Another Way of Leaving

“Most people are slow to champion love because they fear the transformation it brings into their lives. And make no mistake about it: love does take over and transform the schemes and operations of our egos in a very mighty way.”   -Aberjhani


One of the most common ways that we leave each other while staying together is to remove sex from our relationship. This is not a new topic. In recent years the concept of the sexless marriage has made the cover of Newsweek and other major publications, which reported that as many as 15- 20 percent of married couples have had no sex in the last 6-12 months. While some may argue the definitions of a sexless relationship, no one is arguing the fact that our ability to show up sexually is an essential foundation for the health and well-being of relationships.

Indeed, research consistently shows clear correlations between couples’ happiness and having sex. Happy couples have more sex, and the more sex a couple has, the happier they report being. Couples who don’t have sex contemplate divorce and get divorced more than their counterparts. It is unfortunate that in our culture, we require research to prove this point. What is even more perplexing is that we don’t recognize the sexless relationship for what it is. We refuse to call it by its true nature – a shell of a promise, and an exit without the guts to actually leave.

The real issue about static sex lives is that it is almost never about that. I have long said to thousands of people who have mourned their dying sex life that our capacity for physical intimacy is almost never the cause of our sexual demise. The truth is that we leave each other in so many other ways before the axe comes down on our sex life. Many, if not most, couples first leave emotionally. They live side by side with someone without ever feeling safe enough to truly disclose who they are.

Our insufficient communication skills and our inattention to listening to the people we love leaves little room for laying the ground work of deep intimacy. Instead, we live with our conflicts, increasing space between us, but never having the courage to argue. We stand by silently and watch our career aspirations and work commitments swallow up the time that intimate connection demands. Many couples move into a rote physical intimacy during this phase of declining connection. They try to have sex, but neither one feels safe enough to be vulnerable, to experiment, to expose their curiosity and shame that makes us all uniquely sexual. Usually the initiation argument of who wants who more or less is all that is left to talk about before the declaration of no more sex is made.

We also leave each other physically while staying in a relationship; our relationships whither when we don’t show up for the person we promised to love. At best, our intimacy is confused with increasing distance, when we are distracted by easier or more accessible relationships. Whether it is our extensive work hours, addictions to computer sex of a million varieties, or full-on extramarital affairs, we often slip into cohabitating without really being present. Our sex lives get held hostage.

I remember when my husband’s business partner’s ex-wife told me she moved out of her bedroom. She was going through menopause and nursing her anger at the emotional disconnect she felt between her and her husband. She felt no obligation to his sexual needs, she told me. I don’t know exactly when in the cycle his affair started. Did her refusal cause him to wander or did his wandering cause her to pull away? Maybe it doesn’t really matter, because when couples choose a sexless relationship, both share the responsibility and the consequences of the most significant leaving we can do.

Our sexual selves offer the most adhesive glue that two hearts can manifest in the messy and demanding business of loving over time. Agreeing to a sexless relationship is the low road for the many ways that you are not willing to acknowledge leaving each other. The cure is not actually agreeing to more sex. The cure is choosing to stay for love’s sake.


Kamia C.
Kamia T2 years ago

I knew my marriage was doomed when the thought of lying down next to my ex-husband for ANY reason physically made me sick. You need to follow your gut as soon as problems arise, try to solve then early, because by the time you get to that point, it's really too late usually.

Sam Richardson

Thanks for this, its given me some food for thought. I think if you read this and feel somewhat uncomfortable, its time to talk with your partner. I know I'm a little overdue.

Kisha B.
Kisha B5 years ago

"You can spin it any way you want but a sexless marriage isn't a marriage any more, it's a
companionship thing."

What is marriage if not companionship? Why would a sexless marriage NOT be a marriage? Unless you think marriage is meant for children, in which case, a childless marriage isn't a marriage either. So anyone on birth control doesn't have a marriage...

There are PLENTY of ways to show love without sex. There are plenty of people who dislike sex and have no desire for it. You can't say just because to YOU a marriage without sex doesn't count, it has to be that way for everyone else!

Jane Barton
Jane Barton5 years ago

You can spin it any way you want but a sexless marriage isn't a marriage any more, it's a
companionship thing. When the excitement is gone, life is less worth living. Why do you think
VIAGRA is so popular? Marriage pretty much kills love, especially if you're married to a self centered person. So I'm in favor of divorce and starting over with a new person/persons.

Mari Garcia
Mari Garcia5 years ago

interesting article, it makes a lot of sense

Cyrille D.
Cyrille D5 years ago

I quite agree with this. Not fully, though. I do believe our sexual needs are not always the same as our partners and it takes some concessions on both parts to have a coupled sex-life that is enjoyable for both people. I do believe physical proximity is very important in a couple's life, but I do not think it necessarily involves sex. Our sex life always takes a tool when important issues in the couple have not been dealt with/resolved. And, in that sense, you're right to say that it is a way of leaving. But before this, we need to have left emotionally. So, it always comes down to the same notion : love, trust, communication and respect. Sex speaks volumes in that regard...and in that regard only. Yet, I do believe that, if it is born from a common agreement, people can live a very happy couple life without the need for sexual activity.

Kisha B.
Kisha B5 years ago

" one is arguing the fact that our ability to show up sexually is an essential foundation for the health and well-being of relationships."

What about asexual relationships? Or asexual/sexual relationships? They are healthy relationships without sex, or at least, without frequent sex. :)

andrew h.
- -5 years ago

thanks Wendy

this book may help in relationships too

"Spiritual Relationships
The Wisdom of Paramhansa Yogananda, Volume 3"

contents that may help (not on the leaving topic, but in general how to have/maintain a spiritual relationship)

"•Friendship: broadening your sympathies and expanding
the boundaries of your love
•How to cure bad habits that spell the death of true friendship:
judgment, jealousy, over-sensitivity, unkindness, and more
•How to choose the right partner and create a lasting marriage
•Sex in marriage and how to conceive a spiritual child
•Problems that arise in marriage and what to do about them
•Experiencing the Universal Love behind all your relationships"


Rosie Lopez
Rosie Lopez5 years ago

thanks for sharing