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The Silent Wound: Celibacy in Marriage


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The Silent Wound: Celibacy in MarriageFriends and family perceive them as a happy couple. While their not having a child may be upsetting his mother, they do seem to be suited after more than five years of marriage. Both are quiet, yet friendly, focused on professional growth, and still ‘chilling out’ at local nightspots together. There is no reason to doubt their ‘happiness’. And yet, this couple in their early thirties knows something all their friends and well-wishers do not. They make love less than once in six months. Sound unbelievable? There are more like them.

“When I first began to notice a pattern of our just going to sleep without any contact, I was uncomfortable, but attributed this to our respective tiredness,” says A——, with her big eyes filling up with tears. “I thought things will become better after some time, but as weeks and months passed, just the fact that my husband did not need me physically at all began to get to me. I was making errors at work, confused as to what it could be about me that was putting him off. The worst part was – he continued to be the friendly, cheerful person I have always known. In fact, we were more like two good friends who were housemates, not like husband and wife.”

Even summoning up the courage to get her husband to see a doctor was a great effort for A. But more than the medical doctor, it was a counselor who first spotted her husband’s problem – he was a closet gay, with pronounced feelings of guilt about his sexual orientation. While he had got married because of his family’s pressure, he did not feel any lasting attraction for a woman. “I had to choose – either continue to live with him like a sister – because he does have a lot of affection for me. Or end the relationship and move on. I chose the latter, but sometimes I wonder whether it was the right thing. I haven’t yet met anyone else, and I still miss at least our companionship.” A’s situation, while difficult, is hardly unique. A continued lack of sex in marriage is commoner than we think, and badly affects the partners concerned.

“When our children were born hardly a year apart, my wife was tired and stressed out all the time,” says Atul, 37. “She didn’t want to have sex – one of them was crying in the nights and I helped to feed him. Her daytime schedule was also completely revolving around them. We had such severe maid problems that she went with the babies to her mother’s house for a while.” The problem was, after this stint she showed no sign of wanting to return. “She had developed a near-aversion to sex and was just not willing to come back because she feared getting back into bed with me,” says Atul, wryly.

It was only the patient guidance and love given by Atul’s mother-in-law, a wise woman and a professional (she is an anaesthetist) that helped this couple overcome this problem. “My mother-in-law really helped my wife see that what came between her enjoyment of sex was the fact that her previous experience had ended up quickly in pregnancies, morning sickness, delivery pains etc. She was almost like a psychiatrist, and I appreciate her efforts. If she had not been so patient, and seen my point of view as well as her daughter’s, our marriage could have gone downhill.”

When sex has dried up within a marriage for any reason, it is often a silent wound for the partner who still yearns for it. Unable to talk about it to anyone other than the closest friends, this partner can feel depressed and confused, and his or her self-esteem can hit rock bottom. It takes courage and persistence to overcome this and work towards one’s happiness, whether within the marriage, or out of it. But ask those who are happy, and they will tell you that every bit of effort is worth the final reward.

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Responses to The Silent Wound: Celibacy in Marriage

  1. 1 Manohar

    Hi there,

    VERy nice article and thanks for writing and posting….

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