Judith Steinhart, a clinical sexologist in New York City, is yet more specific: "Problems in a marriage [like] lack of trust, anxiety, financial issues, misunderstandings, pressure from children, all can impact a couple's sexual patterns." The question, of course, is whether refraining from sex causes other problems, or if the other problems stop the sex in the first place? In other words, one can exacerbate the other — and before you know it, no one can remember what came first.As for how much sex a healthy couple should be having, that varies — and is up to the couple to figure out.You'll be a lot happier with each other and feel more cared about if you're regularly having sex.Tessina's best advice is at least once a week, saying that "intimacy keeps you glued together.It's what you need in order to nurture your connection to your spouse.But even if there's no perfect definition for a "sexless" marriage, everyone seems to agree that they're common.
It's not a given that a couple's bedroom activity will fizzle over time — we all know a randy couple who've been married for decades — but any number of factors could start the tailspin.Psychotherapist Tina Tessina, Ph D, author of "Money, Sex and Kids: Stop Fighting About the Three Things That Can Ruin Your Marriage," lists these as the most common causes of sexless marriages: one partner had their feelings hurt or got turned down too many times, one got too busy or neglectful, or one or both partners has a communication problem of some sort.Some experts call marriages that average 10 rolls in the hay per year or less "sexless," but other experts take the word more literally, like Susan Yager-Berkowitz, who coauthored (with her husband) "Why Men Stop Having Sex: The Phenomenon of Sexless Relationships and What You Can Do About It." "If a couple is content with intimacy less than once a month, and happily married, I doubt they would refer to themselves as having a sexless marriage …and neither would we." Dean Mason, who runs the Website, Fix Your Sexless Marriage.com, agrees, "Each person defines what his or her sex threshold is." Not in the mood — ever?
Back in 2003, Newsweek's cover blared, "We're Not In the Mood," and the story hasn't gone away.This June, The New York Times reported that about 15 percent of married couples had not done the deed in the past six months to a year.