| Move over dinks (Double Income No Kids), make way for dins (Double Income No Sex). Wedded to their jobs, an increasing number of young married couples in Indian metros don't have the time, space or energy to engage sexually. The career drive is quickly taking over the sex drive of these young professionals, striving to survive in a competitive world. The nine-to-five work shifts is no longer the norm. In an age where performance pays, and pays well, most couples work over lunch, dinner and beyond. There is little time left for romance and love-making. For many, office news is the new pillow talk and catching a few hours of sleep, the new climax. Most are too busy to fit sex in their schedules. |
This trend of declining sex within urban marriages is a growing problem. According to the Kamasutra Sex Survey 2005, the percentage of married couples indulging in sex more than once a week has reduced from 55 per cent in 2004 to 47 per cent in 2005. According to sex therapist Dr Saroj Gomaste, couples across all corporate sectors are facing this problem. With work getting such priority, couples carry it home. Laptops and cellular phones encourage maximum connectivity with the office and minimal communication within the marriage.
These couples, aged 25 to 35 years, are obsessed with getting ahead. Most have to sprint. And after a hard day's work, they are too tired for anything else. "Sex is the last thing on their minds," says Bangalore-based sexologist Dr Padmini Prasad, who feels that increasing travel and commuting time adds to the fatigue of the day. For women, the task list is doubled with household chores. "The lack of time and space along with work pressures and long commute are perhaps acting as the new unnamed contraceptives," says Professor Lakshmi Lingam, Women's Studies Unit, Tata Institute of Social Sciences. Add to this a battery of television soaps and the Internet universe, and what little time is left?
|URBAN LIFESTYLE: |
Long hours at work and excessive partying lead to fatigue and sleep debt
ALCOHOL, CIGARETTES AND DRUGS: Reduce sex drive
Affect the libido
IGNORANCE ABOUT SEXUAL DYSFUNCTIONS:
Results in failure to consummate
Aman Kumar, 31, a senior marketing executive and wife Seema Kapoor, 30, a banking executive, are typical of the new breed of affluent, upwardly mobile couples. They own a house and two cars in south Delhi, and have an active social life. While Kumar has flexible work hours, Kapoor often works till late at night and gets just one day off per week. Their sexual interaction is limited to once in two months. "Every time I touch her, she is either grouchy or tired. I don't remember when we last had sex," says Kumar, who feels that their lifestyle is taking a toll on their marriage. The duo often find themself locked in arguments over time management and family planning.
FOLLOW FIVE TS:
Talk, time, trust, touch and tolerance
Sexual likes and dislikes
Healthy diet, good sleep and daily exercise
Excessive partying, alcohol, nicotine and drugs
Film director Vinta Nanda agrees that it is difficult for young couples living in the high pressure atmosphere of metros to find time for an intimate personal relationship. "By the time they have acquired the material comforts that they strove for, it is too late to begin afresh on the personal front," says Nanda, who delayed marrying her boyfriend because neither of them had time and space for marriage.
While career demands might be the prime reason for declining libidos, poor lifestyle habits are equally responsible. If weekdays are for work, weekends are for household chores. Based on his research and experience, sex guru Dr Prakash Kothari says that wives are not the only ones complaining of "headaches"; husbands, too, are now "not in the mood". Even the quality of sexual interaction is inadequate, according to Dr Kothari. "There is hardly any foreplay and afterplay," he says.
Though sex might not be the key to a successful marriage, it is an important element in strengthening the bond. Actor Mandira Bedi, who has been married to director Raj Kaushal for seven years now, agrees that sex is central to marriage. "After all, one gets married for companionship, children and love," says Bedi, who feels that it is important to say "no" to some good projects to be able to spend some quality time with the spouse.
In psychological terms, sex is the most intimate form of non-verbal communication within a marriage. And when this communication channel is blocked, the strain affects the marriage. "Sex is a natural desire; when suppressed it leads to other forms of expression like anger," says Mumbai-based psychiatrist Dr Anjali Chhabria. Interpersonal relations are affected as feelings of insecurity and frustration seep in. The lack of or reduced sexual interactions between a married couple can lead to aggression, irritability, anxiety and in extreme cases, even depression.
Biological factors are another issue. The chemistry of lovemaking is all about secretion of the right hormones at the right time. When required levels of hormones like adrenaline and dopamine are secreted during sexual intercourse, they ensure feelings of happiness and confidence. But the current lifestyle of long-drawn office hours, different shifts and high-stress jobs often alter sleep rhythm patterns and biological clocks. "This lifestyle can in turn can cause hormonal problems since the pattern of hormone secretion is disturbed," says Dr Prasad.
Men get an even more raw deal since work tensions and pressures cause performance anxiety. "In order to deal with office pressures, some start taking anti-depressants and tranquillisers, not knowing that these affect the libido," says Dr Narayana Reddy, consultant in sexual medicine, Apollo Hospital, Chennai. Many psychiatric drugs affect libido. Oral contraceptives used by women also reduce sex drive. In some cases, if the wife is more successful than the husband, it plays on their sexual relations. "It becomes an ego issue then," points out Dr Mahinder C. Watsa, a Mumbai-based sex therapist and marriage counsellor.
Most industries today demand employees to be social creatures. So when work ends, the party begins in the name of networking and client entertainment. Apart from causing sleep deprivation and exhaustion, parties at times mean excessive smoking, drinking and, in some cases, consumption of recreational drugs. These intoxicants cause the narrowing of the blood vessels, a state of atherosclerosis, which paralyses sexual response. "Plus, who can make love after returning late from a party-tired and loaded with alcohol," says Dr Kothari, who feels sexual desires are also adversely affected by excessive serum lipids-a byproduct of unhealthy and fat-laden diet. Meanwhile, environmental factors also play a role in declining sexual desires. Toxins present in the environment, like various pollutants, pesticides and insecticides, reduce the sperm count and disturb the reproductive system. "These toxins affect the organs secreting the required hormones," says Dr Gomaste. On the other hand, physiological problems like diabetes, vascular problems and obesity also share the blame as these can cause hormonal imbalances, and therefore, affect sexual drive. These problems are largely abetted by unhealthy diet, lack of exercise and stress of the urban lifestyle. "Caused by vascular problems and unhealthy lifestyle habits, erectile dysfunctions (and, therefore, reduced sexual interaction) can distance one from the spouse," says Dr Shoibal Mukherjee, senior director, medical research, Pfizer.
Not surprisingly, a large number of dins come from sectors that are experiencing rapid growth, quick turnover of manpower and increasing competition. When Dr Prasad conducted a study on sexual lives of married couples largely from the it industry, she discovered that about 50 to 60 per cent of the sample suffered from marital problems, sexual dysfunction, menstrual problems and infertility apart from physical and mental strain. Bangalore-based it professionals, Mayank Rao, 29, and Sunita Rao, 27, blamed their jobs for their reduced sex drives. To avoid hearing a "no", Sunita refrained from bringing up the topic. Mayank felt that the lack of sexual intimacy was disturbing marital harmony. "We were just companions and soon even that sense of companionship started to erode," says Mayank, who feels that the present generation is sacrificing its personal life to succeed professionally.
Surprisingly, a key reason behind most young Indian couples failing to have healthy sexual relations is ignorance about the very act of making love. Many are unaware of sexual dysfunctions like vaginismus (caused in women due to fear of pain while having sex), pre-mature ejaculation or dysparennia. These directly hamper sexual intercourse and often lead to failure in consummation of the marriage. Repeated failures lower the confidence and self-esteem of either or both partners who then tend to avoid sexual contact altogether. "There is ignorance even amongst the educated, and most don't ask for the fear of being ridiculed," says Dr Prasad.
Consider the case of Chennai-based medical researchers, Ravi, 30, and Meera Krishnan, 28, who failed to consummate their marriage for three years. While the duo felt that their lifestyles and hectic work schedules were the suspects, they discovered the real cause later-Meera suffered from vaginismus. "We were ready to give it up. After months of failure, relations were getting strained," recalls Meera.
While sex therapists agree that the problem is increasing, its solution lies in re-prioritising and maintaining a healthier lifestyle. More importantly, a balance has to be struck between work and home. Actors Gauri and Hiten Tejwani have taken this cue. The couple religiously follow the rule of not discussing work at home and spending quality time together. Not many of today's career-obsessed couples can follow that formula. Which means that as career graphs and ambitions soar, so does the population of dins.