I believe they define a “sexless marriage” as one where the couple engages in sex fewer than 10 times per year.

I guess that places me in the category of a “really sexless marriage,” given my wife and I average having sex maybe three or four times annually, and at one point were together only once within a single year.

Like most couples that have been together as long as my wife and I have, your intimate relationship is always going to ebb and flow a bit, but this is without a doubt the longest we have been in this particular ebb.

To say I have spent a lot of time thinking about the reasons for this over the last 4-5 years would be an understatement, to put it mildly.

While I haven’t been able to find the proverbial “smoking gun,” I have drawn a few conclusions:

This Is Not All Her Fault

I don’t blame my wife for the current state of intimacy in our marriage. If she has lost interest in me then it most likely is because I am not giving her something she needs in our relationship and it’s slowly eroded any romantic feelings she may have had for me in the past.

I think somewhere deep down she still wants to have those feelings.

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The last time we were together was about five months ago. I was trying to be creative and playful and emailed her some “instructions” to follow, which included texting me when she was in bed and “ready” for me. I was very happily surprised when I got that text message later that evening.

She could have easily ignored the message or just said, “Not tonight,” but to her credit, she played along and while not everything went according to plan, we still had an opportunity for some intimacy.

Sometimes I Just Stop Trying

We have only been together three times in the last 14 months.

That certainly sounds depressing, but what’s even more depressing is I have probably only tried initiating intimacy 5-6 times over that time period, so I guess if you just looked at this like a batter’s average, it wouldn’t be too bad.

This is pretty much the same story year after year after year.

I am afraid to approach my wife for intimacy.

I guess ultimately, it’s due to fear of rejection but not simply a rejection for that night but the fear she’s going to tell me she’s simply no longer interested in being with me.

But again, this is my hang-up—not hers.

On all three occasions we have been together over the past 14 months, she was most certainly a willing partner and at least gave the impression she enjoyed it, so that doesn’t seem like someone who’s lost all interest in being together.

Sometimes I Try Too Hard

The other side of this coin, though, is that often I found myself trying too hard.

All three of the times we have been together over the last year have had some seductive notion to them.

One time I told her I had written an erotic story I wanted to read aloud to her.

The next time was an invitation for a sensual massage.

The most recent time was acting out this text message seduction scene from an erotic short story I had recently read.

Nothing wrong with any of these precursors to being together, but it’s gotten to the point where I feel it’s necessary, and the only way to try and coax her into my arms at the end of the day. I can’t recall the last time I simply followed her up to bed, cuddled up beside her, and told her I wanted her.

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I Never Asked Her What She Wants

Over these “sexless” years, I have sent my wife quite a few long letters/emails discussing how much I miss the intimacy in our lives, but the one thing I have come to realize recently is I haven’t really spent much time asking her what she wants out of the relationship.

Sure, I have made a few passive-aggressive comments to the effect of I don’t want to keep chasing after you if you’re not interested in me anymore, so just let me know and I’ll leave you alone, but I never came right out and asked her (outside of being in the throes of passion) if she enjoys it when I touch her.

I never asked her what intimate things she really enjoys and how to best pleasure her.

I never asked her if she enjoys pleasuring me and what she likes to do to me, or with me.

I never asked her if some nights she may just want to cuddle but avoids it because she thinks I’ll automatically assume or expect it will lead to sex.

So Now What?

When I look at these three insights, they all seem to speak to the same thing:

Communication is key, and if we can’t be open and honest in discussing this then maybe there is a lot more missing from our relationship than just intimacy.

Maybe at the end of the day, that’s my biggest fear. The fear that I am slowly losing the love of my life and I may have nobody to blame but myself.

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This post originally appeared on the author’s blog

James Peabody

I'm a 50 year old married father of 3 sharing my experiences navigating through the maze of mid-life. Tacking issues about marriage, parenting, career, politics and social injustices in the world. My only guarantee with my writing is honesty. These thoughts and feelings are my own and often very personal but I share so that we can all learn from one another and pay it forward with our experiences and insights.