'No sex please, I'm your wife'

Sexless marriages

Every month my BFFs and I catch up over a leisurely Saturday lunch. This has been a ritual for a while now, since we started working and didn’t have enough time to catch up on daily calls and gossip about our loves and lives.

This past week, as we settled down with our mugs of freshly brewed draught beer, I saw Cynthia* roll her eyes when she spotted the hickey on my neck. “What?!” I exclaimed, a little taken aback by her prudish stance. It was not like I was flaunting a love bite in front of a friend who was deprived of sex. Both, my friends Cynthia and Amitabh* where ‘happily’ married with healthy spouses and there was no reason for me to believe otherwise.

Cynthia replied, almost disgusted, as if I was indulging in some immoral act, “After the long working hours and with a kid, how do you manage to find time to have sex?” I realized immediately it had less to do with my sex-life and more to do with hers. So, I ignored the question and started talking about how annoying my boss had been lately with the deadlines and submissions.

A little later, Amitabh blurted out, “I haven’t had sex in three months.” I looked at him worried and asked, “What happened? Is Anita* not keeping well? You haven’t mentioned anything the last few times we met?” In fact, when we met a few nights ago at a family dinner, she seemed completely fine and perky.

Amitabh sighed and said, “She’s just not into it anymore. She says she’s tired and goes to sleep early. Or just sits around watching television.” I looked aghast, my first concern was maybe she was depressed but he added, “She is fine about everything else. She is just not interested in sex. When I tried talking to her, she just said that there is no need to overreact.” She wouldn’t even hear of going for counseling.

Cynthia had little to add to this entire conversation. I looked up at her, hoping she would interject with something smart, instead she said, “Sex is not everything in life. It’s okay.” A little later she revealed that Shane* and her had in fact, not done it in almost 2 years now.

I was appalled at how dismissive they were of their sexual needs. It was as if they had resigned themselves to their sexless marriages. In fact, this perfectly healthy and desirable girl I had known all these years was actually dismissing her sexuality as if it was a flawed character trait.

I was surprised that even in contemporary, urban India people feel that sexual needs can be brushed under the carpet as a non-issue in modern marriages. Why do we have to be apologetic about our needs for intimacy and passion?

I remember reading an article a few days back, it said, Why do Indians have so little sex? An instance was mentioned where at a conference, the Indian delegation argued that our divorce rates are the lowest anywhere in the world. To which Pope Francis, the current head of the Catholic church, retorted: “Sure, you don’t have divorces in your marriages. But do you have passion in your marriages?”

Passion. Desire. Intimacy. Do we not need these in our “perfect” marriages?

For many of us, the longevity of a marriage is paramount. The semblance of normalcy is so imperative that my best friend didn’t even feel the need to talk about it or seek any advise and help when physical intimacy went missing from her relationship.

Yes, sex is not everything in a marriage. But in a society where open marriages are still not acceptable and frowned upon, what do you do when your partner just wakes up one morning and decides that celibacy is a virtue?

What would you do if you were being denied ‘action’ from your partner or spouse?

Tell us in the comments section.

If you have a story to tell that has touched or shocked you, please mail it to us here.

*Names changed on request.