Maintaining intimacy in later years…

Those retired and active may not yet be at the point where a woman said to her husband, ‘Would you like to come upstairs and make love?’ And, with a sigh, he replied, ‘Darling I can either do one thing or the other.’

The early years of retirement can involve some challenges in the bedroom department. Yet, with understanding and commitment, a physically and emotionally fulfilling sex life is available.

There are some good reasons to get it right. Because sexual intimacy in later years has been shown to –

  • Improve health, mentally and physically. You’ll burn fat, release endorphins to the brain, and reduce anxiety.
  • Lengthen life. An active sex life can add years to your life expectancy.
  • Strengthen relationships. Mutually caring intimacy reinforces commitment and closeness.

Of course it’s not going to be the same as it was while in your flush of youth. But different might, in some ways, even be better. Not least due to there no longer being the risk of an unexpected pregnancy or a child bursting in for a drink of water.

  • Physical changes

    With age, changes to our body can impact our sex life.

    For women it may be the vaginal walls become thinner and also a little stiffer. Most will have less vaginal lubrication, making it harder to enjoy sex.

    For men erectile dysfunction becomes more common.

    The good news is that, for both men and women, there is ample help out there. Google is often the first resort. A good GP also knows what can be done. But the first step is an honest acceptance of need and some equally honest conversations with each other.

  • Changes in expectation

    It may be that throughout our married life one partner has been keener on sex than the other. If so, the later years may see that highlighted even more.

    Along with the simple loss of libido there can be other reasons like –

    • Illness
    • Disability
    • Medicines
    • Too much alcohol
    • Anxiety over ‘performance’
    • Surgery
    • Low self-esteem
    • Concerns about body image

    All these and more impact the ability to have and enjoy sex.

    But remember, It’s it is not just about intercourse. It is also about emotional, sensory, and relational pleasure. Touching, kissing, and other intimate contact can be just as fulfilling and rewarding.

  • Finding the right level

    Surveys are showing that more and more couples seem to be having fulfilling sex lives way into their seventies and beyond. People are living longer and medical problems can be treated more easily.

    In order to get it right I suggest you –

    Talk: The key to resolving or at least finding a level of sex that you can both live with is to talk about it – first with each other and if necessary with a qualified counsellor.

    It can be a difficult subject to broach, even after many years of marriage. But it is nothing like as difficult as living with an increasing sense of distance and even resentment.

    Be kind: If things are not the way one of you would like, it is not great to sulk, argue or demand. Remember that ‘for better for worse’ line. A little understanding and TLC can go a long way.

    Get help: If there is a problem in this area to get help. Sex is an important part of marriage and we need to try to understand how our partner is feeling. And there are many couples who have rediscovered a sexual relationship that they assumed was gone forever.

    Put it in a bigger context: Perhaps the best bit of advice is something that is relevant whatever age we are and however long we have been married. It is that that this is love-making starts with expressions of affection a long way from the bedroom.

Dianne Parsons – Care for the Family

The word retirement is not even in the Bible. What is taught in scripture is transition. There is nothing that says you work most of your life and then get to be selfish for the next 20 years"

Rick Warren, PurposeDrivenLife