Every month in Sex at Our Age, award-winning senior sexpert Joan Price answers your questions about everything from loss of desire to solo sex and partner issues. Nothing is out of bounds! To send your questions directly to Joan, email email@example.com.
A member writes:
At 61, I have a thriving libido. My husband, 56, calls me a “Sex Goddess,” but he no longer craves sex with me and just goes through the motions, if we do it at all. Three months ago, he suggested I find a sex partner.
We’ve been married 15 years, a second marriage for both. He grew up having all the sex he wanted. I was taught that sex was for marriage, and I only had sex with my husbands. For most of our marriage. I did what he wanted the way he wanted it. I believed that sex was for the man, and I put effort into learning to please him. I didn’t understand my own sexual response until I saw a sex therapist who suggested I masturbate to figure out how my body worked. I had my first orgasm at 48!
Now I feel much more adventurous and uninhibited. I finally have the courage to ask for what I want, such as oral sex to warm me up, exploring different kinds of touch, having him involved when I use my vibrator, and helping me to orgasm first. But he says, “That’s not me.” He complains that I can’t have an orgasm without my vibrator, and since nothing he has ever done works for me, why try?
When he brought up me having a sex partner outside of our marriage, I wasn’t sure what he meant or if he could really handle it. After more conversations, he still thinks this is a good idea, but he doesn’t want to know anything about the man or the encounter. That’s confusing to me, but I am getting used to the idea. He is now toying with wanting to have sex with a woman with “big boobs.” I wonder if he had an affair and is using opening our marriage as an excuse to continue.
What is your take on our situation?
—Frustrated “Sex Goddess”
Kudos to you for taking action. You questioned how your sex life could be better, consulted a sex therapist, learned to give yourself orgasms, bought a vibrator that works for you, and asked your husband for changes. It’s dismaying that your husband rejected your suggestions. “That’s not me” seems a selfish response when you’ve asked for generosity of sexual pleasure — which you willingly give to him.
It’s possible that he just doesn’t understand how female pleasure works, especially at our age. Your needs are perfectly normal: warm-up, different kinds of touch, and the strong stimulation of your vibrator. None of this excludes him! It’s the opposite: by pleasuring you with the intimate attention you need, he becomes a partner in your pleasure and orgasm. Would he be willing to see your sex therapist with you?
We don’t know why your husband stopped craving sex with you. Maybe he only wanted it “his way,” and felt threatened by you rightly standing up for your own pleasure. Maybe he feels inadequate because he thinks his penis should give you orgasms. (It’s well known that most women do not climax through intercourse alone.) Maybe the relationship is troubled. Maybe he loves you deeply, but the passion is gone. Maybe, as you question, he’s having an affair. Maybe he doesn’t understand his lack of interest himself.
Opening a marriage to a new sex partner isn’t that rare in our age group. Sometimes formerly monogamous couples decide they want variety and new relationship excitement, or for one reason or another, sex is not satisfying between them. The kind of arrangement your husband describes is the “don’t ask, don’t tell” model: he consents to you taking a lover, but he wants you to be discreet and he doesn’t want to hear about it. Is he also suggesting a “don’t ask, don’t tell’ arrangement for himself, when he beds a busty woman of his fantasies?
You’ve described what he wants — how do you feel about all this? That’s an essential question. I suggest the two of you read and discuss “Opening Up: A Guide to Creating and Sustaining Open Relationships” by Tristan Taormino before you embark on this change. (Read this review on my blog.) Here are some topics you’ll want to discuss:
- What are our expectations for opening our relationship?
- What are our ground rules? What’s off limits?
- How do we choose our partners?
- How will this work logistically, such as scheduling and locations for our trysts?
- What is our safer sex agreement? Condoms always? What about dental dams? (Please watch my free Safer Sex for Seniors webinar here.)
- Are our outside relationships for sex only? One-time hookups? Ongoing friends with benefits? What if one of us starts to feel emotionally involved?
- If we agree to “don’t ask, don’t tell,” how do we check in with each other about whether this is working?
- What’s our plan if one of us decides we want to change our agreement?
- Can we talk to a sex therapist before diving into this, in case there are issues we’re not considering?
You’re contemplating a tremendous change, and I hope that whatever you decide, it brings you happiness.
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Joan Price is the author of several books including “The Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50” and the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age.” Visit Joan’s blog, “Naked at Our Age” and her Facebook page. For senior sex news, tips, event and webinar announcements, and special offers, join Joan’s mailing list. View Joan’s new free webinar, “Safer Sex for Seniors.”