Love and Sex at Midlife and Beyond
Cheese and Wine can get better with age… but love and sex???
The principal author, Bernie Zilbergeld, of Sex and Love at Midlife: It’s Better Than Ever
drew upon decades of clinical experience as a sex therapist and on interviews with 145 men and women ages 45-87. For many, sex got better than ever. Even people dealing with health issues were determined to continue their intimate and sexual lives. Even if performance is an issue, they get joy and fulfillment touching each other, cuddling, and experiencing playfulness. They don’t put their love life on hold when they get an illness.
In his interview of over 145 people, about 55 percent were in the category of lovers. So not everyone does it, but it’s still possible. There are ways around it if you want. The choice is one of where the lovers saw their relationship as the most important and other relationships as secondary. They make the decision, “We count as much as anyone, and we come first. This is our time.” These couples love to spend a lot of time together, talk with each other. They’re best friends.
When we’re younger, working and raising a family, the marriage relationship becomes the smallest piece of the pie.
I often ask my couples to list their top three priorities. I typically get job, kids/parenting, sleep, golf/hunting/shopping. “Oh yeah and marriage…I forgot that one,” once I remind them. The focus is on the jobs and providing a living… then children. Once you get the kids to all their “select” sports, dance, dinner, and bedtime… there is little to no time left for the marriage, love and sex. Too tired… and sleep is one of the priorities… even if one of you sleeps with their mouth open.
Zilbergeld knew that it wasn’t all that difficult to have good sex – especially in the initial stages of a relationship. What was difficult was to maintain and deepen the sexuality over time, midlife and beyond, something that could only occur when it rested on the foundation of a secure emotional partnership. It turns out that people that have a good relationship, in general, also have better sex. “Good lovers tend to focus on the good in each other.” They take of each other, both in an intimate way… “I’ll get you your coffee”… and in a sexual way. It’s not separate. There’s trust and they keep their word.
At this stage in life, couples can focus more on pleasing each other. You take time because you have the time. You focus more on the other person. You want to please your spouse and pleasing the other person is important for the sexual relationship. With “parenting” no longer their number one concern, couples are more in sync with each other. Midlife offers the opportunity for many individuals and couples who are in a long relationship or a new one to have a fresh start sexually.
“Aging is like cheap underwear. It creeps up on you”
After he finished his research, Zilbergeld says he’s happy to report that people over 40, 50, 60, over 70 and 80 are not only having sex, some of them are having the best sex of their lives. I had a couple, both 82, who met with me several times. Their core issue in seeking counseling was his need to be “right.” They had sex 2-3 times weekly. I asked her how does that happen living with a man so stubborn? Her response, “we have always made sex an important part of our marriage.” I high-fived them both.
Interestingly, as Zilbergeld discovered, it’s really not that complicated. You don’t need a lot of tools or instrumentality. You just need two people who like and respect each other, that are good friends, like to talk and touch, and like to have sex together. It actually gives us hope. “Apparently the best is yet to come.”
Paul Newman once remarked when asked about infidelity, “Why would I want to go out and have a hamburger when I can have a steak at home?” Paul was happily married to Joanne Woodward for 50 years.
As posted on a previous Blog, Sex Matters, here is a list of Emotional and Physical Benefits of Marital Sex…at ANY age!
Ref: Sex & Love at Midlife, It’s Better than Ever, by Bernie Zilbergeld, PhD