‘Not tonight, honey’: Anxiety hinder couples’ intimacy

‘Not tonight, honey’: Anxiety hinder couples’ intimacy

Many newly weds in Bengaluru have difficulty consummating their marriage. A women’s helpline gets many complaints

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Many newly weds in Bengaluru shy away from sex, and their marriage remains unconsummated.

Every week, Vanitha Sahayavani, the women’s helpline attached to the city police commissioner’s office, gets at least five cases of women complaining of lack of sex in new marriages.

“Most of them are between 25 and 40. Today, women are educated and independent, and more open about sex. They come and speak to us when they have a problem,” explains B S Saraswati, senior counsellor.

Women take time to trust their partners, while many suffer anxiety and erectile dysfunction.

“We see a lot of this in late marriages. When the men stay away, women are quick to seek a separation,” she says.

In many cases, couples refrain from sex because they can’t develop any emotional attachment.

“This leads to anger, resentment and suspicion. It also triggers extra-marital affairs,” she says.

Financial questions play a role, too. In one case, a man told his wife to hand over her salary to him. When she refused, he said he couldn’t be intimate with her. 

Saraswati says fear also keeps couples away from sexuality. “In some arranged marriages, women are terrified of sex. The husband looks like a stranger. And in some cases, women who have had premarital sex refuse sex for fear of being questioned about not bleeding on the first night,” explains Saraswati.

Dr Vinod Kumar, consultant psychiatrist and psychotherapist, Mpower, The Centre in Indiranagar, says a lack of knowledge forms the basis of all relationship problems. Men who watch porn excessively end up with unrealistic expectations, both about themselves and their partners.

That leads to ‘psychogenic impotence’ in men. Counsellors also observe a lack of libido among women whose marriages are not consummated. “Men are anxious to complete the act rather than focus on establishing loving contact with the partner. This leads to painful intercourse and the woman begins to avoid it,” Dr Vinod Kumar says. 

A history of sexual abuse can interfere with intimacy. “If the woman or the man has faced abuse in childhood then consummation becomes a problem. Painful memories return to haunt them and they prefer not to get into the act,” he says. 

Sexual orientation can also come in the way. “If the husband is gay and has agreed to the marriage because of parental pressure, he will not be drawn to the wife. And if the wife is lesbian, she will stay away,” he says.

In many cases, couples get married under pressure from parents, and then feel they are trapped. They run from any sign of intimacy because they are unable to accept their new situation.

Dr Sugami Ramesh, senior consultant, clinical psychology, Apollo Hospitals, says what many men take their partners for granted.

“She is my wife and will be around---is the most common attitude we see,” explains Sugami.

She has seen couples carrying emotional baggage. “Here, neither the man or the woman is able to forget the past and move on. Only regular therapy and positive reinforcement can help couples overcome their problems,” she says. 

Individuals tend to lie to defend their positions. “And when I throw the same points back during a joint session, I find they have actually lied. This complicates the problem,” she says.   


* Partner is a stranger (arranged marriages)
* Sexual abuse in childhood
* Unreal expectations
* Psychogenic impotence
* Sexual orientation doesn’t match

Help at hand

Seek marital counselling
Learn to trust partner
Make time for each other


They help

* Vanitha Sahayavani: 080-22943225 (10 am to 5 pm)
* Medisex Foundation: 08494933888
* Family Psychiatry Center: 080-26995328/26995327(9.30 am to 5 pm)