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
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