Sexless Marriage or Sexless Relationship


“We integrate theoretical traditions on the social construction of gender, heterosexuality, and marriage with research and theory on emotion work to guide a qualitative investigation of how married people understand and experience sex in marriage. Results, based on 62 in-depth interviews, indicate that married men and women tend to believe that sex is integral to a good marriage and that men are more sexual than women. Moreover, husbands and wives commonly experience conflict around sex and undertake emotion work to manage their own and their spouse’s feelings about sex. We refer to this emotion work as “performing desire” and show how it is linked to gendered experiences in marriage and to competing cultural discourses around gender, heterosexuality, and marriage.”(taken from an article in the New York Times)


There are varying definitions of a sexless marriage or sexless relationship: no sex in the past year, no sex in the past six months or sex 10 or fewer times a year. According to one study, approximately 15 percent of married couples are sexless: Spouses haven’t had sex with each other in the past six months to one year. The cause is often low libido and stressful work environments causing erectile dysfunction in men and not necessarily a medical condition. Sexual activity in the context of long-term heterosexual relationships may be an important site of conflict as well as relationship vitality. Studies find that Americans consider sex an essential element of relational intimacy, key to personal fulfillment, and crucial for relationship longevity. This probably applies to all countries as similar research in several countries indicate that men and women agree on this point.


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