A couple's sex life is affected by so many different factors: age, lifestyle, each partner's health and sex drive, and most importantly the quality of their relationship. Couple needs to decide what amount is right for them. You may have a problem if the frequency (or lack thereof) of sex with your partner interferes with the quality of your life; if you find yourself worrying about it, wishing it were more (or less) frequent; or becoming a contentious topic in your relationship or in your overall ability to be intimate with your partner.
Having said that, most sex therapists agree that couples having sex less than 10 times a year could be labelled a "sexless" relationship. A lack of sex doesn't always mean the relationship is in trouble, as long as both partners are satisfied with the frequency. However, often when couples stop having sex their relationship can be overtaken by feelings of anger, disappointment and detachment which can lead to infidelity or divorce.
There are many reasons couple are not having sex with each other.
- On the physiological front, there might be issues of chronic illnesses (diabetes, cancer, stroke), substance usage (alcohol, tobacco, drugs, medication), disability, injury, aging, etc.
- On the psychological front, there might be issues of sexual difficulties (hypoactive sexual disorder, desire discrepancy, excitement-phase difficulty, dyspareunia, performance anxieties, emotional difficulties (e.g., depression, PTSD), sexual orientation, etc.
- On the relationship front, there might be relationship struggles, hurt and unforgiveness, sexual dissatisfaction and betrayal, etc.
Steps that couples can take to get out of a sex rut:
- Acknowledge and recognize that there is a problem. It doesn’t matter and irrelevant if you can have sex with other people. It doesn’t matter whether you want or not want to have sex with your partner anyway. The fact that you are not having sex is a problem for BOTH of you.
- Physical check up with a doctor to rule out physical causes
- Profession guidance. Couple should seek professional help with a therapist for guidance in dealing with the psychological and relationship issues.
- Talk about sex. Couple should improve communication especially in the area of sex. Talking about sex is actually more intimate than having sex. Talk about your sexual preferences, your fears, your hopes, your sexual story (i.e., story of how you learned about sex, how you became aware of your sexuality, how you experienced the pain and shame, but also the joy and beauty of sex), etc.
- Build intimacy. Take steps to build all areas of intimacy (emotional, aesthetic, intellectual, creative, recreational, work, crisis, conflict, commitment, spiritual, parenting) in your relationship and especially sexual intimacy.
- Put in hard work. Impersonal sex is more fun than personal sex. But, only because it doesn’t involve the hard work of intimacy building. The point is not necessarily about fun. In a marriage, the point is in sharing the body, mind and soul. Personal sex is work. It’s harder. It’s messier. It’s riskier. But it’s better. And couples who are committed to improving their intimate, passionate, romantic, and sexual lives with one another don’t have to settle for fun sex.