Sex & Relationships

How to Find Sexual Pleasure in a Sexless Marriage


joan-price-150Every month in Sex at Our Ageaward-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


I am 64 and have been married for 40-plus years. My husband and I haven’t had a sex life for years. We don’t even cuddle or kiss. We live like brother and sister in separate bedrooms. Our last physical intimacy was maybe 20 years ago. We never talked about it – it just happened. I remember just once trying to talk to him about our relationship, and he shut the conversation down. I never had an orgasm with my husband and was okay with the lack of sex. I didn’t miss it, because I didn’t know what sexual pleasure was. 

Then I got to know a man – online only – who became a close cyber friend. I met him in a chat room for seniors (not a specific “sex” chat room). Our friendship developed until we became intimate online – by intimate I mean just words on our screens. He helped me feel sexy and more comfortable with my body. 

Before my cyber friend encouraged me, I never used to explore or touch myself at all, but with his prompting, I started to discover how pleasurable it was to have sex with myself. Now I love touching myself, especially alone in the shower or even walking around the house naked when I’m alone. I love making my nipples hard and I’ve discovered my clitoris.

Lately I’ve been trying to stimulate myself to orgasm. I’m not sure if I’ve ever really had an orgasm and now I wonder if it may be too late. Touching myself does feel nice, but I don’t have a lot of sensation, probably due to age and lack of use. 

Can you help me with other ideas for stimulating myself? I’ve only been using my fingers and I’d like to try a vibrator – frankly, my arm and fingers get tired! I think I’d find it embarrassing going into a sex shop. Do vibrators inhibit the sensation you want to feel or enhance it?

Is it possible to masturbate too much? I feel like I want to hop into bed sometimes in the middle of the day and do it. Is it possible to become addicted? —Self-Pleasurer


I’m delighted that you’re discovering the joys of sex with yourself. Call it masturbation, solo sex, self-pleasuring – it is real sex: sex with ourselves.

Don’t be embarrassed about not knowing for so long how to achieve sexual pleasure. Our generation of men and women weren’t exposed in our sexually formative years to information about the clitoris – what it is, what it’s for (it’s the only organ in the body designed exclusively for sexual pleasure!) and how best to stimulate it. As women, we certainly were not taught that masturbation is the best way to discover what stimulates us and brings us to orgasm. Despite our upbringing, many of us figured this out along the way by touching ourselves or having a partner touch us in just the right way – but there are many who don’t learn the delights of self-pleasuring until later in life. Good for you for enjoying masturbation now. It’s the perfect solution for those of us who are unpartnered or in a non-sexual relationship like yours.

How do you decide if your self-pleasuring habit is an unhealthy compulsion Does it interfere with your daily life, activities, responsibilities, or relationships? Are you taking risks in order to masturbate? Do you continue to the point of inflicting pain? You don’t indicate that any of these are true – and if they’re not, you don’t need to worry. Desiring sexual stimulation and release is part of being human.

How can you deal with decreased sensation? Women our age commonly experience decreased sensation. It can be difficult to get enough stimulation to reach orgasm. Yes, vibrators are a tremendous help – a well-chosen vibrator gives us the intense stimulation that we need for reaching orgasm. And no, vibrators don’t decrease sensation – they increase it! There are even waterproof vibrators available, since you enjoy masturbation in the shower. (See my “A Senior’s Guide to Vibrators” on Senior Planet for help choosing your first one.)

How do you handle the awkwardness of sex toy shopping? If you have a good, woman-friendly sexuality shop near you, don’t be shy about visiting it. The staff is trained to help you feel comfortable, answer your questions and suggest the right product for your needs. Alternatively, I recommend several online retailers on my blog,, but there’s no substitute for being able to see and hold a vibrator and feel the vibrations to help you figure out which one you might like.

Although I’m tempted to encourage you to try to re-open the conversation about physical intimacy with your husband, it’s clear that after 20 years, it’s unlikely that the two of you will come together sexually unless you (a) decide it’s a priority; and (b) have some sessions with a good couple’s counselor or sex therapist. You have what’s called a “companionate marriage.” Many people are content this way and don’t feel that anything is broken that needs fixing.

So continue to enjoy yourself, incorporate a vibrator when you’re ready and celebrate your capacity for sexual pleasure! —Joan


Joan Price is the author of the new Ultimate Guide to Sex After 50: How to Maintain – or Regain! – a Spicy, Satisfying Sex Life”;  the award-winning self-help book “Naked at Our Age: Talking Out Loud about Senior Sex”; and the sexy memoir, “Better Than I Ever Expected: Straight Talk about Sex After Sixty.” Visit Joan’s  blog, “Naked at Our Age,” and her Facebook page.



14 responses to “How to Find Sexual Pleasure in a Sexless Marriage

  1. We need help! Goin on 23yrs. And intimacy and affection come very hard for my wife anymore. We’re 61and62,my hormones are still working and I’m not into self pleasure. I want my woman,or lately fantasize about any woman.I crave affection and touches and holding my woman still.

  2. My wife has no sexual desire at all and has been that way for 20 years , married for 41 years , I,m 66 and feel I need sex so maturbation is all I have even after radiation cancer treatment i cannot get a erection but still feel i need sex , watching porn and masturbation has become my life , my wife does not know she thinks all id ok with a sexless marrige , I truelly wish one day I could at least have some sort of female sex ,

  3. I live in a sexless marriage and don’t give a hoot about sexual pleasure. Married 50 years and haven’t had sex with her in at around 40 years. I’m very happy and proud about that, i just never had any interest in sex. I probably should have told my wife about my feelings before we were married, but why ruin the surprise. Everything about us were opposite she wanted kid I said no, she liked summer, I liked winter , she liked day time i liked night time, i think you get the idea. I worked mid nights for 40 years all holidays, weekends and all my vacation time , she worked days. Only friendship was required but that never happened, and no sex or love or intimacy my requirements and not hers. I told her she could leave any time she wanted or find a girl or guy friend to sleep with, i didn’t care. Just leave me alone and if she stayed i would pay for everything, her car, the house what ever she needed.
    She never left and that was fine, and i assume her life was OK we never talk to each other. I will admit I don’t have any one on the side nor am I gay. Me is more important than anything and I do for me mostly. I’m retired now and have my hobbies working on cars and in my wood shop. I don’t get involved with friends they just waste time , also TV or phone and cell phone are a waste. Stay away from the news, don’t like to read do have an old computer that doesn’t do much. My life may be dull but I’m very happy in my simple me world.

  4. I wish there was a decent sex toy for men. The ones that are out there are pretty lame. I too am in a long term sexless marriage (25 years) and I could use a little intense stimulation myself.

    1. Please go through your physician. First, you need to find out the medical reason for your erectile difficulties and whether an erection drug is right for you. Second, you don’t know what you’re getting when you order online. It can be dangerous.

  5. Joan, I am such a fan. You keep rocking it and I’m aspire to be as fabulous as you. If you ever have plans to travel to Seattle, let me know and let’s talk about setting up a work shop and speaking engagements for you. Maybe even a field trip to a local sex toy store like Babes, maybe even have them open it up just for our group. :)

    Great answers. Thank you.


  6. I’d like to add that one should not ignore the erotic potential of the mind.

    For me, and for many women, simple physical stimulation with no context ain’t much fun. For me, written porn, or my own inner storyteller, are the real thrill: given the right story line, it doesn’t take much in the way of physical stimulation.

    If this delightful neophyte has an e-reader, or a smart phone with a kindle app, she might like to browse the free erotica on kindle — a great deal of it seems to have been written by women for women, and she might enjoy discovering which of the many twists available speak to her.

      1. As an artist/illustrator my entire life, I have “gotten off” when a partner was unavailable by putting myself into sexy situations that I enjoy illustrating. One of my favorites is usually a woman with fairly large breasts that do NOT sag who wears an outfit that accentuates this attribute. Pretty face, nice body otherwise as well. This Me in my fantasy world can be the vixen I can never be in real life. And I find my self orgasming even without touching just by the mental stimulation brought forth in my drawing. This “ME” is the woman who starts a new job and attracts all the men who can’t resist me. I get to choose which one I will enjoy first.
        In my real life I find that I usually end up with men who have a lower sex drive than I do so I need to do my fantasy drawings to meet my strong needs. I often wish I that my partner was more driven sexually so I didn’t have to resort to this but I don’t know why it doesn’t happen. I find myself envying women who complain that their husbands have a one track mind. Why don’t the men in my life want sex more than they do? I am frequently told I am very attractive, intelligent, adventurous and fun to be with. I have 36G breasts that still stand up like they did when I was a young girl. In fact, my maid of honor at my first wedding admonished me for getting married instead of be a playboy model. She was a beautiful Swedish blond who was a model herself and had recently been divorced. I got married at age 19, had two kids, stayed married till mid life crisis caused me to leave the marriage after 20 years. I married a low sex drive man a year later and it only lasted two years. Then I was in a relationship for 3 years with a fairly low sex drive guy who also preferred drinking to sex like husband #2. Husband #3 was a sexy looking man of the world who was 28 years older but could not penetrate me so I spent a lot of time illustrating in the seven years I was with him. Husband #4 was 21 years older and had a penal implant. He was addicted to sex and lived vicariously with me through online porn and DVDs he purchased. He encouraged me to have a younger lover we met online who was well hung but married. It was an interesting experience for me but lacked emotional fulfillment so I ended it. My current husband is only six years older and fireworks exploded in the beginning for us but I feel frustrated a lot now after seven years of marriage. Want to bring back the excitement but am puzzled as to how. When he is away I find I am orgasming a few times every day through looking at sexy photos and imagining I am one of those women or writing my sexy stories. When he is home (which is 99 percent of the time, I feel too embarrassed by my need for sex so I am frustrated a lot and feel like a fish wife for bugging him about our low sex anymore. He has gained a lot of weight so having sex tires him out quickly. He enjoys reading, following politics, watching TV, eating. He was single for many years before I met and married him.

      2. Silver Chic, how wonderful that you have your erotic drawing that stimulates you so powerfully! Please don’t be embarrassed by your desire for sex — it’s a gift, not a defect. Since your husband is home most of the time, how about opening up conversation about your joyful sex drive, sharing how you indulge it, maybe asking if he’d like to participate. You don’t want to pressure him to ramp up his sex drive — you’re good at satisfying yours on your own — but feeling frustrated when he’s home because you think you have to hold yourself back from your private time isn’t good for you or your marriage. If that seems like an impossible conversation, a few sessions with a good, sex-positive counselor would be helpful.

        – Joan

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