Is There Sex After 60?

July 17, 2011 § 2 Comments

(If you ask some people, the answer is “not a lot”)

William Flew on one paper therapist’s answer

Q  – My wife and I met at university in the late 1960s and we married four years later. Sex has been boring for 38 years now. In the 1970s I suggested that she should buy Cosmopolitan to learn about sexual variety, but she said she was happy as things were. If I even hinted that I wasn’t, she would accuse me of trying to put her down. I remember asking her what she liked about me, thinking that she might mention my eyes, voice, — anything, and she said, “You are a nice person.” So, to her I am not a sexual being at all; I am just a “nice person”. At 62, this is my reality. Is there any hope that things will change?

A – Yes, but probably not in the way that you imagine. And if it is any consolation, you are one of many men of your generation who is dissatisfied with his sex life. For the past six months I’ve been running a survey into sexual frequency at and the results for the 56 to 65 age group are shocking. In answer to the question “Which statement best describes sexual frequency in your relationship?” 60.5 per cent of men clicked the box stating “We never have sex” and, unsurprisingly, 87.2 per cent of them also said they were “very dissatisfied” with their sex life.

The results for women in the same age group are even worse. More than 80 per cent of women clicked “We never have sex” and 75 per cent described themselves as “very dissatisfied with their sex life”. I really hope that my data is skewed because if these figures are representative of sex in later life, we are all in trouble. Sex is the glue that holds relationships together. It doesn’t have to happen very often, but it does have to be an intimate, meaningful and satisfying physical exchange that leaves couples feeling closer. Without that connection it is simply impossible to sustain a happy and healthy relationship, so it is difficult to understand how you have survived in this marriage for 38 years. In your much longer letter you explain that during your lengthy courtship “she would not touch me sexually, but I was allowed to touch her”. I know that I’m hearing only your side of the story but, at first glance, your greatest mistake appears to have been forging ahead with a marriage to a woman who consistently manifested the sexual responses of a stone.

You admit that you “stupidly assumed that things would improve when we got married”, but why did you not extricate yourself once it became clear that this was not going to be the case? You married in 1973 and, although it would not have been easy, divorce was an option.

Your wife obviously has issues with sex, but I wouldn’t be doing my job if I did not raise the fact that you, too, have some issues that need to be addressed. You are, I’m sure, a nice person, and a loyal one too, but you also appear to be a man who has chosen to live a life of compromise rather than to assert your need for a physical relationship. This would suggest that you are lacking in “self-intimacy”, the ability to be conscious, and aware, of your own emotions, desires and thoughts. Such people cannot process their feelings and are often immobilised by their own ambivalence.

They stay in relationships that they cannot commit to by finding excuses not to leave (usually to do with how it will affect their wife and children) when the real problem is their inability to connect with themselves in a meaningful way.

You ask if things might change, but have you honestly considered how you would react if your wife suddenly developed a raging libido? You see, sometimes, the negative aspects of our relationship are “set-ups” that allow us to hold on to a set of beliefs about ourselves, or, as Freud put it: “The consequences of our actions tend to reveal our motives.” It is complicated and I think that you are going to need a decent shrink ( to help you to work out who you really are and what you want to do with the rest of your life. It’s a decision that you might want to discuss with your wife, but you do not need her permission to help yourself. She has, I believe, relinquished the right to have much of a say in anything that you do at this point, although as you become more confident and assertive she will undoubtedly begin to realise how much she stands to lose by her refusal to address her sexual issues. Sadly, it may be too late for her to find her missing libido, but it will never be too late for you to find yourself. Good luck.



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