Indian Women in sexless marriages: Marriage as a social construct does not just mean “to settle down”. There are several other factors which go on to make a marriage successful, sexual intimacy being one of them. But do we talk enough about it? While we Indians can’t stop teasing a newly married couple about giving us “good news” soon, we don’t think its important to talk about what goes behind closed doors of a bedroom, especially few years down the matrimonial road. Some dismiss conversations around sex as “private affairs” while others just think of it as a taboo subject, even if it concerns a married couple. Due to this outlook, numerous women choose to stay in sexless marriages and continue to suffer in silence. The stigma around the topic and the shame attached to it prevent them from having a comfortable conversation even with their loved ones.
Indian Women in sexless marriages: Why doesn’t she move out of it?
There can be many reasons why women choose to stay in sexless marriages. The first and the foremost reason is they don’t give enough importance to sexual gratification in a marriage. A lot of people remain dissatisfied because they don’t discuss sexual satisfaction. Next, it can also be because they never enjoyed having sex and don’t miss it. This is particularly relevant for those who have never had the opportunity to experience pleasure like many others.
When women feel responsible for lack of sex in a marriage, they abstain from discussing their demands, agency or pleasure. They tend to give more more importance to longevity of their relationship, even if it is devoid of intimacy. Further, the fear of penetrative sex involving pain forms another prominent reason why women don’t walk out of such marriages. The very thought of having a painful experience and disliking it altogether leads them to refrain from having sex at all. Women are also conditioned to see sexual desire as “dirty”. Which means if their sexual needs are more than that of their partner, they end up questioning their own character, rather than discussing the issue with their partner.
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Woman in sexless marriage: How does she suffer?
The taboo we associate with sex causes us to normalise sexless marriages. But does that mean a marriage free from physical intimacy between partners is devoid of any sort of suffering? Pallavi Barnwal, a certified sexuality coach, lived in a sexless marriage for five years. She revealed that she internalised it because of the social conditioning to maintain silence about sex and trivialisation of sexual pleasure as something unimportant. Being in a sexless marriage can cause immense damage to a couple’s relationship, often irreversibly.
There can be high chances of indulging in an extramarital affair because of the lack of sexual intimacy in a marriage. Both the partners can also end up projecting their sexual frustration on each other, which could lead to big fights in seemingly trivial issues.
Secondly, lack of sex can also cause emotional distancing between them. “You are living together but you are living as roommates. There is no intimacy,” said Barnwal. She added that sensuality, laughter, attraction, spark and chemistry cools down when there is no sex. The sexuality coach elaborated her argument saying that sex helps in maintaining that side of the relationship.
Lastly, a couple’s relationship becomes completely parentified. They focus on the upbringing of their children and their lives start revolving solely around them. Their identity as a couple begins to fade away. Instead of ignoring such situations, they must seek the help of a professional.
Importance of body literacy
According to Gynaecologist Dr Tanaya there is a lack of body literacy in our country. Since we don’t receive a formal education about our bodies, there’s a large chunk of facts we don’t know about it. She added that because of access to the internet, the newer generation is better informed about pleasure. But the earlier generation did not have any guidance regarding sex and pleasure. She stressed that we need to educate people on a large scale so that they don’t get carried away by the misleading information they come across.