How to Improve your Sex-Starved Marriage

Apr 10, 2024

Therapist doing online therapy Telehealth

You’ve been married for years and still love each other. You feel like each other’s best friends. You love everything about each other and your marriage—except sex. Do you wonder how the familiarity of merely sharing a living space has replaced the excitement of being together? And how to transform your sex-starved relationship into that passion you once shared? Here are steps you can take to improve your sex-starved marriage.

Sexless Marriage: Understanding the Underlying Causes

Before transforming a sex-starved relationship, it’s essential to understand the root issues contributing to the lack or absence of sexual intimacy.


You may feel overwhelmed by the daily stress. Handling a demanding job, being a parent, and doing daily chores don’t put anyone in the greatest mood for sex. You may feel too tired to even think about having sex in the evening. Also, significant life changes such as becoming parents, health challenges, or job loss can cause stress and diminish your interest in sex.

Mismatch in Sexual Desire

In many relationships, things go wrong when one partner experiences barriers to sexual desire and feels inadequate and ashamed. At the same time, the other partner may still crave physical intimacy, feeling hurt and frustrated. If your sexual wants and needs don’t match up, it can lead to problems in your relationship that leave you both hurt, unhappy, and emotionally distant.

Physical Attraction

Maintaining an attraction to a partner is one of the most common challenges for couples in long-term relationships. If changes in your partner’s looks make you less interested in them, this can affect your sex life. Most people don’t know how to approach this topic for fear of hurting their partner’s feelings. However, it’s essential for your relationship that you can talk about these feelings openly and honestly. Couples therapy can help you bring this subject up with your partner in a safe, non-judgmental space.

How to Revive Your Sex-Starved Marriage: 7 Tips from a Sex Therapist

When you’re in a sex-starved marriage, the problem only gets worse when you ignore it. It affects not only the sexual aspect of the relationship but also its overall quality and how you and your spouse get along. Recognizing the problem is the first step toward solving it.

Here are seven practical strategies to transform a sex-starved marriage.

1.    Nurture Open Communication with your Spouse

Keeping silent about your feelings, desires, and concerns only leads to repeating behaviors that keep you in the loop of misunderstandings, conflicts, and hurt feelings.

So, having open, honest conversations is essential. However, addressing sexual concerns with your partner can be difficult for a variety of reasons. When initiating such a conversation feels daunting, the guidance of a professional can be invaluable. A therapist trained in relationship issues can provide a safe setting to understand each other’s needs and perspectives without placing blame.

2.    Schedule Sex

While it may seem odd to have to plan sex, we have to acknowledge that for most of us, if something isn’t scheduled, it won’t happen. Childcare, work, commutes, and endless daily to-do lists leave little room for spontaneity and romance. Scheduling sex helps you to anticipate and look forward to that intimate time together, to get in the mood for it, and perhaps even to openly discuss your desires, expectations, and fantasies.

3.    Prioritize Physical Connection

Sometimes, the rekindling of sexual closeness begins with non-sexual physical touch. Explore sensate focus with the guidance of your sex therapist. Engage in hugging, massages, and other forms of physical touch without expecting them to progress to intercourse. This can help rebuild intimacy and comfort through physical contact.

4.    Rekindle Emotional Intimacy

Emotional connection is the foundation for a healthy sexual relationship. Spend quality time together, have fun, laugh, and participate in activities that draw you closer. Create a romantic atmosphere that inspires intimacy, whether a weekend getaway or a special night at home. Small displays of affection, such as holding hands, cuddling on the sofa while watching a movie, or leaving random “love you” notes to each other, can significantly improve the emotional bond in your marriage.

5.    Explore New Experiences Together

Introducing new interests or hobbies can revitalize your relationship and provide opportunities for emotional bonding. Whether it’s taking dance or cooking classes together, shared experiences can create a sense of closeness, eventually rekindling the passion in your relationship.

6.    Seek Professional Help

If the difficulties in your marriage seem overwhelming, consult a professional sex or couples therapist. Couples therapy can provide tailored advice and solutions customized to your unique circumstances.

7.    Address Physical and Mental Health

Underlying physical and mental health conditions can have a significant impact on sexual desire and behavior. Encourage each other to seek treatment for health issues. Mental health challenges such as anxiety, depression, body image issues, or past trauma can significantly affect your libido and sexual performance. Also, hormonal changes or chronic health conditions and medications used to treat them can reduce the desire for sex. Addressing these health challenges is a critical step in improving your sex life.

Moving Forward with Improving your Sex-starved Marriage

Sexless marriages are more common than most people think. Whether their libidos have cooled or their sexual needs and wants do not match up, being in a sexless relationship for most couples results in feelings of frustration, guilt, resentment, and isolation. Still, every couple’s journey is unique. A skilled sex therapist can provide personalized support and strategies, helping you find what works for you as a couple.

If you’re struggling in a sex-starved relationship, consider these tips as a starting point for a more fulfilling connection. With the right support, you can overcome challenges and rediscover the joy of physical and emotional intimacy.

Let’s connect soon so we can set up a free consultation.

Filippo M. Forni, CST, LMFT is a certified AASECT individual and couples sex therapist. Mr. Forni sees patients throughout California and Florida. His goal is to provide high-quality and effective goal-oriented therapy services to his clientele. He has extensive training in sexuality and multiculturalism and serves as an adjunct professor at Pepperdine University Graduate School of Education and Psychology.