A titled this edition “A Hodgepodge” because that’s what the topic requires, a hodgepodge of answers.
I’ll start with a recent client’s email, “I don’t know exactly what you said to my husband, but I do know that whatever it was, you saved our marriage.”
I won’t pretend it isn’t gratifying to get such an acknowledgement, nor that she may be right, so this is a somewhat abridged rendition of the conversation I had with him.
“If you want your marriage to continue then you need to step up and give her a reason to end her affair with chardonnay in preference to your attentions, or someone else’s.”
That stark description led to some sputtering and the defense that he had no interest in sex with a drunken wife. Fair enough.
But I moved along, “Given that’s true and reasonable, she’s still drinking because you can’t be bothered to show some interest and attention. Your only child is raised and gone and this is not what your wife expected when you two had the house to yourselves again for the first time in over 20 years.”
“What did she expect?”
“Let me approach it this way – prior to parenthood the two of you had a very active sex life. It’s dwindled. Now you’re both in your 50s. That when a lot of people give up sex altogether. And others go on to a ramped up version of life before children. It’s also when some men learn some basic fundamentals when it comes to women and sex.”
“Okay – stated simply, any woman, at any age, can have ten times as many orgasms as any man. See to it she does and you will be a happy man with a happier wife.”
The conversation, and it did become a bit more of a conversation and less a lecture, continued and including addressing those issues most men avoid when they let their sex lives die, Viagra, hormones, and “do it or lose it.”
Wrapping up this particular couple, I can say that he did step up, she did knock off the wine, and they’re happier than they’ve ever been – and more adventurous as well, supply your own details.
So Where’s the Hodgepodge?
These two were fortunate in that they really did have similar levels of sexual interest. Other couples aren’t so well matched.
Working with couples, as we often do, sex is almost always a topic and frequently the issue being medicated – either as a way to avoid sex or as a passive aggressive punishment directed towards an inattentive spouse, as noted above.
Which brings us to the most common questions we get, “What’s normal?”
Now comes the confusion. There is no “normal.” From twice a day to twice a year (if ever), it’s all normal. The problems isn’t anyone’s preferences being abnormal – we’re talking consensual and harm free here – but a divergence: she likes twice a day and he likes twice a month.
Yes, I wrote “she.” Women are just as apt as men to complain about an inattentive spouse – after 50, even more so. The stereotype of “men always, women never” is just that, a false stereotype. One that represses women and depresses men.
We have also often heard the wedding story, where sex stops right after, “I now pronounce you…” Surprisingly, the suddenly non-sexual partner is as apt to be the groom as the bride. These stories are ones we hear about in the past tense, most sexual people have quickly annulled such non-unions.
But for everyone in the middle? Good will, good humor, a reworked set of expectations, hormone adjustments (for both), some coaching, and learning to have FUN! And if the kids aren’t all out of the house yet? Weekend getaways for practice, and it probably won’t hurt you, or them, to quit pretending the kids must never know we’re having sex – and liking it.