Keep the Home Fires Burning

A marriage can become as rumpled and comfortable as an old pair of slippers. The trouble is, sometimes we don’t notice just how frayed and fragile the relationship has become. The talk and touching that once gave the relationship its sparkle often become worn thin by the chores and tribulations of family life and we just don’t notice what’s slipping away. Here are some suggestions for renewing those warm feelings of shared intimacy:

  • Assess your physical contact with your partner. Do you hold hands, touch one another, share a hug? What was your physical relationship like at the beginning of your marriage? What steps, however small can you take to increase contact?

  • What happened to cause a decline in intimacy? A life too full of family and career to allow for quiet time together? You may now have more leisure and freedom to revitalize your relationship. And don’t place blame — the idea is to find a solution, not point fingers.

  • Common problems affecting sexuality include: poor health, including recovery from major operations; side-effects of medication; fatigue; alcoholism; psychological attitudes. Be the best you can be — exercise for optimal fitss and eat wisely. You’ll feel like enjoying many activities, sex included.

  • Proper diagnosis and treatment can improve or reverse most cases of impotency — often a change in medication may be the answer; learning new love-making positions may overcome the difficulties imposed by physical conditions such as arthritis.

  • Psychological barriers may be the most difficult to overcome. Talking openly about sexuality can make some people, even physicians, feel uncomfortable or threatened. Counselling with your doctor or cleric should resolve your sexual problem within six to eight weeks; otherwise ask for a referral to a qualified therapist.

  • Forget the ageist myths — and don’t put up with doctors or other healthcare professionals who buy into them. Those myths include the idea that older people are asexual; that sex between elderly people is obscene; or that post-menopausal women aren’t able to make love. In fact, older people can and do enjoy sex as much as younger people.

  • Read about sexuality. It’s a comfortable way to learn more, especially if you feel reticent about discussing the subject. Two useful titles: Sex May be Wasted on the Young, by Lee Stones and Michael Stones (1996 North York: Captus Press Inc.) and Love and Sex After 60, by Robert N. Butler, M.D. and Myrna I. Lewis, M.S.W. (1993 Toronto: Random House of Canada Limited).