THE BLOG
06/11/2014 02:44 pm ET Updated Aug 11, 2014

4 Questions About Sexless Marriages

According to sex experts, millions of people all over the world are in sexless marriages. Many of those are in the United States. Here are some vital questions for those whom it may concern.

1. Why did we stop having sex?

There are many conceivable reasons that people stop having sex, such as spousal weight gain; physical, psychological or emotional handicaps; children; work; porn; stress; unemployment; depression; power struggles; menopause; infidelity; erectile dysfunction; and vaginal dryness. Congress blames the president, of course.

Claiming that there is necessarily something wrong with a sexless relationship or the people involved in them is nearly as absurd as blaming marital bed death on Obama. Some say sexless marriages have deeper issues to address, but "deeper issues" and "compromise" are just other words for "marriage." I suspect that most of the people who believe that a sexless relationship is definitely broken and requires immediate fixing are those who must overlap intimacy, eroticism and biological reproductive function to achieve ultimate satisfaction. Normally this is what humans do. However, "normal" does not mean something is correct or appropriate. "Normal" just means something occurs frequently and thus is common, such as the common cold. My personal belief is that one only achieves greatness by being uncommon. (Just saying.) Still, humans are disinclined to differ from the crowd.

For overweight compulsive overeaters and people handicapped by illness or accident, this answer might be painful and seemingly hard to face. However, truthfully, you face it constantly. Therefore, do not be afraid.

2. Does a sexless marriage mean something is broken?

Again, that depends. If a sexless relationship makes you or your spouse unhappy, then yes, something is broken. If not, then it is not broken. You and the person you are in a relationship with are the only people who should be involved in defining the terms of your sex life.

3. Is it fixable?

Billi the ex-cheerleader wants to say yes, but Billi the scientist knows that that is not always true. For example, it is not fixable if you are a married different-sex couple and one of you realizes he or she is gay. Some debilitating diseases and extreme psychological and emotional impairments are also irreparable. However, most things are fixable, and for those that are not, you can usually make adjustments. Again, only you and your spouse can make these decisions.

Accurately making that determination depends on how accurately you identify the reason(s) that it is broken. Obviously, reasons addressable by pills are simpler to deal with. Couples' counseling can resolve other issues, and sexual surrogates and swingers' clubs can rectify many problems. There is a place for everything, including sex workers, strippers and Internet porn. It is contextual and depends on you and your spouse. The key is not being afraid to make the necessary repairs. If you need a fly swatter, buy a fly swatter. If you need a jackhammer, rent one.

4. Do I want to fix it?

Again, this answer depends on you. For compulsive overeaters, whom I presume to be a large part of my audience, if weight is the issue, then the answer is tricky. No, you do not want to remove excess weight for someone other than yourself. Losing weight for another person is a symptom of the type of low self-esteem that causes emotional eating. You might as well tattoo "welcome" on your chest and lie at the door of the bedroom. However, if you love having your marriage more than your addiction, then fix it. There is a difference between doing something for someone else and doing something for yourself.

In addition, humans unnecessarily attach many things to sex that are not actually necessary for the act of biological reproductive function. For example, we commonly attach intimacy, love, and eroticism to sex, even though these things are not germane to procreating, which is the evolutionary purpose of sex. Nor are these things only available through sex. Also, very few people are attempting to procreate when they have sex. People need love, eroticism, and intimacy. That is why evolution overlapped these things with biological reproductive function. If sex did not feel good, emotionally and physically, then we would not do it. Evolution needed us to breed to establish the species.

This is how that works in the brain. There are rich dopamine rewards in the ventral tegmental area (VTA) of the striatum, which is a part of the brain's reward system that releases dopamine when it receives signals from other parts of the brain and body that you are fulfilling basic human needs, such as breeding, bonding and feeding. However, the VTA is a subcortical structure, and thinking does not occur in the "old brain." Therefore, the signal processing is basic and based on the biological presumption that when you use your reproductive organs in a reproductive fashion, you are procreating, subsequently causing dopamine release in the VTA. What the VTA cannot process is that you are using birth control, having gay sex or sleeping with a blowup doll. This is why evolution overlapped biological reproductive function, intimacy, and eroticism: to trick the VTA into releasing dopamine on the false presumption that procreation is happening and to make that feel good.

In my opinion, sex is not sacred or inextricably tethered to intimacy, love, and eroticism unless we insist on it. Evolution had valid reasons to tether them, but times have changed. Exhibit A: rush-hour traffic in any major city -- the species has established itself. I suspect that marital bed death is rising because humans are evolving and developing spiritually. More evolved minds and developed spirits may naturally be less dependent on overlapping biological reproductive function, intimacy, love, and eroticism to achieve ultimate satisfaction. However, sexless marriage is not proof-positive of more highly evolved people, or vice versa. Sexless marriage can be great or horrible; it depends on the individuals involved. However, you must do two things: choose what is right for you and remain fabulous and phenomenal.

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