At Connect2 Marriage Counseling, we see a lot of couples who are Hindu or Muslim, as well as others. I want to be careful not to speak for you. I hope you will speak up, though.
In couples counseling, I am seeing complicated sexual issues in these populations (of course we see sexual issues in every population – I wonder if these are more culturally based). I am aware of more unconsummated marriages, lack of intercourse, lack of desire, inability to get or keep an erection, sexual difficulties such as painful intercourse, and even a number of pregnancies by turkey baster. Each time the couple tries to have sex and it doesn’t go well, the anxiety increases for the next time. And so it goes. The stakes keep rising with no help in sight.
Given the birthplace of the Kama Sutra and a great deal of other erotic writing and art, this has been a surprise to me. It’s become clear, however, that sex and women’s bodies are taboo topics. Many of the women have no idea what menstruation is when it begins, and have no idea what to expect on their wedding night and afterwards. It appears that the men are not much better informed.
In a recent New York Times article, “The Sexual Misery of the Arab World,” Kamel Daoud writes: “. . . One of the great miseries plaguing much of the so-called Arab world, and the Muslim world more generally, is its sick relationship with women. . . . Sex is a complex taboo . . . arising out of the ambient conservatism’s patriarchal culture, the Islamists’ new, rigorist codes and the discreet Puritanism of the region’s various socialisms. That makes a good combination for obstructing desire or guilt-tripping and marginalizing those who feel any. . . . Today sex is a great paradox in many countries of the Arab world: One acts as though it doesn’t exist, and yet it determines everything that’s unspoken.”
Arab and South and East Asian couples have the opportunity to face the taboos of their culture; not an easy task, however, and perhaps one best done with help from a third party who is comfortable talking about sex. There are also good books for those who want to try on their own:
Everything You Always Wanted to Know About Sex: But Were afraid to Ask by Dr. David R. Rubin, M.D. (1999)
The Joy of Sex by Alex Comfort
Even though sex may be taboo, it is also one of the greatest means of connection with our beloved. Oh, and did I mention that once the issues are resolved, it’s pleasurable beyond many other things?