If you’re over 60 and find yourself hurting and stuck in a sexless marriage, you may assume this is just how it’s supposed to be at this stage of life. However, plenty of couples over 60 have active, satisfying sex lives. In fact, couples over the age of 50 report higher levels of sexual satisfaction than younger ones. Your age alone is not an impediment to sexual fulfillment. So if your marriage is lacking intimacy and you want to change that, you’re on the right track. Let’s explore how you can fix a sexless marriage when you’re over 60.
Sexual Satisfaction Is Key To A Healthy Relationship
A healthy sex life is beneficial at any age. It helps strengthen and maintain both the physical and emotional connection between partners, decreases stress factors, and boosts your overall sense of self-esteem and well-being. This is especially important as we age, when physical ailments, depression, and other stressors can rear their ugly heads. While some couples over 60 settle into a sexless existence, they do so at the risk of growing distant, feeling unfulfilled and becoming increasingly resentful.
What A Sexless Marriage Looks Like
The standard definition of a sexless marriage is if you and your partner have intercourse less than 10 times per year. But there’s so much more to a healthy sex life than intercourse. At Marriage Quest, we prefer the term “dry marriage.” In a dry marriage, intimate connection occurs less than once a month. One or both partners may feel a lack of desire.
You may feel disconnected and emotionally apathetic.
External issues may also contribute to the lack of desire. You or your partner may have health struggles. You may deal with medication side effects which lower your libido. Or you may have temporarily put your sex life on pause while recovering from illness or surgery. If medical issues are affecting your sex life, talk to a medical professional.
Understanding Your Lack Of Desire
Understanding where your lack of desire comes from is key to fixing your sexless marriage. Fear, avoidance, feeling unprepared, being emotionally cut off could be at root of sexless marriage. Poor communication and resentment often pull couples apart emotionally and physically. There may be cultural factors or childhood events or traumas which make it difficult for you to continue being intimate with your spouse.
Many couples practice self-pleasure but avoid sexual content with their spouse. In this case, there’s clearly still an interest in sexual gratification, just not with the partner. This may be due to body image or feelings of undesirability, unresolved issues in the aftermath of an affair, or a dynamic of conflict avoidance such that even talking about it seems too stressful.
Expanding The Definition Of Sex
Couples over 60 who feel they are in a dry marriage may need to expand their definition of sex. Intercourse may not be possible for any number of reasons. But there’s more to sex than just intercourse. Consider the concept of “Outercourse”, cleverly coined by Dr. Joe Kort. In a nutshell, outercourse is everything else besides intercourse. If you or your partner have physical constraints which prevent intercourse, think more broadly. Incorporate a wider range of sexual activities and see what feels good to you both. Start slow, experiment, and expect some trial and error. No matter what sex looks like in your relationship, the point is to enjoy physical connection together.
Let’s Talk About Sex
Starting a conversation with your spouse about repairing your sex life isn’t as difficult as you think. Be clear, kind, and empathetic. Don’t ask questions and give your spouse the opportunity to respond or think things over. Remain positive and non-judgemental. Remember, this may be a very sensitive and awkward topic for your partner, so be patient. Here are a few prompts to start the discussion:
“I love you and miss being intimate with you…”
“I know we’ve been out of practice for a while and I’d like us to get back to being intimate…”
“I have avoided this conversation for a long time and if we can’t get there on our own, let’s get help…”
These conversations may be uncomfortable or may not lead you to the results you desire. Couples and sex therapists are trained to help you talk about desire, facilitate conflicts and navigate toward solutions which are right for you. Sometimes couples want different things, and that’s normal. The therapist’s job is to bridge that gap and help you return to a fulfilling sex life and a stronger marriage.