Something that I make a point to tell every engaged couple that I come into contact with is, "Make sure you have sex on your wedding night." There are a billion reasons why I think it is so important. For starters, in this context, consummate literally means "to complete (the union of a marriage) by the first marital sexual intercourse". This means that the marriage vows don't "complete" your wedding day; having sex with your spouse does. Also, if you can prioritize cake eating and picture taking, you can make sure to get it in (what matters, we make time for…right?). Another reason why I think it's a big deal is because it's really unfortunate—and a little shocking—how many couples don't copulate on their wedding night. How many? According to one pretty popular study, a whopping 52 percent!
What I find to be even more interesting than that is some of the same reasons why newlywed couples don't do-the-do on their first night as husband and wife are the same reasons why a lot of people (some studies say 20 percent) are in a sexless marriage—fatigue, poor communication, fighting (couples who fight on their honeymoon are more likely to fight throughout their marriage, by the way), stress, side effects from medication, not factoring in your partner's needs and even kids (some people are with their children on their wedding night and/or end up not taking a honeymoon).
And what technically makes a marriage sexless? If you and yours are only having sex 10-15 times a year, although I hate to break it to ya, that places you firmly into the category. The reason why that's not something to simply shrug off is, aside from physical issues that would prevent you from having sex, there is not one sane therapist, counselor or coach would will tell you that a marriage without sex is healthy.
Sex is a responsibility in marriage (check out "10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So Important"). Even the Bible says, "Do not deprive one another except with consent for a time, that you may give yourselves to fasting and prayer; and come together again so that Satan does not tempt you because of your lack of self-control." (I Corinthians 7:5—NKJV) Did you catch that? A marriage without sex in it is a form of deprivation.
But what if you already are in a sexless marriage? What should you do? Although it takes a while to restore a sexless union, here are some questions that can help you and yours to get back on track.
Whose Definition of “Sexless” Is It?
One time I was working with a married couple on improving their intimacy outside of the bedroom. As I was offering up some tips, the husband said, "It's gonna be hard for me to focus on that when we're damn near in a sexless marriage." The wife immediately sighed. Although we were on a phone session, I had worked with them long enough that I knew she was rolling her eyes. "How often do the two of you have sex?" I asked. Before the husband could answer, the wife said, "Three times a week." Wow. And that is what her husband considered to be sexless. Bless his heart.
Listen y'all, when it comes to sex, there is a big amount of space in between deprivation and straight-up greediness. Again, the official definition of a sexless marriage is couples who engage no more than around once a month. If you are getting more than that, while you and your spouse may be sexually incompatible when it comes to appetites, or you may need to come to a place of compromise regarding frequency, a sexless marriage, you two are not in.
So, if you are like this husband (because a lot of wives have stronger libidos than their husbands do) and you are telling yourself that your marriage is sexless simply because it doesn't happen as much as you'd like, make sure to get honest about the narrative. Not having sex as much as you'd like is nothing like a sexless marriage. Any couple in a sexless marriage will tell you that.
How Long Has This Been the Case?
If indeed you have narrowed down that it's been so long since you've had sex that you can't remember the last time that it actually happened (which is way too long), it's now time to reflect on how long "long" has been. Do the two of you have a pretty healthy sex life (for the most part) and it's only been a couple of months of MIA TLC, or is there more of a pattern going on?
There's one couple I know who are physically capable of having sex and claim that their marriage is fine. But guess how long it's been since they've had sex? Around three years. More than that if you count good sex. If there's one thing that is supposed to make a married couple's relationship different than all of the other ones that they have, it's the fact that they actually have sex with their husband or wife. If you're not making physical intimacy a priority in your marriage, why is that? No…really…why is that? It's not "just because". And whatever the real reason is? It's gonna reveal what's really going on in your relationship. Chances are, sex has very little to do with it too.
What Was Intimacy Like Prior to Marriage?
Something that can be a total set-up is thinking that sex when you're married isn't much of a difference from sex when you were single. Shoot, you can check out "What 5 Men Had To Say About Married Sex" to see just how off the mark that is. When you're single, a lot of times sex is about gettin' yours—on your schedule and on your terms. But any healthy married person will tell you that sex within a sacred union is about a lot more than climaxing. Selflessness, open communication and mutual fulfillment are not only meant to be constant considerations but consistent goals as well.
Some people are in a sexless marriage because, although as a single person, sex was "fun" (because it was so much about them and not much else), they now view sex as "work".
If you add to that the fact that their past partners needs weren't that big of a deal, now that their spouse's needs should be a top priority, they would rather pass on sex than mature into the kind of partner their spouse needs in order for them to have a happy, healthy and thriving sex life.
Single sex doesn't necessarily have to be intimate. Oh, but married sex should be. Are you struggling with emotionally connecting? If so, could that be the cause of your sexless situation?
What Does Your Spouse Have to Say About It?
Here's another sign that your marriage is unhealthy—if whenever you bring up the lack of intimacy that's currently in your relationship to your spouse, they give you the Kanye shrug and go back to whatever it is that they were doing. The reason why I say that is because it's pretty rare that if a sexless marriage is going on, both individuals are completely fine with that.
Not to send you down a rabbit hole, but someone I know who is in one once told me that the only reason why I was giving their marriage side-eye was because "I wasn't mature enough to understand that sex is not all that important, the older a couple gets." Guess what? About six months after they said that, they found out that their spouse had been cheating for at least a year. Before you pin it all on the cheater, how would you feel if it had been a couple of years since you had gotten some? Wouldn't you feel like your spouse had left you out to dry? Even the Bible says that a sexless marriage gives room for evil entities to do their thing.
In an article that I read on sexless marriages, it featured a study that said the coping mechanisms for dealing with this type of issue range from masturbating (79 percent) to having an affair (26 percent). But what really stood out to me is fact that 51 percent choose to get into a hobby or (catch it) strike up relationships with other people. Hmm. I just read that around half of all emotional affairs eventually turn physical, so yeah, don't assume that just because your spouse is not talking about how they feel about the lack of intimacy and sex in your relationship that they are "fine". According to statistical data, they probably aren't anywhere close to being that.
Have the Two of You EVER Been on the Same Page Sexually?
As far as their intimacy goes, something that some couples share with me, is that it's easier to have less sex when neither of you were on the same page to begin with. If one or both of you were sexually active and not exactly "thrilled" with one another, sometimes you'll tell yourselves that things will get better after saying "I do". Then, if things still aren't quite right, after a couple of years of actually trying to get in sync or faking like you're sexually satisfied when you're really not. After all, faking is lying and when is lying to your partner ever a good idea?
What all of this boils down to is if you're in a sexless marriage because the poor quality has led to low quantity, it's time to get proactive. There are websites like The Marriage Bed that can provide information on just about anything you can think of sexually if you need help sparking up a conversation. It can also be helpful to create a sex vision board (check out "Should a Married Couple Have a Vision for Their Sex Life?") where both of you can share your innermost fantasies and desires. Personally, I am a huge fan of sex jars (you can read more about that here), and a sexcation can never hurt either.
Sometimes, navigating through a sexless marriage is all about perspective. Rather than surrendering to the belief that you are "doomed" to bad sex for the rest of your life, choose instead to see your situation as a lifetime to explore and evolve with your spouse. If both of you are committed to the goal of having a mind-blowing sex life, you're already halfway there.
Are You BOTH Open to Therapy?
In the article "7 Signs a Marriage Won't Last, According to Sex Therapists", I found it interesting that the #1 reason is couples no longer have sex. While I personally think that, if two people truly want to, they can overcome any obstacle in marriage, I will say that if you and yours aren't having sex and it's been that way for a while, trying to fix things on your own is probably gonna prove to be futile (because really, if you could, wouldn't you have by now?). The solution? Counseling.
But let me get specific about this. One time a husband told me that during premarital counseling at his church, he spoke very graphically about how important fellatio was to him. Because the people he was speaking with didn't "believe in" oral sex (what in the world?!), they sped past his point. He can count how many times he's gotten head in the almost twenty years of marriage (SMDH).
Where I'm going with all of that is this—if you're already a little hesitant about marriage counseling, make sure that you "interview the counselor" (or therapist or coach) before formally agreeing to becoming their client. You need someone who you and your spouse can feel totally comfortable with. Not only that, but someone who is willing to broach every aspect of your intimacy—and non-intimacy—until the issue is resolved. Squeamish, super-churchy and sexually pinned-up professionals need not apply. At all.
How “in This Thing” Are You?
"For better or for worse." When folks say that on their wedding day, it's kind of amazing how much they seem to focus on the better and underestimate how low the worst can actually get. A sexless marriage is hard, and to some people, it can even feel like a form of torture, but you really need to ask yourself if it's something to totally throw in the towel over.
One day, when you've got about 30 minutes or so, jot down all of the things that you love about your spouse. Then write down all of the things that disappoint you, including your less-than-stellar sex life. What has more things on its side? If it's the good stuff, isn't that enough of a motivator to stay and work on your marriage?
A marriage without sex totally sucks. I get that. But a relationship that consists of good sex and nothing else isn't much better. You up the chances of the latter being the case for you should you end the union that you are already in. The one you promised to stick with, even when times get hard.
BONUS: There’s No Time Like the Present
I must admit that one of the things that truly baffles me about sexless marriages is there is no time like the present to change the status of that type of situation. I mean, if two people aren't having sex—and again, they are physically able and there is no abuse that is going on—why not…start having it?
If your immediate thought is, "I hear you, Shellie but it's not that simple," then you are proving a point that I already made. Is the problem really about sex or is it something more? Much more?
The fascinating thing about sexless marriages is it forces couples to look at all areas of their relationship. If the act of sex itself is the last thing that you want to initiate in order to remedy your sexless marriage, resign yourself to the fact that there is something much deeper that is going on.
After all, as I oftentimes say, "Sex celebrates love, not creates it." Do you and yours have something to celebrate or not? The answer to that alone can get you down to the root of why you're currently in a sexless marriage.
Want more stories like this? Sign up for our newsletter here and check out the related reads below:
Feature image by Getty Images
- 10 Wonderful Reasons Why Consistent Sex In Marriage Is So ... ›
- Ask Ayana Iman: My Husband & I Haven't Had Sex In 5 Years, What ... ›
- Sex After Birth: Having Sex After A Baby - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- How Often Married Couples Have Sex - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Fear Of Intimacy? Loving Sex But Hating Physical Intimacy - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- What Married Couples Need Sex Life - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Things Marriage Needs To Survive - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Americans Are Having Less Sex. Here's How To Avoid Being A Statistic. - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 6 Signs You're A Sexually Mature Woman - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- Why Writing Love Letters Is A Surefire Way To Revive Your Marriage - xoNecole: Women's Interest, Love, Wellness, Beauty ›
- 7 Ways Couples Can Improve Their Sex Life In the New Year - xoNecole: Lifestyle, Culture, Love, Wellness ›
- Should You Stay in a Sexless Relationship? ›
- When the Cause of a Sexless Relationship Is — Surprise! — the Man ›
- How it feels to live in a sexless marriage – readers respond | Life ... ›
- What To Do If You Have A Sexless Marriage | Betterhelp ›
- Are You in a Sexless Marriage? Ways to Tell and How to Fix it ›
- Sexless relationship advice: how to fix it ›
- Here's What Sex Therapists Want Couples In Sexless Marriages To ... ›
- How to Fix a Sexless Marriage ›
- Can A Sexless Marriage Survive? We Asked The Experts. | HuffPost ... ›
- Are You in a Sexless Marriage? ›
Different puzzle pieces are creating bigger pictures these days. 2024 will mark a milestone on a few different levels, including the release of my third book next June (yay!).
I am also a Professional Certified Coach. My main mission for attaining that particular goal is to use my formal credentials to help people navigate through the sometimes tumultuous waters, both on and offline, when it comes to information about marriage, sex and relationships that is oftentimes misinformation (because "coach" is a word that gets thrown around a lot, oftentimes quite poorly).
I am also still super devoted to helping to bring life into this world as a doula, marriage life coaching will always be my first love (next to writing, of course), a platform that advocates for good Black men is currently in the works and my keystrokes continue to be devoted to HEALTHY over HAPPY in the areas of holistic intimacy, spiritual evolution, purpose manifestation and self-love...because maturity teaches that it's impossible to be happy all of the time when it comes to reaching goals yet healthy is a choice that can be made on a daily basis (amen?).
If you have any PERSONAL QUESTIONS (please do not contact me with any story pitches; that is an *editorial* need), feel free to reach out at email@example.com. A sistah will certainly do what she can. ;)
Exclusive: Gabrielle Union On Radical Transparency, Being Diagnosed With Perimenopause And Embracing What’s Next
Whenever Gabrielle Union graces the movie screen, she immediately commands attention. From her unforgettable scenes in films like Bring It On and Two Can Play That Game to her most recent film, in which she stars and produces Netflix’s The Perfect Find, there’s no denying that she is that girl.
Off-screen, she uses that power for good by sharing her trials and tribulations with other women in hopes of helping those who may be going through the same things or preventing them from experiencing them altogether. Recently, the Flawless by Gabrielle Union founder partnered with Clearblue to speak at the launch of their Menopause Stage Indicator, where she also shared her experience with being perimenopausal.
In a xoNecoleexclusive, the iconic actress opens up about embracing this season of her life, new projects, and overall being a “bad motherfucker.” Gabrielle reveals that she was 37 years old when she was diagnosed with perimenopause and is still going through it at 51 years old. Mayo Clinic says perimenopause “refers to the time during which your body makes the natural transition to menopause, marking the end of the reproductive years.”
“I haven't crossed over the next phase just yet, but I think part of it is when you hear any form of menopause, you automatically think of your mother or grandmother. It feels like an old-person thing, but for me, I was 37 and like not understanding what that really meant for me. And I don't think we focus so much on the word menopause without understanding that perimenopause is just the time before menopause,” she tells us.
Photo by Brian Thomas
"But you can experience a lot of the same things during that period that people talk about, that they experienced during menopause. So you could get a hot flash, you could get the weight gain, the hair loss, depression, anxiety, like all of it, mental health challenges, all of that can come, you know, at any stage of the menopausal journey and like for me, I've been in perimenopause like 13, 14 years. When you know, most doctors are like, ‘Oh, but it's usually about ten years, and I'm like, ‘Uhh, I’m still going (laughs).’”
Conversations about perimenopause, fibroids, and all the things that are associated with women’s bodies have often been considered taboo and thus not discussed publicly. However, times are changing, and thanks to the Gabrielle’s and the Tia Mowry’s, more women are having an authentic discourse about women’s health. These open discussions lead to the creation of more safe spaces and support for one another.
“I want to be in community with folks. I don't ever want to feel like I'm on an island about anything. So, if I can help create community where we are lacking, I want to be a part of that,” she says. “So, it's like there's no harm in talking about it. You know what I mean? Like, I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change. I'm just getting better and stronger and more intelligent, more wise, more patient, more compassionate, more empathetic. All of that is very, very welcomed, and none of it should be scary.”
The Being Mary Jane star hasn’t been shy about her stance on therapy. If you don’t know, here’s a hint: she’s all for it, and she encourages others to try it as well. She likens therapy to dating by suggesting that you keep looking for the right therapist to match your needs. Two other essential keys to her growth are radical transparency and radical acceptance (though she admits she is still working on the latter).
"I was a bad motherfucker before perimenopause. I’m a bad motherfucker now, and I'll be a bad motherfucker after menopause. Know what I’m saying? None of that has to change. How I’m a bad motherfucker, I welcome that part of the change."
Gabrielle Union and Kaavia Union-Wade
Photo by Monica Schipper/Getty Images
“I hope that a.) you recognize that you're not alone. Seek out help and know that it's okay to be honest about what the hell is happening in your life. That's the only way that you know you can get help, and that's also the only other way that people know that you are in need if there's something going on,” she says, “because we have all these big, very wild, high expectations of people, but if they don't know what they're actually dealing with, they're always going to be failing, and you will always be disappointed. So how about just tell the truth, be transparent, and let people know where you are. So they can be of service, they can be compassionate.”
Gabrielle’s transparency is what makes her so relatable, and has so many people root for her. Whether through her TV and film projects, her memoirs, or her social media, the actress has a knack for making you feel like she’s your homegirl. Scrolling through her Instagram, you see the special moments with her family, exciting new business ventures, and jaw-dropping fashion moments. Throughout her life and career, we’ve seen her evolve in a multitude of ways. From producing films to starting a haircare line to marriage and motherhood, her journey is a story of courage and triumph. And right now, in this season, she’s asking, “What’s next?”
“This is a season of discovery and change. In a billion ways,” says the NAACP Image Award winner. “The notion of like, ‘Oh, so and so changed. They got brand new.’ I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
"I want you to be brand new. I want me to be brand new. I want us to be always constantly growing, evolving. Having more clarity, moving with different purpose, like, and all of that is for me very, very welcomed."
She continues, “So I'm just trying to figure out what's next. You know what I mean? I'm jumping into what's next. I'm excited going into what's next and new. I'm just sort of embracing all of what life has to offer.”
Look out for Gabrielle in the upcoming indie film Riff Raff, which is a crime comedy starring her and Jennifer Coolidge, and she will also produce The Idea of You, which stars Anne Hathaway.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Feature image by Mike Lawrie/Getty Images
If you haven’t scrolled upon Olivia McDowell's TikTok famous dinner parties, you may need to reconfigure your "For You Page."
What began as a passion for hosting aesthetically themed meals for her closest friends has quickly become a viral sensation. With an astonishing 12 million viewers, women describe Olivia’s picturesque dinner parties as the “dream girls' night,” complete with classy cocktails, beautiful table settings, elegant outfits, and, most importantly, food plated to perfection.
Seemingly reigniting the feminine urge to host fancy dinner parties, Olivia has perfected the finer details. Overlooking the skyline in her beautiful NYC apartment, she never fails to make her signature handmade pasta dishes while simultaneously looking effortlessly chic in the wardrobe of dreams while doing so.
Replying to @nara0630 what should the theme of my next dinner party be? #minivlog #nycliving #dinnerpartyideas #caviarinnewyork
What I love most about hosting intimate dinners for close friends are the connections and relationships that form over food. They don't require a caviar budget with a high-rise apartment, it just takes determination and a little creativity. Watching Olivia’s journey inspires viewers to be a part of a community of positive and uplifting women who share common interests and tastes in food, fashion, and decor. Simply stated, she’s raising the bar of friendship goals.
If you’re aspiring to host a holiday-themed dinner party this season, check out the four tips that will guide you along the way.
Choose Your Theme
Replying to @emz.life.tsv what was your fav part? 🤍 hope this gives you some inspiration to host a fancy friendsgiving too! #hostingtip #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Set the ambiance with a thoughtful theme, which will indeed be your guiding light for less stress during the planning process. Establishing a theme sets the tone for everything else to fall in place, such as menus, table design, and presentation. For example, a holiday-inspired dinner party is a perfect occasion for elegant all-white decor paired with draped table cloths, pillar candles lit atop luxe holders, floating floral arrangements, and, for a personal touch, handwritten place settings.
Utilizing free resources such as Canva for menu templates and creating a “Dinner Party” moodboard via Pinterest is perfect for gathering dinner inspiration for themes, decor, and recipes for the special occasion.
Simplify the Menu
How to host your own pasta making dinner party — part 1: pasta making from scratch 🤍 Hosting dinner parties has become my favorite thing to do this year. More goes into it than you expect, the prep, planning, guestlist, tablescape, etc. but it’s always worth it in the end. What do you guys want to see next? #hostingtips #dinnerparty #pastamaking
Don’t overcomplicate the menu. A simple dinner party formula to use as your guide to making sure your guests leave full of food and joy is appetizers, salads, entrees, sides, desserts, and beverages. As a starter, assemble an aesthetic spread that your guest can nibble on while awaiting the main course with starters such as bread, cheese, jam, nuts, and fruit. A simple salad will do, complete with a light dressing right before your entree. For a main dish, pasta recipes always go a long way and also allows your guests to interact with one another, which leads to McDowell's third dinner party hosting tip.
Include an Interactive Element
Replying to @itstai.tv 🖤 #girlhood
To break the ice and encourage guests to get to know one another, introduce interactive elements to the evening. Moments of interaction allow everyone to connect, like capturing content for social media or memorializing the essence of the night through fun Polaroids. Olivia also encourages her guests to participate in the pasta-making dinner process as a group, or if hosting a brunch, her friends indulge in building their own coffee bar as an opportunity for forming connections and conversation starters. Group board or card games are also great for laughs and healthy competition to help get the vibes flowing.
Don’t Forget the Dress code
Replying to @samantha_mendiz when all of your friends are the main character 🖤🥂 #dinnerparty #nycfashion
Tis’ the season for glamour and sparkles, so why not go all out with a super chic dress code? You can’t have a picture-perfect holiday dinner party without the coordinating attire to match. When planning, make sure to make the required attire specific yet broad enough for a range of personalities and preferences to comfortably partake while looking stunning doing so.
Let’s make things inbox official! Sign up for the xoNecole newsletter for daily love, wellness, career, and exclusive content delivered straight to your inbox.
Featured image by Justin Lambert/Getty Images