Is sex – or lack of sex – a major cause of divorce?

May 21, 2011

in Series, Sexuality, The "D" word

Sexual problems © Fabio Berti | Dreamstime.com

Is sex a major cause of divorce? I found a couple of sources that seem to suggest it is:

In Why Americans Divorce I read that “22 percent of men cited sex as the reason for the divorce”. In Sex is biggest cause of divorce I learned that a UK law firm reports “sex was a factor in 43 per cent of divorce cases”.

Frankly I doubt this is something we can get a good handle on by survey. How many folks are going to own up to the divorce being caused by their affair, or their sexual refusal, or their fetish? Those wronged by these things may also be reluctant to share those details – “We grew apart” is easier than “S/he would never have sex with me”.

Is sex a factor in 43% of divorces? I would think it’s a factor in most divorces to some degree or another. Most divorces have many factors, but in most situations, one or a few of these factors are so significant that the others are essentially unimportant. So the question is this – how often is sex a significant contributing factor to divorce?

When divorce follows adultery, clearly the adultery caused the divorce, right? Maybe not. While some folks are just too selfish, or too lacking in self-control, to avoid the chance of sex with someone else, I think most understand the potential marriage ending consequences of an affair. I suspect many affairs are sign that the person no longer cares about the marriage. Sometimes an affair is a signal to their spouse, or giving them a reason to file divorce. I doubt many affairs happen in solid marriages, so in some ways the affair is more a symptom than a cause.

What about men, and a growing number of women, who are sexually starved for many years? As deeply as this hurts, I doubt it directly causes many divorces. On the other hand, ongoing sexual frustration slowly kills a marriage, and as the couple drifts further and further apart divorce becomes more and more likely. An affair also becomes more likely – not directly due to a lack of sex, but more because of the lack of relationship that comes from a lack of sex.

So is sex a big factor in divorce? I think it is – but in a less than obvious way. I see sex as an act that brings a couple together. It builds their relationship, and binds them together. It makes them feel close, intimate, and connected. If divorce is weeds choking out a marriage, then sex is a very good weed killer. Sex won’t fix big problems, but it does smooth out and diminish a lot of things that would become big problems over time. Sex helps a marriage avoid getting to the point where being apart seems like a good idea. If this is the case, then sexual problems allow other marriage killing things to develop and grow. Sex is a potent marriage protector, and a lack of good sex means the marriage is less strong and more open to attack.

That, by the way, is why I talk about sex a good deal. Sex is not just a bonus in marriage, it’s important. Sex won’t save a marriage on the brink of divorce, but a good sex life can keep a marriage from being on the brink of divorce. More and/or better sex won’t improve all marriages, but less sex will hurt the vast majority of marriages.

Image Credit: © Fabio Berti | Dreamstime.com

13 comments
ivan martens
ivan martens

Under the heading of "Sex issues are a symptom". For myself and it seems other men, good sex is what keeps you engaged and motivated enough to work on the other hard issues. If you are well connected sexually with your wife, then almost any other issue is a problem that can be handled and managed. But if you don't have that core intimacy... fugetaboutit. 

anoymousforreal
anoymousforreal

@generoushusband I really believe this is the issue. Either that or low testorone or both..either way it needs to change and change quickly. I need him enotionally and physically and we r too young to be dealing with this. I'm trying to be patient and empathetic, but lord is it hard. Just not used to men acting like this I guess. But thanks again.

anoymousforreal
anoymousforreal

@takestwo, thank u so much for ur in site, I really believe that we will eventually resolve this. He does have a very extesive sexual past, he used to be a "player" back in the day, but of course he's saved now and is a changed man, but I do think his past has a lot to do with expecially what u said about the sexual sins, since it would make sense, considering his past. We talked some yesterday about this, but I'm just gonna lay off and just be the best wife I can be and just continue to pray. He is a really wondeful man, so I don't want to lose him over this. I guess it just makes me feel so abandoned and unloved..even a little bit insecure, but in the meantime I will seek God to fulfill those places, until my husband is fully restored. Thank u sooo much because ur post truly helped me.

anoymousforreal
anoymousforreal

I also should add he says he's not cheating, and I want to trust him. But he could be emotionally cheating?? I don't know..but I do know I am praying dailey for God to intervene. I feeling more and more lonely as the days go by, and he dosent seem to care or be concerned. But I'm still praying.

anoymousforreal
anoymousforreal

Well in my case I'm the one that is sex starved! My husband just changed after marriage!.. he couldn't keep his hands off of me before, now I'm always find myself begging for it or trying to always keep things cool between us because he gets upset that adds on to the starvation. Its crazy! Especially because we r both in our 30's and healthy. Its mostly always an excuse with him. I'm praying that I am able to resist temptation elsewhere. But outside of the no sex, the affection is lacking as well. I love him with everything in me, but its getting harder and harder. I try to talk to him about it but he sees it as being shallow or that its other things to be concerned with. Its like he's already gotten so complacent and this is only our 1st yr of marriage. I'm very attractive and so is he so I don't see the problem. I'm not sexually timid. I try not to nag him about it, I'm a guys kinda gal. So we watch sports together etc. What could be wrong????

Take Two
Take Two

I still think you undersell the importance of sex a little. Sex is not a reward, or even the foundation, it is the marriage, period. One compromise of this institution puts the whole marriage on life support. Every action and decision is made with respect to the sexual relationship. We seem to only get this in a negative context. But when God talks to us about his relationship to us, he uses sexual language. Of course, this makes us uncorfotable, because of our views on sex. We still should let it stand. Perhaps if we take the right perspective we could actually help marriages.

A. Nonymous
A. Nonymous

Divorces are triggered by one or both persons feel cheated. Women feel cheated when the husband has an affair, doesn't make her happy, doesn't make her feel good, and doesn't provide to meet wants and needs. Men feel cheated when they don't get laid in spite of making a commitment to exclusivity (e.g. marriage) which, for the most part, women value more than men.

J (Hot, Holy & Humorous)
J (Hot, Holy & Humorous)

So aptly put. I contend in my own personal testimony that sex saved my marriage. Extreme, huh? But a healthy sex life can be a bonding glue through otherwise tough times. Sex is also a great reflection of how much you treasure your spouse - since it is not designed to be a selfish act (though the world may preach differently). This is a terrific post!

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