Sex in the Middle

A middle-aged body has a very different sexual experience than a twenty-five-year-old body does.

They still bear fruit in old age; they are ever full of sap and green, Psalm 92:14

It used to be that if one of us thought of a new sex position, we could at least have fun trying. Even if it didn’t “do it” for us, it was interesting to find out just how all the parts lined up and how things felt different. Now, though? Our bodies just don’t bend, support weight, occupy space, or respond in the ways they used to.

Let’s face it. A middle-aged body has a very different sexual experience than a twenty-five-year-old body does.


Both spouses may have medications that interfere with sexual response. Arthritis may interfere with the ability to enjoy (or even tolerate) certain positions. If there is weight gain, some positions may no longer be physically possible.

A man may be dealing with erectile dysfunction or difficulty achieving orgasm. His refractory period (the length of time it takes for him to recharge) may be longer than it used to be, extending the time between erections or orgasms for him. He may have low testosterone, which can affect his libido and energy level.

A woman may be dealing with premenopausal symptoms (including heavy and unpredictable bleeding). She may experience vaginal dryness that makes intercourse uncomfortable or painful. Hot flashes may make close physical contact a miserable experience for her. Her libido may drop or spike.

Middle-aged sex isn’t for sissies, right? My husband and I are learning our bodies all over again. Folks, it isn’t always pretty.

Middle age doesn’t give us reasons to cut back on sexual activity. Instead, it reminds us to be just a bit more creative. It reminds us to build on other kinds of intimacy and a lifetime of being a couple to work together in figuring out how to maintain sexual intimacy.

Tips for Middle-Aged Intimacy

Don’t take it personally when your spouse’s body fizzles. Ladies, it is not your fault if your husband fails to develop or maintain an erection. His erection is not a barometer of his emotional commitment to you or whether he feels loved or respected by you. Likewise, I need to remember that my body’s response is not my fault, either. Ever since my hysterectomy several years ago, I have needed to use artificial lubrication. For the rest of my life, I know that I will always have to do that. My body can even feel like it’s producing lubrication—but it isn’t. It’s just the way it is.

My feelings for my husband are much stronger than they were in the years when my body cooperated even when my heart wouldn’t—but that doesn’t change the fact that my body just doesn’t do what it used it. My husband’s body doesn’t always respond the way either of us wants all the time, either. It’s a fact of life. Get your health checked out to rule out any medical conditions, but don’t take it personally that his body is different than it used to be.

Spice things up a bit. When your body doesn’t work the way you’d like it to, sometimes a little extra oomph can help. If you’ve ever wondered about what it would be like to try a particular position or activity in the bedroom (or outside of it), this is a good time to give it a try. Instead of being frustrated that you require artificial lubrication, appreciate the adventure of trying out all those fancy lubes that create tingles in interesting places. Go buy some coconut oil to see how that works for you.

In 2013, my husband and I tried several new sexual things. Some resulted in a shared “well, we can cross that one off the bucket list and never do it again,” but a few others make frequent appearances in our marriage bed. The fun of deciding on a new thing to try, figuring out how to do it, and then actually doing it builds intimacy beyond your sex life. The fact that we are sharing new things together strengthens our bond inside and outside the bedroom. Getting comfortable doing new things has made it much easier for us in other ways. When one of us has an uncooperative body, we are both more adept at changing gears mid-stream.

Take turns. Some medical conditions make intercourse difficult. Arthritis can make positions that require pressure or movement of the hips or knees downright painful. Fortunately, intercourse isn’t the only way to be sexual together. You have lots of body parts that can be used in different ways. (Check out J’s last post in her Using Your Body for Marital Intimacy series over at Hot, Holy, & Humorous. You’ll find links to the whole series.) If you can’t have intercourse, look for ways to please each other. Take turns giving each other sexual pleasure. Maybe every other time it’s for him or for her—or maybe each time one spouse receives pleasure and then pleasures the other one. Sexual intimacy is so much more than intercourse alone. It’s time to expand your repertoire.

Change the goal. It doesn’t always have to be about the orgasm. Focus on experiencing the sexual sensations. Enjoy the fact that you are focusing your attention on each other and sharing marital intimacy. If he doesn’t have an erection, that doesn’t mean you can’t provide him with oral sex. In fact, if you struggle with a mouth-to-penis size ratio, this might be a good time to work on technique without having to worry about gagging. Sexual pleasure involves the physical sensations of arousal and the emotional connection of being intimate with your spouse. Embrace these things, even if orgasm doesn’t seem likely.

A few months ago, my husband and I were in bed, and at one point, we realized that we had both fallen out of the “O-zone” (that place where we knew orgasm was a likelihood or even a possibility). My husband knew it wasn’t going to happen for him, and I knew it wasn’t going to happen for me. My husband asked me, “If it isn’t going to happen for either one of us, how do we know when we’re done?” I shrugged and said, “If neither one of us finished, did we still have sex?”

The Blessings of an Older, More Experienced Fountain

The physical activity of sex was easier when our bodies were younger. I admit that there are times I wish we could have those versions of our bodies back for a short time. But the intimate knowledge of each other that my husband and I have makes so much more possible now. I feel more loved, accepted, courageous, and intimate in my marriage than I ever did in my twenties, thirties, or most of my forties. I feel more freedom in our marriage bed than I ever did before.

God has allowed our bodies to age—but the marriage that He has forged between us has made our marriage bed more vibrant now than it was when our bodies were young.

We are still full of sap and green, even if it flows more slowly than it once did.

 Let your fountain be blessed, and rejoice in the wife of your youth, a lovely deer, a graceful doe. Let her breasts fill you at all times with delight; be intoxicated always in her love. Proverbs 5:18-19

A middle-aged body has a very different sexual experience than a twenty-five-year-old body does.

Image credit dimitrisvetsikas1969 at

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19 Comments on “Sex in the Middle”

  1. “Our bodies just don’t bend, support weight, occupy space, or respond in the ways they used to.”

    Household furniture purchased with this in mind can add options. The next time you are looking at purchasing a coffee table or chair, check for heights and positioning.

    1. LOL! I find that when I walk around the house, I look at our furniture very differently than I used to. Also, I have added to the number of pillows in our bedroom. Makes many things easier on arthritic knees.

    2. Excellent point, SR. I have even thought up designs or ways to modify furniture. I have a really flexible Adirondack chair design. A suggestion as a method of non-touching foreplay to build anticipation: Before the main event, go shopping in a furniture store and come up with creative uses for various items you can apply at home. It could psychologically work in the same creative way hotel and vacation sex do by freeing the mind in a new environment. It could be like grocery shopping on an empty stomach though, so you may want to leave the charge card and checkbook at home…or not. If you can’t leave the house, try a magazine or catalog.

  2. Love this! Yes, middle-aged sex may look different, but it’s even more pleasurable in some ways. I feel more intimately connected to my husband than ever — even though there are times when one of us says something like, “Ow, ow, my body won’t bend that way anymore!” LOL.

  3. Exactly how it’s supposed to be, isn’t it? Age causes us to get more “creative”. Challenging each of us to step up our game so to speak… It’s not quite as simple as rubbing two bodies together as we may have once done!
    Fantastic post!

  4. I struggle with how oral sex that does not produce an erection can be something DH enjoys. This is all new for me. My libido has spiked, and was always very high. The changes you talked about are the changes I’m getting used to now.

    1. Both men and women can feel aroused yet not show the physical signs of arousal. It can require some adjustment, but then it all begins to feel like a new normal. If your husband enjoys it and you’re doing it, he is a blessed man. 🙂

      1. Thank you for the explanation. DH has said similar things, but I’m having a hard time understanding. An age difference also is at play, and I was not aware these changes were something many deal with. I am the opposite of the (negative) stereotypical wife, and it will take time to get used to these new changes that are emerging.

  5. There is always the possibility that the things a man attributes to age may just be boredom. If a young, skinny college girl were to magically appear in bed with him, any physical problem would magically disappear. When a wife reaches a certain age where body parts become less perky (even though the wife is the lowest weight she’s ever been as an adult), wrinkles replace that youthful glow, stretch marks begin to stretch even farther, and breasts point down instead of out, a man will no longer be attracted to her, and attribute any lack of physical response to “age”. When he knows the real problem is that he is incredibly turned off by his wife’s body, and he obsesses over young ladies so he can “work” again. Sorry for the cynicism, but this is what I am currently facing.

    1. I am so sorry you are facing this, because this is most definitely NOT what I hear from so many men. Mostly, these men say how beautiful their wives are and how the signs of age are part of what make their wives even more beautiful to them. (Read this guest post for great example of this.) What has your husband said to you about his attitude toward your marriage bed? Many men do like novelty and adventure, but they want those things with the wives they love.

      1. He has told me that I “am for love” and that other women “are for sex”. That all women are objects put here for his pleasure, except for me. And when I asked where I “fit” into his sex life, he replied “you don’t”. He also feels that sex for pleasure with a wife is frowned upon by the church. But he thinks wanton sex with other women is fine. He has never cheated, that I know of. He only fantasizes. He suffers terrible insecurities and though he wants these other women, he claims he’s not good enough to get a girl like that. And that any women worth having wouldn’t want him. He was brought up a very strict Catholic, but has had a long-standing obsession with other girls. To note: we have been married for 24 years, and this was all just disclosed to me 3 years ago. I have tried everything I can think of to make things more exciting, read books about men being “visual” and of their “mental rolodex” and it seems incredibly true for the love of my life. I want our marriage to be what I know it can be – but he cannot let the others go. I’m lost. I’m hurting.

        1. Your husband is so, so wrong. It sounds like he has some pretty deep-seated issues that are far more about him than about you. Why does he think that sexual pleasure with his wife is frowned on? Given that he believes that, he must feel very conflicted when you try to dress sexy and spice things up. He may have trained himself to suppress sexual excitement about you, and seeing you try exciting things may make him dig deeper to wall you out because he is trying to fight what he believes he is supposed to fight. He may feel safer fantasizing about other women than reaching for real intimacy with you. If he has such bad insecurities, he may be terrified that if you truly knew him–all of him, including his sexuality–you would reject him.

          I would like to suggest that you spend a good deal of time in prayer for your husband–specifically, for his healing.

          My heart hurts for you. You are both suffering. (((Hugs)))

  6. I’m so glad to see this post. Most that I read are for/by young whippersnappers that don’t yet understand artificial joints, arthritis, hysterectomies, hormone decline, rare/nonexistent orgasms, rapid exhaustion, frustration of desiring intimacy but only sharing available tv distractions. There’s a little comfort in hearing someone express insight into the situation and feel empathy.
    Thank you

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