Senior sex is still an essential part of our lives today, and we continue to enjoy the sexual freedom founded in the 60s. But what have we learned in the decades since? Do we fully understand the time and place that it should occupy in our lives? What does
it mean to our marriages? How can we make it better for us now? And most important of all, do we know that sex outside of marriage can be haz- ardous to our health, to our psyche, and to our salvation?
The premise of our discussion here is that sex is a very special part of our marriage relation- ship, that it demands the degree of commit- ment found only in marriage, and as a result, that it be reserved for marriage only.
Sexual freedom was certainly a feature of the 60s movement, challenging the social mores of the prior decade. The advent of “the pill” took away what so many of us saw as the only real “risk” of premarital sex - an unwanted pregnancy. With that fear removed, our quest for sexual pleasure and gratification continued unabated, without knowing – or worrying about - any other consequence of our actions. For many of us, that quest continues today.
Hazardous to Our Psyche
Remember the 3-date rule from high school? After you had three dates, you were considered a couple, you could expect some level of commitment from each other, and would proceed from there? Well, those times have changed, too. It seems that a lot of us finding ourselves suddenly single today just want to stay that way, looking more for the flair-minded than the marriage-minded.
A surprising fact – recent surveys indicate that senior sex for singles over 50 is twice as likely to occur on a first date, than it is for singles in their 20s and 30s. Apparently, lust at first site is more likely than love at first sight. But regardless of when the sexual encounter occurs, the partner raising the question of commitment is likely headed for a psychological hit. Our psyche is damaged when we find that our sexual qualities are more valued than our human qualities, and that our partner’s sense of “commitment” ends in the bedroom. If we think that having sex will raise our partner’s commitment to us, we need to think again.
Hazardous to Our Health
Were we ever afraid of sex? Fear wasn’t a part of the 60s sexual movement, but then again those days far preceded any discussion of human immunodeficiency virus (HIV) and its final stage: acquired immunodeficiency syndrome (AIDS). But even today, it seems that senior sex knows little fear, and that using condoms and both partners getting tested is not widespread practice just yet. A study conducted by the AARP revealed that only 39% of single boomers regularly used a condom, perhaps due at least in part to reduced fears of pregnancy (menopause may have replaced “the pill” as the sexual liberator today). Regarding joint testing, perhaps just asking the question of communicable diseases prompts greater fear than the diseases themselves.
Statistics from the Center for Disease Control (CDC) underline just how serious this danger is. Approximately 10% of all people diagnosed with AIDS in the United States are at least 50 years old, and over 20% of HIV diagnoses in some recent years were in women over 45. Medically speaking, we’re advised that women over 50 are more vulnerable to HIV from heterosexual encounters, by virtue of thinner vaginal walls being more susceptible to cuts and tears.
Hazardous to Our Salvation
Of course we value our psyche and our health for the rest of our lives here on this earth, but absolutely nothing is more important than our salvation – that lasts for our eternity! We know the Bible is our guidebook for all of life’s important questions, and God speaks very clearly that we avoid sex outside of marriage. The Bible contains several references to “sexual immorality”, and the Greek language (from which the Bible is translated) uses the term porneia (pornography) which includes – among other things – premarital sex and extramarital sex.
Now that we’ve talked about the downsides of senior sex, let’s talk about the upsides. We know that sex with our spouse is something very special, in fact a gift from God that we share only with the one we truly love. We can overcome any problems or fears we may have, and make it the very best yet!
Men may take longer to achieve erection, which in turn allows more time and opportunities for foreplay. Many women consider slowing down to be much more sensual. After consulting
with their doctors, men experiencing erectile dysfunctions may find the jump-start from products like Viagra or Cialis. Post menopausal women can overcome vagi- nal dryness with a water-based lubricant commonly available at drugstores. It’s perfectly normal to need these types of assists at our age now, and we shouldn’t hesitate to seek our doctors’ advice in such areas.
Making love is yet another form of com- munication between committed partners in love with each other, and it’s that love which prompts the question, “What can I do to make YOU feel good?” On the one hand, our experience tells us “what works for us”, and so we may be reluc- tant to make changes. But on the other hand, being open to new tips, techniques, and roles lets us discover new areas for excitement, so that things never get old. Our tastes and turn-ons will change over time, and we’ll never know anything new until we try. Sex between lovers is a continuing adventure!
Women are more likely sensitive than men to the physical imperfections of their bodies along with the inevitable impacts of age. Some women may even feel that age takes a greater toll upon them than it does on men – “Why is his butt still in the right place and mine isn’t?” The fact is, men are more tolerant of these so-called shortcomings than most women realize. We must never forget that one of the many things shared in marriage is the aging process, and it doesn’t play favorites.
The point here is that both partners enjoy and find fulfillment with the quality and the quantity of sexual activity, and by doing so, set their own standard for “what’s normal”. After all, baby boomers have never been inhibited by national standards in the past, and now is certainly no exception. How dull would it be if everyone subscribed to the same things? Do we even want to know what anyone else is doing?
Remember growing up, you might have seen two twin beds in your parents’ bedroom? Fortunately, senior sex for us now holds many more opportunities and remedies than may have been the case for our folks. Today we don’t harbor thoughts of “I’m done with this for good,” or “I’m too old now…” Not only to we have products, literature and professional guidance available to assist us, we have a much better grasp of our own emotional needs and the health benefits gained through regular sexual activity. While sex is still a challenging topic for many of us to discuss openly, we are the generation known for “being in touch”’ and so we’re better equipped to convey our sexual needs and desires to our partner (scroll down to Senior Sex – Remedies for the Challenges).
As we discussed earlier in this section, sex outside of marriage can indeed be hazardous to our health; fortunately, just the opposite is true INSIDE of marriage. It’s this very union that gives us safe haven from the hazards for the long term, and allows us to enjoy (and anticipate) sex on a regular basis. Medical studies have shown that regular sexual activity enhances not only our mental health (joy, excitement, perhaps even butterflies), but also our physical health (boosts our immune system, improves sleep and reduces stress).
As we’ve discussed elsewhere (scroll over the Boomer Love), we all have the human need to love and be loved, to feel connected with another. Making love to another through sex is certainly one of the means we have to express love, giving pleasure to our partner as well as to our self. But our continuous need for love is met not through sex, but rather through the stability and security of our marriage, giving us a sense of calm and confidence. Fiction:
We can’t help but wonder what things we should (and shouldn’t) be doing in our senior sex lives. As with any thought process, we’re likely to encounter a few misconceptions and downright myths along the way:
The truth is, men can be “not in the mood” just as often as women, and for a variety of reasons. The notion that men crave sex constantly is what probably causes men the most anxiety, which in turn affects subsequent performance. Will his partner consider him abnormal if he doesn’t jump at every opportunity? That type of caveman image is tough to live up to!
Not nearly the case – a woman’s physical as well as psychological need to feel love continues well after menopause. As we discussed earlier in this section, pregnancy issue are gone and issues such as vaginal dryness are easily overcome. Hormone replacement therapy (HRT) can restore sex drive if so recommended by a doctor.
Fill in the blank – three times a week, every other day, almost daily? No such standard has ever existed for senior sex, and the question of frequency will certainly vary from one couple to another. Quality is more important, as long as both partners are satisfied with the quantity.
It’s a myth likely popularized through movies. The better measure for senior sex is the amount of satisfaction that each partner derives from intercourse, particularly if the foreplay has taken longer and has given each partner the pleasure they seek. Some studies have shown that woman don’t necessarily reach orgasm, but still enjoy the total experience.
We can be “hot” at any age, especially in the eyes of our beholder (and those eyes are the only ones that really count anyway). On the outside, we can improve our appearance by improving our fitness routine, our hairstyle/color, and the clothes we wear (and take off)! On the inside, we have acquired knowledge of techniques for our own turn-on’s, and those of our partner.
Not necessarily – senior sex can be so much more satisfying when we’re willing to try new things, including those that we might have resisted years earlier. As we change, so do our likes and dislikes, as do products techniques, positions and imaginations. If you haven’t been before, you just might find “being on top” is a great thing now!
There is no expiration for senior sex.
Not only is it normal to still desire sex at any age, it benefits our physical as well as psychological health. Sexual encounters prompt a natural stimulant in our brain known as dopamine, which in turn affects our motor functions, our mood and motivations. It’s what gives us that “afterglow”. In fact, brain scans of study participants aged 18 to 80 show that love feelings prompt very similar levels of dopamine.
The challenges and routine of everyday life can get in the way of senior sex – our family obligations, work hours and stress, rush hour drive times, household chores, and even the foods we eat. Add to this mix our energy levels, health conditions, family upbringing, values, personal histories, communication skills, and other traits – the quest for good sex may become so overwhelming that we finally concede and say, “I give up – why bother?”
But we owe it to our partner, and we owe it to ourselves.
Set a random date night, any night that best fits your schedules (even better is spur of the moment). Whether going out to eat or staying home, have sex BEFORE you eat, since the natural aftermath after a dinner is to feel sleepy. But if you do eat first, choose your entrees carefully by including those which do enhance sexual urges, such as champagne, spices derived from the chili family, ginger, honey, oysters, coffee, and the ultimate closer – chocolate. As an alternative to eating dinner, choose a pre-sex activity that revs your energy levels – anything aerobic such as walking, dancing, a shared workout at the gym, etc.
Medical conditions such as heart, diabetes, high blood pressure, stress, depression, fatigue and other ailments, together with the medications prescribed to treat them, can limit or even kill any interest in having sex. Remedies begin from consulting your doctor, and may include arousal drugs for men (e.g., Viagra, Levitra, Cialis, et al) and hormonal treatments for women. Other causes may stem from psychological or relationship issues, requiring a team approach where both partners work together with outside professional counsel.
While less inhibited than previous
generations, we boomers may still have real difficulty telling our partner what we like and don’t like. Suggestions:
Senior sex is often referred to as a “brave new world”, with respect to permissiveness, expanded boundaries, expectation, variable commitments, etc. The bottom line for us is that we are fully aware of the world that we choose to enter and explore, along with the pitfalls and consequences. Most important of all, we know that great sex comes in great marriages!
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