Ask Amy: Waning sex life not necessarily the norm
Dear Amy: My husband and I have been married for 29 years. We’re both in our early 60s. Our relationship is caring and loving, but we no longer have sex. It’s been nearly a year since the last time, and nearly another year since the time before that. When we were younger, our sex life was passionate and robust. But it tapered off over time. We don’t talk about this.
Once in a while I’ll suggest that we think about “doing it” more often, and he seems agreeable, but it doesn’t happen unless I initiate. And even then, it’s pretty, um, rudimentary. I don’t think this bothers him. We get along well and are very comfortable with each other. We’re way past the point of being wildly attracted to each other. I’ll admit that I’ve let inertia take over, but it bothers me to think I’ll likely not have sex again, and that we’ve just let it go.
I’d like things to be different. I worry about what our relationship will turn into if I lose that special intimacy with him forever.
Do most long-married couples just stop having sex? What is the “norm?”
Is it up to me to turn things around? — Sexless at 60
Dear Sexless: Applying a “norm” to anyone’s sex life might not be appropriate, because popular ideas about what is “normal” tend to box people into a specific construct. In short, if your current sexless state was working for you and your husband (if you were both happy and felt fulfilled), then the norm — whatever that is — wouldn’t matter.
I highly recommend reading Ph.D. researcher Emily Nagoski’s groundbreaking book: “Come as You Are: The Surprising New Science that Will Transform Your Sex Life,” (2015, Simon & Schuster), which starts with this line: “Yes, you ARE normal!”
I will say this: Your sexless status doesn’t seem to be particularly unusual, and you are definitely not alone.
You don’t need to accept your current situation as a necessary aspect of your age and stage of life. The first step toward change — and intimacy — is to talk about it.
Say to your beloved: “This is a tough thing for me to talk about, but I’d like to discuss our sex life. Can we set aside time tomorrow night to start the conversation?
No one is at fault. No one is to blame. And — with a willing partner — you can turn things around.
Dear Amy: I was taught it was rude to ask people how much they paid for something, but I have neighbors that ask me this all the time, whether it’s an article of clothing or a plant, even if it’s a gift I bought for them.
They also ask me how much money I make and how much I have saved for retirement.
I am on the verge of being rude myself and snapping at them to mind their own business.
How can I diplomatically tell them I don’t want to be asked this question any longer, and that it’s rude? — About to Blow
Dear About to Blow: Your neighbors obviously weren’t taught the same lesson you were. In some families, cultures, and neighborhoods, this question might not be considered rude.
You can be diplomatic by politely stating how you feel: “I probably should have said this before now, but I don’t like to talk about money or answer questions about the price of things. I understand that you’re curious, but it makes me uncomfortable.”
Your neighbors will probably continue doing this, because this is how they relate to people and initiate conversations. After you’ve made your diplomatic statement, you can greet repeat offenses with a smile and a reminder: “Remember? No money talk for me!”
You can also respond with a non sequitur that discourages follow-through: “Ha ha, you guys are so curious!”
Dear Amy: “Wanting to Want” wasn’t particularly eager to “partner up.”
I was in her/his shoes at one point. I had a satisfying life as a singleton.
Suddenly, everyone was getting married, having babies, etc., and I felt like an outcast. I wondered what was “wrong” with me.
It took a while, but finally I decided to stop wanting and just start enjoying.
Low and behold, the next person I dated, turned out to be my spouse going on 30 years. Sometimes when you stop looking, the apple falls into your lap. — Happy
Dear Happy: And if the apple doesn’t fall into your lap, you still get to live a satisfying life.