The stereotype of an exciting sex life during the early years of marriage that simply disappears as you age is just that – a stereotype. And it’s a dangerous one for relationships. Believing that a lack of intimacy is normal or inevitable keeps couples from addressing the factors that make for a vibrant intimate relationship well into the senior years. It’s possible to keep intimacy alive after fifty!

Sure, there are challenges, as there are with anything worth having. Your career, your retirement account, your physical and mental health, your impact on the world around you – those things take intentional investment over time. So does the quality of intimacy in your marriage.

It’s never too early to begin making those investments. But it’s never too late either! Especially for the married person fifty or older, here are some important ways to preserve and even grow the depth of intimacy with your spouse.

Care For Your Body

Men can face ED and declining testosterone. Women face menopause and loss of estrogen. Physical illness becomes more common. But it’s never too late to treat your body as the temple of the Holy Spirit that it is.

You know the basics; nourish your body with a variety of unprocessed foods, limiting unhealthy fats and sugar. Move your body often; aerobic exercise, strength training, flexibility. We know from scientific research that such measures decrease both the effects of menopause and illnesses that can cause ED. And those measures also improve sleep and mood, which are hugely important in having the emotional currency to engage in healthy intimacy.

And get a medical evaluation periodically. There are a host of treatable medical conditions that could be impacting your physical capacity for sex: diabetes, heart disease, thyroid problems, low testosterone, lack of estrogen, etc. At times treatment with appropriate moderate-dose “natural” hormones can be a true game-changer when it comes to libido and sexual functioning.

Nourish Relationship

Sex between strangers is unsatisfying and can be damaging. If you and your spouse have become strangers, sex may or may not be a place to start. For the majority of couples the friendship will have to be nourished and developed again before you can engage in physical intimacy the way God intended.

Mid-life or early senior years can often be a time when multiple other factors impact your relationship. Career for one or both of you may be demanding. An empty nest may mean your sense of meaning and family is challenged, especially for women. You may suddenly realize that you don’t know this person you wake up next to. And do you even like them?

If you’ve let these things slide, now is the time to put significant energy into developing healthy communication between you, and learning to do things together. This will take effort! Intentionally make an effort, both of you, to enter each other’s world whether you feel like it or not. If you’ve drifted apart, now is the time to intentionally begin walking toward each other.

Choose a private time when your spouse is most likely to hear you. Begin by saying something like, “Honey, I’m grateful for the years God has given us together. I’m grateful for you! We’re hopefully looking at many more years together, and I want to make sure those years are better, closer, and not worse. Can we spend some time talking about what we would like the next season of our marriage to look like? And what we can do together to help make that happen?”

Deal with Your Baggage

I’ve talked with many middle-aged individuals who experience “junk” coming up in this season of life. The busyness of raising kids or early career is past. Hormones may be changing. Life is happening, and things trigger you. It often becomes harder to pretend.

That may be baggage in your own heart. For many reasons it’s not uncommon for women to struggle with old unhealed sexual wounds around the time of menopause. Men may be faced with a “mid-life crisis” when they feel they’ve reached the top of their career, or old trauma becomes impossible to ignore. Addictions may increase. The things you looked to that gave your life meaning now seem unable to assuage the churning in your soul.

Deal with that baggage directly. Look under the surface. Get some help from a therapy group, a counselor, or another professional if you need. Ask the questions about your story. Bring Jesus into your story, and intentionally seek healing.

Additionally your relationship itself may have baggage. The union of two sinners in marriage is a setup for trauma. Have you forgiven well? Is there unfinished business between you? There is no marriage on earth where hurt has not occurred. The point is not to expect yourself or your spouse to be perfect; the point is to face that brokenness with honesty and grace, and invite Jesus into the healing process between you.

Pursue Intimacy

Intimacy – physical, emotional, and spiritual – is worth pursuing. It takes active pursuit to make it work. You will have to see intimacy as valuable enough to put the energy into making it happen.

That includes physical intimacy – sex. Sexual intimacy may change in older years. It may take longer foreplay to develop adequate arousal. Medical factors may be at play. But don’t expect good sex to just happen; it takes both partners learning about each other’s changing bodies and giving effort into their own bodies to continue the sexual connection.

Make the mental commitment to intimacy. Make the commitment to move in your spouse’s direction, and your body may well follow. Invest the time and effort to have the difficult conversations, including about sex. Determine to not leave unfinished business in your relationship.

The connection between physical and emotional intimacy becomes even more important as the years go by. Work on the safety between you. Ask yourself, “What’s it like to be married to me?” Learn how to invite your spouse to come closer.  

Lasting Intimacy

We know scientifically that there are many seniors who enjoy intimacy, including sex, well into their eighties or nineties. Sex can continue to have elements of excitement and joy. But the elements of safety, comfort, and satisfaction become increasingly important.

But you won’t experience that kind of intimacy without intentional investment. Regardless of what life stage you are now, begin making those investments. If intimacy has broken down, search for the Why and deal with it.

And your ongoing and future connection with your spouse – physically, emotionally, and spiritually – will be well worth the effort.

(If you need some individual coaching in this area, send me a confidential message and we can talk about it.)

Your Turn: How well are you investing in the intimacy between you and your spouse? Where do you need to start making investments now? Leave a comment below.

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