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Breaking Down the Impact of Sexual Withholding on Relationships

Effects of Sexual Withholding on Marriage Dynamics

Physical intimacy is vital to a healthy and fulfilling marriage, contributing to emotional connection, bonding, and overall satisfaction. However, when one partner engages in sexual withholding, it can significantly impact the relationship dynamics and lead to various repercussions. This article will explore the effects of sexual withholding on marriage and delve into potential consequences.

What is a sexless marriage?

In a sexless marriage, there is little or sexual intimacy between the couple. This usually means you don’t have sex more than 10 times yearly. There could be several reasons for this, such as health or mental problems, different sexual needs, or just a lack of interest.

A marriage with no sexual activity can be stressful and lead to problems if it isn’t fixed.

Understanding sexual withholding

Sexual withholding refers to the deliberate decision of one partner to abstain from sexual intimacy within a marriage. This can manifest in various forms, including refusal of sex, avoiding physical affection, or creating barriers to sexual connection. While temporary changes in sexual frequency are natural in any long-term relationship, consistent and intentional withholding can signal underlying issues.

Effects of withholding sex on emotional health

Intimacy encompasses both physical and emotional elements. When one partner withholds sexual intimacy, it can erode the emotional connection between spouses. Physical closeness often leads to increased emotional closeness, and emotional distance can emerge when this connection is missing. Over time, a lack of emotional intimacy can lead to feelings of loneliness, isolation, and resentment.

Erosion of trust and communication:

A healthy marriage thrives on open communication and trust. Sexual withholding can disrupt these essential elements. The partner who feels deprived of physical intimacy might interpret this as a lack of interest, attraction, or even love from their spouse. This perception can give rise to mistrust, anger and resentment, frustration, and insecurities, hindering open conversations about the underlying issues causing the withholding.

Negative impact on self-esteem

Sexual intimacy within marriage often acts as a reassurance of one’s attractiveness and desirability to one’s spouse. When sexual withholding occurs, the partner being denied intimacy might internalize this as a reflection of their inadequacy, leading to lowered self-esteem and confidence. This negative self-perception can extend beyond the bedroom and affect various aspects of their life.

Escalation of resentment and conflict

Persistent sexual withholding can breed resentment in both partners. The one withholding might feel pressured or coerced into engaging in sexual activity, while the deprived partner might experience a sense of neglect or rejection. This emotional turmoil can give rise to unresolved conflicts that extend beyond the topic of intimacy, affecting the overall harmony of the marriage.

Diminished relationship satisfaction

Marital satisfaction is closely connected to physical and emotional intimacy quality. A lack of sexual connection can diminish overall relationship satisfaction, leaving both partners unsatisfied and unfulfilled. This dissatisfaction can permeate various facets of their lives, leading to a decline in happiness and contentment.

No post-sex happy sleep

We all need good sleep because it enables us to succeed in other areas of our lives. After great sex, people usually fall asleep feeling very satisfied. Almost always, after sex, couples sleep soundly and comfortably.

You endanger comfortable and contented sleep by withholding sex. A relationship’s emotional stability may suffer because of a sexless marriage. Losing restful sleep opens the door to many issues. To prevent a lot of difficulties down the road, you must maintain a healthy body.

Potential Repercussions of withholding sex in marriage


In some cases, withholding sex can push a partner to seek intimacy outside the marriage, which might lead to infidelity. If a partner doesn’t start sex or has a low sex drive, the other partner may look for someone who can give them a healthy sex life.

Separation and Divorce:

If the issue remains unresolved, the emotional distance and dissatisfaction caused by withholding sex can lead to separation or divorce.

Emotional Detachment:

Over time, lack of sexual interaction can become a significant barrier, making it challenging to rebuild the emotional connection. Some may even consider it ‌a form of emotional abuse.

Negative Coping Mechanisms:

The frustration from withholding sex might lead to negative coping mechanisms such as substance use disorders or emotional eating.

Impact on Children:

If children are part of the marriage, the tension caused by withholding sex can negatively affect their emotional well-being and perception of relationships.

A lack of physical intimacy between parents can sometimes create a tense and distant emotional atmosphere within the household. This tension can impact the family dynamic and affect the children’s emotional well-being. Children often learn about relationships by observing their parents. A sexless marriage might lead children to believe that lack of physical intimacy is a normal or acceptable aspect of adult relationships, which could influence their future expectations and behavior in their own relationships.

Depending on the age and developmental stage of the children, they might pick up on the tension or distance between their parents. This can lead to confusion, anxiety, and concern about the stability of their family. Children might internalize the issues in their parents‘ relationships and blame themselves for the lack of intimacy. This can affect their self-esteem and overall sense of worth.

When parents deal with relationship issues, their focus and emotional energy might be directed away from their children. This could impact children’s emotional needs and perceptions of their parents’ availability.

Their parents’ relationships shape children’s views on marriage and relationships. A sexless marriage might lead them to develop skewed or negative views about the importance of intimacy and emotional connection in relationships.

The impact of a sexless marriage can vary depending on the children’s developmental stage. Adolescents, for example, might be more aware of the issues and experience embarrassment or discomfort due to their parents’ lack of intimacy.

How does a sexless marriage affect women?

For a woman, a marriage without sexual activity can make her feel less love, respect, connection, intimacy, and sometimes even loyalty. Physical intimacy, such as touching and sex, imbues individuals with a sense of belonging in a partnership or family. Women lacking this physical intimacy, often experience feelings of deprivation and solitude.

How does a sexless marriage affect men?


Other typical repercussions of a sexless marriage on men include anxiety, depression, tension, stress, and despair. A husband’s mental health is likely to suffer from worry, overthinking, and the inability to release the feel-good hormone after sex when he is denied sex at home for an extended period. The male partner’s fixation with his failure to satisfy his spouse’s sexual requirements can also lead to poor mental health.

A sense of humiliation and shame:

Men often experience feelings of embarrassment when people withhold sex in marriage. This is especially typical when a man’s failure to perform under pressure accounts for the lack of sex. The men will steer clear of any discussion about sex because they feel ashamed.

A sense of failure:

The feeling of failure is a typical result of the psychological effects of a sexless marriage on the husband. Men are physical beings, as is usually much stated, and sexual attraction is a significant component of their sexuality. A man experiences fulfillment and sees himself as full when he engages in frequent sex. Conversely, if a man cannot get their partner interested in sex as frequently as they would like, they eventually feels inadequate.

Low self-esteem:

Even though most guys won’t acknowledge it, withholding sex at home lowers their self-esteem. They interpret their wife’s lack of sexual arousal as evidence that they have no physical inclination toward the man. A man will feel unattractive if his advances are consistently turned down at home.

Why do couples withhold sex in marriage?

There are many reasons married people don’t have sex. Some of the most popular reasons people have a sexless marriage are as follows:

Lack of trust:

Sometimes, there has been a betrayal, or the dialogue has gotten worse, one point that makes a relationship feel less safe and trusting.

Medical reasons:

One person may have a medical condition or health problem that makes it harder to have sex. One partner may be healing from surgery, or there could be an imbalance in hormones that makes them less interested in having sex. Some medicines can also lessen the desire to have sex.

Stress and tiredness:

If you’re tired or under a lot of pressure from the outside, you might not want sexual intimacy with your partner for a while.


Doing the same thing repeatedly in bed becomes boring, and you don’t talk to your partner as much.

There are other reasons you might not want to have sex with your partner, but these are some of the most popular ones. Those are fine. Talking to your partner and improving communication, trust, and safety can help you get through it.

But sometimes, one partner withholds sex to control or force the other because they didn’t get what they wanted or wanted to get what they wanted.

For example, if your partner withholds sex because you did or didn’t do something or because they don’t like something you did, this is a form of manipulation.

You can say no to sex anytime if you are in a relationship. Whether married or not, you need permission to do sexual things.

What to do if withholding sex affects your marriage

Physical relationships are vital for many married couples. If the lack of a healthy sex life affects your marriage, here is what you can do.

1. Book an appointment with a sex th‌erapist.

Research shows that many pairs have different wants and sexual needs, which can lead to problems in relationships and marriages.

When one partner has more sexual desire than the other, this is called a “desire discrepancy.” Sex therapy or marriage counseling can help you find ways to connect with your partner and have a fulfilling sex life. Consult a sex therapist or a marriage counselor to know how to lead a healthy sex life.

2. Try out different types of intimacy.

There are other types of closeness in a relationship besides only sexual intimacy. A variety of physical and emotional closeness, including cuddling, kissing, hugging, hand-holding, and simply spending time together, can be tried by couples. This may facilitate the development of a stronger emotional bond and the restoration of sexual intimacy.

3. Try something new together.

Trying new things together, in or out of the bedroom, can make you feel more linked and close to each other. Find something you can both enjoy doing and give it a try.

4. Talk to people in a good way.

One of the best ways to get closer to someone is to learn how to listen actively and talk to them in a healthy way.

Research from 2016 Trusted Source shows that better communication, learning how to respond empathetically to your partner, working on problem-solving skills, and using self-disclosure are all communication skills that can lead to more sexual intimacy.

5. Find ways to make sure you and your partner are safe.

A good relationship needs to feel safe. To make people feel safe and believe in you, you need to be willing to listen and respect their privacy.

This also means protecting no physical, mental, or sexual violence or abuse.

End Note:

Open communication is crucial in addressing sexual withholding. Both partners should create a safe space to discuss their feelings, concerns, and needs. Seeking professional help, such as couples therapy, can facilitate these conversations and guide the couple toward understanding and resolution.

In conclusion, sexual withholding can significantly impact a marriage’s emotional, psychological, and physical aspects. The effects range from emotional detachment and resentment to physical pain, a decline in relationship satisfaction, and potential consequences like infidelity and divorce. Addressing this issue requires open communication, understanding, and a willingness to work together to rebuild intimacy and strengthen the marital bond.