While we’ve been on the topic of relationships lately, a reader recently wrote to me and wanted me to bring up the issue of sex between Indian couples. What prompted her was this article in The Times of India about a “libido crisis in the lives of many a married Indian couple”.
She actually provided me with a guest post which I’ve agreed to publish (and excellent timing too, as the change in weather in Mumbai has left me feeling a little…under the weather. Which is why I’ve unfortunately been a bit quiet around here).
Obviously Indians have a huge quantity of sex. Indians have reproduced so often that India now has the second highest population in the world, 1.2 billion and growing every day. I am curious more about the quality of sex for Indian couples, especially after the culturally required children are produced. In my opinion arranged marriages, lack of sex education, and a society that still views discussing sex openly a taboo all contribute to unhealthy sexual relationships in India.
Here are several examples of sexual problems from among my Indian in-laws and friends:
- My sister-in-law is not attracted to her arranged marriage husband and they rarely have sex, especially now that their “duty” of producing two children is fulfilled. Being attracted to your partner is a key component of sexual satisfaction.
- My cousin has not slept with her husband in years because she is too afraid to initiate sex and he never does anymore. Perhaps her husband is gay? Forcing homosexuals into heterosexual marriages may be another reason so many Indian couples have problems.
- Another one of my husband’s relatives recently died of untreated AIDS and I suggested that her husband get tested. I was shocked when my husband replied that his aunty did not get the disease from her husband because it was a well known fact that she had not slept with her husband in over 20 years.
- One of my aunts refused to let her husband touch her after her second child was born. I guess she thought sex is only for procreation.
- An aunt has not slept with her husband in over 30 years as he preferred to sleep with his mistress.
- A cousin allows his 14 and 7 year old children to sleep in the same bedroom as him and his wife. Another aunt always slept in the same bed as her daughter, not her husband. They are not the only Indian couples I know who allow their older children to sleep in their bed. I will admit that I allow my young children to sleep in my bed but it is easy to sneak out of a room with a two year old sleeping, it is not so easy to have any fun with nine year old Junior in your bed.
- Due to the small size of some Indian homes, my husband and I have occasionally had to share a room with my mother-in-law and father-in-law or some other relative. Those nights where intimacy was impossible were very frustrating, I can only imagine how difficult it is for Indian couples who face a lack of privacy on a regular basis.
- An Indian woman I know told me that her mother-in-law regularly sleeps in the same bed that she and her husband share. She told me that she has “no privacy.” I know that “privacy” is an Indian English euphemism for sex. Not only does her husband do nothing to stop his mother from entering his marital bed, he also forced his wife to bear another child after their firstborn was a girl. I can only imagine that a forced pregnancy harmed her sexual relationship with her husband.
- An Indian friend holding a graduate degree confused the names of the basic parts of her reproductive system. I learned about those parts when I was 10 years old in a gender-segregated reproductive biology course.
In particular, her questions are: Are these sexual issues widespread in India? Is my husband’s family unique in their need to hire a sex therapist?
Photo: Khajuraho temples by Kuranda