John can hardly remember what it feels like to be sexually intimate with his wife Cindy. He has a vague recollection of how wonderful it is to kiss her passionately and have her kiss him eagerly in return.
Unfortunately, it’s been far too long since even that has happened.
Over the course of their marriage, anger, hurt feelings and a lot of misunderstandings have built up. Their relationship grew strained and sex became a rare occurrence.
Both Cindy and John looked outside of their marriage for comfort and affection. On weekends and evenings, she spent more and more time with her friends. John stumbled upon some online chat rooms where he struck up platonic friendships with others who were just as lonely as he felt.
When Cindy discovered John’s ongoing online friendship with one particular woman, she didn’t yell or scream or accuse him of cheating, but she did become even more cold and distant. That was the day that Cindy completely stopped having sex with John.
Now, John is asking himself why he stays with Cindy. He still cares about her, but he wants more from his partner than this.
He wonders if her not having sex with him is a good enough reason to get a divorce.
If you’re in a sexless marriage or if you and your partner have sex less frequently than you’d like, you might be wondering the same thing as John.
You might love your partner and feel sad or guilty about even thinking about breaking up, but you are…
- not getting your needs met (sexual and other needs too)
- angry because this isn’t what you signed up for
It’s likely that you have a mix of feelings. You might also be worried that this is somehow all your fault. Or, it could be clear to you that your unhappiness and frustration are your partner’s fault.
Still, the question remains, “Is this a good reason to break up?”
Maybe you understand your partner’s reasons for not having sex with you. Perhaps he or she has a chronic health condition or has had a traumatic past experience that is preventing intimacy. It could be that your partner’s libido is far different than yours. But, you’ve been beyond patient when it comes to the challenges your partner faces and you would like your needs to get met, for once.
Maybe you don’t have a clue about why your partner stopped having sex with you. This can bring up worries and suspicions that you may or may not have proof to back up.
Amid all of this is the fact that you and your partner are no longer having sex. Even if you are rarely having sex, you’re not getting what you want from the relationship.
This is definitely the time to make a decision about whether to stay in or leave the relationship.
Explore your “good” reasons for breaking up.
You may have an idea about what are “good” reasons for ending your relationship. Maybe you’ve been given advice or your religious beliefs and values tell you that sticking things out is the right thing to do. You’ve read books and magazine articles about how quickly people turn to divorce and you don’t want to make a mistake.
There can be a whole lot of “voices” in your head telling you that a lack of sex is not a valid reason for breaking up.
We encourage you to focus in on what your own reasons are for wanting to end your relationship. Only listen to the advice that helps you live in integrity with who you are and let the rest go. Know that YOUR reasons are good ones, even if they are different from what another person says and does.
Take out a piece of paper when you can be alone and uninterrupted and make a list of all of the reasons why you feel compelled to end your relationship. We’re guessing that a lack of sex is only one cause of your dissatisfaction. You can also write down why you feel drawn to stay with your partner.
Try not to get caught up in whether you or your partner is to blame for whatever you write down on your list. For now, get clearer about what it is you want.
Create a “next step” plan that’s best for you.
As you look over your list, you’ll probably see which direction you are leaning. You can use this list as a tool to make a decision about what your next step will be.
You don’t necessarily have to make a firm decision about whether to stay in or leave the relationship right now*. Do come up with at least 1 action step that you will take that will lead you toward feeling more satisfied– whether this is sexually satisfied or in another way.
You might choose to separate or take some time away from your partner.
You might realize that it’s time to end your relationship and you meet with an attorney.
You might see that the best course is to have an honest talk with your partner and to ask him or her to work on intimacy with you.
You might decide to seek help from a professional counselor or coach.
Take into account how you feel, what you want, what the facts are and be sure to trust your gut.
*If you are being abused in any way, we urge you to get to a safe space and away from the violence. From that safe space, you can make a decision about your future.