Is it OK to cheat in a sexless marriage? Does a lack of sex justify infidelity? It goes without saying that sex is important in a marriage, given that it brings with it a whole lot of physical, emotional and psychological benefits and also makes the bond between a couple deeper. But, (that’s such a spoilsport of a word) what happens when the marriage runs out of steam or sex?
To digress a bit, I’d like to ask you a quick question – Can a marriage survive without sex? I’ve covered what happens to a marriage without intimacy before, the short and quick answer is YES! There are no two ways about it. But sexless marriages come at a cost especially if one partner has needs that are not being fulfilled. Wouldn’t take an expert to point out that it would eventually lead to diluted or fractured connections and a feeling of anger and resentment – the breeding grounds for infidelity.
So, It Is Ok to Cheat in a Sexless Marriage?
A sexless relationship while no doubt frustrating, does not warrant hurting your partner by cheating on them, no matter how hard you try to justify it. If I were to turn the table around and ask you if it were okay with you, I am sure your answer would be an emphatic no.
It’s not OK to cheat on your spouse (even in a sexless marriage) but that doesn’t mean you don’t have options here.
Infidelity and Lack of Sex
After perhaps a decade or so of marriage and a couple of kids, responsibilities and duties creep in and sex life tends to fly out the window. Life gets in the way and some married couples tend to lose interest in sex — at least sex with each other.
Unfortunately, some husbands or wives end up finding sexual satisfaction from other women or men, going behind their spouse’s backs. Since no secret can be kept forever, the affair eventually comes to light, leaving the other partner heartbroken and traumatized.
Is it Healthy to Have a Sexless Marriage?
Statistics say that almost 80% of all marriages are “sexless marriages”. Let me clarify that and say that sexless here refers to having sex less than 10 times a year. A whopping number that, and only goes to show that you are not alone.
That said, there is no discounting the importance of sex in a marriage or in any committed relationship. Everyone knows the innumerable benefits associated with it. Sex in a marriage brings with it added perks like greater intimacy between the couple, a deeper emotional connect and reduced stress. There is also that feeling of security and pleasure that comes from knowing you are loved and desired by your partner.
Couples who have high sexual satisfaction say it contributes to around 15% to 20% of their overall relationship satisfaction. However, those that are not satisfied with their sexual relationship report that it affects their overall relationship satisfaction, by around 50% to 70%, which is incredibly high and could only mean one thing — those who are satisfied with their sex life do not find it a big deal as compared to those who are lacking it.
While most people worry about their sexless relationship, there are still countless married couples that no longer worry whether they have sexual intercourse or not. Some tend to ban sex officially, or at least until both of them are ready for it while others settle for intimate acts that do not require intercourse.
Going by all of the above, whether a sexless marriage is considered healthy or not is really a subjective choice, one that needs to be decided on by both partners in the relationship. Having said that I’d still stress that the decision has to be unanimous and univocal, else the relationship will begin to tilt precariously and eventually crumble.
Are Sexless Marriages Bound for Doom?
When people cheat, they often use the lack of sex or the absence of sexual satisfaction in order to justify their affair. However, as I mentioned in the beginning, there is no justifying infidelity. It is wrong, and nothing could ever make it right, not even a partner who does not have the same level of libido as you. Cheating is a choice, and you have to decide whether to make the right one or the wrong.
Having said that, a sexless marriage does not mean it is the end of the road for both of you and your relationship. Things will begin to change if you shift your focus from the “why” (is it sexless) to the “how” (do I deal with this). This shift will give you a better perspective on how to thrive in your sexless marriage while being faithful to your vows and your spouse.
How Do You Survive a Sexless Marriage Without Cheating?
So, how do you the unfulfilled spouse, manage the lack of intimacy without giving in to the need to stray? Here are several things you can do:
Communicate – Communication is the key to any good relationship, and especially in marriages. It can solve most problems, including your poor sex life. Both of you need to talk about why one or both of you are no longer interested in sex. Self-doubt is usually the first thing that comes to mind if a partner no longer wants sex – maybe I’m unattractive; maybe she no longer desires me. Venting will put the issue on the table, and you may be surprised to find out that the truth does not revolve around you at all. But no matter what the problem – be it stress, low libido, lack of body confidence, menopause, or illness, be supportive and try not to take it personally.
It helps to bring up the subject when both of you are relaxed and with fewer chances of being interrupted. Do your best to listen without judgment, in order to understand why your spouse is being reluctant in the marriage bed.
Moreover, be honest with yourself and your partner. If you are not as interested in sex as you used to be before or during the early days of your marriage, and the reason for it is your partner, then have the gumption to let them know. Maybe they’ve let themselves go after marriage and the kids, or they’ve become slovenly in their habits. Be open, be forthright but be kind. This is not a mud-slinging contest and you do not have to rub their nose in it.
Know whether sex is a “deal-breaker” – According to Joan McFadden’s article in The Guardian, it is important for couples to know whether sex is a “deal-breaker” in the marriage and whether they are willing to sacrifice sex for other things. Many couples are okay with other forms of intimacy, and if that works, then both of you should agree on it.
However, if it is indeed a deal-breaker, then both of you could work together to unravel the real reason behind the low libido.
There are certainly plenty of ‘non-standard’ alternatives here and I’ve certainly answered a readers question on letting her husband sleep with another woman.
Seek professional help – Go to a sex therapist. It is a great way to understand what’s causing the block and how to work on bringing back the fun in the bedroom. Your therapist will likely recommend a few solutions, including trying out sexual fantasies to reignite the spark that was once there. Some would actually recommend banning it altogether, which may sound counterintuitive, but is in fact quite effective. The feeling of anxiety and pressure that comes with the “need” to have sex will eventually fade, and soon enough, both of you will be more relaxed to want and try it out again. And who knows, the ban may just cause both of you to miss it more.
Find relevant outlets – The frustration that comes from a continuous absence of sex definitely needs an outlet. And, instead of taking it out on the people closest to you, wouldn’t it make better sense to hit the gym, go for a run, join the local soccer team or anything else that lets you blow off some steam?
At the end of the day, you need to understand that being sexually fulfilled is not only a male prerogative. I say this because a lot of cultures condition women to believe that they aren’t supposed to have needs. While a sexless marriage is not ideal, I’d suggest that you consider it a “couple thing” and work together to resolve it.
Openness, transparency, honesty and love for each other will help you work through this phase together whether it’s temporary or here to stay for a while. And, no matter how sexless the marriage is, it doesn’t have to be intimacy-less or affection-less.