Couples Can Rekindle Sexless Marriages

When two people fall in love and get married, they typically assume their lives will be full of physical intimacy. But what happens when the sex stops? Can a marriage survive without it and be a happy?

The truth is that a sexless marriage can be very damaging and the Farahats learned that first hand. They almost lost their marriage until they sought help at a workshop run by husband and wife of 32 years, Dr. Lana Holstein and Dr. David Taylor, at Miraval, a resort in Arizona.

"A sexless marriage is defined as less than 10 times a year, intimate contact less than 10 times a year," Dr. Holstein told The Early Show co-anchor Hannah Storm. "There's a lot of couples in that category, if you define it like that."

"Too busy and too tired, there's also, too, sort of disconnected, and often irritability and anger," Dr. Taylor said. "Then people just become like roommates or brother and sister."

Eight years ago, Christine and Joe Farahat married and started their lives together. But with the pressures of two demanding jobs and raising two kids, sex started to slip away.

"He has a sense of humor. I think he's handsome," Christine Farahat told The Early Show contributor Susan McGinnis. "I knew he'd be a great father. And I knew he'd be a great husband."

"By the time we made it up to bed, we were just — I was just spent," Joe said.

"It eventually went down to yearly," Christine said.

Christine blamed herself. She wondered if she was too heavy or too masculine. But after a few years, Christine blamed Joe and Joe grew frustrated.

Taylor said that, over time, men become angry and tired and then ultimately withdraw.

"It gets very neutral and people can stay friends, but they just don't have that passion," he said.

Women, on the other hand, may think it takes too much energy to have sex instead of realizing that sex gives them energy, Dr. Holstein said.

The Farahats continued to drift apart.

"I thought that there has to be a better way than this, if everybody's supposedly having sex, I should be having sex," Joe said. "And it should be fun."

They sought help, but nothing worked. Eventually, their lack of sex nearly ended everything.

"I think I was at the point that had something not changed I don't think I would have stayed in the marriage … even with kids," she said.

Finally four months ago, Christine and Joe went to Miraval and in one week, with counseling and intimate homework assignments, they found a new, exciting connection.

"Who knew that sex could be so much fun?" Joe said.

It's important for couples to realize how much sex actually means to their relationship, said Dr. Holstein and Dr. Taylor, who also co-wrote the book "The Long Erotic Weekend."

There's a whole brain cascade of chemicals that actually…increases longevity," she said. "It makes you healthier. And women start to think, well, you know this is some sort of a duty or this is some kind of … thing I have to do."

Couples have to connect at a deeper level, Dr. Holstein said, and that is part of what they teach. Dr. Taylor said it is important for couples to practice mindful sexuality rather than simply having sex because the connection between love and sex is what fosters deep intimacy.

"One of the things they have to do is they really have to get back into feeling the love," Dr. Holstein said. "So often we try and tell couples not so much talking, more touching, more connection on a daily basis. We also give them homework while they're at the program that they do in the privacy of their own rooms, which is really pleasuring one another, and then we set them up with a contract. So when they leave, they have a 30-day plan that they're going to take home."

Once they have the plan, Dr. Taylor said it's imperative that couples practice. They had to create new habits.

"I feel like I've got the whole package now," Christine said. "So, couldn't be happier."