Can You Be Happy in a Sexless Relationship?

by | Aug 19, 2014

If you have a happy, stable, fun, loving marriage, you should count your blessings, right? Right.

But what if that marriage is happy, stable, fun and loving without sex? Would you still count your blessings?

In other words, can couples be happy without sex?

The answer is, it depends. People have different tolerances and needs. It reminds me of the old Woody Allen movie in which the therapist asks a couple how often they have sex. They reply simultaneously. The wife says, “Constantly. Three times a week.” The husband says, “Almost never. Three times a week.”

But, if both people are equally happy about the lack of sex in their relationship, why worry? The trouble is, both people seldom feel exactly the same. One person usually suffers a bit more than the other.

In a loving marriage, sex is another language of intimacy. It can enhance your relationship beyond words. It can be more than a pleasurable physical union—it can be a spiritual union. It can make you feel connected to your helpmate—your soul mate—in ways nothing else can. And together, you are strong and can meet the world’s problems with confidence.

But some couples function quite well without sex. There are certainly times in a marriage when sex dwindles, most notably after childbirth, and when children are small. Responsibilities for other humans take precedence over all other activities, including sex.

Another common time for lack of sex in a marriage is after one partner has had an affair. The partner who didn’t stray may be unable to recover enough to have sex again. The intimacy of the relationship has been violated, and the lack of trust may take a long time to repair.

Other causes of sexless marriages may simply be low sex drives. Partners who are busy with work or family fall into bed at night exhausted, and have to be up early in the morning. This pattern can continue until someone wonders when it was when they last had sex. Last month? Several months ago? You can spend a long time being so busy that you don’t even notice.

The problem comes with lopsided libidos. One partner needs frequent sex, while the other doesn’t. This can be a tremendous stress in a marriage—one partner feels constantly put upon to have sex and one feels deprived, like the Woody Allen couple. The good news is they didn’t suffer in silence. They sought therapy.

But if you both agree that a sexless marriage suits you, then there’s nothing to worry about. There is no prescribed frequency that is correct. There is no right answer except the one you both agree on, as long as you’re honest and respectful of one another. In the end, those qualities could be even more important than sex. And, of course, key to any good relationship is a healthy dose of love and kindness.

Nancy Travers is an Orange County Counseling professional.  If you need safe, effective counseling services, please get in touch.  You can reach her here:




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