Thursday, June 04, 2009

Research on the “No-Sex” Marriage




Posted by Michele Olson


Tara Parker-Pope writing for The New York Times posted a blog in their wellness section where she interviews Denise Donnelly, an associate professor of sociology at Georgia State University who has studied sexless marriages.

According to the General Social Survey which tracks social behaviors of Americans, married men and women, on average, have sex with their spouse 58 times a year, a little more than once a week. Married people under 30 have sex about 111 times a year. It’s estimated that about 15 percent of married couples have not had sex with their spouse in the last six months to one year.

This article explores the reasons for a sexless marriage.

The question is posed: Are people in sexless marriages more likely to get divorced? The answer from the research is; people in sexless marriages report that they are more likely to have considered divorce, and that they are less happy in their marriages. Ms. Donnelly goes on to say that of the former research respondents who have kept in touch with her, the happiest ones are actually those who have moved on to other partners.

The story does touch on the fact that non-communication can help lead to problems, if you aren’t communicating, you definitely aren’t communicating about what is happening in your sex life.

What if instead of just “moving on to other partners” the couple tried utilizing marriage education to increase their ability to communicate and resolve conflicts? While each couple is complicated, this is one solution that we hope couples will consider to bring their sex life back to a satisfying level for both partners. Being able to talk about anything as a couple in a healthy way is a good beginning to a possible restoration of their sex lives. Read the article here.

Any thoughts on “No Sex” Marriages? Have you worked through this issue with your spouse?

12 comments:

Anonymous said...

OK I'll go first then. Our marriage has definitely been in the "sexless" category for most of the last decade (my wife and I will be married 18 years together this year). Yes, communication is a HUGE issue, along with trust, consideration, transparency, and a host of other factors. I'm of the mind that sex (or lack thereof) is an indicator of larger problems, not a necessarily the problem itself. For example, if you have great communication, trust, etc with your spouse then I think generally you also have a good/great sex life. That's not to say in a sexless marriage the high-libido partner doesn't view lack of sex as a problem - I sure do in my marriage. But I've come to see the many other problems in our marriage as well, and the rare times where sex is alive again are usually also preceded by a time where we've been able to break through these other problem areas like communication.

thinkmarriage.org said...

Thanks for your honesty. It does seem that you know the key; great communication can lead to what you are hoping for...I hope you will pursue some type of marriage education workshops if your spouse is willing. It could be the beginning to things improving. Marriage is a lot of work and if you are both willing to work at it...improvement is possible. Thanks again for blogging.

Kairol Rosenthal said...

Sexless relationships can be a big issue for people facing disability and illness. Based on my research and interviews with sex therapists, I have written in my most recent book tips for young adult survivors to approach sex after a long vacation from the doing deed.

Divorce rates among cancer survivors are particularly high for couple in their early 30s, partially due to sexual function issues and its impact on relationship. This is a hugely important quality of life issue that is rarely discussed in the cancer community or anywhere else.

This is a great blog. Glad you are discussing these issues.
http://everythingchangesbook.com/

thinkmarriage.org said...

Thanks for the comment Kairol, This was an aspect that did occur to me, but I didn't touch on. I'm so glad you brought it up. There is the distinction of sexless marriages by choice...or by circumstance. I hope people will check out your book. Thanks for blogging.

Anonymous said...

"if your spouse is willing" - and there would be the rub. It does take two to tango, as they say. Until then, you wait, pray, and hang on.

thinkmarriage.org said...

Dear Anon,
That is actually a good plan..wait, pray and hang on. I would also recommend a book:
How to Improve Your Marriage Without Talking About It. by Patricia Love and Steven Stosny. If you have a spouse who is unwilling to work in the marriage...this may be very helpful for you to read. You may also want to read The Love Dare made very popular by the recent movie FireProof. These may all help you as you wait, pray and hang on...and may I encourage you with...hang in there!

Anonymous said...

I've read/watched/done the Love Dare (no effect in my case). I have not read that book however, so thanks for the suggestion I'll have to pick that up. One I have read to suggest to others in a similar situation - "Thriving Despite A Difficult Marriage" by Michael Misja and Chuck Misja. Hope that helps.

thinkmarriage.org said...

Thanks for the suggestion, I will have to check that out. I applaud your willingness to stick with it...take care.

Juhani said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
thinkmarriage.org said...
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Shannon said...

Understandably the lack of sex will really have a negative impact on a marriage. I am reminded of the movie "The Mirror Has Two Faces"...

I'd also like to recommend a book called Becoming One: Emotionally, Spiritually, & Sexually by Joe Beam. Also of course, attending marriage workshops and seminars will most certainly help.

thinkmarriage.org said...

Thanks for the comment Shannon and for the recommendations. Always good to learn from other people's thoughts and ideas! Keep blogging!