Growing up in the 1950s and even into the 1960s, most of us had no clue or interest as to whether or not our parents and grandparents had sex after a certain age. For the most part, we thought sex was only for the young and that may still hold true in the thoughts of many under 30. Even with all the exposure to menopause, mental illness, alcoholism, motherhood minus marriage, and other heretofore-taboo subjects, I hear few people today talking about senior sex, whether they are young or old. Let’s start the conversation.
When I was much younger, I could not even imagine my grandmothers having sex with their spouses. Now that I am a grandmother, I can’t imagine how I believed this idea of “old” people not having any sex. So I am sharing my personal story to help dispel any myths or taboos on this subject of “senior sex.”
More than 10 years ago, I met my now second husband, Andrew, who was a widower. (I was in my mid-sixties and Andy was in his late sixties.) I had been divorced for more than 12 years and was enjoying a second adolescence: dining, dancing and dating many men, and happily finding sex among seniors was not at all uncommon. Being single meant many nights alone, but I wasn’t ready to commit to marriage until I found someone I could connect with on a mental, spiritual and physical basis. Better to be alone than to be with someone with whom you had a negative relationship. One divorce for me was plenty!
After two dates, Andy and I knew we wanted to date only each other. Because we lived three hours apart, we saw each other only weekends until I moved in with him several months after we met and clicked on all three levels. During those early months, as we became more seriously involved, we met each other’s families, learned that we both loved dancing and movies, and also making love. (While sex is part of lovemaking, you can have sex without love and love without sex.) We were so eager to be physically close that we made love three times a day on the weekends. First, we made love when went to bed. Then, sometime during the night, one of us initiated intimacy, but I can’t remember whether it was more often Andrew or me. Because I tend to lack shyness with a man when I feel loved and wanted, I had no problem being the initiator. Again, in the morning, we made love. And not slam, bam, thank you ma’am love, but making love languorously, since we were not working on the weekends.
Once I moved in with Andy, the lovemaking decreased by necessity. Andy was still working four days per week and I found part-time work once I settled into my new home. However, Andy and I are both very affectionate by nature (another positive point in our relationship), so even if we did not “have sex” three times a day (more like two times a week), we were both big on hugs, caresses and especially holding hands. His hands are always warm and gentle, which is almost as important to me as kissing. And his kissing isn’t bad, either! But his lovemaking is the best of any man I had slept with, and I had slept with enough partners to know. We both loved the physical part of being loved!
At some point in our marriage, maybe nine years in, Andy began experiencing ED (erectile dysfunction). The doctor prescribed the popular drug for this issue and that worked for a couple of years, but as Andrew approached 80, nothing seemed to work. Since both of us are open-minded about sex, mine coming from my mother’s refusal to sweep sex information under the rug, and Andrew’s from his own beliefs, we decided to buy some sex toys. Surfing the internet, Andrew kept purchasing dildos of different sizes that we tried, with lots of laughs, and I felt like Goldilocks: “No, this is too big. No, this is too small. Ah, this is just right!”
At the same time that we were experimenting with different ways to keep our sex life alive and well, I realized there were so many more ways to make love than intercourse and oral sex. As a couple that knows each other intimately through sex, we have also learned to express ourselves more through touch, conversations, looks and the way we talk to each other. This in no way replaces physical sex, but as our marriage deepened, we learned other ways to show our love. And while making love is now different from our earlier years, because our marriage has mellowed and our bodies have changed, the intensity of our feelings have not. While physical sex is now more of a challenge, we both like challenges. We are learning to navigate the waters of senior sex with a new set of oars, but still with our hearts and bodies joined in mutual love and admiration.
So, the next time you look at an older couple walking in the park holding hands, add that to your repertoire of the definition of sex. Or when you see them gazing lovingly at each other in a restaurant, sharing their food and their love, consider that lovemaking, as well. Whether it is physical, mental or spiritual, if two people are connecting with hearts and minds, their bodies will do what is natural for them, at that time. I don’t think this diminishes the act of sex, but rather adds to the totality of their love for each other. It may be “love among the ruins,” but the ruins can be quite beautiful in their antiquity.
march 2017 INSPIRED senior living
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