My husband fears he is losing his virility. What should we do?
This is an especially common question. In my view, the problem stems not so much from the realities of aging, as from the cultural fallacy that a man must be physically powerful to be a good lover. Compared with younger men, men in their 60s and older do take longer to get an erection and older do take longer to get an erection and to achieve orgasm, and their orgasm are often less intense. But these changes need not hamper a man’s ability to enjoy sex and to be an exciting lover. In the vast majority of cases, a middle-aged mans growing self-knowledge and life experience can more than compensate for the slight decline in his physical capacity.
Crucial: A willingness to take sex more slowly and deliberately, with less emphasis on performance and more emphasis on the pleasures of stroking and caressing. For men of any age suffering from importance or other forms of sexual dysfunction, effective treatment is available. Some cases of impotence have specific, reversible physiological causes. These should be investigated by a urologist.
Will menopause ruin our life?
Many middle-aged women worry that menopause will destroy their libido and ruin sex for themselves ? and their partners. Menopause can bring about certain physiological changes ? vaginal dryness or a loss of sensation, for example. Fortunately, these problems are usually treatable, via the use of lubricants, estrogen replacement therapy or homeopathic herbal remedies. Moreover, many women find that menopause actually improves their sex life. Following menopause, for instance, sex is often more spontaneous, as there is no longer any need for contraception.
Bottom line: As long as both partners are emotionally prepared for menopause, there is no physical reason that it should interfere with sexuality.
We have fallen out of sync sexually. Why?
Middle age affects men and women quite differently. Many women find middle age a time of sexual liberation. After years of relative inhibition ? brought on in part by the time constraints and emotional demands of child rearing ? middle-aged women begin to seek greater satisfaction from lovemaking. They have become more comfortable with their bodies, so they are more willing to experiment sexually, and they start to want more from their lovers. Unfortunately, this increasing sexuality among middle-aged women often clashes with the changing sexuality of their husbands. Reason: Unlike their wives, middle-aged men often find themselves becoming less, rather than more, interested in sex.
Happily, this rift can usually be repaired.
Crucial: Honesty, communication, playfulness, tenderness, an openness to sexual experimentation and self-exploration, including masturbation. However, where there are specific sexual problems or dysfunction, sex therapy is essential. In such cases, the couple may be asked to refrain from sexual intercourse while learning once again to derive pleasure simply by touching and through foreplay. Forgoing intercourse in this manner seems strange to most couples who have been having intercourse for decades. But the payoffs in enhanced pleasure and greater intimacy are well worth the effort. For couples willing to work together with love and sensitivity, middle age can be the time during which they first learn how to make love, rather than merely copulate.
What’s happened to my sex drive?
In some cases, a loss of libido can be traced to a crisis outside the marital bedroom: Serious illness, a death in the family, the loss of a job, failure in business, increased work load, unresolved feelings of anger or resentment, etc. All can cause one or both partners to lose interest in sex. Happily, desire usually returns upon the resolution of the crisis. All that’s required is a little patience.
Other cases of waning desire are more complex. For example, some people find their libido diminished the more intimate they become with their partner. A middle-aged man may lose interest in his wife because they know each other so intimately ? and in the same way a middle-aged woman can lose interest in her husband. In such cases, the trouble usually stems from some early emotional trauma resulting in a fear of intimacy. For couples who feel this phenomenon is playing a role in their relationship, the best solution is psychotherapy.
Why doesn’t my spouse turn me on anymore?
Your premise is wrong. Your spouse doesn’t turn you on, nor does he/she turn you off. Each of us is responsible for turning ourselves on and off. If you are no longer aroused by your spouse’s loving touch, the question to ask is, why am I turning myself off? In many cases, the answer can be traced to unexpressed or unresolved feelings of anger or resentment. If you have difficulty becoming aroused, scan your mind for such feelings, then discuss them with your spouse. In other cases, a souse unwittingly sabotages the arousal process by reviewing a mental list of his/her partner’s flaws.
Better: Run a list of his/her good points. Instead of letting your thoughts wander, try focusing directly on yourself, on just how pleasurable it is to be held and caressed. Remember, the brain is your most sensitive erogenous zone.
Why do my spouse and I argue so much these days?
For most couples, middle age is the time when the kids leave home and strike out on their own. This emptying of the nest seems innocuous enough. In many cases, however, it profoundly alters the emotional dynamic that exists between a husband and wife. Reason: After years of concealing their sexuality and focusing on childrearing, the couple suddenly find themselves alone, with nothing and no one to keep them apart.
Typical: Point of conflict that once were glossed over ?to spare the children? flare up into big fights.
Good news: While often scary, fighting is not without its practical side. It helps couples negotiate important emotional boundaries, providing emotional ?space? when necessary. A more congenial way to accomplish the same thing, however, is to learn to state your needs directly to one another, and not wait until resentment turns into a fight. If you feel grouchy, for instance, ask your mate for a couple of hours alone. That way you can create some distance without causing a fight. But, remember, a little fighting is healthy.
We just don’t have time for sex anymore.
Many couples who complain of not having enough time for sex are really filling their time with other activities ? often so that they can avoid intimacy.
And no wonder. Though they can’t admit it, even to themselves, most people are terrified by true intimacy. All too many of us grow up in dysfunctional households, seeing our parents argue, suffering harsh discipline and perhaps even abuse or incest ? all from the first people with whom we are close, our parents. As we grow older, we fear intimacy out of a sense of self-protection. If you really want to have sex and be intimate with your partner. You can find ways to make the time.