updated 12 Jun 2013, 06:06
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Can sexless marriages work?
by Cheow Sue-Ann

Is sex crucial to a marriage?

Or can people be happy in a celibate relationship?

Psychologists Daniel Koh of Insights Mind Centre and Dr Nelson Lee, who is also a practising psychiatrist, of The Psychological Wellness Centre, weigh in.

Why have sex? Sex is fun and exciting, but is fun all there is to it? Our experts say no, sex is not just about the act, it cements a relationship.

Dr Lee: "It brings a couple closer and helps them form a bond that is difficult to replace."

Mr Koh: "Sex can be used as a type of bonding, a way for a couple to appreciate each other and make one another feel good. It reminds couples that they are a pair and to focus on something other than themselves."

He says it also acts as affirmation of one another and a reminder of the love they share.

"Sometimes, having sex is how some individuals value themselves, as it gives them affirmation that they are sexy or attractive, and makes them feel confident and happier," he says.

So why would people stop?

Simple. Work and children get in the way.

Both psychologists say that sexless relationships are actually very common, especially after children become part of the picture.

Dr Lee: "After having children, couples forget how to stop being mummy and daddy. They are so focused on their kids. They also worry their children may overhear something. So they neglect their sex lives."

The issues of work and long hours are also factors.

Mr Koh: "People are so distracted by work or other things that they neglect their relationships or the needs of their partners.

Work becomes their biggest focus and sex gets sidelined."

Can couples still be happy?

Both doctors say yes, but both parties must be on the same page. They must agree that they don't need sex.

And this is rare. And it takes a whole lot more work.

Mr Koh: "If both partners are on the same page and agree that they do not need sex, then it will work.

"However, couples will have to do other things to remain close to each other."

Dr Lee: "It is very dependent on whether they have the same stance. If one wants sex more, it will probably strain the relationship."

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