Despite being married and living together, couples may be unable to engage in sexual activity and have successful intercourse for variable duration. It is usually referred to as sexless or non consummated marriage.
Not sure what to expect?
The first time is usually anxiety filled, more so for women due to the fear of pain. Especially in conservative societies as in India there is lack of knowledge about sex owing to taboo associated with discussing the matter openly. The limited source of information comes from unreliable pornography sites which convey wrong ideas and expectations about sexual life. There is a rare condition called vulvodynia where women may feel excruciating pain on touching the genitalia. Gentle behaviour by the husband and counseling by trusted loved ones will help the woman overcome the fear and alleviate anxiety associated with first time sexual intercourse
Sprint or a marathon?
Among men performance anxiety remains the most common reason to hesitate in getting intimate with the new bride. There is fear of committing mistakes during the first sexual interaction with the spouse. Myths about sexual performance may play on the minds of men and they may fear causing sexual dissatisfaction in the wife. The expectations set by the society about sexual performance are sometimes unreasonable to the point of frustration if they are not met by the spouse. Couples fail to realize that sexual performance on the very first occasion does not determine their future sex life and sexual satisfaction.
Marriage-Love or arranged?
In the Indian scenario, arranged marriages are extremely common. Even in the 20th century it so happens that a man and woman meet for the very first time on the day of their marriage and haven’t got a chance to get to know each other before. This leads to lack of communication between the couple and so there is no possibility of discussing sexual expectations with each other.
Sometimes despite months of courtship, the couple is hesitant to discuss their sexual likes and dislikes with each other though sexual intercourse and procreation form important elements of a marital union between a man and woman.
For most men and women sexual intercourse is more than just a physical need. Sex for them is a way of expressing their love for the partner. If there is lack of emotional attachment or incompatibility between the couple, they may find it difficult to get sexually intimate. When the love is missing from sexual act, the partners tend to judge each other based on physical and more superficial aspects of sexual intercourse. Besides, without the trust and confidence in the partner it becomes difficult to share ones sexual needs so as to make sexual intercourse more pleasurable. And that explains why sex is referred to as making love.
Some cultures make people so much bound by responsibilities towards family and society that even marriages happen under family and social pressure rather than by choice. As a result the wish of the bride and groom are neglected. The couple may find it difficult to accept marriage forced upon them whole heartedly and in the complete sense owing to a previous love affair. If unable to get over the feelings for the lover post marriage, infidelity may creep in. Infidelity may cause the married couple to face difficulty in growing intimate. Guilt of infidelity also causes psychosexual problems in the couple.
Stress and sexless marriage
Nowadays in most of the cases both partners are working. The work culture these days is also highly competitive leading to stress filled life. At the end of a stressful day the couple is too tired mentally and physically and is in no mood for sex. If the nature of the work is shift based, the problem worsens as the couple hardly gets to spend quality time with each other. The avoidance behavior towards sexual intercourse owing to work pressure runs a vicious cycle as it may lead to feeling of rejection in the partner or performance anxiety. Lack of sleep is also a major reason for disinterest in sex.
To each their own….
Nowadays non traditional sexual orientation is extremely common and out in the open. Homosexuality and bisexuality has also gained legal approval in many parts of the world. Despite the widespread acceptance of homosexuality and bisexuality, some conventional families and societies disapprove of it. Many are forced into marriage with the opposite sex due to social and family pressure. Those with same sex love interests married to the opposite are unable to consummate their marriage for lack of sexual attraction towards the opposite sex. They may feel helpless about their sexual orientation and carry in their minds the guilt of having gotten married.
Is sex a sin ?
Some people grow up with a negative image about sex either due to religious preaching’s or as taught by family. They do not perceive sex as a natural instinct of living beings but as sinful pleasure. So they do not indulge in sex and nor do they let their partner get physically intimate. Sex is an integral part of marriage and meant for procreation. So some religious teachers conduct premarital counseling sessions. They are counseled regarding lawful sexual intercourse acceptable in marital union. The counseling helps them get rid of misconceptions about sexual intercourse. Adultery and its consequences are discussed
Sexual dysfunction in men or women may become the reason for non-consummated marriages. Sexual dysfunction in men may be in the form of erectile dysfunction ,premature ejaculation, delayed or inhibited orgasm. In women sexual dysfunction may take the form of vaginismus which is a sudden and strong spasm of the vagina on attempt of penetration by the penis which leads to unsuccessful or incomplete sexual intercourse. Low libido or low sexual desire may become a problem in both men and women.
Sexual dysfunction may also manifest in people with no significant organic problem. In such situations performance anxiety or other psychological issues may be the only cause for sexual dysfunction
If virginity is dignity….
The fairer sex has given utmost importance to virginity since time immemorial. Those who have placed their self esteem, dignity and identity in virginity may find it difficult to accept the role of a sexually active married woman. They may have anxiety of losing their virginity which they have guarded for years. Such emotional turmoil in the woman may result in her resisting sexual intercourse with the husband. Many a times the marriage is not consummated due to lack of consent of the woman.
No privacy at your own place?
Another major contributing factor in Indian societies is that most families are joint families where the married couple may be living with parents and siblings. The newlywed couple may feel lack of privacy. So they may not feel comfortable taking their relationship forward. Sometimes the family interference is to the extent of them waiting for evidence of the bride’s virginity or confirmation of coitus. Such interfering relatives may make the couple extremely anxious and result in unsuccessful attempts to consummate marriage. In the process of fulfilling duties towards the members of a joint family, the couple does not find enough time to spend with each other.
Self love is not selfish
Some individuals be it a man or a woman have a very negative self image. They feel dissatisfied with their appearance and consider themselves sexually unappealing. Their self confidence is impaired and they fear rejection by the spouse on grounds of lack of beauty and sex appeal. The fear of rejection leads to avoidance of sexual intimacy with the spouse. If one is ashamed of one’s own body or any part of one’s body, he or she may feel shy to reveal it to the spouse. The inhibition may result in a non consummated marriage. Perception of beauty may vary a great deal even among spouses.
Sexual experiences of the past may adversely affect a person’s sexual life after marriage. If a person has been sexually traumatized prior to marriage or during younger days, they may feel very uncomfortable at the thought of sexual intimacy, be it even with the spouse. Sexual trauma may be in the form of rape, molestation or sadism.
Why is foreplay important?
Sometimes inadequate foreplay may become the sole reason for unsuccessful sexual intercourse. It is more important for women to have good foreplay because they take longer than men to get to the level of arousal needed to orgasm. Foreplay helps prepare the mind and body for sex. Vaginal lubrication which is necessary for successful penetration is stimulated by caressing and kissing. If men hurry into things as they can get an erection by the thought of sex, they may fail to have successful coitus.
In this era there is no reason to suffer in silence if you are dealing with sexless marriage. There are therapeutic interventions available and it is no more a stigma to seek medical help for sexual problems. It is important to get help early as it may have detrimental effects on the psyche of the partners and may lead to marital discordance. An empathetic doctor who will listen to you without being judgmental is all you need most of the times. Marital therapy will help resolve interpersonal issues and develop bonding. Sexual behavior therapy targets at encouraging the couple to explore sexuality gradually. Rarely the couple may need prescription drugs to overcome sexual dysfunction.
“It takes more than sex to build a great marriage but it is nearly impossible to build a great marriage without sex”