Why do women stay in sexless marriages?

Kajal Tharwani
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In India 70-80% of marriages, by one estimate, are just about two people living together. Not having any relationship, not having love, not having pleasure certainly not having mutual pleasure. The question arises: If the women are not happy why are they stuck in that relationship? Why are they stuck with sexless marriages? Are they confusing compatibility with sex?  Or do they believe their pleasure doesn’t come first or doesn’t get priority? Just so many questions.


SheThePeople on Sisterhood with Shaili tried to find out the answer while discussing it with media professional Madhuri Banerjee who is a single mom divorced some time ago. She is an independent woman. Dr. Tanaya Narendra is a gynaecologist and she also looks at different aspects of sexuality and sex life of people. Pallavi Barnwal is an author of Pleasure and Tisca Chopra who is an actor. 

Here are some of the major reasons why women may choose to be in sexless marriages. 

  • The Belief that sexual gratification is not important in marriage.
  • Sex is never good so there is nothing to miss.
  • Living a parallel life outside marriage.
  • Women give far more important to men’s sexual pleasure than their own.

On asking about the societal pressures of being single Madhuri Banerjee said, I got divorced about a decade ago when my child was about two or three, so  I think I realised pretty early on that this marriage wasn’t working and I’ve been married for sometime before I even had a child. But I kind of knew that this was not the relationship I wanted. Both of us were very unhappy. And, I think sometimes it’s better to be happy separately than to be unhappy forever together.

"Aside from the societal stigma of having to go through a breakdown for marriages and having to choose to make a decision, aside from all of that one of the biggest problems we have is there is such a huge lack of body literacy. Nowadays, due to the internet, many people have so many more resources so at least the newer generation that’s coming has a better idea of what pleasure is. If they should prioritise their use of pleasure in their life or in their own session with their own self-love. The previous generation there was no guidance, they were just Hush Hush topics and a big taboo", said Dr. Tanaya Narendra, on asking for the reason for sexless marriages in India.

Dr Tanaya  also added that knowledge of sexual agency is important. "We have been trained to believe that penetrative sex is the end all and be all of it this is what should make me have had a happy time. We need large-scale education not for women but for everybody."


In India, the word sex is around shame and people don’t like to talk about it. It’s almost taboo and particularly women never seem to talk about it. 

To which Pallavi stated that, "In a country where talking about sex is complete “no-no”. This a porn-educated patriarchal country and but they don’t understand that sex is more than penetration. Sex is about pleasure, sex is about persona, sex is about identity. We hardly talk about those terms."

To this Tisca Chopra also added her point of view saying, "In our country sex is not seen as a happy thing. There is not saying that “let's have happy sex” is not considered a very positive thing. It has got the shades of shame attached to it. But things are changing, I don’t think millennials are really interested in talking in hush hush kind of thing."

Watch the full video here


sexual pleasure Tisca Chopra