I’m almost 59. And that’s one year from 60. He’s nearly 64.
In many ways I don’t feel that old. Yes, my knees ache after intense hiking and climbing (today it’s 29 flights and over 4 miles). I have an autoimmune disease, which is thankfully under control at the moment. That changes in an instant. I think I still have a young heart and great sense of adventure. I don’t think I’ve seen or done it all, much less enough. There’s so much more to experience and learn in this life.
And there’s so much I’m not prepared to give up.
Five years ago I set about trying to improve things in my life. I lost weight and tried to manage my heath and fitness better. I owned up to my husband of 20 years specifically what I needed to remain in a fulfilling, loving and happy marriage (it pretty much boiled down to just wanting to feel pursued and desired). We had both spent many sad years expecting each other to read minds. Along the way I also learned that so much of the change I wanted had to do with me.
But at that time (and even today) it was still undeniable we each had very different sexual appetites and needs. I craved intimacy more often, and desired intense experiences; he was ok with gentle, sedate, and less frequent sex. He worked hard, was devoted to our kids, and generally exhausted. He was starting to have issues with ED (which in addition to creating a physical issue, also messes with your mind and ego), and after many discussions he acquiesced to trying the little blue pill. We tried to find a happy medium to match our differing sexual desires, after many years of mismatched sexuality and misunderstandings. His lack of aggressive pursuit (or avoidance) made me feel unloved and undesired. My frustrations came out to him as disrespect (and anger).
We talked. And we talked. We read. I wrote. We tried to bridge the gap between our low-need and high-need. We discussed what made us feel loved and satisfied and frisky. We tried new things. Sometimes it felt great, sometimes it felt contrived or forced. Each time he defaulted to old ways, I became upset and felt that the needs and preferences I expressed were just not important to him. I didn’t want to complain– but gradually over the past year, I felt we were slipping back to a time where there was little or no pleasure for me, and our connection was getting lost again.
Passion was gone. Tender and secure love is our reality now. And those aren’t bad things to have, I remind myself. Many have far less.
Does sex and passion have an expiration date? Do we just grow out of it? (For our ages, we have “normal” hormone levels (aka, lower). Replacing hormones/testosterone carries unwelcome risks, so we choose to follow a healthy lifestyle that can optimize testosterone; we’re beginning to try Essential Oils in the bedroom). We have found ourselves back where we sort of began– two very different needs going unmet. Our sex now is basically “connection sex.” It is loving, the closeness and touching is welcome and appreciated; but it’s not thrilling or intensely pleasurable for me, and therefore less and less something I look forward to. I’m unable to orgasm with him (it always has been a rare occurrence), yet can experience multiple and intense orgasms “alone.” I know what feels good to me; he doesn’t seem to, and apparently I’ve failed to relate it to him in a way that makes sense. While his physical needs are being met, I’m sure my disconnect, due to lack of pleasure pleasure, leaves him feeling emotionally void. Because I want to avoid disappointment, my desires for my husband at times seem dwindled to next to nothing.
I still love him. He is my world. However no amount of discussion, mental build up, guidance, artificial lubricant, or sex toys changes this loss of desire. It’s not because I don’t like sex; but because I know it won’t be much more than connecting, and seldom results in him conferring pleasure. Sometimes it feels like a “must do” akin to brushing my teeth– and I hate that feeling. Although I realize that age plays a part in decreasing libido and erotic responses, my husband, whom I love, does not evoke these in me, nor does he seem interested.
And while I promised (myself and him) during our renewal never to say “no” to him, it is getting harder and harder to say “yes” to physical union that feels mechanical, even forced. I despise that there are times I feel like I want to shut my eyes and have it over with fast, for the sheer frustration, betrayal of not achieving pleasure.
And it’s a bit frustrating not to know how to fix this. To feel there is no fix…
I considered what God thinks about this. Clearly He was not excluding “old people” from sex (OT Sarah and Abraham conceived Isaac at 90 and 100; NT Mary’s cousin Elizabeth gave birth to John the Baptist at an “advanced age,” possibly 88). God admonishes men “to rejoice in the wife of your youth.”
One-flesh union does not seem to have an expiration date according to God’s word. God could have given either of these couples a child at an earlier age; yet besides showing that God is capable of doing anything, I also believe he shows us there’s no “sell by” date on sexuality between a husband and wife.
Changes in sexuality as we age is not a topic often discussed openly. I’ve heard well-meaning couples on both side of this issue: enjoying sex immensely, getting experimental, and intensifying love and closeness as they age; or resigned that sex a thing of the past, and you are simply happy for each other’s company.
It just makes me sad to “acquiesce” to the latter.
There’s so much I’m not prepared to give up.