couples

'If I'm no longer having sex with my husband, is my marriage in jeopardy?'

When it comes to divorce, there’s no rulebook which dictates when you should and shouldn’t get one.

Not every divorce must be the outcome of a catastrophic event, nor does a “catastrophic event” within a marriage mean an immediate divorce should follow.

So how do you know if divorce is the right option for you? And once you’ve made that decision, what next?

Mamamia’s newest podcast, The Split, is here to answer every prickly question for you, because with one in three marriages ending in divorce, it’s something we need desperately to talk about despite our natural instincts to avoid it.

Over eight weeks, host Mandy Nolan (a self-confessed “accidental” marriage and divorce expert) along with a series of divorce-savvy guests will be holding your hand through what can feel like the loneliest time of your life.

In the first episode below, she addresses how you know if your relationship is just in a bad patch, or if it’s truly over.


Speaking to psychotherapist, counsellor and couples therapist Melissa Ferrari, she asks the question anyone who’s stayed in a relationship beyond the fire burning out would have pondered: what does it really mean when the sex stops?

“Sex is such an important part of having a relationship,” Melissa began.

“You know, that physical contact, any kind of thing that’s eye to eye or skin to skin is really going to help that couple keep that bond going.”

She says while every relationship is different, and that some couples are able to get past a lapse in intimacy, ultimately, it’s an issue that needs to be addressed.

“If people aren’t having sex or one is wanting it more than the other, those kind of things can be worked through, but if a couple has really grown apart in a place where they’re not wanting to have sex with each other, or they’re avoiding each other, that’s really really not a good sign.

“While there are some couples that can decide its not an important part of a relationship, my observations, and I’ve been doing this for over 20 years, is that sex is important part of a relationship and if its not happening it needs to be addressed.”

“I think you’re a bit nicer to your partner when you’ve been having sex,” added Mandy with a laugh.

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Mandy Nolan, host of The Split. Image: Supplied.
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According to Melissa - science actually backs this claim.

"It's because you're getting all of those doses of those positive hormones so that's really helping you," she says.

"You've got the oxytocin which is the bonding hormone, and that's the hormone that's really prevalent in the beginning, so actually, when you're experiencing that, you get that feeling of 'oh I remember you, I remember how we were feeling at the beginning.'"

"It reinforces that bond and it's why you actually do feel more in love."

Earlier in the podcast, Mandy spoke of her own experience with divorce. Referring to her second husband; "the man she thought she'd be with forever", she said she couldn't help but feel a sense of guilt when she started to feel as though things weren't working.

"We got married later into our relationship - about five years in. When I noticed that we were on the rocks it was only about six months in to our marriage, and I remember thinking 'oh my god I'm going to have to give back the presents.'"

"It's not written, but people feel like if you're getting married - (guests) are going to turn up, take a weekend off, buy a ridiculous dress or something and go to your event, you should at least have a 12 month guarantee. Maybe even a warranty of about three years, so I felt this sense of responsibility to make the relationship work not just for the kids, but for all these other people that I felt had become stakeholders in the relationship."

She said eventually, their friendship began to fade away, and she and her husband became increasingly volatile towards each other.

"I could tell I was annoying my husband... You become part of this awful antagonism that I was involved in. I actually started drinking far too much because I was really unhappy."

She explained that she quit drinking for two years to clarify her thoughts surrounding her marriage.

"It had just taken its toll, so I stopped drinking. I had to stop covering up the more complex emotions I was having and really think about what I wanted and how I was going to move forward.

"At the end of that period I knew exactly what I had to do. We weren't connecting, our lovely friendship had disappeared. There was so much arguing... and we just wanted to call it quits."

Melissa explains that in a healthy marriage, each member of the couple "has each other's back":

"Things like if I know that I've distressed you, then I fix it, if I've upset you, that I make things right again. Secure functioning couples don't make any threats to the relationship - they don't say things like 'I'm leaving, I'm done,' and just being aware of not 'throwing each other under the bus' in public," she says.

If you’re going through a separation or know someone who is, The Split is here to help.

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