Whilst reading a report on “Sexual Abuse in marriage of South Asian Immigrants” I came across the following point which I found quite interesting:
The points, assumptions and expectations of marriage in South Asian communities made in the report made me think of marriage and the topic of intimacy. I share my thoughts below.
As commonly assumed, consent to marriage does not imply consent to sexual relations. Both are separate entities and occur at their own respective paces and stages. To package marriage solely under the premise of being privy to the needs of your partner, usually fulfilling the needs of the husband by the wife, is a gross and skewed representation and understanding of the marital relationship.
Consent to marriage entails a willingness and desire to form an intimate bond and relation with another. Intimacy within this context refers to all aspects of an invidiuals nature – physical, psychological, mental and emotional intimacy. The need for sex is commonly categorised in the same boxes as the need for food and clothing, a primitive carnal desire that requires instant or frequent gratification, with little concern or care for the other. This reduces sex to a mechanism devoid of intimacy, love, affection and the individual into an object, a medium and a tool which deploys pleasure through the use of their body.
The problem with in inherently lies in the assumption that the greater ones needs are, the greater rights they have and further leads to issues of control and ownership. Marriage does not grant ownership or control of another. It is not an authoritarian relationship, it is built on the premise of equality and awareness of one another’s needs of intimacy, affection and to a certain extent, value, appreciation and worth.
Intimacy within a marriage compromises of stages, where unlike common views, does not begin with copulation being a necessity on the wedding night as is often the famously touted assumption. Such expectations cause much anxiety for newly weds as they anticipate a standard or level of performance on par with those commonly viewed in movies or indepth, and often graphic, narratives heard from the grapevine.
As marriage is a partnership, intimacy necessitates involvement of both partners, where wants and needs are noticed and recognised and therefore making the relationship. Involvement requires more than being passive and being the medium for anothers pleasure and gratification, it involves being attuned to the wants, desires and needs of another. Sincere involvement includes the desire to please one another and make the experience as enjoyable an equal one, with fears being shared to put one another at ease. Communication is key. Affection and care being pillars of the relationship, intimacy takes on a natural progression as do other aspects of married life. If marriage “completes you”, as some people say then this should be understood as your partner being a part of you, and as you care for yourself and your health and wellbeing, the same care should extend to him/her.
Treating the marriage with care, love, appreciation and respect throughout involves caring for one another in the same manner. Laying such foundations and applying such methods reveal their effects sometimes in subtle, discreet ways, at other times in grand, obvious gestures. When you reach the stage of companionship in old age, you’ll come to know its effects, as it’ll make for a beautiful and content relationship.
Share your thoughts on this topic. Where does intimacy stand in marriage? How should it manifest?