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Why Don’t Couples Have Sex?

Why Don’t Couples Have Sex?Not in the mood for sex sometimes? It happens. As people get older and couples stay together longer, sexual activity may decline. But since sex is such an integral part of romantic relationships, many wonder whether changes in their sex life could signal changes in their relationship.

Recently, researchers investigated some of the everyday reasons couples don’t have sex. They asked 87 mixed-sex couples (174 people in all) to keep an electronic diary of their sexual activities over 30 days. The participants’ average age was 33 years old, and most lived in the United States. Over 70% had children living at home.

In some cases, not having sex was attributed to both members of the couple. Some of the most common “joint” reasons included the following:

  • It just didn’t happen.
  • We didn’t have time.
  • Children got in the way.

However, women were more likely to attribute the lack of sexual activity to themselves:

  • I didn’t want to.
  • I wasn’t in the mood.
  • I was too tired.

In contrast, men were more likely to attribute the lack of sexual activity to their partner:

  • My partner didn’t want to.
  • My partner wasn’t in the mood.
  • My partner was too tired.

The findings could help couples who seek therapy for sexual and relationship problems, the authors said. For example, if one partner is often too tired from childcare and household chores, the other partner might look for ways to help out.

The study was published online in January in the Journal of Sexual Medicine.


The Journal of Sexual Medicine

Mark, Kristen P. PhD, MPH, et al.

“ ‘Not Tonight, Honey:’ Reasons Couples Do Not Engage in Sex and Their Impact on Satisfaction and Desire”

(Full-text. Published online: January 13, 2020)