Friday, June 17, 2011

Sexless in the city

ARNOLD Schwarzenegger blamed it all on his sexless marriage to Maria Shriver, never mind the fact that his ‘sexless marriage’ fetched him four kids. But Schwarzenegger's plight surely evoked sympathy, secretly at least, among many a married couples in India, who have been dragging their sexless marriages for years.

Experts caution that the number of couples in such marriages is on the rise and it’s no more uncommon to find couples who haven’t even consummated their marriage and reach out to a counsellor for help. Garima and Ritesh Jain (names changed) are one such example.

On the outside, they seem to have everything going for them. Both husband and wife in their thirties hold plum posts in multinational companies, but the fat pay cheques they get at the end of each month haven’t been able to fill the void in their eight-year-old marriage.

"My husband was unable to perform in the bed. Soon after the marriage we tried several times, but somehow we weren't able to consummate the marriage. And then somehow we got busy with our lives," says Garima. At one point of time, the couple wanted to separate. "I went back to live with my family, but they insisted I go back and carry on with the marriage. That's when we decided to see a counsellor," says Garima.

Their counsellor, Dr Aruna Broota, told us living in sexless marriages is an emerging trend – something that she had to deal with all the time. "Indian society is very rigid, and this couple did not want to separate because of social shame and economic insecurity. We are governed by very conservative social norms and people live in loveless sexless marriages without letting it be known," says Dr Broota.

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THE STORY of Garima and Ritesh finds echoes in a website called the The website allows people to post their experiences in certain situations and have a section for people in sexless marriages.

Here’s what a woman called Mrs India wrote: "I had an arranged marriage 15 years ago. I was too scared to leave because I didn't know where to go if I did leave. I knew that I wouldn't be happy back at my parents so I stayed. My marriage was sexless from the start. I initiated it every time, and noticed he never made a move. I blamed it on his family because we lived with his parents. When we moved to our house away from his parents it was still the same, but I was still in denial. I thought it would be better if we had kids. I literally forced him to have sex with me so that I could get pregnant. I sobbed my heart out afterwards because I felt so ugly and unwanted." Mrs India did get pregnant, but her husband didn't care much about her pregnancy.

She further writes: “My marriage is not just sexless, it’s emotionless too. The only time I saw any emotion was when I told him I was leaving him. I feel ugly and dead inside and it’s frustrating when others that don’t know my situation tell me how pretty I am and how lucky my husband is."

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THERE are several people who go on living a farce in the name of a marriage due to societal pressure and the stigma attached to the D-word (divorce).

But there’s another breed of couples which is quite happy with an asexual arrangement. “For them marriage is more about companionship than sexual pleasure,” says Jitendra Nagpal, senior consultant psychiatrist, VIMHANS.

“These couples are emotionally interested in each other. But they are somehow jolted from slumber, when they are pressured by their families to produce off-springs,” he says.


THIS impatient generation has also given birth to another breed that believes in calling the marriage off at the drop of a hat. “They are very bold and vocal about it.

There are women who openly say that my husband has a very low libido and is unable to perform. People belonging to this category head straight to the court,” says Nagpal adding that being so vocal about once sex life may not be that great a virtue.

“It is difficult for a man to admit that he has a low libido. Female counsellors have a tough time in counselling such men. And that’s why it is important for a male counsellor to be present during the counselling session,” he adds.


ON AN average Nagpal has to deal with at least two to three such cases every week. “Over the past 10 years the number of couples seeking counselling for sexless marriages has increased fivefolds,” says Nagpal.

About 80 per cent cases are because couples are unable to take out time for sex.

And about 10-15 per cent of the couples actually have problems because of certain lifestyle disorders such as smoking, alcoholism, drug addiction, and obesity.

But the most important factor that leads to sexless marriages is the concept of sexuality.

“Sex is not all about that threeminute act. There’s more to it. Sex is taken for granted just like, exercise, diet, hygiene and sleep. Because of their ‘busy’ lives, people compromise on these factors. It is ironical that animals are still enjoying their lives by taking these things seriously,” says Nagpal.

It has become monotonous, boring and predictable for most urban couples.

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Romance is an important part of sexual health, but sadly it has gone missing in most modern marriages. Dr Kamal Khurana, relationsh counsellor, Purple Alley, blames it on the taboo attached to sex in India.

“Women here are not much informed about sex and men derive most of their knowledge from porn,” he says. “Of course there is a mismatch. I know of a woman married to a sex fiend who abused her for 10 years. She hated having sex with him. Such a marriage is equal to a sexless marriage because there is no emotional bond,” says Khurana.

The woman finally found that missing emotional quotient outside her marriage and sought for a divorce.

A sexless marriage can lead to different psychological disorders. Dr Broota cautions that it leads to depression, sudden anger outbursts, and Obsessive Compulsive Disorder (OCD).

“It also leads to several other phobias. A person in such a marriage might be scared of going into an elevator, for instance,” explains Broota.

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The brain is said to be the biggest sex organ. And so experts prescribe a long-term therapy session for couples in sexless marriages.

Dr Khurana believes in forging a bond of friendship between the husband and the wife. “They should first become friends and learn to trust each other and then we ask them to start hugging and kissing each other. It is a very long-term process.”

Nagpal says that couples should compliment each other at least once a day, instead of ticking each-other off.

“It also helps in recalling the pleasurable moments you might have enjoyed in the past. It can act as a booster for sex." Remaining asexual in a marriage is a personal choice. But dragging a sexless marriage is not very wise.

Seek the help of a counsellor or a sexologist in case you are sexless in the city and not particularly happy about it.

Reproduced From Mail Today. Copyright 2011. MTNPL. All rights reserved.

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