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Double income, no sex
Sex is no longer the reason people stay together in a marriage or a relationship.
She loves Coach bags, Ferragamo shoes and Prada sunglasses. He loves gifting them to her. He is good with birthdays and anniversaries. She is good with the social butterfly thing. He is gauche, she is trendy. They both work out. He, to run the marathon. She to fit into her bikini in Greece. He loves jazz, she loves credit cards. The match is perfect. They have a fancy apartment, gym memberships and SUVs, they go for exotic holidays, with other couples who don't have sex, he takes great photos, her friends always 'like' them. They both have A-list jobs and can afford everything money can buy.
They've been married five years. She was on the rebound;he was too earnest to be a player. Sex went out the window in the first few months and has never come back. But she isn't complaining, and he isn't wanting. Her life with him is perfect, at least to the world.
Priya and Sameer are one of several thousand Double-Income-No-Sex (DINS) couples. They are pragmatic about passion never being at the forefront of their relationship, instead they thrive on their net worth and what it does for their lifestyle and the relationship. Priya doesn't see any reason to quit her manicured life and Sameer is totally okay if she has a fling outside of marriage, and has in fact given her the go-ahead for it. The babies can wait, she says. In the meantime, she is busy building her shoe wardrobe.
The writing is on the wall. Sex is no longer the reason people stay together in a marriage or a relationship. Nowadays plush lifestyles, high paying jobs, brands and labels more than make up for it. Sex has been replaced by other things money can buy. Most of the time, the DINS couples spend more time in business class lounges than in their bedrooms, and they are more intimate with their Blackberry than with each other. Many times, their hectic work lives don't leave much room for sex, and they are beyond the point of trying too hard.
And while some couples manage to keep the sex going in the long term, most of them are pretending to have more sex than they actually are. In this scenario, the DINS are like a breath of fresh air, and they make no bones about the fact that the passion has long run out. Of course, the more libidinous partner always finds a release for his or her libido and the lesser of the two learns how to look the other way. Or buy expensive gizmos. Or shoes.
Alok, married to Naina of DINS fame, has a laid back response to it. The operative phrase is "Double Income. No sex with each other. " When his friend Sanjiv was contemplating divorce after a 12-year, no-sex marriage, Alok advised him, "Never give up on a marriage for sex. Do whatever you want to do outside it. A marriage is always bigger than sex. "
Like it will soon be for Maya and Neel. They are a classic picture-perfect couple. They look perfect in pictures. She is a fashionista who loves the good life. He is a restaurateur who thinks she makes him look good. They live life, party after party. She got rocked after much engineering last year, in a way that she wanted. Only, a few people in their dim-lit, high-decibel party noticed that they didn't even kiss. In fact, they never do. Not when he brought in her birthday. Or she, his. A close friend revealed the gory details. "He never wants to jump her! They haven't done it in over a year. " But Maya would trade her earlier, unstable, yet sex-filled relationship for this one any day. She is just in a better place as far as relationship logistics go and sex is no more the top priority, as it is now more about career, marriage, babies (there is always IVF) and happily living the good life ever after.
Bianca and Tom got married with the same deal, after dating for six years. She had been in an abusive marriage earlier, which scarred her for life and made her develop serious intimacy issues. They both have high-profile jobs, she in advertising, he in finance. Her exterior of being flirty, coquettish, almost to the point of being a tease, compounded by her provocative dressing might lead people to believe she is some kind of sex-goddess. But the fact is that she's been off it for years now. And Tom is okay with it. Whether he gets it from outside is anybody's guess, but she is not asking. She continues playing the vixen in parties, and he the nice, quiet guy who married her.
Many times, couples just work out the logistics of their marriage, how they work as a team, what they do to each other's fiscal/social/professional health, and how tough it will be to achieve the balance, should they have to start all over again with another person. Money somehow manages to camouflage the lack of intimacy, and friendship often makes up for it.
So marriages end up being either logistical (we split everything, and two is so much better than one), or corporate (we make so much sense together), or aesthetic (we look so good together), or professional (we are so good for each other's careers).
Unlike the popular notion, sex is highly overrated in relationships, at least according to Alok. "It's about the chase, not about the keep. The act is the mere formality of accepting the prize. Sex plays a role in a relationship, only if it is terrific. But in the long term, it isn't an element. It's about keeping the relationship fresh. You need a meeting of minds and compatibility. "
Bhisham agrees. He has been 'happily married' for 15 years to Anjali. His parents and brother love her, she loves them. They have common tastes in food, decor, music, they both like reading, are both into fitness, work, investments. They both are head honchos in their respective organisations, he in telecom, and she in retail. Sex is conspicuous by its absence (between them). "Sex is as overrated or underrated as bags, shoes, clothes, alcohol, " says Bhisham. "It starts out really so well, but then after 2-10-20 times, you have pretty much exhausted all the tricks, the novelty has vanished, you have discovered all her buttons, she knows all yours (both of them), there are no new tricks to learn. As the relationship develops, it moves from the wild anticipation of meeting once or twice a week to having it on call. "
Bhisham has his flings outside of his 'happy' marriage, he doesn't know if Anjali does and doesn't care. "Length of a relationship kills the sex drive. Lucky are those who keep it going. Or just lazy. "
(Some names have been changed)
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