Sexless marriages?

Dear Dr. Milrod:

Lately, I have been hearing a lot about sexless marriages. I just read about a guy’s reason for infidelity, and that was a 25-year sexless marriage. I thought that he should have had a clue after the first six months? Or first year! Aren’t sex and intimacy the bedrock of a good relationship? Do people of both sexes feel that they are not complete without a relationship, any relationship? I have always been curious.

Girl Interrupted

Dear Girl Interrupted:

What if we turned the question on its head and posited the following: Maybe a “sexy” marriage to a woman means sex once a month, and that anything beyond that is one time too many? In other words, what’s “sexless” to a man, is “full of sex” to a woman?

Of course I’m being a Devil’s advocate, but let’s keep this in mind: for reasons evolutionary and hormonal, men and women have divergent sex drives. It is almost physically impossible for women to keep up with men, since women’s testosterone levels are about 20 times lower than that of their male counterparts. Hence, right around ovulation, when women experience their LH surge and coincidentally, their estrogen levels are at their highest, women can be very similar in their desire to copulate. But otherwise, it’s almost superhuman to expect that women should have the same frequency of desire as males, particularly males with whom they have been consorting for a few years.

Then again, we should not confuse sex and intimacy. I believe that a majority of women crave intimacy and many complain that they are not getting enough. Within that spectrum, women can take intimacy to mean physical affection – the non-sexual kind. Many women would disagree with the notion that sex is part of the “bedrock of a good relationship.” To many women, sex after childbirth ceases to be as important as it is to men. As to the clue after six months, that’s way too early. Most women’s neurotransmitters are firing on all cylinders six months into a relationship. The dopamine swings and the PEA don’t stop acting up until appx a couple of years post first-coitus.

I would recommend an easy-read book for you, Helen Fisher’s “The Anatomy of Love.” Good, solid reading, easy to understand and enjoyable to ponder. Always a perennial, that topic!

Christine Milrod, Ph.D

Comments are closed.