Are You Numb to Your Sexless Marriage?

Cup Of Coffee With HeartBefore age 34, I was never a coffee drinker.

The first time I had a latte, I was about 6 months pregnant with our youngest son.

In my naivety, I failed to order decaf, so you can imagine what the caffeine did to my heart and kid.  Poor little guy.

He probably felt like I jabbed a syringe full of adrenaline straight into his thigh.

Anyway, that was 9 years ago.

Despite the experience, I still don’t order decaf (only now I’m purposely not ordering decaf).

In fact, more often than not, I’m asking the hip young barista to throw in an extra shot of espresso. I glance at him with that “you-have-no-idea-what-I-have-to-get-done-today” sort of look.

He glances back un-fazed, because he has seen that look a thousand times before — from other 40-somethings who keep hoping someone will come up with an app that can drive the kids to school and keep the fridge stocked and do the laundry.

All. At. The. Same. Time.

Not surprisingly, the caffeine doesn’t seem to jolt me like it used to.

Sure, I feel its effects some, but for the most part, my body has built a tolerance for that kind of rush.  I’m certainly more numb to it now than I was when I sat at that coffee shop 9 years ago, introducing my kiddo to his first encounter with a caffeine-fueled mama.

It’s interesting what we can tolerate if we subject ourselves to it long enough.

Caffeine is probably the least of our worries in this regard (although some doctors would beg to differ with me. I know. I’ve feigned concern when my doc tells me to not drink more than two caffeinated drinks a day and certainly not after noon. Uhh. Okay. Whatever.)

Caffeine warnings aside, are there other times when we have built a tolerance for something much more damaging?

In marriage, sometimes tolerance morphs into an icky acceptance of patterns that just aren’t good for us.

Like too little sex.  Too little good sex.  Too little sex that both of you mutually value.

Or no sex at all.

My email inbox is strewn with strangers’ emails.  Their hearts and words spill like emotional wreckage across my computer screen, accounting often in great detail the devastation of having tolerated a marriage void of authentic sexual intimacy.

Usually, one person is tolerating the lack of intimacy — and the other person is completely indifferent or unaware of it.

Lately, I have received a few emails where people have shared this sentiment: “My spouse has said they would be fine with never having sex again.”


If you have become numb to your sexless marriage, I humbly encourage you to ask yourself if that numbness — that tolerance, so to speak — is bringing you closer to your spouse or causing a widening divide.

I can’t answer that for you.

All I know from my casual sideline view and from having a heart sensitive to this aspect of marriage is that I never hear stories where little or no sex in a marriage is doing any good.


The marriages where little or no sex is happening (and there’s no reasonable reason as to why) are ones that tend to lack the deep endearment that people envision they will have when they marry.

At best they are characterized by two people who are going through the motions of a life that looks strikingly similar to two roommates. We share bills. We share a washer and dryer. We share a bathroom.

There is discord and disconnect, but not enough safety and trust to truly address those issues mutually and selflessly.

At worst, they are characterized by two people who cannot stand being in each other’s presence and are internally processing how they can survive the marriage — or get the heck out of it.

So, if you stand back and realize that little or no sex has become your norm, have you also counted the costs?

If we could sit and talk over a cup of coffee — and I knew your marriage was lacking authentic sexual intimacy — I would courageously ask you that exact question.

What would your answer be?

Copyright 2013, Julie Sibert. Sexual Intimacy in Marriage blog.

56 thoughts on “Are You Numb to Your Sexless Marriage?

  1. bengal15 says:

    “…if you stand back and realize that little or no sex has become your norm, have you also counted the costs?” Excellent question, and yes, I have. In my case, the costs are minimal. Sex was never much fun for me because my wife demanded a certain level of performance, and was very unhappy when I didn’t deliver. There’s a certain type of liberation from being free of this pressure.

    Probably, you’ll now say “You two desperately need an honest, heart-to-heart discussion of this situation.” No way — too dangerous. For very different reasons, both of us were raised to keep our own counsel on deeply personal issues. If I were to try sharing such issues, it could easily create a very explosive situation that might blow the marriage apart.

    Sometimes, a roommate relationship is the best you can do, because trying for something more creates a definite risk of winding up with no relationship at all. Harsh, yes, but true.

  2. H says:

    First year of marriage I was just frustrated. Then angry which turned into bitter and resentful after several years. Now, the years pass by and numb is the perfect word to describe the way I feel. Empty. Devoid of feeling. No hope of restoration. Just resignation and acceptance that this will be my life for as long as I live. The only thing that comes close to an emotion is the gnawing feeling that saving myself for marriage was a waste. Like I had a wonderful gift to use that I let sit and expire without ever having really enjoyed it.

  3. Given Up says:

    Most of the time I am numb about not doing anything for almost 3 years but then I think about it and get really angry because he has no right to make such a momentous decision without my agreeing to it. Then he runs off to church and believes God is okay with this. He is now my roommate and nothing more. This is what he wants. Conversely, he actually had the nerve to ask me a few weeks ago, after a tremendous fight about this, if I think he wants to live this way! He’s the one who decided to end that part of the marriage, not me. Now I look at him and he disgusts me. He is such a “Christian” hypocrite.

  4. AG says:

    I don’t know if I qualify here, we avg about once per week. This however is only because she knows that is the minimum to keeping me from completely shutting down. I of course don’t expect it every night, but once is not nearly enough either.

    It’s also rare that that the sex is any good to boot. She’s not into anything other than missionary or her on top unless she’s had a few drinks. Needless to say, there’s no oral to be given or taken, and I’m pretty sure there’s a battalion of marines guarding her waistline from any hand venturing south much like there is at the 38th parallel. I’ve never asked for anything crazy kinky, but some variety would be nice. Maybe some tame toys and a few different positions. This makes the sex we do have not very good because it puts so much pressure on me to satiafy her. The added cherry on top is I haven’t seen her in lingerie in a decade. Yes, that’s more than a presidential term, and enough time for a look back show to be done on VH1.

    I’ve kept myself in shape, and am hygenic. I also do more than my share around the house as well as do all the fixing up and renovating the house as well. Might as well add the title of mechanic to that as I only pay for the car to be fixed if I cannot do it myself. Kids…..I do as much as I can to lighten her burden, and when we’re both home at the same time, I do 90% of the child rearing. I’m not complaining as she does do a lot too and works hard to help make ends meet. But I’m not the guy sitting on the couch while she slaves away either.

    This is why I get angry when I see women on sites like these say ” If he only did “x” more of household chores and stuff with the kids, he would get more sex.” Nobody gets hot over cleaning, cooking etc. That’s a complete lie and simply a way to place the blame for lack of sex on the refused spouse. If that was really the way to a woman’s heart, I would probably be bored with sex due to getting it so much.

    We’ve had our talks, fights, and civil discussions about it, but nothing changes. I’m coming to terms with the fact that this is what it will be. In several years, she will be entering menopause, that I just know will be the nail in the coffin so to speak. I know this because she will never do a sexual favor of any kind unless there is something in it for her. It’s not that I’m a selfish lover, I love it when I can satisfy the other, it makes the whole experience better. But it would be nice to get something here and there.

    Some of the worst pain in a marriage is being rejected, it’s a deep hurt that stays with you 24/7. It’s been almost 15 years of living like this, and like the title of this article, I’m numb. It’s brought on a depression and has contributed to changing me as a person. I used to be the up for anything type. I was much more social and loved to be around people. Now I’m just a shell of my former self, hoping get to God that I find my soul again.

    If you’re reading this, and you’re the type that doesn’t think sex is important to your relationship, then know that you are causing the person you supposedly love to die inside. This rejection causes harm in every other area of their life from job, to friendships, and yes, their physical health as well. So by all means, get that extra 20 min of sleep at night, or make time to watch the TV rather than sharing yourself with your spouse, just don’t cry when you realize that rejected mate of yours doesn’t look at you like he/she did on your wedding day.

  5. H says:

    For years I was numb. I even posted such on this thread a while back. I find now that people around me all feel the need to keep reminding me of what is missing in my life. I want the numbness back because the pain of rejection is all I feel now. It’s all fresh in my mind now and I am going through all the same emotions I felt from the first few months of our nearly sexless marriage. The bitterness and resentment have been brought back to the surface and it seems even harder to put behind me this time. I feel such intense anger toward my unaffectionate wife and toward the lies I was told in church that I just want to scream at everyone in rage. I want the peace of the numbness back. I want everyone around me to stop reminding me of what I want but can’t have. I would rather feel numb than what I feel like now.

  6. Given Up says:

    Hey, AG, once a week? How about not once in what will be 4 years on 12/21/17? Yes, I’m keeping track. I would be happy to get once a week once in a while, if I had not reached the point of hoping his d*** would fall off. He’s just too holy me; he has God and his church and doesn’t need a woman anymore. Do I sound bitter?

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