Navigating the emotional roller-coaster that is romance doesn’t get any easier as we get older. But millions of happy older couples are evidence you can do it. What’s the secret?
Firstly, just because you have lived together for years doesn’t mean you’re always in sync when it comes to making love. However, there are some things you can do to keep the romance roller coaster on track and humming along nicely.
When it comes to researching the topic beyond my own experiences of dating and romance, I didn’t have to look far. Sex is still a frequent topic of conversation among my baby boomer girlfriends. We also like solving one another’s problems.
So, over a bottle of wine, a few friends and I came up with our top five issues and solutions.
Problem number one: you just don’t do it any more
One friend admitted it has been a year since she had made love with her partner. She still loved him, but they had both put on weight, which made traditional sex in the missionary position harder to have. That meant that they had it less often, fell out of the “pattern” and then before you knew it they weren’t having sex at all. She wanted to have couple’s counselling, but her partner didn’t because he had done it with his first wife over other issues and not found it helpful.
Our group answer: work on re-establishing intimacy. Be loving and tactile without putting the pressure of expectations on yourselves by expecting sex straight away. Give each other back rubs, touch and be tactile. Experiment with other positions where your tummies don’t bump so much. And get fit and lose weight if you can. In addition to doing your love life a favour you’ll be doing your health an even bigger one.
Problem number two: personal hygiene
Another friend said she would like sex more, but her partner had squashed her desire by one simple failure on his part, which was to pay enough attention to his personal hygiene. Just because you’ve lived with someone a long time and you know them inside out, doesn’t give you a free pass to let your personal hygiene slip. Don’t jump into bed in a smelly t-shirt and pair of undies you have been wearing all day. Shower, brush your teeth and wear clean PJs, if you wear PJs, for that matter. There is nothing that is a worse turn off than your partner smelling of stale sweat and body odour.
Our group answer: try to talk to him about the issue tactfully and give him positive feedback when he did make the effort to spruce himself up. Maybe arrange a nice weekend away somewhere at a hotel, where both partners will, as a matter of course, take a shower and put their best foot forward. Several friends also suggested a regular “date night”.
Problem number three: he wants it, I don’t, or vice-versa
Group answer: Like everything in life, sex is a matter of give and take. Sometimes you just have to make the effort. However, try to avoid “bad” sex, which is just going through the motions because you won’t like it and it will make it even worse the following time. Take the time for foreplay and even work harder at getting each other in the mood. Some people like DVDs, others just a sexy rub, and yet others still some sexy toys. Whatever floats your boat – literally!
Problem number four: it’s just got boring
Group answer: Sex things up. Read articles. Grab some DVDs. Experiment with different positions and foreplay. One friend kept some of the spice by a his-turn, her-turn approach, whereby you took it in turns to initiate foreplay and sex, although the other retained the right of veto if they didn’t like the idea. She found it tantilising and said they both had great fun coming up with new ideas.
Problem number five: it hurts and it’s messy
Group answer: If your partner doesn’t have lubricant and tissues handy when he initiates sex, train him to do so, or take over responsibility yourself! As we get older we produce less lubricant naturally, and a helping hand in the form of some lubricant – and of course foreplay – can work wonders and ensure sex is more enjoyable and less painful.
And the “mess” afterwards? Most of my friends thought this was the male’s responsibility and he should remember to have tissues handy. However, one said she had got used to looking after this area herself because he had forgotten so may times she was sick of using pillow-cases.
So, those are our five problems and five solutions in a nutshell. At the very least, read them to your husband and it will get you both talking about sex and then, who knows, it might just start happening. Let us know how you go.
Finally, in closing, just a few words for those who cannot have sex because they or their partner are unable to for whatever reason: intercourse isn’t everything and there are still may other ways you can be intimate with your partner, from a simple kiss and hug to spooning in bed. The main thing is that you love each other and show it.
How do you keep the romance alive in your partnership? Come on, fess up, and share some of your secrets and issues in the comments below!