‘My wife decided three years ago sex is too ‘icky.’ No discussion, no easing into it. Just “Nope, not anymore.”
It’s an old cliché that after a couple ties the knot, their sex life slowly fades. And whether that’s true for most people or not, it’s definitely true that some couples’ sex lives wither away after they’ve been married for a while.
If you and your spouse get down and dirty less than once a month, you fit the definition of a sex-starved marriage (having sex 10 or fewer times per year). Maybe it’s because you have kids, maybe it’s because you’re busy with your jobs, or maybe one or both of you stopped making an effort to take care of yourself, and no one is into it anymore.
But sex is important. It’s part of being a healthy adult, necessary to build and maintain intimacy in a relationship, and quite simply, one of the best things in life. Most of us do want to have it, whether or not we’re busy with our kids, jobs, and houses, and even if we’ve let ourselves go and don’t feel super attractive at the moment. So why do some couples stop doing the deed? I turned to Reddit to find out…*
1. ‘My wife had a complete mental breakdown and can no longer work. She is diagnosed bipolar and has extreme anxiety. Unfortunately, one of the things she has anxiety about is bathing, so it doesn’t happen very often. I love my wife, but the lack of hygiene combined with the added stress of taking care of the family mostly on my own means that I’m not in the mood very often. We’ve had sex I think once or twice in the past year.’ – realaccountlolno
2. ‘My wife developed a germ/dirtiness phobia around year one of our marriage. It’ll be five years soon and there’s little to no contact of any kind physically at this point.’ – The_Scientist22
3. ‘I have been in a relationship for 10 years with my husband. Sex has been absent throughout our entire relationship. We went to marriage counseling, [but] it still isn’t clear why he is so against a physical relationship. There were many reasons that our relationship had problems, but this was a big one that never seemed to have an honest reasoning behind it. It wore on my self esteem and wasn’t healthy for either of us. I’m still baffled about the ‘whys’ but I’m done with sticking around to find out at this point.’ – Werewlf
4. ‘It stopped being fun, after 30 years married. She started blatantly using it to get something she wanted, or to cover up something she did. That feeling of being played just kills you inside.’ – whiskeyalpha7
5. ‘Twelve years married. We’re very compatible together in every way but that one. I don’t know what happened. She claims she just doesn’t have much drive any more. In the span of one year, we had sex one time. In these last three months, I have been genuinely observing her. I am coming to the realization that she doesn’t love me any more. I’m steadily growing bitter about it and I know that doesn’t help at all so it’s a vicious cycle.’ – TAou812
6. ‘My husband has a very low sex drive and some issues from his youth regarding physical contact, so we never had much sex. Married 17 years now, we have one kid (planned and executed on my request, impressed we made it!). If I remember correctly we last had sex five years ago? Thereabouts. We hug and kiss, and he gives me backrubs and foot massage. But I’ve given up on trying to entice him into anything more.’ – LibrariansKnow
7. ‘Because we both got fat and ashamed of our bodies.’ – rednstrong
8. ‘My wife’s sex drive plummeted throughout our relationship. I thought maybe it was stress from her work, so I tried to help her find a new job she would like. I thought maybe it was because I gained a bit of weight, so I worked hard to lose it. I thought maybe I wasn’t spending enough time with her, so I gave up almost all my hobbies and friends to stay home. Turns out she was cheating on me the whole time. – Shadowmael
9. ‘We’re both on anti-depressants which have totally messed with our sex drives.’ – sirkibble14
10. ‘Low testosterone. It’s slowly taken away his sex drive and has altered him a lot physically and mentally. Our sex life ground to a halt a couple years ago, not long after we got married. However, we’re still happy together and in love and I’m supporting him through it.’ – MiffysBirthday
11. ‘My wife decided three years ago sex is too ‘icky.’ No discussion, no easing into it. Just “Nope, not anymore.” Our marriage isn’t going well.’ – annoyingone
12. ‘We’ve been together over three years now. And we stopped just cause she never initiated and I’m tired of being the only one with a sex drive. I just feel like my sexual needs are a tiresome burden to her so I don’t even try to anymore. It doesn’t help the few times we have had sex I have to do all the work. I just don’t feel loved or satisfied if my partner is basically waiting for me to finish.’ – gorgutz13
13. ‘He likes to finger keyboards more than my vagina.’ – RadioIsMyFriend
14. ‘We’re both 58 and we’ll be married 38 years in July. Our last intimate encounter took place in August 2002. She was diagnosed with a mental disorder after almost successfully committing suicide during that time frame. She was prescribed several medications that resulted in multiple health issues and is completely asexual. She took care of me and the children in our younger days when I was in the military and frequently deployed. It’s my time to take care of her. She understands I still have needs and would probably look the other way, but I keep my promises.’ – pyungshin
15. ‘My wife suffers from vaginismus and vestibulitis. Both conditions make sex very hard for my wife. Vaginismus is the involuntary contraction of the pelvic floor muscles during penetration, think kegels on steroids. The vestibulitis makes the friction of sex feel like rug burn. We have been married eight years and together 13 years. Our worse years we had sex two times. The average is probably four times a year. Lately she has been trying to have sex once a month.’ – Kierik
16. ‘We spend all kinds of time with each other and we are super affectionate. But actually having sex just doesn’t have the same allure as when we were younger. She’s still hot. But we only do it once every month on average, just because we’d rather connect in other ways.’ – Dingus_McDoodle_Esq
17. ‘We have three kids and live in a small house. I work two jobs. She works one. We both team up to take care of the housework and running the kids to this activity and that activity. But besides not having the time or energy, we’re in our 40s and my wife has become less interested in having sex. Wed rather catch up on a show we never get to watch. We haven’t had sex in a couple of years but not a day goes by we don’t hug and kiss each other and say I love you. I don’t know. We’re best friends busting our butts raising kids, paying bills and doing our best to keep our heads above water.’ – [account deleted]
*Answers have been edited for length and clarity. Image via instagram.com.
Comment: Have you ever been in a sex-starved relationship? How did it affect you?
Elizabeth lives in Brooklyn with two daughters, occasional mice and innumerable to-do lists. She runs a nine-minute mile, bakes a mean chocolate chip cookie, and can always be persuaded to sing at a karaoke bar. Follow her on Twitter.