You never really got over that dry spell, and now it's been months, possibly years, since you and your spouse last had sex. From not being able to keep your hands off one another when you first got married, you barely even touch each other anymore. Sadly, it's like you're sleep partners rather than lovers.
If you value sex and physical affection, not being able to connect with your spouse can be distressing. You may feel unwanted and unattractive — not to mention that a lack of physical intimacy tends to kill all other kinds of intimacy.
It's undeniable: for most couples, sex plays a major role in relationship satisfaction and longevity. In fact, some of the happiest couples tend to prioritize both emotional and physical intimacy.
If your sex life has died at the hand of typical day-to-day stuff, you might be wondering if a lack of physical intimacy is normal. If you're utterly miserable and haven't felt loved for a long time, you may even be wondering if a 'dead bedroom' is reasonable grounds for divorce.
So, does a dead bedroom always end in divorce? Well, here’s the short of it:
Things to know
- While a lack of physical intimacy is often linked to the breakdown of a relationship, dead bedrooms don't always end in divorce.
- Sometimes spouses are able to sort out their issues and revive a dead bedroom.
- If spouses can't come to a reasonable resolution to their bedroom issues, divorce might be the only option.
Even if your bedroom woes seem too monumental to resolve, divorce isn't your only option. In fact, there’s a lot more to explore. Here’s what we’ll be looking at:
- What Constitutes a Dead Bedroom?
- 6 Causes of Dead Bedrooms
- Does A Dead Bedroom Always End In Divorce?
- How To Revive A Dead Bedroom
- Be Patient
- Dead Bedroom FAQs
What Constitutes a Dead Bedroom?
A dead bedroom describes a situation where partners have either temporarily or permanently deviated from their sexual norm. Some couples may feel content with sex once a week or even once a month, while others may start to experience problems due to a lack of sex.
Ultimately, it all boils down to what each partner thinks and how important sex is to them. If both partners are fine with having less sex, it usually isn't a problem. This doesn't mean they aren't happy or that their relationship is doomed.
However, you may have a dead bedroom if:
- The amount of sexual activity between you and your spouse is less than what you consider to be normal.
- Neither you nor your partner is willing to engage in sexual activity.
- You would both describe the quality and frequency of sex as disappointing.
- You feel negative emotions such as anger, frustration, or loneliness due to the state of your sex life.
6 Causes of Dead Bedrooms
A dead bedroom can be caused by the following:
1. Not prioritizing intimacy
Unless you make time for each other, you’ll drift apart. It is estimated that a couple needs at least 30 minutes of quality time per day to keep their connection strong. If you've been neglecting each other, this can easily result in a strained sex life.
2. Emotional issues
Emotional dissatisfaction and a general feeling of emotional unease between spouses can negatively affect physical intimacy. Being intimate requires a certain level of emotional connection, trust, and vulnerability. When that’s missing, a married couple will struggle sexually.
If your sex life has taken a knock, it could be in response to certain stressors or events. For many couples, having young children can put a damper on things. Do you or your spouse work long hours? All of these things are likely to result in decreased sexual desire and may eventually lead to a dead bedroom.
4. Not talking about sex
The key to a great sex life is communication, and without it, couples may find themselves unsatisfied, frustrated, and resentful. If you’re in this situation — and you and your spouse have decided that it’s just easier not to have sex at all than talk about it, you’re putting your marriage in danger.
5. Psychological issues
Great sex starts in the mind, which is why your psychological state can work against you. Often, relationship insecurities can develop into serious, sex-related problems. For example, a lack of trust can erode a marriage and lead to little or no physical intimacy.
If you or your spouse experienced sexual or emotional abuse growing up, this may have a major impact on your sex life, too. Consider speaking to a family therapist to help you work through things.
Depression can also lower a person's sex drive and cause them to lose interest in their partner. If you suspect that you or your spouse may be suffering from depression, seek medical help as soon as possible.
6. Physical issues
Self-love and confidence issues such as weight gain are common intimacy killers. If your spouse doesn't feel attracted to you, they may choose to avoid sex. Similarly, if you don't feel confident or sexy, you might find it hard to get in the mood as well.
Left unaddressed, even issues like erectile dysfunction or changes brought on by hormones or childbirth can significantly affect your sex life.
Does A Dead Bedroom Always End In Divorce?
No, a dead bedroom doesn't always end in divorce. If you and your spouse are honest with each other and willing to compromise, you can work through your issues and find a way to meet each other's needs.
As long as you both value your marriage and are committed to saving it, there isn't anything you can't overcome together.
A dead bedroom divorce is a divorce caused by irreconcilable differences in the bedroom. In such cases, partners have different sex drives or opposing ideas about physical intimacy, and working things out amicably isn't possible.
Although it's unclear what percentage of dead bedrooms end in divorce, if the rate is close to the overall divorce rate, it might be as high as 50 percent.
Given the common misconceptions surrounding sexless marriages, the figures could be even higher. Many couples convince themselves that dead bedrooms are normal. As a result, they choose to stick it out and coexist in a sexless marriage.
If your spouse isn't interested in fixing things, it's a different story. You might want to start planning how to ask for a divorce. Remember, how you ask for a divorce sets the tone for the entire divorce process.
You'll want to do it the right way to guarantee a more amicable divorce. So, avoid bringing up who gets the family home, custody agreements, or child support; save that for when you've both sought legal advice.
How To Revive A Dead Bedroom
If you and your spouse have decided that you'd like to try and save your marriage, here's what you can do to revive your dead bedroom:
1. Have a serious talk
It's time to have a serious talk about your sex life. If you're contemplating divorce, it's a pretty big deal, so make sure your partner understands how frustrated you are.
Be willing to engage your husband or wife and hear their perspective. You might be working under the false assumption that you don’t love your wife anymore when your wife also wants out of your marriage. On the other hand, your husband might feel equally distressed about the state of your sex life and want to fix things, too.
The truth is, you'll never know what's going on in your spouse's head unless you ask them. When it comes to actually bringing the matter up, remember to keep things respectful. It might be helpful to frame your concerns as ‘I’ statements. ‘You’ statements tend to sound accusatory and may make your partner defensive.
2. Change your thinking
If you’ve convinced yourselves that a dead bedroom is a hopeless situation, or worse yet, that it's normal for a married couple, it's time to change the way you think.
You shouldn't accept a complete lack of physical intimacy as the new norm in your relationship, especially if it isn't something you can live with. Instead of turning against each other, commit to rebuilding your relationship and getting back that lost sense of passion and connection.
3. Accept each other's sexual differences
Along with a shift in mindset, you must be willing to accept each other's sexual differences. Rarely do couples have matching libidos or preferences, so you'll need to find a way to work with these differences.
Instead of being bent on having sex a certain number of times a week or doing things in a very specific way, break away from limiting notions. Instead, find a sexual rhythm that works for you.
4. Work on your issues
If you haven't been making each other feel loved, appreciated, and desirable, it's no wonder the passion has faded. The good news is that if you still care about each other, you can reignite that spark.
Resentment and frustration have a way of killing both physical and emotional intimacy. So, if you've been letting unresolved matters fester, you may need to get some of those out of the way first. Working through these issues will form the foundation of trust and vulnerability needed to rejuvenate your sex life.
If you have very serious issues that are getting in the way of emotional and physical intimacy, consider couples therapy. A professional will be able to guide you through the steps to rebuild intimacy in your relationship.
5. Work on your communication
Being intentional about meeting each other's requests for attention or connection outside the bedroom is a great way to strengthen sexual intimacy. This means you and your spouse also need to work on reframing how you communicate — not only your sexual needs but all your other needs too.
If you haven't been communicating or if any attempts to communicate always escalate into arguments, consider couples therapy.
Accept that your sex drives are different and that this isn't a cause for shame. Instead, you should be willing to show compassion. There will be times when you're in the mood, and your partner isn't. To expect that your sex drives will sync up isn't realistic or fair.
It’s a biological fact: the more you ‘do it’, the more you'll want to keep doing it. Sometimes getting unstuck simply involves being intentional about how often you have sex. So, for now, establish a comfortable baseline, whether that's once a week or more, the key is to agree on a goal and work together to achieve it.
It may not sound sexy at all, but regular sex on a reasonable schedule can help ramp things up again. If sex continues to feel like a chore, then you'll need to address why. You may need to articulate your desires better and start to engage in some judgment-free exploration as a couple.
7. Infuse romance back into your marriage
Think of all the little things you used to do for each other when you were dating and use them as a starting point. That's not all; leave each other love notes, give each other massages, and kiss each other more often. Doing these small things can infuse some much-needed romance back into your relationship.
8. Prioritize couple time
Making time for regular date nights can help you reconnect on an emotional and physical level. So, have a family member watch the kids and get out there. Remember, intimacy starts outside the bedroom.
So, even setting aside a few minutes every day to simply talk and listen to each other and focus on the important things can do wonders for your relationship.
Unfortunately, there isn't an instant dead bedroom fix. The passion didn’t fizzle out overnight, so it isn’t realistic to expect things to change just as fast. It will take honesty, hard work, and compassion to revive your dead bedroom.
Dead Bedroom FAQs
We answer all your burning questions about dead bedrooms here.
What percentage of marriages have dead bedrooms?
In recent years, some studies have cited a drop in sexual frequency among married couples and single people. If this trend is anything to go by, a large percentage of marriages have dead bedrooms.
Is a sexless marriage grounds for divorce?
Yes, a sexless marriage may be grounds for an at-fault divorce, especially if your spouse withholds sex as a form of punishment or if they refuse to cooperate in seeking help to address the matter.
If your spouse is using sex against you, you may be in an abusive marriage. If you're a victim of physical abuse, too, seek legal advice as soon as possible.
Is a dead bedroom normal?
Unless a couple has decided to remain celibate, a dead bedroom isn’t normal. Long-term relationships go through different phases, and life places pressure on them too, so having sex as often as you used to may no longer be possible.
However, that isn’t to say that you should abandon sex altogether; doing so usually comes at the expense of intimacy, connection, and relationship satisfaction. So, unless you’re a couple that is completely content with being in a sexless relationship, a dead bedroom isn't normal or healthy.
How long is considered a dead bedroom?
There is no set frame to determine a dead bedroom. Each person gets to determine, based on past experience and expectations, when their bedroom is dead. If you were accustomed to enjoying sexual contact with your partner quite often, and that has become less frequent, this may be considered a dying or dead bedroom.
Is once a month a sexless marriage?
A sexless marriage is defined as one where partners have sex less than once a month and no more than 10 times a year. So, once a month isn’t necessarily considered a sexless marriage.
However, it all depends on what sexual norm a married couple has established for themselves. If you used to have sex more frequently than once a month, then a dip to once a month may point to a dying bedroom.
How do you deal with a sexless marriage due to illness?
You deal with a sexless marriage due to illness with compassion and understanding. If you aren't physically able to have sex because your partner is ill, it can be stressful. Consider ways to pleasure yourself for the time being.
How do you fix a dead relationship?
Fixing a dead relationship requires acceptance, communication, and dual effort. If you can pinpoint the cause of death, you can take steps to repair your relationship. If you're struggling to do so by yourselves, consider couples therapy or marriage counseling to help you get back on track.
How do you fix a sexless relationship?
To fix a sexless relationship, you and your partner should both be concerned about and want to address the lack of sex. Then, you need to be willing to work together with love and understanding to address your problems. You may find it helpful to work with qualified professionals to get to the root of your intimacy issues.