A sexless marriage is a marriage in which little or no sex occurs between the two partners. The US National Health and Social Life Survey in 1994 (Laumann et al. 1994) found that 2 percent of the married respondents reported no sexual intimacy in the past year. The definition of a nonsexual marriage is often broadened to include those where sexual intimacy occurs less than ten times per year, in which case 20 percent of the couples in the NHSLS would be in the category.
Sexless marriages generally develop over time and are gradual. Love and intimacy generally existed in a relationship but sex starts to become increasingly infrequent. The following are possible causes:
- Marriage solely done for legal purposes, tax benefits or acquiring resident status (for example, in USA a spouse is entitled to Green Card if married to an American citizen or a permanent resident)
- Different work schedules/busy lives, making sex less of a priority than other events.
- Adultery can cause the partner having the affair to slow or stop sex with their partner.
- Sexual addiction or Pornography Addictions can cause the addicted partner to not have sex with their regular partner.
- Sexual aversion or 'a low level of sexual desire' including a lack of sexual vitality due to age, past trauma, partners' incompatible sexual orientation or, simply, one of the spouses losing sexual desire towards his or her companion.
- Sexual dysfunction or difficulty during any stage of the sexual act, including severe vaginismus or erectile dysfunction
- Mutually agreed sexless marriages, due to religious principles, avoidance of sexually transmitted diseases, a platonic basis for the relationship or avoiding conception.
- Illness of one or both partners that affects physical or psychological sexuality.
- Power imbalance. One partner refuses to have sex with their spouse for personal reasons.
- Combinations of the above. Sexual desire, for example, can be closely tied to sexual difficulties.
National Health and Social Life Survey 1994 (Edward O. Laumann, Robert T. Michaels, John H. Gagnon, & Stuart Michaels) (Chicago: University of Chicago Press, 1994).
The Social Organization of Sexuality
- Sexual dysfunction
- Spiritual marriage
- Marriage of convenience
- Lavender Marriage
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