Sex and the City: Woes of a housewife

My husband and kids are at home due to the lockdown and there is just so much to do the whole day with no maids to help. I get extremely exhausted by the evening and just want to crash, but my husband demands sex every night which I am in no mood for. He has been sulking and uncooperative in the house because of this. I am very upset with his insensitivity and it is straining our relationship. What should I do?

Ans: It is completely understandable for you to feel overwhelmed and fatigued at the end of a hard day's work - in the absence of domestic help. This lockdown is an unusual situation for everyone and there's no harm in wanting help around household tasks. In a world without the Coronavirus, this was possible at a price point but ever since the lockdown, self-sufficiency has become more than just a choice.

It's become a necessity of life. It is quite possible that the problem you have mentioned falls under the broader umbrella of people in your home not showing you care and sensitivity. What does this mean? A shared living space (a home) would ideally translate into shared responsibilities so that all errands and tasks can be realistically managed without the 'heavy lifting' becoming just one person's responsibility.

This is true of all big organisations and associations too. The division of labour is clear cut with different people taking on different responsibilities. Cooking, cleaning, the laundry and so many other household tasks need to be looked at if the home is to be kept healthy and well organised. If help, support and cooperation isn't offered by one's family members, it most certainly needs to be taught to them!

You are already showing signs of burning out and this frustration you are experiencing could also be troubling you in addition to your husband demanding sex from you - when you are feeling tired. Being tired is an inevitability when a disproportionate work order or task list must be tackled solo.

Sulking and uncooperativeness can be a problem if left unchecked so you're going to have to assertively deal with this. The world we live in is a world of ‘cause & effect'. Input leads to output. Your husband must be reminded that his behaviour will have and already has consequences in how your relationship with him evolves.

After all, we live in a modern era where home-centric responsibilities aren't just a woman's domain (which was the traditional view) and everyone must play their part in helping the home run smoothly. Your husband can be tasked with certain responsibilities and if certain coaching is required, you could offer to show him how it is done.

You could tell him that his help and contribution will make you feel respected and cared for and may then possibly warm you up emotionally for any intimacy with him (though that is never a guarantee or something that can be demanded). You could very well take some time off and put him in the hot seat.

Why should it simply be one person's responsibility to manage things? If he learns to play his part in getting things done without taking your proactiveness and presence for granted, it will augur well for his personal growth as well. It will show him that he too can run his home and be someone who contributes to it in new and necessary ways. If sex is demanded, it can be refused as well.

However, when sex becomes a power-struggle, it can lead to desperation and malice. Talk to your husband about your need for sensitivity and how sex perhaps isn't just a physical technicality for you (if that is how you feel). Your husband needs to be reminded that we can't always have what we want in this world without first respecting the terms and conditions that come along with it.

The same way a person can't expect a salary without performing a job or a person can't expect a well sculpted physique without putting in the exercise, one cannot expect to be served without contributing to the ecosystem that one draws from or one can't expect a happy marriage without playing one's role in contributing to it emotionally and logistically.

The home is a shared ecosystem. In most societies - even today, roles and responsibilities are extremely clear. Some rules must apply for your home too. Work on those rules. Without self-sufficiency and sharing, a society's backbone is weakened as it falls prey to complacency and bitterness.

Try to invoke a reciprocity mandate in your home to save yourself from overwork. Talk to your husband about the fact that you find his lack of participation troublesome and that it burdens and fatigues you and makes you feel hurt to not have him by your side during such challenges. Hopefully, he will listen.

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