Need help breaking free from addiction?
1-888-993-3112
Call 24/7 for treatment options. Ad Info & Options

Can A Marriage Survive Without Sex?

Question:

I’m seeing a therapist about my fear and dislike of sex. She believes strongly that my feelings stem from childhood abuse that I don’t remember. I’ve been married for over 30 years and suffered through sex for most of it. When I finally told my husband my true feelings, he tried to assure me that there’s more to marriage than sex and that he can tend to his own sexual needs. He’s a wonderful man and we have much in common, but I feel he deserves better. Do you think he’s being truthful? Can a sexless marriage survive? I’m working on my problems, but I can’t guarantee I’ll resolve them while we’re still young enough to enjoy a fulfilling sex life. Please help!

This Disclaimer applies to the Answer Below
  • Dr. Schwartz responds to questions about psychotherapy and mental health problems, from the perspective of his training in clinical psychology.
  • Dr. Schwartz intends his responses to provide general educational information to the readership of this website; answers should not be understood to be specific advice intended for any particular individual(s).
  • Questions submitted to this column are not guaranteed to receive responses.
  • No correspondence takes place.
  • No ongoing relationship of any sort (including but not limited to any form of professional relationship) is implied or offered by Dr. Schwartz to people submitting questions.
  • Dr. Schwartz, Mental Help Net and CenterSite, LLC make no warranties, express or implied, about the information presented in this column. Dr. Schwartz and Mental Help Net disclaim any and all merchantability or warranty of fitness for a particular purpose or liability in connection with the use or misuse of this service.
  • Always consult with your psychotherapist, physician, or psychiatrist first before changing any aspect of your treatment regimen. Do not stop your medication or change the dose of your medication without first consulting with your physician.
Answer:

It must have been terrible for you to have sex while you feared and disliked it over thirty years of your marriage. It must have been even more awful to secretly harbor these feelings because you were alone with all of this. That is why it is really good that you are in therapy and have talked with your husband.

It was once believed that sex is 95% psychological and 5% physical. Things have changed as a result of research into the complexity of both the male and females sexual response. This is why I strongly urge you to see your gynecologist about what may be, at root, a physical problem. It is now well known hormones, physiology and even certain types of non sexual diseases, can negatively impact sexuality. I have no way of knowing if this is true for you or not. Perhaps you have sought medical advice already. In my opinion, it is specifically the advice of medical doctors with expertise in this area that are most important for you. That is why a gynecologist and, or, a urologist, is most important.

In no way am I suggesting that you end your psychotherapy. Living alone with this problem for more than thirty years is sad. Harboring secrets always takes a terrible toll. You do have a lot to work on about this, yourself and your marriage.

As for your husband, my guess is that he always sensed that something was wrong. Despite our best efforts to keep secrets, those who are closest to us always have a vague idea that something is going on.

Is your husband being truthful? I don’t know him but, if I were to place a bet, something I never do, I would bet that he is being truthful. After all, the two of you have been together for more then three decades. That is no small thing. It speaks to the strength of your relationship together. Besides, you should not rule out the possibility that things can improve for you and that you can achieve some pleasure from sex with him.

Also, remember that outside of intercourse, hugging, holding, touching and physical closeness are just as important, maybe even more so after thirty years.

Best of Luck

More "Ask Dr. Schwartz" View Columnists

Close

Call the Helpline Toll-FREE

To Get Treatment Options Now.

1-888-993-3112 100% Confidential

Get Help For You or a Loved One Here...

Click Here for More Info.

Close

Call The Toll-FREE Helpline 24/7 To Get Treatment Options Now.

100% Confidential
Get Treatment Options From Your Phone... Tap to Expand