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Dr Gabrielle Morrissey: Sexologist

Dr Gabrielle Morrissey has been a sexologist — sexuality educator, sex therapist and sex researcher — since 1990. She is also the author a number of successful books. ASK ME A QUESTION

Should sex continue in your sixties?

Gabrielle Morrissey
Sunday, May 27, 2012
Should sex continue in your sixties?
Should sex continue in your sixties? Image: Thinkstock
Question:I have had a happy marriage for 33 years but not had any sex for the past 10 years. We are supportive of each other, have lots of laughs and many shared interests. We cuddle and kiss frequently but since my husband had erection problems, we just left it at that. We are now in our 60s with children and grandchildren — should I be worried or just leave it as it is? Sometimes I think it would enhance our relationship even more, we are both fit and well.

Answer: There's no sense in worrying about whether you should be worried! You're either distressed or dissatisfied with your love life, or you're not. There is also no point in comparing yourself to others, or what you think a complete and happy marriage “should” look and feel like, at any stage.

A satisfying love life in a happy and healthy relationship does not have to mean sheet sizzling romps weekly throughout an entire marriage. It doesn’t even have to mean sex! Libido naturally fluctuates so regardless of life circumstances, anyone in a long term relationship will go through periods of infrequent or no sex and that’s normal. Really, this boils down to how you as a couple define intimacy and passion. We all assume that is defined by penetrative sex in a heterosexual relationship, but who makes the rules? You do. And no one else.

You will experience sexual passion for recreation far more often in your life than for procreation (if at all for some) so you can choose how that is defined for you, and this can change with time too. Unfortunately, far too many couples define “sex” only as penetrative intercourse and abandon any and all other sexual activity if that can be achieved for whatever reason. It’s a shame because there is a world of sexuality, a buffet of pleasurable delights to be shared which can continue to grow your connection and communication as a couple, if you only choose to be creative with one another.

Having said that, if you are in a companionate relationship and both of you are satisfied and do not desire for anything else at this point, why fix what ain’t broke? Why add pressure to do something if neither of you feels strongly about it? Surely not because you think that’s what you “should” be doing. A healthy relationship doesn’t judge itself against others or perceptions of “norms”. A healthy relationship makes both partners feel good, in every way, makes both partners feel valued and cared for. So if you have that, then just be happy.

Your sixties can be a sexy decade — don’t be fooled by the media who portray the sexy years as the youthful ones. We know experience brings great eroticism and empowered desire so if you are feeling like you’d like the next decade to be more sexually active than the last ten years, embrace it! You’re right that it could enhance your relationship, if you both want to explore sensuality between you. Skin to skin contact ignites feel-good biochemicals such as oxytocin which make you feel loving, and bonded together. You’re never too old for that!

User comments
We are in our seventies and agree that sex should continue. The form of our sex has changed with the years. From the "rabbit" early years thru the "hide it from the kids" years thru the "where today, the kids are gone" years. We are now in the "do it your self, I'll watch" years. The sex in each set of years was wonderfully satisfying and cemented our fifty years plus of marriage. We agree that sex is a necessary, physical extension of love and should continue as long as there is ability and a cognizant body to enjoy sex with. Keep in mind, as in poker, 'a good hand is hard to beat".

How do long-distance relationships work? Image: ThinkstockDiscussing sexual health with a new partner Image: Thinkstock"I'm close to giving up on my marriage" Image: ThinkstockSex after giving birth, what can I expect?

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