1 in 5 People Live in a Sexless Marriage

Needed information about how to make things better…

Maureen McGrath: It’s been said if you never want to have sex again, get married. Sex is one of the most contentious issues in marriage today, second only to finances. There are many married couples that have not had sex for months, even years, and that’s okay as long as they’re okay with it and happily married. The problem arises when one person in the relationship wants sex and the other doesn’t. According to a national newspaper survey of approximately 10,000 respondents, mostly married men, 75% were satisfied in their relationship but more than 50% were dissatisfied with their sex lives. We’re having sex, don’t get me wrong, we’re just having sex at the wrong time and with the wrong people, I’ll get to that later.

We’re having sex before we get married, 10 years on average, so we are effectively in a long term relationship and potentially quite sexually bored before we even mess up the marital bed. That has its consequences. Most brides today do not have sex on their wedding nights, and 50% of men would not have married their spouse had they known their marriage was going to be sexless. So, everybody wants to know, just how much sex are married people having, whether they are in heterosexual relationships or same sex unions, you all want to know what’s going on at the Jones’? Well not much.

Only about 7% of married couples set the sheets ablaze. Most married couples have sex a little more than once a week for the first decade of their marriage, it decreases after that. So they have sex about 58 times a year, and 20% of marriages meet the criteria as a sexless marriage. That, defined by the experts, is sex less than 10 times a year. So why aren’t we having sex in our marriages? Well, there’s a little known chemical in the brain conveniently called PEA, or PEA. It’s responsible for the elation, the excitement and the euphoria that you feel when you meet somebody that you are sexually interested in.

It’s a fantastic feeling, this chemical is scourging through your blood vessels, you are so happy, that’s how powerful this little chemical is. What happens after two years, that chemical diminishes as does sexual frequency. That’s just about the time you might get married or might have conflict in your relationship and that is why communication is key to great sex. There’s another reason we’re not having sex in our relationships, that has to do with the sex education that we provide. I’d like to share a story about myself, when I was a teenager my mother came racing into my bedroom and she said, “Maureen, please tell me you have not allowed a boy to french kiss you!” She was feeling terrible that this sex education came a bit late, I was feeling horrifically guilty as an Irish catholic girl that I’d french kissed a number of boys by that stage.

We teach girls and women that sex is dirty and sex is bad or it’s overrated. We say, you’re just going to get a sexually transmitted infection anyway, or you might get pregnant! This whole fear based thing frightens women from enjoying sex and we never talk about pleasure with girls and women, or orgasm. In fact, some women say orgasm is not important and that the journey is just as good as the destination. I disagree. Of course. I’m the one who french kissed all the boys as an Irish catholic girl. It’s like getting on a train with your lover, and you are going to the most pleasurable place on the planet. You are so excited, you’re getting lubed up with all the free drinks they’re giving you, this is amazing. Just before you reach your destination, he gets off and you don’t. You get my point.

Now, the sex education we have for boys and men, that’s entirely different. It’s a global program, it’s free, it’s accessible to everybody and it’s known as internet pornography. Fantastic. It does nothing to teach men and boys about intimacy which is really important to men and boys, or how to make love to anybody, also we have a paucity of information about sexual health for our LGBTQI community and we need to add to that. Now marriage can rapidly go from holy matrimony to holy hell with the finances, the kids, the houses, the illness. You may have signed up for sickness and health but that was long before you’d ever witnessed a man cold, and how about that richer or poorer thing? Ladies we’re going to have to start going for richer.

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Most women today are working inside and outside of the home. We’re doing the lion share of the housework because according to research, men don’t feel they’re that good at it. We’re bridging the gap between growing children and aging parents. We’re exhausted doing it all and never doing it, and when we are doing it, we’re checking our smartphones. 10% of people check their smartphones during sex. 35% immediately afterward. We are connected to the internet. We are connected to the internet and disconnected from our would be lovers. Maybe this is the reason that the most common sex position for married couples is doggy style. No, no, no. It’s not what you’re thinking. Get your minds out of the gutter.

This is the one where he’s on all fours and begs and she plays dead. I have a clinical practice where I see patients that have sexual disfunction and there are two questions that I ask everybody. The first one is, are you sexually active? That’s obvious. When I ask women they never say yes or no. Well, they never say yes. But they never say yes or no. They say; sometimes, sort of, I’m not sure, he is or they say “I’m married.” I say well that means no to me. They say yes you’re right, it is no. Most men complain that women never initiate sex. The reason for this is because once again the sex education we provide to women, women falsely believe that female sexual interest, desire, precedes sexual activity when in actuality, it is sexual activity that prompts sexual interest and desire. Sexual arousal emerges as a result of sexual activity.


So, you guys I know, intimacy is important to you. The most important question that reflects this that I receive from you is, “How much masturbation is too much masturbation?” So I just say as long as you can go to work, you should be fine. Then I realize, that that’s perhaps all that you’re doing at work. So I know intimacy is important, you want to come home and you want to make love to your wife if you’re in a heterosexual relationship, so after a long and quite possibly very hard day, you come home to a bit of chaos perhaps, you’ve just got sex on the mind and she says, “Did you remember the milk?” You’re like darn, the milk! I forgot the milk. Don’t beat yourselves up about it, if not for the milk we have Facebook, hormones, I’m feeling a little tired tonight, my stomachs sticking out I’m feeling kind of fat, can’t do it tonight, didn’t we have sex last month? You’re like, that was actually last year. You don’t get it. Literally, you don’t get it.

You’re like she’s amazing, she works in and outside of the home, she does a great job with the kids, she volunteers, she even has time for girls nights out. So, I brought a friend home after one such girls night out. As we approached her house, drove up she looked up to her bedroom window, saw that the lights were on and she said, “Donny’s waiting up for me, do me a favor, drive around the block a few times until the light goes out” I said listen, “You get in there and make love to your husband before somebody else does” Because that is one thing that will increase a woman’s sexual desire, when someone else wants her man. Still unconvinced she said, “I decided to extol the health and beauty benefits that sex has for a woman, a youthful glow, better sleep, wrinkle free skin. Keep driving” She said.

There is a device that will increase anybody’s sexual desire and that happens to be the Mercedes Benz 4MATIC convertible SL and it comes in 64 colors. If that doesn’t do it, the desire to have a baby will rev up any woman’s sex drive. The problem is, having that baby is likely to kill it along with any marital eroticism a couple may have had. A lot of people believe that motherhood and being sexual is incongruousness. John, John followed me on LinkedIn for two years before he mustered up the courage to make an appointment about his sexless marriage. He’d been married for seven years and they had never consummated the relationship. Their parents were pressuring them to have parents because they wanted grandchildren. When they came into my clinical practice, the second question that I ask everybody that enters my clinical practice most unfortunately is, “Have you ever experienced sexual abuse or unwanted sexual advances as a child?”

This was the first time this gentle man had learned that his wife had experienced sexual abuse as a six year old at the hands of her best friend’s father. She thought sex was dirty, she hated sex, we need a worldwide moratorium on ending sexual violence on our children, boys and girls, because it happens to both. Healing from sexual abuse takes a lifetime. Ella had lived a lifetime. A widow, she said she wasn’t sexually active but she hoped to be. I thought, fantastic! Somebody is going to have sex here, but she said, “The problem Maureen is that these old guys can’t get it up anymore” I said well Ella, you might have to go for a younger guy. She said, “What’s younger when you’re 84? 70?” Yes some of you are saying.

The hard truth is that men in their 30s and 40s may experience erectile dysfunction. Ella is going to have to go for a millennial. So you’re all probably thinking, “What’s the big deal, why treat my erectile dysfunction?” Well I liken the penis to a plane, if a pilot can’t get the plane up in the air, and keep the plane in the air for the entire trip, there’s probably a problem with the engine. So if you can’t get your penis up and keep it up for the entire sexual experience, there’s likely a problem with your engine. That’s your heart. Erectile dysfunction is the canary in the coal mine and it may signify cardiovascular disease. It may also indicate diabetes. These two medical conditions in addition to low testosterone, stress, substance use and abuse, excessive alcohol consumption, unresolved conflict, financial issues, all of those may contribute to low sexual desire and you may end up in a sexless marriage.

George presented to my clinical practice at age 40, he decided to settle down. He was marrying a beautiful and accomplished woman in a few months. There’s only one problem, George was gay. George could not bear to tell his family that he was gay because he felt it would have shamed the entire family. I said, “George, you’re going to end up in a sexless marriage!” He said, “Tell me something I don’t know!” George said to me his plan was this, “Well, when my parents die I’m then going to divorce this woman and I’m going to marry the man that I love” And I said, “George, you are not thinking straight.” Sex is the barometer of the state of affairs in a marriage. People who live in sexless marriages report feeling frustrated, unloved, undesirable, unattractive and the worst of all, lonely.

Loneliness has been shown to increase vascular resistance and elevate blood pressure and lead to an early death. You’re more likely to die from loneliness than you are from obesity or excessive alcohol consumption. When I educate women and I say, “If you’re not having sex with your husband, someone else may” They get upset and they say that I’m blaming women for men’s bad behavior when in actuality I’m doing a community service. You see, men in sexless marriages cheat to remain in that marriage in general. Women cheat to leave a sexless marriage. Women cheat too, nobody ever thinks we do but we’re just sneakier about it, we just don’t get caught or socialize very differently, this is one thing we have on you guys. Women cheat with other men and women cheat with other women.

Technology has made cheating accessible for everybody, from the politician to the stay at home parent, that quick swipe right can lead to an online passionate love affair. From texting to sexting to secret phone conversations. The more two people communicate online, the more likely an in-person encounter will occur, but you can always blame your genes. The gene DN4N has been isolated in cheaters and the sexless marriage, just the environment to turn on that gene. It’s based on a system of pleasure and reward. The stakes are high, the rewards substantial. It is the perfect cocktail to turn that love drug back on, PEA and the cycle begins again. Historically, marriage was not based on mutual love but rather it was an institution to acquire of all things in laws, property and physical labor. At the turn of the 20th century, in America, egalitarian ideals and the emerging Hollywood movie industry burdened marriages with promising romantic love forever.

Now we’re living forever, fantastic, congratulations, you get to have sex with the same person for the rest of your life. The second most common question that I hear from patients is, “When does sex end?” Well a 44 year old asked me, he said, ” When does sex end Maureen, 65?” I answered him this way, a 22 year old asked me, “When does sex end Maureen, 35?” Everybody’s older until you get there. I’m here to tell you that sex never ends. If you’re healthy, you can have a great sex life well into your 80s and 90s. Sex is good for you, sex is healthy, yet sex is shrouded in shame. In the ancient aristocracies, the wealthy men had courtesans for pleasure and concubines for quick sex. The way we’re going, computers will be our concubines, internet pornography our mistress of the day. Technology is fast replacing human connection at high speed.

So how do you rev up the sexless marriage? Sex is about blood flow, sexercise. Every day you want to have a daily workout. It increases your agility, your stamina, women will experience more sexual sensation when blood is flowing to the genitalia. It also helps to treat erectile dysfunction. Also get help for any of the sexual dysfunctions you may have, vaginal dryness, it’s an issue that happens to women who are on the oral contraceptive pill, who are breastfeeding, perimenopausal, postmenopausal and there are treatments for you. Pay more attention to your spouse than you do your smartphone. Spend more time in your bedrooms than you do your boardrooms or your bedrooms are going to become bored rooms. Deal with your marital issues.

Go to sleep in the same bed at the same time and don’t bring anything or anyone into your marriage except for a great sex toy and a darn good sex therapist. You must establish guidelines that govern those moments when you are struck by someone’s attractiveness outside of your marriage, but don’t think for a second that you have to have sex with the same person for the rest of your life. That’s not what I mean. In your mind, that is. Fantasy is key. Your brain is your largest sex organ, and one more thing. I would like to leave you all off with a bang. Settle all marital arguments in the bedroom, naked.


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