Sex Q&A: End a Sexless Marriage?

Reconnect With Him

Patricia from Detroit, Michigan asks:

Hi Liam,

My spouse and I have had sexual difficulties throughout most of our marriage but have been without physical intimacy for 2 years now. I took matters into my own hands and had a passionate affair 8 years ago but it ended when his wife found out. My husband halfheartedly tries medication which doesn’t work. We have a lot of anger and resentment but again, he halfheartedly agrees to go for counseling; we never do. I go for individual counseling. Is lack of sex a reason to end a 30-year marriage? Also I heard that my former lover may be going through a divorce. As pathetic as it sounds, I have to ask, is there is a chance for us to be together again?

Liam’s Response:

Greetings, Patricia, and thank you for sharing this tragic tale. I sense that you are one of the few who understands what marriage is, and what is not, in a truly pragmatic fashion, so I won’t speak to you as if you are one of the many children out there masquerading as adults seeking a fairy tale life. You are a woman who takes her duties and obligations seriously, or you wouldn’t have been living in the situation you are in for so long.

I was moved by the way you spoke of your sacred affair. And it was sacred, was it not? Through it you learned how to feel again after many years of being numb to the touch. What you and your lover experienced then was the most delightful of forbidden fruit, plucked from a tender midnight garden. But such fever is like a mayfly—it lives only for a brief time—an interlude of liberation. It isn’t at all surprising to me that the Fates intervened to cut short your lovers’ dance. They often do, loving a good tragedy. But don’t despair. You were awakened, stirred to the quick, and that is what matters.

Marriage is about duty. It is about our quest for survival in daily life. It is about our genetic and familial obligations. Throughout history, marriage was always a property agreement and it still is. We’re just too polite to come right out and say things as frankly as our ancestors did. And while most marriages have sexual expectations, passion usually doesn’t remain a key component for long. This is natural. We seem to have this strange idea in Western culture that we can defy natural facts and that it is essential for us to have a ribald sex life with our marriage partners forever and ever and if we do not, then something must be wrong. But there’s nothing wrong. We’ve simply completed the mating cycle which passes far more quickly than anyone these days wants to admit.

In your case, your sex life sucks, but that’s just something that happens in marriage. In your need to free yourself from convention, you found a lover. That’s not uncommon. The mating cycle passes and then the marriage stops being sexual—sometimes for months or years and sometimes forever. The partners however, do not. You aren’t asexual and neither is your husband. He’s tired and run down, and you’re too familiar to him to raise his dormant ardor. But believe me it’s still there. You may or may not want to talk to your husband about all this. As for myself, I advocate honesty when at all possible. And if you really cannot endure a marriage built on friendship while having your amorous adventures on the side, then by all means get out of it right away.

Having said that, let me stress that the worst thing you could do is leave your husband in order to be “in love” with someone else. Your former lover is going through a divorce but what you had with him was the forbidden dance of two lonely souls. Understand that if you reconnect with him now the relationship will be different. A lot of that shadowy passion will no longer be present. To run to him in expectation of a new marriage to escape the one you’re in would court disaster. In time, it might become more, but to start with, you might simply extend a hand of friendship to one who is struggling. Make your reconnection about him and what he is going through and how you might be there for him today, because today is all you really have.


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6 thoughts on “Sex Q&A: End a Sexless Marriage?

  1. libby 5288

    You are so Amazing with your words of wisdom, love reading your writings, you are so spiritually connected in spirit with words of understanding. Alway a pleasure to read your writings, very well said.

  2. Cat

    How very Shakespearian your writing, Liam. Always enchanting and ageless, your insight on our human trials. I’ve read with you many, many times with delight. What you’ve told this wise soul, Patricia, is true through eternity. She is enlightened enough to see the truth and I admire her fortitude. I’ve been there, done that. Forbidden fruit, plucked from a tender midnight garden–so aptly put. It does awaken, it does not sustain. The Fates DO love a good tragedy, don’t they?! That’s a line I will commit to memory and have a good chuckle when my human plans falter. Come to think of it, you even share the Bard’s name, don’t you? You rank up there with the best–ageless, insightful and brilliantly versed. It is a delight to drink in your wisdom with words. If you’re ever in print, I’m buying!

  3. Gavy K

    That’s a really good piece of advice, Liam!
    Marriage is not simply passion or sex. In Eastern cultures, men and women ‘stick’ to their marriages-despite all odds. The institution of marriage is considered highly sacred.
    I love your website and what you have to say each time. Thanks.


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