Man sitting in the dark and looking dejected because he's living in a sexless marriage.

10 Tips for Navigating a Sexless Marriage Separate Bedrooms Scenario

Living in a sexless marriage is lonely and confusing for most. If you are in this situation, you are likely feeling frustrated, isolated, and doubtful about your lovability. Despite all of the unpleasant emotions, you probably haven’t spoken about it to anyone because of the stigma of being in a sexless marriage. Then, when you add separate bedrooms into the mix, it can feel like a hurdle that will never be overcome. So you feel trapped, and wonder if you should simply resign yourself to the way things have turned out.

But before you throw in the towel on ever having a romantic, physical connection with your spouse again, remember that intimacy comes in many forms. Emotional, intellectual, and spiritual connections are important too, and can help rebuild the foundation of your partnership. This rebuilt foundation can also support a rekindling of your sexual connection.

The Typical Path Couples Follow

There is a cycle that couples in a sexless marriage often go through as they try to repair their physical relationship. First come the awkward attempts to reconnect physically, followed by periods of emotional withdrawal and frustration when these attempts are unsuccessful.

This initial phase often includes difficult discussions about the issue, seeking professional help, or making conscious efforts to reignite the physical spark. The difficulty usually lies in not understanding the time required to see real results. So, when these efforts don’t yield immediate results, one or both spouses feel rejected and hopeless.

These couples eventually resign themselves to the status quo, believing their situation is beyond repair. Separate bedrooms symbolize the emotional and physical distance. This physical separation can make it even harder to bridge the gap, as the opportunity for spontaneous physical contact is reduced.

To break this cycle, it’s necessary to focus on other forms of intimacy and connection which can help create an environment that naturally leads to a rekindling of your sexual relationship. Doing things together that are out of the norm can be a great way to begin breaking through the barriers you have each erected over time.

So, let’s explore some unexpected ways you can navigate a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms and reignite the intimacy in your relationship.

1. Create a “Shared Sanctuary”

When you are living in a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms, establishing a shared sanctuary can foster connection. Where in your home can you designate a space free from the pressures of physical intimacy, yet pleasant for you both to be in together? It might be a cozy corner in your living room, a backyard nook, or even a spare room. You might even consider equipping your shared sanctuary with comfortable seating, soft lighting, and a few cherished mementos.

Then, you can use this space for regular date nights where the only goal is to enjoy each other’s company. Some simple ideas for your shared sanctuary date nights are playing games, watching a favorite show or movie together, or even having a deep conversation. Each of these activities can help you rebuild emotional intimacy.

2. Engage in “Parallel Play”

Parallel play comes from work in child development, but it works great for adults too. Parallel play means doing separate, individual activities while sharing the same space.

When you are in a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms, it can be an easy way to start feeling comfortable and relaxed in one another’s presence because there’s no pressure to interact directly.

Reading, drawing, playing video games, or even working on separate projects in the same room can create a sense of companionship and shared time. With regular play times, couples can reduce their feelings of isolation and help you appreciate each other’s presence. Both of which can potentially reignite a spark of closeness.

3. Explore the “Touch Point” Technique

Introducing small, non-sexual touching throughout the day can help maintain a physical connection, even if you’re in a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms. This could be as simple as a morning hug, a hand on the shoulder while passing by, or a brief cuddle on the couch. Small gestures like these briefly reduce the physical distance between you and can create a sense of warmth and affection. As these touch points become more frequent and natural, they may pave the way for more significant physical intimacy.

4. Practice “Mindful Moments” Together

Mindfulness can be a powerful tool for couples to rebuild and strengthen their connection. Set aside time to practice mindfulness together. This could involve guided meditation sessions, , journaling, or simply sitting in silence and focusing on your breath.

Practicing mindfulness together can help you become more attuned to each other’s emotions and needs. The benefit of becoming more attuned to each other is building a deeper emotional connection. And shared tranquility can become a basis for renewed physical intimacy.

5. Initiate a “Digital Detox Day”

In our technology-driven world, screens often serve as barriers to genuine connection. This is especially true in a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms. Dedicate one day a week to a digital detox—no phones, no TV, no laptops.

What to do with these days? You can use these no-screen-time days to engage in activities that require direct interaction. Some activities to consider are cooking a meal together, taking a walk, playing a board game, or engaging in a shared hobby. Taking a break from digital distractions can help you focus on each other. And when you focus on each other, it can result in improved communication and a stronger bond.

6. Swap Bedrooms Occasionally

Since you have a sexless marriage and separate bedrooms, you might consider swapping bedrooms occasionally. This change in environment and pace can bring a fresh perspective. It might even spark new conversations or interactions.

Occasionally swapping bedrooms is a simple way to break your routine. It can also be a fun way to explore each other’s personal spaces and learn or rediscover something about your spouse.

7. Create a “Memory Lane” Journal

Start a journal where each of you writes your favorite memories from your relationship. Reminding yourselves of the good times can be especially beneficial for reconnection when your marriage is sexless with separate bedrooms.

When you share your entries, you can stir up positive emotions and remind each of you of your shared bond. Reflecting on happy moments can reinforce your emotional connection and provide hope for a more connected future.

8. Plan Surprise Moments

Take turns planning small, thoughtful surprises for each other – not grand gestures. They might be things like a simple note or a favorite treat. Even tiny things can show appreciation and keep the connection alive.

And when they are unexpected, excitement and anticipation are in the air! Adding a playful and loving atmosphere is especially refreshing to couples in a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms.

9. Engage in Physical Activities Together

Physical exertion releases endorphins (the feel-good hormones) and can create a sense of partnership when you do them together. You might consider things like yoga, dancing, or hiking together. They can also be a fun way to spend quality time together. And quality time like this can enhance your physical and emotional connection.

10. Develop a New Ritual

Not all rituals are religious and solemn. They can be a regular event instead where you consciously spend time together. Your ritual could be as simple as having a cup of coffee together every morning, taking a short walk every evening, or having a weekly movie night.

What is important is having consistently shared activities that can reinforce your connection because provide regular opportunities to communicate and bond.

Rekindling intimacy in a sexless marriage with separate bedrooms requires creativity and a willingness to try new approaches. This does not mean that new approaches will provide an immediate repair of the gap between you. However, new approaches can more easily produce small victories. By celebrating these small victories, it becomes much easier to appreciate the progress you are making.

Mary Ellen Goggin offers relationship coaching for individuals and collaborates with her partner Dr. Jerry Duberstein to offer private couples retreats. To learn more about working with Mary Ellen, contact her here.

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Mary Ellen Goggin

Mary Ellen is a highly skilled and intuitive relationship guide. She brings over 35 years’ experience with individuals and businesses as a lawyer, mediator, personal coach and educator. She received her J.D. at University of New Hampshire Law School and a Master’s Degree at Harvard University. Mary Ellen co-authored Relationship Transformation: How to Have Your Cake and Eat It Too with Jerry Duberstein — and they were married by chapter 3. Mary Ellen brings a unique blend of problem-solving, practicality, and warmth to her work. She’s a highly analytic person, with geeky and monkish tendencies. She’s a daredevil skydiver, a voracious seeker of knowledge, and an indulgent grandmother. Her revolution: helping people become the unapologetic rulers of their inner + outer realms. Read more about the retreats