They're not too tired and they've got the time. That's just one of the things that surprised us when we researched and wrote our new book, He's Just Not Up for It Anymore: Why Men Stop Having Sex and What You Can Do About It
. In spite of the fact that studies reveal there are 40 million people in "sexless" marriages in the United States, (loosely defined as marriages in which spouses engage in sex ten times a year or less) and many if not most therapists agree that about half the time it's the man who stops being passionate, there was so little written about this counterintuitive possibility that we decided to survey people who were in the situation and try and uncover what was going on. (The results of that survey, as well as extensive research and interviews with numerous leading experts in the field, can be found in our book. We hope that, above all, the book will give couples a strong foundation for compassionate conversation.)
However, surveys, like everything else in life, are full of surprises. For example, among people in sexless marriages, the male infidelity rate was about the national average, and the divorce rate was quite low. For this universe, at least, there seemed to be a very good chance that the issues could be solved, if only the couples involved would talk to one another, and listen, really listen, with honesty and respect.
Here are some of the things the things we found surprising: According to our female survey respondents, 28 percent ended intimacy almost at once. (Ten percent stopped before the wedding day, and 18 percent either on the honeymoon or within the first year). Only ten percent of the men and 15 percent of the women who responded to our survey chose to divorce. This is way below the national average. The infidelity rate for the men in our survey was 20 percent -- about the national average. The infidelity rate for the women was 9 percent before their husbands stopped being intimate, but 26 percent after the passion ended. (The national average for women is about 12 percent.) Sixty-six percent of the women said that they didn't know why their partners stopped being intimate, but only 28 percent of the men said they didn't know why, indicating the men know why, but they aren't communicating. Only about 20 percent of men with erectile dysfunction get help. Less than half of the women who identified their husbands as gay left the marriage. There is so much anger. Forty-four percent of the men said they stopped because they were angry, and 45 percent of the women thought that was the reason. Only 6 percent of the men said that being too tired was a factor. And only 9 percent said that they didn't have the time. So many women (57 percent) thought that their husbands were depressed.