http://www.thedenverchannel.com/news/4225440/detail.html DENVER -- Imagine being married and not having sex for years. No sharing of intimacy -- no meaningful discussions about each others' desires and needs. It turns out that there are thousands of couples who fit that description. They are silently suffering from something psychologists say is on the rise in this country -- sexual anorexia. "We were at the place where our marriage was a disaster," said Rob, who didn't want to use his last name. Rob and Carol's marriage started unraveling when Rob began pulling away, emotionally and physically. "I knew there was the pull back -- the silence," Carol said. It turns out that Rob was having several affairs. He went outside the marriage for sex and treated his wife like a roommate. "I lacked the capacity to be intimate," he said. Rob suffers from sexual anorexia. "It's depriving yourself emotionally, physically, and spiritually from each other," he said. "I've met couples who haven't been physically intimate for months, years at a time -- even decades," said Dr. Doug Weiss, with Heart to Heart Counseling. Weiss, a marriage counselor and licensed therapist, said 30 percent of the couples he sees are facing sexual anorexia. There are millions of people who suffer from it, he said. "Lot of people on the Internet -- false relationships, pornography -- they're disconnected from real people. And because that's on the rise, we're finding sexual anorexia is also on the rise, where they avoid real relationships," Weiss said. Rob is a recovering sex addict. His sex drive was fine. It was his inability to be emotionally intimate with his wife that caused him to turn elsewhere for sexual pleasure. So, as odd as it sounds, Weiss believes Rob's sexual addiction led to his sexual anorexia. So why didn't Carol didn't leave Rob? For the same reason counselors say many couples refuse to give up -- the children. "I was willing to say, 'You know what? I'm willing to take a nine-year sentence here. When our youngest is 19, I'm out of here,'" Carol said. That's when Rob admitted he had a problem and sought help. "If you have a couple that's willing to get help, help is available. And they can move forward and it's awesome. They get restored. They send me pictures and thank yous. It's really kind of cute, actually," Weiss said. Rob and Carol enjoy a happy, healthy marriage today. Their road to recovery began when Rob learned how to be intimate with the primary person in his life, and when the two began communicating. Counselors say the key to a successful relationship is to be able to express your true emotional, spiritual, and physical feelings for one another. If you feel Rob and Carol's story is hitting close to home, see if these sexual anorexic characteristics apply to you or your spouse: Withholding love Withholding praise Controlling with silence or anger Ongoing or ungrounded criticism Withholding sex Unwillingness or inability to share feelings Staying so busy you have no time for your partner Controlling or shaming partner with money issues Weiss said if five or more of these signs apply to you, you're probably a sexual anorexic. If you need more details, go to www.intimatematters.com.