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Why I Finally Left My Sexless Marriage

Spoiler: It’s not just because we weren’t having sex

Portrait smiling young woman using smart phone in car
DEEPOL by plainpicture/Marco Baass

“When are you gonna f--- me?” Jon’s wife blurted out.

Jon laughed, and quickly disconnected the call. “Sorry about that,” he announced to the car. Then he nudged me and gave me a sneaky smile. “Well, it has been almost a week.”

We were carpooling to a soccer tournament, our tween-age daughters in the back seat, and I was horrified. Not because the girls heard but because of what this meant: My married friend Jon was having sex. How could this be?

I just assumed he was like me. My wife and I were maybe averaging once a year, but only because I’d start feeling the pressure around Thanksgiving to not let a full year go by.

This was in 2015. Today, sexless marriages are having a moment (I guess I was an early adopter.) According to the 2021 General Social Survey, nearly 26 percent of American adults haven’t had sex in the past year, and nearly 12 percent had sex only once or twice a year. 

In other words, think of four of your closest friends: For one of them, nobody’s on their to-do list.

Increasingly, according to the experts, sexless is a choice. As a writer on this very site proudly proclaimed: “I’m in a Sexless Marriage, and I’ve Never Been Happier.” I was also content in my sexless marriage. My ex and I started dating in our late 20s, got married a few years later, had two kids, built a big house. I collected promotions at work, while she handled the kids’ schedules and kept our lives organized. 

After the revelation about Jon, I began to wonder if I was the problem. I was in my early 40s and my libido was on life support. I couldn’t remember the last time I woke up with a boner or ogled a neighbor. What kind of man was I?

I had my testosterone checked. “Normal,” said my doctor. Still, I asked him for a topical supplement because something was clearly wrong. A month later, nothing changed other than I smelled like testosterone cream. 

I eventually learned to be content with my sexless marriage. It worked — until it didn’t. 

I remember the exact day. I’d lost my job a few months earlier and I was on the cusp of turning 50. The kids were getting ready to leave the nest, and my then-wife was already activating declutter-and-downsize mode. Every day was starting to feel like an inevitable march toward death.

“I need more from my life,” I told her.

“I don’t,” she flatly replied. Our fate was sealed.

After our divorce, I had dinner with an old friend named Phoebe. We joked and laughed and reminisced. Phoebe is the type of woman I’ve always been attracted to. Opinionated, outgoing, whip-smart and brave. What might life have been like if I’d married a woman like her? 

Fast-forward to the next morning: “I love the way you kiss,” she texted. 

“I love the way you everything,” I replied. 

We’ve been inseparable, physically and emotionally, ever since.

I used to argue that the vast majority of adults simply meet, pair up, tolerate each other for a few decades, and call it love. That we all just settle for the person who floats through our lives at the moment we were ready to cash in our single chips. 

That was then. Today, I feel like I hit the lottery with Phoebe. I can’t get enough of her — her smile, her scent, her energy, her essence. I found my person. This was what was missing from my first marriage. Not the sex, the connection.

But the sex is nice too.

I was in Nashville earlier this year for work when I got a call from Phoebe.

“You know what I want tonight?” she began. 

“I think I do,” I quickly replied. “Also, I’m in an Uber and you’re on speaker.”

“Burrata,” she said.

“I was hoping.”

Burrata is code — something we concocted to help avoid awkward situations like the one I had in the car with Jon.

Yes, we had burrata that night. Oh, did we ever.

Follow Article Topics: Sex-&-Relationships