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Most of us would never knowingly commit to a romantic relationship which had absolutely no sex going on whatsoever. In fact, it's one of the most common fears men have when they're walking down the aisle. Though no one would ever knowingly go into a relationship that would result in a dead bedroom, it still happens quite frequently.
Since it's often taboo to actually openly discuss the dead bedroom issue, it's hard to tell how many people are stuck in sexless relationships. Experts believe that at least 15% to 20% of all marriages will turn sexless at one point or another.
As you can probably see on Reddit's Dead Bedrooms forum, there are a lot of people who are wondering how to save their relationship from the same fate. Here's what my take on fixing a dead bedroom is, and why most experts tend to agree with it.
Before you start trying to fix the sexless marriage, check to see if it can actually be fixed.
A fixable sexless marriage is a marriage in which both partners still love each other and care about one another. If your partner doesn't care about your needs, the relationship's quality, or you, there's no way that you can fix it.
Before you even broach the subject with your partner, ask yourself the following questions. If you answer yes to any of them, your best option is to break up with them. The vast majority of dead bedrooms can't be saved, so if your relationship is one of them, don't be too upset. You're not alone.
- Have you asked about it before, only to have them make you out to be the bad guy? If they have done this, or worse, mocked you for wanting sex, then it's probably not fixable. This is a sign that the relationship has declined into the realm of emotional abuse.
- Are they well-aware of how upsetting the sexlessness is for you? Have they seen you cry because they constantly reject you? If so, they don't care enough about your needs to work on it. The only time they will care is when you leave.
- Have you tried to talk about it before and tried to fix it before, but only had the improvements stick for a month or two afterwards? This is an indicator of a pattern. Unless you're 100% fine with being the one who constantly has to initiate sex and "the talk," you'll leave.
- Do you get the feeling that they are only with you because of the money issues or because you two have kids together? In this case, opening up the relationship may be a better option. If they aren't willing to do that, you deserve a partner who loves you enough to be with you sexually as well - and that partner isn't them.
- Do they have a porn addiction? This is often a sign that they choose digital women over real ones, and unfortunately, most people choose addictions over their loved ones.
- Are they cheating on you? This is a surprisingly common reason why sexless marriages happen. If you aren't sure (but are suspicious), you might need to hire a PI to find out.
- Are they more like a bad roommate than a spouse? If the overall quality of the relationship is terrible, then your best option is to file divorce papers.
If it's salvageable, you need to tell your partner what's up.
You can't ignore a dead bedroom and hope that it'll solve itself. In order to fix things, you need to sit down your spouse and talk to them. This will include you having to explain to them that what you're telling them isn't an attack on them, but a request for them to help you improve the relationship you have with them.
When broaching the topic of sexlessness, you need to be tactful but direct. You need to tell them that sex is a need - not a want. You may have to explain to them that it's hurtful not to feel desired by them.
This isn't an easy talk to have. They may cry once they realize what's happened. Partners who have heard this before may end up brushing it off with "I'm working on it," but you need to be firm on continuing to attack this topic.
If they are "working on it" for months with no results and no visible efforts, then you need to tell them this. In many cases, they won't react well. If they shut down and refuse to discuss things in a civil manner, you might want to move forward with breaking up.
On the other hand, if they begin to open up and talk about what's going on, hear them out. This is them actually trying to explain what's going on with their libidos.
You also will need to ask questions to figure out what you should do next.
In order to figure out how to tackle the dead bedroom issue, you're going to need to ask your partner some pretty tough questions. Here are the ones you absolutely have to ask, and what each potential answer means.
- "Did I do something to make you resent me?" Many dead bedrooms start because one partner had their feelings hurt, or because one partner feels resentful towards the other. If this is the case, you may be able to work things out in therapy.
- "Are you ashamed of your body or something?" Self-esteem issues can hurt libidos, too. If this is the case, they may need therapy to fix the problem.
- "Are you willing to go to couples therapy or sex therapy?" If this is a yes, book an appointment. If this is a no, then you can divorce knowing that you've tried to make them see how bad things were.
- "Do you want to open up the relationship?" Sometimes, this is an option worth exploring. However, most people can expect a "NO!" from this.
- "Will you book a trip to the doctor?" Hormone fluctuations are a thing, you know. And, hormones can influence libido far more than we give them credit for. If they aren't willing to go to the doctor for this, then you have to cut them loose. This is a sign that you're dealing with someone who doesn't want to work things out at all. On the other hand, if they are willing, don't be surprised if the entire issue goes away with the help of a shot.
- "Are you really attracted to me?" This isn't going to be easy to hear, and in many cases, partners will lie just to preserve feelings. However, if they're honest and you find that it's due to weight gain, hitting the gym can help make things better.
- "Do you want to stay together?" Sometimes, the dead bedroom is a sign that they've just checked out and no longer want to be with you. And, there's not much you can do there.
If they aren't willing to work with you or answer these questions honestly, you already know what you need to do. Life is way too short to stay with a partner who doesn't desire you on a sexual level.