Why Many Couples Lead a Sexless Marriage

Tina Turner, the singer of 1960s, sang in 1984,

“Oh oh

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

What’s love but a second-hand emotion?

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?”

These words marked the end of her marriage.

The entire adult entertainment industry and the world of prostitution echo this sentiment, “What’s love got to do, got to do with it?”

Tina Turner, calls love a second-hand emotion and a sweet old-fashioned notion.

We, humans, like to believe that love leads to sex, sex without love and love without sex must not exist. During the evolution of the human species, sex and procreation have been interlinked and are practised for the survival of the species.

While growing up, I often heard my mother say,

“Marriage is a licence for approved sex and children, yet the approved sex and love are sometimes not enough for love birds to be sexually active with each other.”

Is love not enough to culminate into lovemaking?


Let me tell you a story,

Rashmi and Dev fell in love.

Both had similar dreams of material abundance, enjoyed brilliant rapport and sex life, worked in the same office, belonged to secure family backgrounds and spoke the same language.

Rashmi felt that this magical compatibility must transform into a marriage commitment.

She could not think of any other man in her life and urged Dev into a marriage. Dev was not keen on a holy matrimonial, but Rashmi wanted a marriage ceremony.

Till they were not married, wedlock was important for Rashmi and once married, Rashmi and Dev organically prioritized work over their love life.

They moved and worked in two different cities in India. They worked passionately from Monday to Friday and met each other on the weekend, and by the end of the week both, returned to their respective cities of work.


Performing from two different cities, trying to meet aggressive work deadlines and work pressure slowly started building stress in their weekend intimacy. Both were unable to relax and perform sexually. Over some time, the never-ending communication gap and the physical distance elevated the sexual and emotional exhaustion and intensified the gap in their mutual understanding.

Rashmi’s mother, Sheela, believed that children are a gift and that their magic can naturally fill the emotional gaps and rekindle the spark within a failing marriage. Rashmi took her mother’s advice to start a family very seriously.

Producing a baby became her next project, with a promise that the child would magically glue the marriage fractures and bring sanity to her matrimony union.

For the next five years, Rashmi could not conceive.

Dev was not ready for a baby or commitment to fatherhood. The idea of being a father felt taxing and like an evil plan promising to cause an interruption in his life purpose and career growth.

Well, what do you think happened?

Do you believe the emotional gap got filled 

because of the arrival of a child?

Do you think their intimacy improved?

Sexual activity of making out now had a set destination of parenthood. They needed to prove to themselves and the world that they were sexually successful as a couple. Already burdened couple now had to carry the weight of expectations of their doctors, medical tests, correct dates for sex, correct diets and the whole process became a very mechanical process. Sex was now a soul-less act without grace, love, respect and dignity.

Rashmi conceived, and Dev promptly went back to his work. He felt he had done his duty of giving her the sperm required for Producing a baby Project, so now he could focus back on more important business.

He did not meet Rashmi until the 9th month of pregnancy. They spoke over the phone, but it was not enough.

Fissures in their intimacy widened.

Arya, a healthy baby was born to the couple, giving Rashmi her next project in life called  ‘How to bring up my child project’.

Dev felt relieved that the child was born and buried himself more in his work.

Rashmi regularly perceived herself as a victim and constantly felt cranky, bitter, disappointed, angry, misunderstood, unloved, unacknowledged and numb. The burden of being a single parent to her daughter Arya took a toll on her performance at work and her moods at home.

All she wanted was Dev’s hugs, togetherness, softness, kindness, laughter and lightness.

She could not understand what had gone wrong, she had done so much to hold this relationship together, and Dev had not even noticed her.

Rashmi’s parents moved in with Rashmi to take care of the baby. So many people were now living together in a one-bedroom flat, which felt like an overcrowded silent, heartless railway platform with no privacy and place for sharing intimacy.

“What’s love got to do with it”

Maybe life happened!

Professional success took a toll on love, intimacy and personal.

Who do you think is responsible for this?

  • Dev?
  • Rashmi?
  • Parents?
  • Society?
  • Expectations?
  • Or chasing success is same as paying more attention to financial abundance and less time for respect, love and intimacy?

 Do you have answers to these questions?

The world at large viewed Dev and Rashmi as a successful power couple, but life for them is empty, lonely and without any meaningful human connection of love and intimacy.

Arya today, 21 years of age, carries distorted patterns of her parents of intimacy, love and success and suffers from social anxiety.

“What’s love got to do, got to do with it?”

Maybe, distorted ancestral patterns of the family have more to do with it.

Second story

Samukta and Sam, the only child of her parents suffered from childhood Asthma.

Her mother, a perfect housewife, and father, a naval officer, took pride in keeping their family home, partnership, and workplace perfectly functional without conflicts. No couple lives without conflicts, but Samukta’s parents hid all their struggles.

Her parents treated her like a boy. Dressing up like a girl, playing with dolls or being feminine in any way, was discouraged by her parents as it was a sign of weakness.

They wished she would be independent, career-minded and strong-willed like a man. 

Yet, whenever Sam would undergo an asthma attack, she would be treated like a fragile porcelain doll, Samukta, and not as their boy Sam.

This, constant change from being Samukta to Sam and being Sam to Samukta was immensely confusing for Samukta and Sam and took a toll on her health, sexuality and marital life.

She felt she had to be her parent’s son, Sam and their daughter Samukta.

Till the age of 21 years, Samukta was not allowed to leave home. She separated herself from the umbilical cord of her parental home in New Delhi for Banglore for the first time at 21 years of age to educate herself, find a job and fulfil her parental dream.

The next few years were the best years of her life. Samukta’s feminine side emerged and blossomed. She felt balanced, confident, independent and accepted as a woman and loved at the same time. She noticed that she was romantically absorbed in the idea of her best friend and her batch-mate, Suresh being her life partner.

Suresh cared deeply for Samukta as a best friend. He was not in love with her and refused to marry her. Samukta reacted by feeling shocked, rejected, suffocated, vulnerable, and out of balance and was hospitalised for a full-blown asthma attack.

Sir Mohan, Samukta’s tuition teacher, sat beside Samukta during her recovery and helped her tide over the emotional turmoil she was experiencing.

Mohan had transformed into Samukta’s best friend, a counsellor and hoped to be her life partner. Samukta was still in love with Suresh. Mohan’s proposition of being her life partner was unacceptable to her. Mohan’s proposal for marriage to their only daughter Samukta left her parents feeling delighted as they felt that Mohan would look after their only child and keep her safe. Samukta’s parents convinced her that Mohan would be a dream life partner and would take care of her.

A small question for all of you reading this article 

  • Is it your partner’s duty to be your parent? 
  • Are we saying we want to get married not only to enjoy the best physical, emotional and sexual intimacy but also for our partner to look after us like a child?
  • Should this be the criteria for marriage? 
  • Is love not important?

Sensing her parents’ approval, and happiness, Samukta accepted Mohan as her life partner.

Let us understand Mohan’s background.

Adopted within the family, Mohan regularly felt like an alien within his biological family and with his adoptive parents. He was searching for an emotional partner who could make him feel loved and secure.


Samukta and Mohan were sexually intimate during courtship.

Can sexual intimacy generate love?

It is fascinating to observe that marriage was supposed to kindle feelings of love, and security in Samukta even when she was not in love with the Mohan.

The honeymoon was preceded by a simple wedding ceremony

Mohan had handled after-wedding plans.

To Samukta’s plight, the couple checked into a very basic, cheap, and shabby hotel.

To her dismay, after dropping Samukta in the room, Mohan disappeared for the entire night.

Samukta kept wondering,

“What has happened?”

“What has gone wrong?”

She was hungry, tired, petrified and alone.

She called for some sandwiches which tasted like straw.

She tried calling Mohan, but no reply.

Soon she dosed off.

She woke up to the phone ringing angrily.

She picked up the phone to hear, Mohan’s irritated voice over the phone, “Wake up, we have to leave.” Samukta felt exhausted and shocked.

Tenderness had flown out of the nest, and Mohan had permanently switched off the switch of love and intimacy to be replaced by this nonassessable, rude Mohan.

Can you imagine, Samukta’s predisposition? 

Let us imagine being in her shoes just for a few minutes … 

When I imagine stepping into Samukta’s shoes, I feel alone, confused, rejected, abandoned, scared, unsafe, unloved, exhausted, sad and numb.

Lack of emotional, financial, and sexual intimacy stands out in their 18-year-long marriage. As they still share the same bed and their 16-year-old daughter Anchal, to the world, the couple seems to be living a happy married life.

She has never broken the marriage full of conflicts in all 18 years!

Sexual intimacy shared before marriage was perfect, she continues to wonder…

  • What changed, despite the licence to sex?
  • What is wrong with her?
  • Could this situation be because Mohan was an adopted child?
  • Could it be a projection of his adoptive parents already having sexual issues in their marriage?


Samukta and Mohan’s marriage seems to be a replica of Samukta parent’s marriage. A dysfunctional marriage wearing the mask of perfection saying, “All is well.”

Samukta’s mother compulsively wanted to keep her house sparkling clean.

Samukta obsessively wanted to project an image of “All is well marriage”. She had hidden her intimacy problems from the whole world, especially her parents, daughter and friends.

Mohan was aping his adoptive father’s behaviour of showing no affection or love towards him. Both were playing old tapes of behaviour.

Samukta has constantly battled internally to end this dysfunctional destiny, yet, every day has an excuse to keep her marriage together.

She hides the reality of zero intimacy to protect her mother and her daughter, as she believes that they may not be able to cope with the harsh reality

Questions we need to ask ourselves as a society are,

  • What is all this tamasha and fuss around sex life?
  • Why do we want to hide the reality of our sexual lives?
  • Why do we view the topic of sex with shame and embarrassment?
  • Is sexual gratification the same as being in love?


Can love to exist without intimacy?

  • Why are we using the presence of children to show the world that everything is good in the relationship?


Despite being a highly educated and financially independent working woman, Samukta could express herself freely and effectively.

After waiting for 15 years in zero intimate marriage, Samukta permitted herself to spend intimate moments with her secret lover.

She feels sexually fulfilled but guilty, and she concludes by saying that, something must be wrong with her to take this desperate measure.

Only if she had tried harder…

Well, Tina Turner’s song words return and start drumming in my head once again,

“I’ve been taking on a new direction

But I have to say

I’ve been thinkin’ about my protection

It scares me to feel this way


What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

What’s love but a second-hand emotion?

What’s love got to do, got to do with it?

Who needs a heart when a heart can be broken?

Got to do, got to do with it

What’s love but a sweet old-fashioned notion?”

picture source: wikipediaPixabay user pretysleepy1, Pixabay user Damianum

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