An emotionally supportive and caring marriage is a good thing. But when that marriage lacks physical affection and sexual activity (not just intercourse), it is missing an important element. Some problems that can emerge are:
Less emotional intimacy: Physical intimacy is an important way that couples cement their emotional bond. Without it, couples may also have a less intense emotional connection.
The perpetuation and exacerbation of underlying problems: There are many things that can cause a lack of sexual intimacy. For instance, there might be medical issues, stress, conflicts between the partners, or a lack of time together. When the causes of sexual intimacy are not discussed, then those underlying problems may continue and even create growing tension in the relationship.
Resentment: When someone feels that their needs for physical intimacy are being denied -- for any reason -- they might develop resentment, which can corrode their relationship.
Feelings of rejection: When someone feels that their partner is uninterested in physical intimacy or their interest is not reciprocated, they will likely feel rejected. They might feel this on the level of physical attractiveness or on a deeper level of being rejected as a whole person. Either way, as I explain in a brief video, it is essential that couples work to strengthen their connection and overcome the feelings of rejection.
Infidelity: Being in a sexless marriage is one of many reasons that drive people to look outside their marriage. To be clear, lack of sex does not justify infidelity. Instead, couples would be wise to talk directly about and resolve issues related to unmet sexual needs.
Missing out on benefits to your health: We all know that the benefits to physical health are not usually the main reason that people have sex, but they are real. Without sex, people miss out on many boosts to health, such as lower blood pressure, lower risk for heart attacks, lessened pain (sex releases a hormone that raises the pain threshold), stress relief, and help for getting to sleep.
Considering the possible drawbacks and difficulties that are often associated with a sexless marriage, it is important to attend to your sex life even if you think the rest of your marriage is good. If you are not having sex, or are having it too infrequently (something best determined by you and your partner), talk with your spouse about it. This can be a sensitive subject, so approach the topic carefully. Express your thoughts and feelings while also being open to hearing those of your partner. By working together to nurture a healthy sex life, you will strengthen your marriage, increasing both your emotional and physical intimacy.
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