Imagine this: You've finally put the baby down for the night, it's time for the hot-water shower that you've been craving for hours, you're in the mood and just as the clothes start flying in the air, the baby monitor lets out a loud, ear-piercing scream. Sounds familiar, right?
Don't give up
Shalini Dutt, 31, from Delhi has bought a dozen baby monitors. Because one is sacrificed every time her husband Vishal's perfect seduction plans are foiled. It gets frustrating, doesn't it? Between multiple diaper changes, midnight feeds, hormones wreaking havoc, thoughts about getting back to work and the sheer responsibility of a baby, it's difficult to find the time or inclination for sex. And crying babies hardly help matters along.
But Shalini and Vishal aren't ones to give up. "It's difficult, but it's important to make time for each other. All of us know this, we just have to keep reminding ourselves," says Shalini. So all friends in the vicinity-single, couples, cousins are expected to make themselves available for babysitting once in a while on weekends. "The great things about Indians is that a child is never just the parents' responsibility. Find me one friend who will refuse to help a sex-starved couple," grins Vishal.
Bumps along the road
The Dutts are a lucky pair. I know many couples who aren't quite this fortunate. Mumbai-based Vaibhav Shrivastav*, 33, says that it's not just about the sex. "Minakshi's just not interested in me anymore. Forget sex, we hardly ever even come close these days. For the past 1 year, it's been all about Anya. She's a great mother, but where did my wife go?"
The Dutts and the Shrivastavs aren't all that different, both are upwardly mobile, educated couples in their early 30s with a 1-year-old baby. But as you've probably figured out, the Dutts are much happier than the Shrivastavs. Why? Because of their approach to the problem of lack of time.
The solution is close
What Minakshi isn't understanding, and what Shalini has understood only too well, is that most men are talk-impaired-quite literally. On an average, men use 2,000 words and 3 tones of voice every day, versus a woman's 7,000 words and 5 tones of voice. So men rely more heavily on touch to feel and express intimacy (big surprise there!). Which is why, physical withdrawal can affect men more negatively than women.
So it isn't the lack of sex that's driving men into the arms and Facebook profiles of random, unknown women. Sometimes, the problem is as simple as them feeling unimportant and left out. "It's the emotional equivalent of a woman feeling fat and ugly," says Vaibhav. Doesn't sound very nice, does it?
Fighting the guilt
Of course, as any parent--new or old--will attest to, making time is easier said than done. It wasn't easy for Shalini either. "Privacy was a big problem," she admits. As Indians, we're conditioned to accept kids' presence in our rooms. "Imagine having to be conscious about every sound you make because you're sharing your bed with your baby!" she says wryly. "Vishal was the one who put his foot down on this one. The day Vaidehi turned 3 months, we moved her into the nursery. I was apprehensive, but he was adamant. That didn't stop him from spending roughly 80% of the night outside the nursery's door, with the baby monitor glued to his ear, but he insisted we needed to do it. In retrospect, I'm glad he didn't let me dither. It eased a lot of the pressure on our sex life. And it's not just about sex. Once Anya is physically not present in the room, just for that little while, we stop being mom and dad and start being Shalini and Vishal, a couple in love, again. That part is just as important to us as being able to have sex!"
Minakshi was horrified with the Dutts solution of moving their baby to another room. "Sex isn't worth compromising my baby's welfare for," she says.
You've heard what Minakshi and Shalini had to say. What are your views on the subject? How do you make time for each other and for sex?