What is a sexless marriage and can it affect your mental health? Research suggests that being in a sexless marriage doesn’t mean that you and your partner are never intimate. It means that you are only having sex one or fewer times a month.
When sex is lacking in a marriage, both partners suffer. Sex is about so much more than having an orgasm and feeling great (though that doesn’t hurt either). It’s about connecting with your partner, mind, body, and soul, and feeling secure in your relationship. When these important aspects of love are taken out of the marital equation, trouble is soon to follow.
Here are 7 studies that prove that a sexless marriage can hurt your relationship and your mental health – and there’s nothing shallow about it.
1. Sexless Marriage Causes Depression
Research proves that marital satisfaction is significantly associated with being satisfied in bed. Not only does sex feel amazing and lower your stress levels, but it also connects a couple on a romantic and emotional level.
Another study highlights that increasing sexual activity from once a month to once a week can raise happiness levels as much as making an extra $50,000 at your job.
When you do not have the emotional connection and the flow of beneficial oxytocin running through your body that comes from having sex, you may begin to feel depressed.
Here are some signs that your mental health as taken a turn toward depression:
- Feeling helpless, sad, and alone
- Experiencing feelings of worthlessness
- Constant fatigue
- Difficulty concentrating
- Constant pessimism
- Feeling unmotivated
- A significant change in appetite or eating habits
- Digestive issues
- Scattered thoughts or difficulty concentrating
2. Reduces Marital Trust
Studies done by Northwestern University and Redeemer University College found that trust is important to a happy marriage.
The precious oxytocin hormone released during intimacy has been shown to cause a substantial increase in trust, allowing people to feel braver, more trusting of their spouse, and more willing to take emotional and social risks together.
When you are in a sexless marriage, you may feel less physically and emotionally trusting of your partner, which can damage other areas of your relationship.
3. Straying Thoughts and Hearts
Couples who spend time together are happier than those who don’t. And this quality time doesn’t have to be special. Studies show that anything from washing dishes side by side to a romantic date night can boost happiness and lower stress. And sex certainly contributes to happiness.
Studies also suggest that the oxytocin released after sex is responsible for feelings of monogamy – particularly in men.
When you are not feeling emotionally or sexually satisfied in your marriage, you may have thoughts of looking elsewhere for such satisfaction. This may cause you to feel guilty or worse, follow through with your desire to cheat and break your partner’s heart – and possibly ruin your relationship.
4. You Become Easily Irritated
Sexual satisfaction predicts heightened emotional intimacy for couples. The more satisfied you are in bed, the closer you will feel to your partner. When this intimacy is lacking, you may find you are growing apart or becoming irritated with one another.
Because oxytocin makes you feel calmer and less stressed, a lack of this love hormone can do just the opposite. As your mental health and relationship happiness decline, you may start to feel annoyed with your spouse over small things. Arguments become more frequent and you may even hate being in the same room with them.
5. Stunts Communication Skills
When you are no longer intimate with your spouse, you may feel uncomfortable opening up and being vulnerable with one another. This can severely stunt our communication skills.
We have all heard that communication is the backbone of a healthy marriage, but did you know communication also contributes to a healthy sex life? Research proves that couples who are willing to talk about sex enjoy higher relationship satisfaction and increased orgasm frequency in women.
Couples need to discuss their sex life. Communicate about what feels good in bed, what kinks you’re into, and what you and your spouse can do to make sex feel more satisfying for you. It is also essential that couples be open, honest, and kind about what may be stopping them from enjoying a healthy sex life.
Studies show that stress can negatively affect your libido. Hurt feelings from past relationship mistakes, marital boredom, and certain medications can also play a role in a lowered libido.
6. Lack of Intimacy Hurts your Emotional Connection
Is it normal for your sex life to take a dip? Yes and no. Research shows that later life couples (ages 70-86) were more likely to choose emotional intimacy over sexual intimacy as they age. But those same studies also indicate that midlife couples (ages 50-69) often become distressed by changes in their sex life.
So yes, your sex life is sure to change and go through ebbs and flows the older you get, but a complete lack of sex (or only having sex once a month) is sure to create problems in your marriage and with your mental health. Instead of favoring your emotional connection, you may feel like you are growing apart.
7. Resentment Snowballs
When you are not being regularly intimate with your spouse, it can cause resentment to build. You may start to wonder why your spouse doesn’t care about your sexual satisfaction. More importantly, you begin to question why they are giving up on the emotional connection you share or overlooking the wonderful benefits that sex brings to your marriage.
If you have discussed your sex life at length and your spouse doesn’t seem to want to change or communicate about why they are resistant to intimacy, it can cause you to feel neglected, hurt, and angry.
If a lack of intimacy is causing you to have thoughts of straying, you may even start to resent your spouse for making you feel the need to look outside your marriage for pleasure or validation.
Are you living in a sexless marriage? If so, this can affect your fidelity, your self-esteem, and weaken the love you once felt for your partner. There is no doubt that a lack of sex can hurt your mental health, your feelings, and in some cases, even your physical health.