The most commonly Googled complaint about marriage isn’t about how to discuss money problems with your spouse, how to make an unhappy marriage work, or even whether or not you should stay in a loveless marriage. The most commonly searched marriage complaint is about sexless marriage. Although sex is commonly seen as a necessary part of a happy and healthy marriage, it turns out that more people are facing the realities of sexless marriages than you’d think. But are all of these marriages doomed to fail, or is it possible to have a successful and thriving relationship even without sex?

What is a sexless marriage?

“Sexless marriage” doesn’t necessarily mean no sex at all. The definition can fluctuate depending on the couple and their relationship: For some people, having sex less than 10 times a year may constitute a sexless marriage, while other couples might not think their relationship has turned sexless until sex is no longer playing a role in their marriage.

The absence of the sex act in a marriage isn’t the only potential cause for concern. When couples aren’t having sex, they are rarely physical with each other at all. This no-touching behavior can lead to even deeper separations within the relationship: The physical distance transforms into an emotional distance, making it difficult for partners to connect with each other in all aspects of life. What’s more, when couples aren’t having sex, they’re usually not talking about it. Not only does silence make it more likely that the dry spell will continue, but it can also slow down or stop communication about other issues within the relationship.

It is possible to have a happy marriage without sex?

Yes, but not everyone will be happy sans sex. Over 61% of Americans surveyed in 2015 stated that sex was a very important element of marriage. If you or your partner are one of those people, chances are that a sexless marriage will create tension, dissatisfaction, and unhappiness within your marriage. Many people associate sexual interaction with their partner with love, affection, and passion; if your marriage is missing those elements, it’s easy to see how it can slide downhill quickly. However, not every sexless marriage is destined to fail. For some people, sex doesn’t hold that heavy importance. Sex may be seen as a fun but unnecessary activity within a relationship or shared activities may provide the feelings of love, affection, and passion making sex unnecessary for the overall health of the relationship. Additionally, if both spouses have naturally low libidos and are satisfied with infrequent sex or if there are other health issues that prevent a consistent sexual relationship, the marriage might not be controlled by the number of times a couple has sex.

The key to determining whether or not a sexless marriage will likely be successful is determining if both people in the relationship are happy and satisfied with the no-sex situation. If one partner feels as though they are missing something essential in their relationship, it probably won’t take long for the sex issues to trickle down into other problems. Sex in a marriage can be so much more than just the physical activity, so when one person limits it, it’s likely that more problems will follow.

What should you do if you want to have more sex in your marriage?

Just because your marriage is sexless now doesn’t mean it has to stay that way forever. Take some time to reflect on your relationship: When did the sex start to taper off? Can you make a connection between the lack of sex and another major life event? Then, talk to your partner. Try to figure out what they want and how you can both be happy, satisfied, and comfortable in your marriage. A sexless marriage isn’t necessarily doomed. In fact, if both people are committed to the relationship, a conversation about sex needs and wants can inspire even more intimacy and start a whole new chapter in your love life.