacy is how men emotionally connect with their wives, and that connection is vital to the marriage. Sex is how men know their wives desire, love, pursue, and connect with them. Without sex, men are not emotionally connected to their wives and instead come to have a roommate. For men, sex is the primary way to establish and maintain intimacy with their wives.
Let me share something from the Bible that I thought was very interesting because it eluded to the importance of sex in marriage.
1 Corinthians 7:3–5 (NKJV) — 3 Let the husband render to his wife the affection due her, and likewise also the wife to her husband. 4 The wife does not have authority over her own body, but the husband does. And likewise the husband does not have authority over his own body, but the wife does. 5 Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control.
The above passage highlights that married couples should not deprive each other of sex because sex is important. The Apostle Paul also wrote that married couples have authority over each other’s bodies regarding sex.
What Paul said about not depriving each other of sex reminds me of an old movie, Fatal Attraction, starring Michael Douglass and Glenn Close. In that movie, Dan Gallagher’s wife and daughter were going away from home for about a day, leaving Dan (played by Michael Douglas) home alone. The night before, he entered his bedroom, unbuttoning his shirt and smiling. He was obviously expecting some intimate time with his wife based on another event a little earlier. However, his smile turned to disappointment when he saw his daughter in bed with his wife. His wife, Beth, smiled at him, saying, “It’s only for tonight.” The next morning, they went away, leaving him alone.
He attended a business meeting where he met Alex Forrest (played by Glenn Close), with whom he had an affair in an elevator and perhaps in her apartment. I don’t condone anyone cheating on their spouse. When I first saw the movie, I thought the affair with Alex probably could have been avoided if his wife prioritized her husband’s needs and expectations the night before. Instead, the child came first. I don’t condone his cheating, but Beth failed her husband, leaving him vulnerable to temptation, just as Paul said.
If I remember correctly, a woman said in a video on Instagram that she makes sure her husband leaves the house empty. In other words, she takes care of his sexual needs and desires so that he is not tempted while away from her. Again, temptation is not a license to cheat, but it could be short-circuited if the husband and wife cared for their emotional and sexual needs. Not meeting those needs makes either one vulnerable to temptation because of a lack of self-control.
The point is sex is important to marriage. Even the Bible tells us that. Underneath a man’s desire for sex with his wife is a fundamental desire for his wife.
Sexual intimacy can help build trust between husband and wife as they both make themselves vulnerable to each other. Sex in marriage also has health benefits.
Health Benefits of Sex in Marriage
A healthy sex life (in marriage) has several health benefits, according to research (see a WebMD.com article here). The health benefits include the following.
- It helps support the immune system.
- It boosts your libido.
- It Improves women’s bladder control.
- It lowers blood pressure.
- It counts as exercise. It requires more calories than watching television and elevates the heart rate.
- It lowers heart attack risk. According to the article, having sex helps to balance estrogen and testosterone in the blood (hormones in both men and women). Low levels of either of those hormones could cause osteoporosis and heart disease. Yikes! Hey baby, let’s get healthy!
- It lessens pain—specifically, the organism or stimulation without it.
- It may decrease the risk of prostate cancer. Sex helps to clear the prostate of toxins that may accumulate, triggering the growth of cancer cells later.
- It improves sleep.
- It eases stress.
- For women, it could help with having regular periods and diminish cramps.
- It helps resist depression.
- It helps increase self-esteem.
- Regular sex releases pheromones in the blood, which increases sexual appeal and makes one look more attractive.
- Sex can give you a boost of energy, that pep in your step.
- Regular sex can help boost your memory.
- Regular sex can prolong life (Check out this Psychology Today article and this one).
Most people are unaware of the benefits of regular sex for their health and relationships. I like what one woman wrote in her article about the benefits of sex (see article here).
“According to studies in Australia, people who climaxed as little as three times per week had a fifty percent reduced chance of dying for ANY medical reason than those who only climax once per month! Incredible as it might sound, it’s time to get your man in the sack and then remind him how you’ve saved his life!“ (Bolding is mine).
If men and women understood the many benefits of regular sex (not necessarily intercourse), I would think they would work to incorporate it more in their relationship the way they do doctor visits and medication consumption.
The Typical Marital Scenario of Men
Now, let me describe the typical marital scenario men experience. I’m sure women have their own perspective and typical scenario; however, this article is from a man’s perspective. Based on forum posts written by men, the typical marriage scenario that men seem to experience is as follows.
- Men get married with the idea of providing for and protecting their families, beginning with their wives. They expect a happy and fulfilling life with their wives, especially regarding sex (remember, he wants to be emotionally connected to his wife).
- Soon after the wedding day, the sex and intimacy start to wane, especially after the honeymoon phase of the marriage and especially after the children are born.
- The lack of sex continues to cause significant changes in the husband and relationship.
- A sexless marriage develops over the years or even decades.
Men typically complain about the progression of sex deprivation after being married for a while. Even when men talk to single men about marriage, they share that progression and other things that tend to be typical marital experiences of men, which generally are not good.
For example, married men usually share with single men how their soon-to-be wives will effectively abandon them when they have children. They will be invisible to others as the wife and children take center stage.
The bottom line is a sexless marriage tends to be the typical experience of many, if not most, married men. Remember, the lack of sex to a man means the absence of emotional closeness with his wife. He is really complaining about not being emotionally connected to his wife.
There are two stages of the consequences of sexless marriages, in my opinion. The first is the effect of lack of sex in the marriage, and the second is the corresponding consequences.
The Effects of a Sexless Marriage on a Man
A sexless marriage is one in which there is little to no sexual activity in the relationship. A broader definition includes those couples who had sex less than ten times per year and at least one wants more-much more. A sexless marriage is devastating to a man, and not because he merely wants the physical act of intercourse. Instead, he craves his wife, and a sexless marriage deprives him of her.
A prolonged sexless marriage will adversely affect the husband and the marriage. Below are some effects of a sexless marriage.
When a man gets the indication that his wife doesn’t want to have sex with him, he begins to think that perhaps something is wrong with him. Perhaps he isn’t a good lover, and he doesn’t please his wife or something else that causes his wife to avoid sex with him. That low self-esteem can cause him to seek validation elsewhere to boost his self-esteem.
Feeling Like a Failure
Men think they are not good enough if their wives aren’t interested in sex, which translates to not being interested in them. Perhaps they didn’t turn out to be what their wives expected of a man. He may think his wife is not interested in sex with him because she is not interested in him. He thinks he failed her expectations.
Disconnected From His Wife
A man who does not have sex with his wife will become emotionally disconnected from her. They may function well together, i.e., the bills are paid, the house is cared for, etc., but they have little to no intimate bond. This is a dire situation in marriage and should not be ignored.
Emotional disconnection leads to the couple becoming roommates instead of soulmates. They are merely two people living in the same dwelling, meeting household responsibilities.
Being disconnected from his wife for years may also cause him to feel lonely.
Resentment is probably the number one slow-brewing relationship killer of all time. Resentment will germinate and increase in a man consistently rejected sexually by his wife for no apparent reason, e.g., no medical condition. He only knows that his wife avoids having sex with him and sometimes avoids talking about it.
Resentment is the ill feelings associated with an offense. It is akin to holding a grudge for a wrong done to you. Resentment that exists and grows for years may drive a man to abandon his wife. He may see his wife as a source of emotional pain, and his behavior will correspond to it. He may distance himself from her, avoid interactions, find other places to be besides home or with her, or even cheat. It could very well lead to divorce.
Resentment is the killer of any relationship, especially marriage, due to the couple’s proximity.
I suppose it should be expected that a man may become indifferent to his wife because of sexual rejection. Remember that sexual rejection involves more than merely the physical act of intercourse but the emotional connection. A lack of interest and concern for her feelings develops as his feelings toward her diminish.
A man’s empathy towards his wife may wane as she consistently rejects him. He no longer tries to understand what she may be going through in a given situation; no more than one might empathize with a coworker. Remember, there is little to no emotional connection with his wife, so concern for her feelings will wane.
For example, his wife may become ill. If they were emotionally connected, he might be concerned about her well-being, wanting her to be comfortable. In other words, he would be emotionally affected by her condition. However, since they are not emotionally connected, he only sees her as a responsibility and possibly a burden.
Husbands typically marry a woman because he wants to spend the rest of his life with her. He assumes she wants the same. He doesn’t expect to be sexually rejected by her. Her rejection becomes personal over time. His trust in her declines because he starts thinking she married him for reasons other than being with him. Instead, she was doing what she could to get what she needed from him. In other words, marrying him, he believes, was a means to an end and had nothing to do with wanting him. She lied to him, and now he doesn’t trust her.
The Consequences of a Sexless Marriage
Over years of a sexless marriage, depression, indifference, resentment, and more brings along the consequences. Here are some of the consequences of a sexless marriage.
His Wife Becomes His Enemy
Now things go horribly wrong when decreased trust in his wife results in the perception of her as his enemy or opponent. In his mind, he knows she is not with him and probably never was. She didn’t want him to begin with, only what he could offer. She deceived him and used him for her ulterior motives. She is the enemy and will gradually be treated like one. He has already lost empathy, respect, and trust and becomes indifferent towards her.
His ill feelings towards his wife are exacerbated by decades of commitment, only to realize it was all a lie. She doesn’t care and probably never did. She used him to get what she wanted with little concern for his needs or feelings. She is his enemy.
I wrote earlier about how regular sex has several health and relationship benefits. Therefore, lacking regular sex means those benefits won’t be realized. This means, for example, that the life-prolonging effect of sex will not be realized, and one’s life could be cut short. Since sex helps boost the immune system, self-esteem, etc., lacking it will negatively affect our psyche, health, and relationships.
Drift Apart From Each Other
A couple in a sexless marriage may gradually drift apart. From a man’s perspective, the separation started with him being rejected sexually by his wife. It’s like two boats tied together, and the line joining them is broken. The two boats will gradually drift apart.
From the man’s perspective, he may stop joining his wife in the things they used to do together, such as washing dishes, watching television, going places, having intimate conversations, and going to bed together. They are no longer together emotionally. They have become roommates.
For men, sexual intimacy is essential for a happy and fulfilling marriage. Lack of sex will result in disconnection from his wife, which may spawn several ill feelings towards her. His apathy and anger may be the catalyst for him to treat her with disrespect.
A man’s ill feelings towards his wife may lead to neglecting her. Why waste more of his life or spend time with someone who doesn’t want to be with him? He will spend less time with her and prioritize other things above his marriage. His wife and marriage are meaningless to him after so many years of no sex.
Loss of Commitment
I found it very interesting that most men who comment on marriage forums about other men in a sexless marriage do not promote the idea of cheating on their wives. I have not read one response from other men encouraging the husband in a sexless marriage to get sex from someone else besides his wife. They all recommend giving their wives an ultimatum and/or divorce.
That meant, in one sense, that men are committed to their relationships long after their wives have rejected them. They keep trying to make things better, but time and time again, they encounter the same wall of apathy from their wives. I’m sure some women experience the same thing from their husbands.
Continued sexual rejection leads to a lack of an emotional connection. Soon, the man loses interest in preserving the marriage and stops trying to improve it. He gives up. He checks out of the relationship just as, at least in his mind, his wife did years prior. Loss of commitment to the marriage from either husband or wife marks the end of the relationship.
Enduring a sexless marriage for years and giving up on the marriage may lead to infidelity. A man, for example, may get praise and respect from another woman in the office, which may lead to an emotional relationship and sex. Some men may find themselves in a vulnerable state where they no longer care about being faithful. They suppose their wives don’t want them, so why remain loyal to a woman who has already been unfaithful to him?
Separation and Divorce
It seems understandable that continued rejection by his wife may result in him giving up on the marriage. He would rather end the pain and try with someone different or reject marriage altogether. Many modern men (as of 2023) reject the idea of marriage because of what they see in modern women and what they learn from married men. To them, marriage is not worth it. The benefits do not outweigh the risks.
Divorce, for many, is the way out of pain and a way to salvage the rest of their lives. Some religious beliefs dictate that divorce should be avoided. However, divorce may be an option in some situations, especially for sexual immorality. Note I include spousal sexual rejection as a sexually immoral act in marriage because, as I mentioned earlier in this article, sex is a vital part of marriage and should not be neglected.
Therefore, it seems reasonable that a prolonged lack of sex in marriage could lead to the couple eventually separating or divorcing.
What Can Men Do About a Prolonged Sexless Marriage
I would love to provide a formula for resolving a sexless marriage for men. The truth of the matter is that it may never get better. Even God can’t make a woman pursue her husband sexually or in any other way. So, men should not think they can magically change their wives’ minds about sex in their marriage.
The truth is that wives may be clueless and apathetic about the importance of sex in marriage, especially for their husbands. They may not care as long as they are comfortable with the current condition of the relationship and household.
Take Care of Yourself
So, given that husbands can’t control their wives, what should they do about a sexless marriage? The number one suggestion I give is to take care of yourself. You are responsible for your own happiness and fulfillment. Do not allow your wife’s actions or inactions to dictate how you feel about yourself and your life. Do what you can to improve yourself and your life. That is critical because some men may get so depressed that they contemplate ending their lives.
Ensure that you work to create a life that you want regardless of what your spouse does. We can’t make our spouses love us, want us, or want to work with us. Therefore, if your wife is on board with working on the marriage relationship, then great. If not, don’t let that stop you from enjoying your life (legally, ethically, and morally, of course).
I also recommend that men examine themselves. Perhaps their wives are responding to how their husbands treat them and not saying anything about it. So, don’t rule out your contribution to your wife’s feelings about you, sex, and the marriage. Do your best to be the best you in the context of your marriage.
Many men suggest giving wives an ultimatum to do something about the sexless marriage or risk divorce. Wives need to know how critical sexual intimacy is, and, therefore, an emotional connection is to their husbands and that it should not be taken for granted or neglected. However, I don’t believe giving an ultimatum is an effective solution.
I think talking about the issue, giving both perspectives and working together on a solution is the best approach. Any relationship requires communication to thrive, and marriage is no different. Talk to your wife about your displeasure with the sex life.
Work on a Solution
Marriage is a two-way street. Therefore, the couple must discuss the issues and work to improve the marriage. That may require understanding, patience, and compromise. That assumes that both husband and wife want to make things better. Don’t spend time dwelling on the problem. Prioritize a solution instead and keep trying to make the relationship better.
Forgive: Resolve the Resentment
Resentment is the killer of any relationship. Resentment is to harbor ill-feeling toward someone for a wrong they have done to you. Forgiveness is to release that resentment so that you can move on. The sneaky thing about resentment is it harms you, not your offender. Resentment will hinder realizing a solution to a sexless marriage because it will cause you to focus on the symptom or present sexless condition instead of moving forward toward the solution.
Therefore, resolve the resentment by forgiving your spouse for the pain caused by the sexless state of the marriage. It will only help you and the marriage and, at the very least, remove a significant stumbling block toward resolution.
Perhaps a third party may assist in getting you and your wife on a path to solve the sexless marriage problem. Jesus Christ gave a problem-solving process where you first discuss an issue directly with the “offender” and then go to others if that doesn’t work. Therefore, maybe a third party can provide insight and guidance to solving the sexless marriage problem, which may reveal an underlying issue manifesting itself in lack of sex.
Where you decide to pursue help is up to you. It could be a professional marriage counselor, coach, pastor, etc. Do your due diligence to determine if whomever you approach for help can indeed help. You may start with getting help without involving your spouse and include your spouse in the next phase.
Realize She May Have Gotten What She Wanted
Men should know that their wives may not care about improving their marriage or sex life. They may only want what they got from their husbands, and that’s enough. That means that the outcome of all your efforts to improve your relationship with your wife may be futile if she doesn’t care in her heart. Evaluate what she does, where she puts her energy, and how much she actually works at the relationship more than merely the things she says.
If the only thing a wife wants in the marriage is what she already obtained and doesn’t care about the relationship, trying to get her to work on improving it may be futile. In her mind and heart, the relationship doesn’t need improving. You can’t change a person’s heart; therefore, if she isn’t interested in the relationship and doesn’t respond to your concerns, you can do nothing about that.
Judge Her Actions
There is a concept in the Bible where the Apostle John said that faith without works is dead, i.e., faith without corresponding actions is meaningless. There should be actions to demonstrate a particular claim. For example, a wife who says she loves her husband but doesn’t have sex with him or work to improve the sexual and emotional connection doesn’t love him (from the husband’s perspective). Remember, sex is how men show and receive love and emotionally connect to their wives.
You need to assess everything that’s going on and adjust as necessary. The ultimate goal is a happy and fulfilling marriage with your wife and the hope that she wants the same.
The least any man can do is do his best to provide an environment where his wife can love him freely in words and deeds. We cannot control our wives, but we can control ourselves and influence our environment. Do that and pray that the relationship will get better.
Never Beg for Sex
Never beg for sex (See this article). That only makes things worse. Do not make demands of your wife to have sex with you, either. The important component of wives having sex with their husbands is that men want their wives to want to have sex with them. Begging for it introduces ill feelings and counters the emotional connection that could occur because he may think she is only mechanically appeasing him. So, don’t beg your wife for sex.
It is interesting that my research found that masturbation is recommended for a sexless marriage to help men (and women) cope with the lack of sex. Masturbation helps to relieve stress and gives many of the health benefits of actual intercourse. It can help men and women cope with a lack of sex while they work on their marriage. Masturbation can also be helpful if physical issues limit sexual activity. Couples should work together to make their sex life the best.
The downside of masturbation is that it may be closely associated with porn, which is very bad. Porn can lead to addictions and retrain the brain to be stimulated by images instead of real people. Therefore, like anything else, if you masturbate, do it in moderation. I’ve included some links to articles about this at the end of this article.
Do what you can to limit the amount of stimulation from your wife. Let me provide an example. You end your evening and prepare to go to bed. However, your wife is already in bed with only her bra and panties on. You look at her, and the desire for her increases quickly. You are stimulated by what you see and would love a sexual encounter. It would be a perfect evening if you and your wife could make love or have sex.
However, you know from experience it probably won’t happen. She will roll over, continue scrolling on Instagram, or whatever. So, what do you do? Avoid looking at her in the first place so she doesn’t arouse you sexually. Do not engage in visual stimulation; just do what you must to prepare for bed. Why desire when it will not produce? The Bible tells us that hope deferred makes the heart sick. Why hope when it will only result in a sick heart? Try not to be stimulated in the first place.
The same applies to other stimuli. Don’t gaze at other women to desire them. Don’t imagine how it might be with Susie at the office. You might even avoid thinking about having sex with your wife since doing so only brings disappointment and emotional pain. Don’t stir up your sexual appetite, knowing your wife will not satisfy it.
Enjoy What You Have Now
Don’t let sex, or the lack thereof, deter you from having as happy and fulfilling marriage as possible. There may be other things that are very good for the relationship. Nurture those. Enjoy what your spouse offers now and continue working to improve the relationship. Don’t focus on the bad things; instead, enjoy the good ones you have now.
A Spiritual Perspective
As a Christian, I know that spiritual forces influence the world around me. Therefore, let me share a spiritual perspective on the breakup of the family unit as it relates to sexless marriages. That is not to say that the devil made her do it but to provide an understanding of what may be behind the destruction of a marriage, which leads to the destruction of the family.
The Bible says Satan is a liar, thief, murderer, and destroyer (John 8:44, 10:10). How can he destroy a marriage? One way is to influence the lack of sex so that the husband and wife have less chance to unite or connect. Therefore, the forces of darkness may ultimately be behind a sexless marriage, meaning you should include a spiritual response to it as well as other methods.
Pray for your marriage. Pray for yourself to be a good husband and person. Pray for guidance on handling the sexless situation in your relationship with your spouse. Pray for good health for both of you. Include a spiritual response to your marriage woes. Ask God to help you with your marriage, and he will.
Sex is critical for healthy marriage relationships and a healthy life. Unfortunately, many men experience a lack of sex in their marriages and, subsequently, a feeling of rejection by their wives. That rejection leads to other feelings such as resentment, low self-esteem, depression, etc. The consequences of those ill feelings or the results of a prolonged sexless marriage for men are drifting apart from their wives, seeing their wives as the enemy, increased ill feelings, loss of commitment, and more.
Work to improve your marriage, especially in a sexless marriage, given how important sex is to the relationship. Most of all, work to improve yourself to create a life you enjoy. Don’t allow anything or anyone to deter you from pursuing happiness and fulfillment. Don’t allow a sexless marriage and rejection by your spouse (if that is true) to keep you from enjoying your life.
Focus on a solution instead of the problem. Understand that you may need to make difficult decisions if your wife is uninterested in working on the marriage and demonstrates that she is apathetic to your concerns about the sexless state of the marriage. You can make her have sex with you (and you probably don’t want to), and you can’t change her mindset.
Yes. A sexless marriage is a huge negative to a man’s life. However, overcome it with more positives and coping mechanisms to forge ahead for the sake of the relationship, your family, and your life. If divorce becomes the path, then don’t allow even that to create feelings of guilt. Move ahead to forge a happy life for yourself. God is with you all the time to help you. Pray and ask him to help and guide you.
A happy man is a powerful man!
God bless you always.
Here are some of the resources that I used when writing this article. Search online to access much more.
- For women: https://www.womenshealthmag.com/sex-and-love/a20730536/health-benefits-of-masturbation/
Watch the Youtube video.
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