14 types of non-sexual (or exclusively sexual) marriage

The non-sexual marriage is sad thing. And yet it is surprisingly common.

The ideas in the next few posts on the non-sexual marriage borrow heavily from the family therapist Carl Whitaker who described marriage as “an adult model of intimacy.” He insisted that marriage is by its nature ‘hot’: “Nobody lives as hot a life if they aren’t married.” (Perhaps I’ll expand on this important point in a future post.)

If a true marriage is intimate, adult, and hot, the question then is why are some marriages cold – in particular, non-sexual? Whitaker identifies four overlapping kinds of marriage that psychotherapists see.

1. Playmates are just good friends. Each wants to live “ten paces apart” and they find someone else who wants the same.

2. The bilateral adoption marriage, or psuedo-threrapeutic realtionship, where each one is the ‘psychiatrist’ for the other and ‘patient’ too. (Sometimes it’s unilateral where the roles are permanent. Whitaker says this is “probably the standard American marriage.”

3. The homosexual marriage, “the marriage to two men and two women”. This is a legal marriage which is essentially competitive.

4. The perverted marriage – asexual and nonagressive – which has no heat at all. They never have a fight.

5. The ‘affair’ in that the only communication is sexual. “It is an arrangement where the vagina and the penis have an attachment and the people aren’t there.” No intimacy.

Some other types:

6. The ‘couple’ who are only a couple when with other couples
7. The husband and/or wife are close to their own friends (not to their spouse)
8. One or both of them has an affair(s) outside the marriage
9. One or both partners is having an affair and syphoning off their libido that way

10. I have published a post on the relationship with a celibate control-freak.

Over the next few days I will slice the subject up into four topics and deal with one per post:

11. Asexuality
12. Closet (or unconscious) homosexuality
13. No-longer-sexual
14. Married men who have sex with men

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One Response

  1. What about a non-sexual partnership amongst friends that want to create a home and a family together? What do you call that?

    Isn’t this much like what a lot of marriages out there end up being, anyway? But, if it starts out this way, the partners are not held hostage of each other’s desires and insecurities, and can freely explore and develop their own sexuality however and with whom ever they choose to. Wouldn’t it also help balance out the demands of parenthood, as while one partner goes out, the other can stay in, and vice-versa, with their respective lovers, or not? Isn’t that what separated parents do anyway, but with the added logistics of shipping children back and forth, and the strain on their development that comes with it?

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