by Tracey Cox
Christmas marks the end of another year, New Year the beginning of a new one. Both are times when couples take stock of relationships – and make some tough decisions.
Like whether or not to leave a sexless marriage: one where couples have sex less than 10 times per year.
Society says it’s women saying no to sex, but in reality, it’s just as likely to be the man turning to face the wall.
Whether to leave or stay in a sexless marriage depends on what else is happening in the relationship, how important sex is to you and whether your partner intends doing something about it.
It also depends on how long you’ve gone without regular sex and if there’s a good reason why.
If you’ve just had a child and haven’t had sex for a few months, you’re panicking unnecessarily.
If you’re both young and healthy but you’ve spent four of your five-year marriage reaching into your bedroom drawer, you’re more than justified in feeling peeved.
If it’s because you don’t fancy your partner:
Sadly, marriage itself is sometimes to blame for a sorry sex life because women often don’t marry the people we click with sexually.
We’ll happily attach our lips and hips to that the pretty-but-pretty-thick hottie for a five-week flingette but choose long-term lovers for different reasons. Factors like kindness, stability, intelligence and emotional intelligence take precedence.
Which is all terribly sensible but sexual attraction is fundamental: if it’s not there, it’s not there.
The best you can do in this situation is acknowledge it and decide whether you can live with it.
If your partner is a good friend and/or brilliant father, you might consider having little or no sex a fair trade. A rich fantasy life and lots of masturbatory sessions might be enough for you.
You might decide to ‘take a lover’, as they do in some European countries, and have your sexual needs satisfied outside the marriage. Or you might decide it’s more honest to leave and find someone who does it for both ends: heart and groin.
You had great sex in the beginning but now it’s all disappeared?
The first thing to examine before packing your bags, is your relationship outside the bedroom.
Sex is often used as a bargaining tool: could be you’re being denied it because your partner is angry with you. (Women, especially, are much more likely to lose interest in sex if they’re annoyed with their partner.)
Your relationship’s just fine? The first thing to do is admit there’s a problem – though there are lots of reasons why you may not have.
Saying it out loud – ‘Honey, I’m concerned because we haven’t had sex for 18 months’ – makes the problem real.
You’re both then forced to face up to it and (shock horror) do something about it, maybe even get (ohmigod, surely not!) help!!!
It’s not a sign your marriage is failing to take yourselves off to see a sex therapist or counselor, it’s a sign you love each other and want your relationship to be as good as it can possibly be.
The critical factor:
Once you start talking, it will become (often painfully) obvious what your future holds. This is the bit when you find out if your partner is willing to work with you to build a satisfying sex life – or has no interest in trying to solve the situation.
If it’s the former, it’s great news! You’ve taken the first, huge step towards solving the problem.
If it’s the latter, even the most faithful, supportive partner is forgiven for thinking about leaving – or having a bit on the side.
As one therapist friend of mine puts it: there’s something very wrong with the picture if your partner is saying ‘I know you’re desperately unhappy but I don’t plan on doing anything about it and still expect you to be faithful’
Ever thought ‘How come that couple are breaking up? They were perfect together?’ Lack of sex is often to blame.
It’s what you don’t see – a marital bed which has become a private hell of avoidance or rejection – which was their undoing.
It’s rare for lustless lovers to live happily ever after in platonic bliss. Invariably, one person isn’t happy in a sexless marriage and ends up either leaving or having an affair.
A relationship stripped of the intimacy and physical closeness which sex provides feels hollow: the person who is supposed to find you attractive, sexy and desirable doesn’t.
Who wants to live with that?
THE THREE DIFFERENT TYPES OF ERECTIONS
Q: Is there more than one type of erection and what’s the difference between them?
A: Yes – there appears to be three. The first erection comes courtesy of the brain: it’s called a psychogenic erection and it’s produced when the brain recognises erotic stimuli – both real or imagined. If you’re bored with sex, this is the erection that will be most effected. The second sort is a reflex erection, one that results when there’s direct genital stimulation. Stress and depression can interfere with this guy. The third type of erection is a nocturnal erection, the least effort variety that you get spontaneously during REM (rapid eye movement) sleep. This erection is significant. If you’re not getting the other two but you are waking up ‘pee proud’, there’s a pretty good bet the cause is psychological rather than physical. Most men get around seven erections a day – five of them are nocturnal.