Put the Spark Back into Your Marriage
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Stoke The Embers1 of 19
By Woman's Day
Contrary to popular belief, getting older does not signal the end of your love life. As a 2007 survey from the University of Chicago discovered, most people between the ages of 57 and 85 think sex is important. Even if your desire has gone MIA, it may just be a matter of knowing where to look. Read on for solutions to some of the most common sexual problems.
The Problem2 of 19
You’re Always Tired. When it comes to sex, exhaustion can be a major mood-killer. A recent survey found that 41 percent of married women would choose an extra hour of sleep over hanky panky with their hubby. As we hit midlife, a screaming baby, work stress, fluctuating hormones and hot flashes can all make shut-eye harder to come by.
The Solution3 of 19
If you find yourself dragging through the day, then waiting until bedtime to have sex almost guarantees no nookie, says certified sex therapist Suki Hanfling. Instead, choose a time when you’re more awake, such as in the morning or on the weekend after a nap.
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The Problem4 of 19
Sex Isn’t Enjoyable. As women enter into perimenopause, they may have a tough time getting or staying lubricated. This can make sex less enjoyable or even painful. According to Stacy Tessler-Lindau, M.D., director of the University of Chicago's Program in Integrative Sexual Medicine, this is one of the most common sexual concerns for women over 40.
The Solution5 of 19
Luckily, the lubrication issue is very treatable, and estrogen, in the form of hormone replacement therapy, is effective. If that’s not an option, says Tessler-Lindau, then don’t be afraid to experiment with silicone- or water-based lubricants. Regular sex or masturbation may also help keep things supple and moist.
The Problem6 of 19
Your Needs Aren’t Being Met. Of course, the sex has to be good for you to crave it. If it’s not fulfilling, then why would you go back for more? “The mistake people make is believing that what turned them on when they first met is still accurate. How our bodies need to be stimulated changes with time,” Weiner-Davis explains.
The Solution7 of 19
Good sex requires ongoing conversations about what turns each of you on. That means getting in touch with your own needs. “There’s no way you can coach your partner if you don’t know [what you want] yourself,” she adds.
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The Problem8 of 19
You’ve Written Off Sex. Don’t assume that your desire is going to take a nosedive as you get older. Though physical changes in midlife can take the sizzle out of some people’s love life, a study from the University of Sheffield found that other factors, like stress or relationship issues, have a greater impact on women's sexual behavior during menopause than biological changes like decreased hormone levels do.
The Solution9 of 19
By assuming a lackluster libido is a natural part of aging, women become less likely to do anything about it. Instead, ask yourself what in your life is out of sync and start there, recommends Hanfling.
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The Problem10 of 19
You Don’t Feel Sexy. In a Penn State survey of women between the ages of 35 and 55, 21 percent could not name one body part of theirs that they found attractive. The less appealing a woman felt, the more likely she was to report a decline in sexual desire or activity during the past 10 years.
The Solution11 of 19
The quickest way to feel better about yourself? Exercise regularly—and not just to get rid of love handles. Physical activity increases feel-good chemicals in the brain, lowers stress and anxiety and boosts self-esteem. And this, in turn, can lead to a healthier sexual appetite, says Weiner-Davis.
The Problem12 of 19
Your Desire Ebbs. The Penn State survey also found that even women who had lost their desire said that when they did have sex, they enjoyed it. So why don’t they do it more often? According to Hanfling and Weiner-Davis, women’s desire does not always come before sex. While women can have strong sexual urges, they usually need to be aroused before they’re in the mood for sex—especially as they get older.
The Solution13 of 19
This issue can be tricky for couples who have fallen into a rut, explains Hanfling, because a woman also has to feel like she can say no if, after giving things a go, she’s still not in the mood. Her advice is this: Be open to each other’s advances, and communicate, in a loving way, what feels good.
The Problem14 of 19
The Fireworks Are Gone. The newness of a relationship can make you want to rip each other’s clothes off. Fast-forward 10 or more years and that sense of novelty and adventure wears off. But just because you don’t feel sparks at the mere mention of disrobing doesn’t mean your mojo has packed up and left.
The Solution15 of 19
According to Weiner-Davis, our desire changes as we get older, and we have a hard time recognizing it in its new, often subtler, form. “What I tell people is, ‘Forget the fireworks. Are there ever times when you feel embers?’ A lot of people say yes, but they let it pass. I suggest that when they feel embers, don't let it pass, and really act on it.”
The Problem16 of 19
You’re Not Accounting for Health. Your age is not the best predictor of a robust sex life, says Tessler-Lindau. Rather, it’s your overall health that more accurately determines how much satisfaction you get between the sheets.
The Solution17 of 19
By doing everything you can to stay healthy now—like exercising regularly, eating a heart-healthy diet, maintaining a healthy weight and not smoking—you may be able to stave off sexual problems as you get older, she says.
The Problem18 of 19
Your Man Has Issues. The chance of erectile dysfunction (ED)—an inability to achieve or maintain an erection—increases with age: Thirty-nine percent of 40-year-olds and 65 percent of 65-year-olds report at least occasional erection issues. ED can signal serious health problems, like heart disease or diabetes, so consult a doctor to rule them out.
The Solution19 of 19
What starts as a physiological problem can turn into an emotional one, says Hanfling. A man might develop performance anxiety and avoid having sex. ED may come from the same emotional roadblocks that plague women. “We tend to think that a man can tune out everything when he’s having sex, but that’s just not true,” says Weiner-Davis. Her recommendation? Stop criticizing. He needs to be praised and feel supported, just like you do.