Relationship Advice Tips from Dr. Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D.

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Is affection enough?

What is a sexless marriage?

Is it lack of intercourse, or lack of any sexual contact?

Is affection a part of a sexless marriage, or is touching not allowed?

Maybe a sexless marriage is when there is no sexual contact and intercourse for more than a year!

Is it a lack of libido , or is it intercourse that is conducted as a ritual or routine duty?

Four Ways to Understand a Sexless Marriage

1. The dutiful sex is a “sexless” marriage because it is entered into to prove that the union is functioning and or to relieve on or other partner’s physical needs without resorting to porn.


2. A marriage is ‘sexless’ where the act of sex is seen as a powerful way of controlling a partner – either enforcing the right to have sex or withdrawing it to inflict revenge and  punishment.

3. A sexless marriage is one where the sex drive is focused and channeled onto careers, one night stands or intercourse with others that lack emotional involvement.

4. A marriage that has no emotional intimacy,  might be one where the sex-drive is active in masturbation – an individual rather than a couple action – suggesting that the pair are fearful of being vulnerable and ceding control during an act of intercourse. They choose instead to satisfy themselves sexually to retain control and privacy, while bonding in different way. For instance, they may become the best cheer leaders for one another, generous supporters of career ambitions, and united as co-parents when it comes to discipline.

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But wait you say!
What about sexual incompatibility?

Is that the cause of a sexless marriage?


If there was no chemistry and physical attraction to begin with, then the marriage took place because other things were more important – like dependability, being taken care of, treated like the only one in the world, reliability and a plan to be each others companions.

What If there was chemistry at the beginning but has since been lost?

If you were attracted to each other at some time then the ‘sex’ part is fine. Something has gone wrong with the emotional connection. When one person feels controlled, or invisible, there is no juice to turn on the sexual engines. If there is a power struggle, condemnation, threats and fear of loss in a relationship, it’s not safe to be vulnerable and have intercourse. Physical intimacy is either absent or used to dominate.
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Is it okay to have no sex but a wonderful strong partnership?
It depends what sex symbolizes for you in your marriage. If you determine it to be the essence of a good marriage, then it’s  a problem for you. You are going to feel that you are not good enough, insecure and stressed if your partner has affairs, angry that your needs are not fulfilled and suspicious of whether your party truly loves you.
Couples therapy may be a good way to explore your varying needs.
If on the other hand, you think of it as just an element of a marriage that is nice to have, but not essential, it will work out. It can work in marriages where the couple agree to be room mates and take care of one another in other ways, and play their assigned roles.

A solid emotional bond is the best recipe for a good marriage. It involves trust, security, loyalty and room for individual preferences and needs. When the emotional bond is strong, everything else falls into place. There is understanding about the life journey ahead and how you will adapt together to deal with it.
And hey presto!  Feeling close, safe and trusted is when the oxytocin hormones get you roused up and sex flows naturally.

AUTHOR OF ‘Now You Want Me, Now You Don’t! Fear of Intimacy: ten ways to recognize it and ten ways to manage it in your relationships.”

Copyright, Jeanette Raymond, Ph.D. 2015

Disclaimer: this article is for informational and educative purposes only. Dr. Raymond is not responsible for any reactions you may have when reading the content or using the suggestions therein. Interacting with this material does not constitute a therapeutic relationship with Dr. Jeanette Raymond.