The Key to Coping with a Sexless Marriage Begins with...Talking (Here Are the Conversation Starters You Need)

The bad news? You're coping with a sexless marriage. The good news? You're not alone. In fact, the New York Post pointed out in an April 2019 piece that, “'Dead bedrooms,’ the buzzy new term for when couples in long-term relationships stop having sex, are on a zombie-apocalypse-like rise.” Sexless relationships are common—the Post cites a study that shows 69 percent of couples are intimate 8 times a year or less and 17 percent of those surveyed hadn’t had sex in a year or more. So how do you bring a zombie sex life back to life? You talk about it. 

If you want to be having more sex with your partner, you gotta bring it up in conversation—maybe not at the dinner table, but during a one-on-one walk or time alone. And while it can be uncomfortable as all hell to bring up it up, shining a light on the monster suddenly makes it less scary and less of a weight on your soul. And in doing so, it can make coping with a sexless marriage feel less like a crisis and more like a challenge you're tackling together. This might feel counterintuitive, but in this case, since physical intimacy has been so out of reach, making it a practical matter can help both partners feel less vulnerable. 

But preparation is key. Yes, you want to bring your dead bedroom back to life, but what does that actually mean to you? What frequency would be enough for you? What wouldn't cut it? And remember: This answer is whatever works for you. Says relationship expert Jenna Birch, “Sex slows down in most relationships, and that’s perfectly normal. It’s also F-I-N-E if you’re both OK with the frequency—even if it’s once a month, or less.”

Once you've done the personal work, you can bring it up with your partner. Maybe you're the type of couple who has better conversations when they're spontaneous. Or maybe it's wise to let your partner know you have something you want to talk about ahead of time—for some couples, it might even be helpful to say, “Next time we're alone, it's important to me to talk about our sex life,” to avoid the possible shock of the conversation. 

However you prepare to talk about it, here are some conversation starters that might help kick off a helpful dialogue:

1. “I love you, and I'm worried about our physical connection. How have you been feeling about it?”

This approach addresses your point of view from the get-go, but throws the ball into your partner's court to kick off a conversation. It's helpful to be upfront about your feelings before asking, “How have you been feeling about our sex life?” so that your partner understands that this can be an honest discourse. 

2. “So, why do you think we've stopped having sex?”

This question goes for the jugular right away. Heads up: The why is always deeper than the what, so if you're not prepared for a deep, truthful conversation, this might not be the best route. But if getting to the core of how your dead bedroom came to be is important to you, this is the question to ask. 

3. “In an ideal world, how often would we have sex?”

In contrast to #2, this question is a bit removed—which is totally OK. It offers a fantasy angle that could be helpful for couples who might find it more beneficial to keep things positive and only knee-deep. Focusing on the numbers alone is a smart way to feel less emotionally exposed.

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Executive Editor, Frazzled Mom, Bravo-Holic

Dara Katz is PureWow's Executive Editor, focusing on relationships, sex, horoscopes, travel and pets. Dara joined PureWow in 2016 and now dresses so much better. A lifestyle...