Society and Identity
Couples not desiring any sexual intercourse with their spouses are said to be one characteristic of Japanese couple relationships in contemporary society. Recent survey data reveal an increase of sexlessness among men and women. However, academic research about sexuality, especially on the phenomenon of sexlessness is still rare in Japan. This presentation shows the findings from qualitative interviews with Japanese married men and women ranging in age from their early twenties to late fifties. The analysis highlights how sexlessness defines the marital satisfaction of the interviewees. The status of being married or/and the feelings of companionship are important factors determining satisfied marital relationships, but building and keeping sexual intimacy with the partner is not. This view is stronger among interviewees who believe that sex in couple relationships is not important, and whose partners share the same value.
Interviewees for whom sexual intimacy is more important than for their partners tend to give up the pursuance of sexual intimacy within the couple relationship altogether. They find their own way to cope with the sexless situation, such as through extramarital affairs or by putting stronger value on autonomy (here: masturbation, watching porn) in sexuality. Reflecting on the cultural variation in subjective well-being, especially in the form of how sexual satisfaction correlates to satisfaction in couple relationships may provide an important contribution to a strand of scholarship which is often dominated by western perceptions.