How to Pick a Lover

Living with impotence is like sleeping in a shroud.
—Jadah Vaughn

In discussing why husbands stray, it is common to observe that they are looking for something they need which they do not get at home. One hears homilies such as “nobody encourages adultery more than a wife who consistently refuses her own husband’s advances.” While this may well be true, it is only one side of the coin. Worse than a husband who is sexually incompetent or sexually apathetic is one who has become impotent.

A great deal of impotence, perhaps most of it, is psychogenic in nature. That is, it does not occur because of illness or hormone deficiency but because of depression or some other negative state of mind. It may relate to a loss of self-esteem due to business failure or to the aging process or to a midlife crisis. Fortunately, most impotence that is psychogenic can now be easily overcome with Viagra or Cialis.

Marlboro warning impotence

Marlboro warning impotence (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Often, however, impotence relates directly to unsatisfactory and unresolved dynamics between the husband and wife. In these circumstances, it is not very useful to tell the wife not to take it personally. It is personal. A sexless marriage may be especially galling to the wife whose husband is impotent with her but who, under her suspicious and watchful eye, appears to be quite potent with other women, which may very well be the case. Impotence may be only an occasional occurrence; even when it happens frequently, it is not usually a permanent condition. In the meantime, however, the disruptive effects for a particular couple may be pervasive enough to permanently affect their relationship.

Almost all couples fight, and some fights are worse than others. After apparently irretrievable things have been said and done, being able to have sex (which under those circumstances can hardly be called making love) does not mean that everything is restored to where it was: it only means that restoration may still be possible. The erotic communication does not solve the problem; but it does keep open, at least, some avenue of communication. If the sexuality itself can be gratifying, the bond of emotional rapport is strengthened, and the reassurance of your own attractiveness is maintained. But when a couple can no longer depend on or use sexuality as a palliative to their conflicts, then the marriage is indeed in big trouble.

Impotence breeds bitterness and insecurity. The wife may need reassurance that she is in fact still attractive and feels quite justified in seeking sex elsewhere. The rejecting and frigid wife triggers much the same reaction in her husband. If neither husband nor wife is particularly sexually oriented, then perhaps the two of them can disregard their impasse and settle for mutual apathy. Refusal to make love is something else. The wife who is bored stiff ends with a husband who is bored limp.

Comments on: "A Deal Breaker: The Sexless Marriage" (20)

  1. And what about asexuality?
    To be in love with someone who’s impotent is frustrating for both members of the relationship, but to be in love with someone who simply doesn’t want sex with you must be confusing and frustrating, and must damage your self esteem – and in turn theirs.

    • Very true. Fortunately, most people who are truly asexual have little interest in engaging in romantic relationships.

      • I’m not sure about that! I have one or two asexual friends who also identify as gay/straight – surely this means they would like a romantic relationship, but not a sexual one?

      • I agree. There are those amongst us who seek romantic or loving friendships/relationships without the sexual component. However, I would argue that they are the exceptions rather than the rule – but perhaps I am wrong. It would be interesting to hear others would weigh in on this issue.

  2. […] A Deal Breaker: The Sexless Marriage( […]

  3. I am in a sexless marriage but not because I am impotent. My wife went through menopause and lost all interest in sex after being multi-orgasmic our whole marriage.

    • There are many reasons why couples may be in a sexless marriage. In some cases it may be a choice by one partner but not the other. This is the situation my post was addressing; and in particular, relationships in which a man chooses not to have sex with his partner – for whatever reason – and the woman has strong sexual desires that she feels the need to have met. Each relationship is full of it’s own unique set of complexities. My posts focus on the common those threads that may run through many relationships. In your situation, it sounds like it’s a physiological issue for your wife and not a conscious choice. With the passage of years, emotional ties develop in relationships that may be far more important then sex for many couples.

    • Anonymous said:


  4. I’ve been sexless for 40 plus years, my husband just shut me off the day after our wedding. W e had sex once and that was it. He thought sex was disgusting,mindless,pointless, meaningles, messy, smelly, to much work for so little, and wanted nothing to do with it ever again. So he moved to the basement and has live there all these years. He didn’t care about me and my future or his for that matter. He won’t talk to me and avoids me at all costs.

    • If you want to know what my life has become, you can read my new blog at:

      Please note that it is ADULT in nature so if you offended by naked images, discussion of sex and sex related videos please do not view it.

    • I can only imagine how painful this has been and must be for you. This is totally unfair to you. I don’t understand why your husband even wants to be in a relationship. I’m also curious to know why you have stayed in a sexless marriage for 40 plus years. I would be interested in hearing from you if you are willing to share your thoughts/reasons.

      • First of all I’ve been insecure for all these years! And second I was way to young I think for marriage. Also when I found out his feelings toward sex and intimacy, I did try to move on but back then I had no support. My folks were glad that I was out of the house and all my friends didn’t want me around, they were all getting married or had a guy they were seeing. And back then divorce wasn’t a pleasant word. So I turned into a room mate instead of a wife. I did have a roof over my head and all my bills were being payed plus I had some money to spend. I worked and payed for my car and clothes plus food and that was about all I could afford . Time just went by and I got comfortable, but I was depressed. Went to see a shrink and attended consoluing for many years. Finally I guess I just sucked it up and gave in to my life that it would be what it is. Nothing !!!!! I do volunteer at church and at a home for homeless and abused mothers. I can cry right along with these women some of there stories are terrible.

      • Your story is heartbreaking, and unfortunately far too common. It is my hope that someday no woman will have to go through what you experienced. It is my hope that my blog will help woman such as yourself in some way. You are clearly a survivor and I admire you for your volunteer work. I’m sure that you have had a positive impact on many of the women you have encountered through your volunteer work. Keep up the good work.

  5. Excellent short essay and insights. Loved the last line!
    “Nobody encourages adultery more than a wife who consistently refuses her own husband’s advances.” — Why is it SOOOOOO hard (no pun intended, LOL) for women/wives to just GET this??? Why do most women feel that, after being torrid passionate lusty lovers for a year or three, they can just slack off or quit sex altogether — any and all forms, even the non-penetrative ones — and their man just has to ‘deal with it’, and has no right to complain or, God forbid, seek that affection and fun and satisfaction and necessary-for-normal-men psycho-physical release (and intimacy of course) ‘elswhere’? I mean, is that not a bit . . . . ‘cruel and unjust’, to be polite?
    And YES, I agree with the primary point of this article — turnabout is fair play. If the husband/man cannot (or will not) ‘take care of business at home’, then his wife/mate should be given the freedom to get it elswhere, naturally. Or end that aspect of their relationship, reshape its nature, like just being really good friends who sleep with other people — but still respecting and loving each other for all the other, ideally more important aspects of their BEingness. I mean, sex is not the ONLY reason that people decided to live together or get married — right? All the rest of it can still survive intact, maybe even improve — IF both parties are mature adults with their priorities straight, of course.

    • I agree that sex isn’t the only reason people marry. However, it’s often an important one for many people. In a long-term relationship many things may change for a couple over time, sex being one of them. This is why communication is so important n in intimate relationships. Only through honest communication can healthy accommodations be reached in ever evolving relationships. Thus, if sex remains important for one partner but not the other it is a problem – particularly if it is not being openly discussed. Unless the difference can be resolved in a way that is satisfactory to both individuals, it is time for them to go their separate ways. Unfortunately, many relationships have a definite self life even though it may not be clearly stamped on the marriage certificate or verbally communicated at the beginning of the relationship. Having a relationship end because one or both individuals have outgrown it – for whatever reason – isn’t the end of world. On the other hand, staying in a relationship that is no longer a relationship is likely to be hell on earth.

      • I agree completely, especially about communication. I emphasized particularly this point with my current wife (separated now), who is very non-communicative. I also disagree wholeheartedly with the subconscious (programmed) belief that 3D human relationships are ‘supposed to’ last forever — impossible by definition. The ‘success’ of a relationship, in my humble but experienced opinion, should NOT be judged simply on the basis of ‘longevity’! Besides, we are all ONE in Reality, and even Einstein understood that what we perceive as ‘time’ is an illusion — so all this trouble and strife about romantic relationships is really based on nothing more than egotistical, material world (separation, possession, economic, etc.) considerations. Time to just let it all go . . . . .

      • Anonymous said:

        Very similar thing happened to sex on the wedding night and non since…I am only a year and a half in and I’m at a loss .

  6. Bravisimo!! Totally loved this article!! You need your own show!!!

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