Stages of Sex Series: Menopause and the Slowing Down Years

by | Nov 1, 2019 | Uncategorized | 50 comments

Sex During the Menopause MidLife Years
Merchandise is Here!

What happens to sex in marriage when menopause hits? Or when men’s bodies start to slow down and erectile dysfunction becomes more common?

On Wednesdays during the month of October I’ve been talking about the different stages of sex. We talked about:

And now I want to cap off this series with menopause and what can be the slowing down years.

All about Menopause and MidLife

I’ve written a lot about menopause in the past, and I don’t want to repeat all of it here, so I’ll point you to some of the big posts:

And here’s one about erectile dyfsunction:

But now there are a few things that I do want to say specifically about sex in these years.

Sex During the Menopause

Try Not to Panic about How the Best Years Are Behind You

I get these vibes from a lot of reader questions. Even one from a guy that I featured on yesterday’s podcast--part of what he said was:

I get the feeling that my wife goes through the motions… doing her duty. If I bring the topic up, it doesn’t go down well. The strange thing is we are in love and have a good marriage but I’m panicked about menopause and what time we have left.​

I hear that a lot–“I know our bodies are only going to go downhill from here; we never really had great sex when we were in our prime; so we’ll never have it now.”

First, that’s not necessarily true at all. Lots of people in menopause/midlife have great sex! Some even say that it’s the best of their lives, because they don’t need to worry about noise since the house is empty; they don’t have to worry about pregnancy; and they’re less stressed in general. And remember that the physical aspect of sex is only one piece of the puzzle. If the other pieces are fitting together well–the emotional closeness and the spiritual oneness–then the physical often feels better anyway.

I’ve also had people on the blog for whom impending menopause was the impetus they needed to finally sort out some things in their lives. They realized: sex isn’t great; I’m not getting any younger; I have to figure this out NOW. One reader wrote a 2-part series on how, after 26 years of marriage, she finally reached orgasm. She went on a research project that year to figure it out. She was confident enough in herself finally to realize, “I need more than just this, and I deserve this,” and she did! So impending menopause can often be the impetus that gets people to prioritize their sex life and make it even better. 

Last year I wrote an important post (or, at least, I think it’s an important post) on why older women often long for more adventure in bed. Here’s part of the common scenario that I painted:

From Why (Older) Women Long for More Adventure in Bed

One day, Jane wakes up and realizes she doesn’t know who she is anymore.

And she gets mad.

Really mad.

She has spent her whole life trying–and it hasn’t gotten her very far. She threw her all into her children, and they’re gone now. She’s spent her whole life feeling not good enough, and her husband seems to agree. She knows she bores him, because he’s never around. But quite frankly, he bores her, too.

Why, when sex didn’t feel very good, was it something she had to fix? Why didn’t he think to himself, “wow, my wife isn’t getting much out of this. Maybe I should be a better lover!”

In fact, sex seems to be the heart of a lot of her anger. Sex was always something she did for him. She had to be beautiful–for him. She had to want sex enough–for him. She had to learn to be a good lover–for him. And so she never really enjoyed her own body. It was something that someone else got to use. And she’s tired of it. She wants to be all who Jane can be!

And so it’s her turn now! It’s her turn to discover that ball of fire she was in college, when the world was stretched out in front of her, and the possibilities were endless. Because she finally realizes that if she doesn’t do something now, she’s never going to do it.

​​

The danger in this scenario is that women will get so angry at their husbands that they’ll pull away and try to find fulfillment elsewhere, or that the husbands will read her dissatisfaction as an attack on the marriage, rather than a cry to be noticed and heard and valued. But it doesn’t have to be a bad scenario. When women wake up, they can choose passion with their husbands, if both are ready to embrace it.

Read the post on older women and sex here.

Think of the Menopause Years as Another “Figuring Things Out” Stage–you may have to go back to the beginning

Okay, we’ve covered the group of people who have never had great sex, and menopause becomes that ticking clock that inspires either panic or change.

But then there’s another group–the kind that HAS had great sex. And for a lot of those women especially, menopause can bring that to a halt. I’ve talked to a number of post-menopausal women who have told me that their ability to orgasm has just disappeared. They used to be quite orgasmic, and now they’re not at all anymore.

I’ve asked a number of gynecologists about this, and they all say the same thing: Orgasm can be more difficult after menopause, because blood flow to the genital area is decreased; hormone levels, which are largely responsible for arousal, have changed; and lubrication is decreased. However, in no way does that mean that orgasm is impossible.

So here’s my anecdotal, not-based-on-science-but-only-based-on-commenters-and-the-people-who-talk-to-me theory: I think menopause affects orgasm for women very differently depending on what group women find themselves in.

For women for whom orgasm was never much of a problem, and who figured it out without much effort early in the marriage, menopause often brings orgasm to a halt. For women who struggled with orgasm earlier, menopause can be just a blip in the road, and all you ned is a little bit of lubricant.

See, some women are orgasmic largely due to physical responsiveness. Their bodies responded; they didn’t have to concentrate very much; and sex just worked. So they never actually had to “learn” how to make sex good. For other women (like the woman who had an orgasm for the first time after 26 years of marriage), orgasm was a huge learning curve. You had to learn how to clear your mind of everything else. You had to learn how to concentrate on your body and on what was happening. You had to learn to pay attention to your body’s arousal cues and try to ride the “wave” of arousal. It was all a deliberate act, rather than an automatic act.

All of that is to say that if you are finding that orgasm has disappeared, you may have to just do what many women did when they were first married: You may have to learn to orgasm deliberately, rather than experiencing it as something automatic. So go back and do all of the things that we talked about earlier this month on ten tips if you’ve never reached orgasm as a newlywed. Work through 31 Days to Great Sex and spend a lot of time on the days when you figure out how to get her aroused. Go back to first principles and try to imagine that your starting all over again. Don’t assume you know what should happen next. And see if that can help!

Do you want MORE for your sex life?

Book Cover for "31 Days to Great Sex"

The 31 Days to Great Sex Challenge was written to help you spice it up in the bedroom! 

Try new things, explore each other, and turn on those fireworks!

If You’re Just Desperate, Seek out More Help

I’ll be honest–menopause wasn’t really that bad for me (I’m just officially through now, though I’m pretty young for it). For my mom, though, it was awful. She needed to go on hormones just so that she could sleep, because doctors decided that the risk of her driving a car when she was so sleep deprived was worse than the risk of her developing heart disease or cancer.

I’ve known other women who have radically changed their diet, started other supplements, or done other things because they couldn’t cope with everyday life anymore. If you’re in a situation when you can’t cope, seek out help.

Also, this is a time of life when men need to start seeing the doctor, even if they don’t want to. Especially if erectile dysfunction is hitting, you need to figure out what’s going on. Here are 10 ways to encourage your husband to see the doctor!

Woman in Menopause with Husband; Dealing with Menopause as a Couple

See Sex As More than Just Intercourse

I’ve talked about how we need a new definition of sex that is more than just man-puts-penis-into-vagina-until-he-climaxes in order to take her pleasure into account. But I think midlife also gives us a need for a new definition of sex, because sometimes man-puts-penis-into-vagina doesn’t work as well at this stage, especially if he does have intermittent erectile dysfunction, or if she’s having trouble getting aroused. We need to start seeing sex as something that encompasses far more–being intimate; being naked together; touching each other. Even if you can’t have intercourse, that doesn’t mean you can’t be sexual.

Many men, especially, when sex stops working, retreat from sex altogether because they’re grieving and they’re humiliated and they don’t want to face it. That’s a mistake. Even if you can’t have intercourse, you can still do other things, and you still need that closeness. Now’s the time to embrace being together, whatever that looks like for you. Don’t just become roommates.

Thoughts for Younger People–before the slowing down years start

If you want menopause and the years after to go well, there are a few things you can do NOW to set yourself up well for them.

Take your health seriously before menopause and midlife hit

Ever notice how when you’re going out for lunch with a bunch of women in their 50s and 60s everybody gets salads and not cheeseburgers? Many people don’t pay much attention to things like cholesterol, blood pressure, even their weight when they’re younger, because you can skate by even if you’re treating your body terribly. But eventually that catches up with you. You develop all kinds of different digestive issues. You suddenly start gaining a ton of weight because your metabolism slows down, even if you’re eating the same. The things you could get away with when you were younger you can no longer get away with anymore.

Menopause means hormonal changes for everyone. But it does not have to mean being super tired; it does not have to mean being chronically short of breath. It does not have to mean having no energy, or having chronic back pain. A lot of that can be avoided if you just treat your body well when you’re younger. Don’t wait for pain or huge weight gain to signal that you need to make changes. Make them while it’s still a lot easier, and you’ll find that menopause is easier to navigate, and a lot of the problems that can cause ED don’t even surface at all.

Dealing with Menopause as a Couple--and Still Having Fun in Bed

Work on having fun together

At midlife people naturally start questioning a lot of their life choices and their vision for their life. It’s going to be a time of turmoil. Your kids are moved out; your primary identity as a parent is gone, and now you have to figure out who you are all over again. It’s a time of life when many couples grow apart.

So do yourselves a favour, and prioritize having fun in the earlier years. Do hobbies together. Volunteer together. And figure out each other’s emotional needs!

 

 

o that’s it for our stages of sex series! I think if I could sum up the one thing that applies, no matter what stage of sex and stage of marriage you’re in, it would be this: Keep talking. Things are going to change. Life happens. As long as you can keep the lines of communication open, and find  a way to talk about sex, then you’re going to be okay!

Let me know: If menopause has hit for you, what have you found helps? Or what are you doing now to prepare for health challenges that may come? Let’s talk in the comments!


Posts in the “Stages of Sex” Series:

Sheila Wray Gregoire

Author at Bare Marriage

Sheila is determined to help Christians find biblical, healthy, evidence-based help for their marriages. And in doing so, she's turning the evangelical world on its head, challenging many of the toxic teachings, especially in her newest book The Great Sex Rescue. She’s an award-winning author of 8 books and a sought-after speaker. With her humorous, no-nonsense approach, Sheila works with her husband Keith and daughter Rebecca to create podcasts and courses to help couples find true intimacy. Plus she knits. All the time. ENTJ, straight 8

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50 Comments

  1. Bill Johnson

    I listened to your first “for guys” podcast yesterday. It was a good discussion, but I have to confess it left me feeling more hopeless than ever. The way you guys explained it, women are hopelessly complex. Guys’ rule #1 is “we want things simple. “I’m sorry to be so blunt, but no woman in the world is worth the aggravation you guys described. It seems to me that, Before marriage, women are usually “hot to trot,” but once they get control of your life and (mostly) your wallet, they turn off the spiggot, and make everything into a thankless chore. After listening carefully to the whole podcast, I admit to being a little like Aquaman. What I heard was “somethin’, somethin’, somethin’, no sex for you.”
    Even men who take their “shepherding” role seriously, get to the point of desperation. We usually have ONE item on our list of Requirements-for-a-good-marriage. Women seem to have 100 or more. And if we don’t fulfill all 100 to perfection on a daily basis, they feel justified in becoming serial refusers. It seems to me that the problem your ministry you need to work hardest to defeat with is women and their OUTRAGEOUSLY UNREALISTIC expectations. It is those unmeetable expectations that are destroying marriages today; not porn, not affairs, and certainly not “evil white men” and their “evil penises.” It’s women and their insurmountable “Prince Charming Complex.”

    Reply
    • Jess

      Are you saying that sex is seriously your only requirement for a good marriage? You don’t care about trust, loyalty, compassion, emotional intimacy, relationship, serving one another, having fun together? None of that matters at all? That exact viewpoint is why so many women have a non-existent libido and feel like sex objects rather than people who matter.

      You don’t want a wife to “control your life” or “your wallet”, it sounds like you don’t want a marriage, you just want free sex. Marriage is not about control, manipulation, or a list of requirements one spouse must fulfill before the other spouse gives something in return. Marriage in God’s design is about mutuality, self-sacrifice, love, respect, and service. It’s about putting your spouse’s needs and desires above your own. It’s a perfect picture of how Jesus laid down is life for us. He didn’t wait for us to measure up before he gave himself for us, just like a husband and wife should not wait for the other to measure up before giving of themselves.

      I’m so sorry if you’ve been hurt by a woman who used you for your money or withheld sex for ridiculous reasons. That is also not right. But if my husband told me the only requirement he had for a good marriage was for me to give him sex whenever he wanted, I’d probably come up with a ridiculous list of requirements for him too, just to protect myself from feeling used and cheap and dirty and like the only thing I’m good for is his physical pleasure and release. No woman wants to feel like that.

      Just for background, I am married, my husband and I are both very happy and fulfilled, and we have a wonderful sex life. You could ask him and he would say the same thing. And it’s because we strive for the marriage I outlined above, one built on mutuality, self-sacrifice, love, respect, and service. If more husbands AND wives put effort into that kind of marriage, I think sex in marriage would fall into place much easier and would be much more fulfilling for both spouses.

      Reply
      • Mike

        Bill’s post is surely full of hyperbole, but you’re really missing his point.

        His frustration is not about marriage, but about a certain female sexuality within marriage. You pejoratively label what Bill is looking for as”free sex”, but then describe how a good marriage isn’t supposed to be quid pro quo. So which is it? Cause “free sex” is the opposite of “quid pro quo”.

        I think what Bill is trying to say is that he is frustrated and concerned with the too popular “femdom model” of marital intimacy. Let me explain with some role reversal. Imagine if you could only eat WHEN your husband wanted to. Now imagine if you could only eat WHAT your husband wanted. And finally imagine if you could only wanted to eat HOW he wanted to… with sporks.

        Now ask yourself, how much fun would dinner with him would be?
        Apply that to sex and you may see where Bill is coming from.

        Reply
        • Jess

          I understand your illustration. As Nathan mentioned below, it is possible that Bill falls into the latter category of someone who has tried to lovingly build relationship but has been denied sex anyway. This is wrong. It is WRONG for a wife to use sex as a power or manipulation tool and to withhold it based on a list of ridiculous requirements. It is also WRONG for a husband to treat his wife like a piece of trash who is only there to be used as his personal sex receptacle. BOTH of these situations are not examples of a loving marriage.

          There is an entire spectrum of relationship between “free” and “quid pro quo” though. Human relationships are messy and complicated. They are not an A+B=C type of equation. I know Bill is accusing us as women of over-complicating things, but I would argue that he is over-simplifying them.

          My only point is that marriage and all that it entails, including sex, should be about mutuality. It should never be about one spouse having all of their needs met and the other feeling used, whether that is the husband or the wife. A wife cannot deny her husband sex, disrespect him, nag, put him down, and then still expect him to love her selflessly and treat her like a princess. Just as a husband cannot treat his wife terribly, never connect emotionally, never have meaningful conversations with her, and then expect her to “give him sex” whenever he wants.

          The problem lies in the unbalance of expectations. A lot of husbands expect sex with no strings attached (which makes wives feel like trashy prostitutes) and a lot of wives expect their husbands to be perfect and measure up to unrealistic expectations (which makes husbands feel emasculated and inferior). The fix comes in clear, loving communication about what your expectations are, selfless reflection on how you can personally improve, and a willingness to listen, change, and sacrifice some of your own desires to love and build up the other. This needs to be done by BOTH spouses for it to work well.

          Reply
          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Very well said, Jess!

          • Mike

            Well I respectfully disagree.

            NSA sex is exactly what married couples should be having.

            A loving spouse should offer the amount and type of pleasure the other spouse wants… without hoops. This is the crux of Bill’s complaint.

            Turning physical intimacy into a 3 legged race is extremely problematic. And unfortunately it is the common even among Christian wives.

            If a wife likes a massage, wants a mood setter then great, your husband will do that for you on Monday and Saturday.

            But on Tuesday night, Wednesday morning and Saturday afternoon, because were guys… it’s his turn and it’s not about you.

            Too often women feel physical intimacy must ALWAYS be on their terms or they are “used”. This really needs to change.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            But Mike, what if that’s not the way that she feels loved? What if that’s not her primary need? What you’re saying is that women should offer him his primary need no matter what, but men don’t have to offer women their primary need. That’s ridiculous.

            Sex should be intimate, mutual, passionate, and frequent, absolutely. But it isn’t going to be ANY of those things if the relationship isn’t also intimate first.

          • Lindsey

            Really, Matt? NSA sex is what people should be giving?

            So – even if you treat your wife badly? Yell? What about hit?

            Even if you never speak to her except to demand sex? Even if you haven’t brushed your teeth in a month?

            There is no such thing as NSA mutual sex – and it certainly is not a need anyone has.

            What men need is the same as what women need (although the way they receive it may vary). We need grace. For our spouse to say “I know you aren’t perfect, but I love you in your imperfection. Because I love you, your happiness and pleasure means something to me. So I won’t punish your imperfections by ignoring your happiness.”

            For men, that vary well may mean an enthusiastic romp without having to wash dishes first. But for women, it may mean that a husband lays aside his desire for sex in order to care for the heart of his wife through communication or help around the house.
            Men and women may desire different things as an expression of REAL LOVE, but make no mistake – that is exactly what both are after. And I’m getting really tired of men trying to say that what a woman is telling him is real love and necessary to her well being isn’t, and it’s just trying to be selfish (all the whole defending the idea of getting sex whenever and however they want.)

          • Mike

            I wrote about Christian Spouses. Stop moving the goal post to include extremes. I’m not talking about wife beaters nor adulteresses. So Yup

            I guess you’ve never yelled, but yup.

            And of course every wife’s lap is the freshest 24-7 right? but yup.

            Lots of Christian husbands need nsa sex. Maybe your dude doesn’t. Glad for ya!

            Men don’t need the same things regarding physical intimacy as women. So wrong.

            “Everyone just wants to be”satisfied ” is a cop out”. Details matter. A lot!

            Why do some women feel that a husband should like what a wife wants him to like in bed? That’s what’s selfish.

            If jazz and candles puts a wife in the mood. Great. Play jazz on Monday and Wednesday, but on Tuesday and Thursday It’s lights on and hard rock. And not about her.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            No, Mike. What we’re talking about is what allows her to orgasm. I have seen nothing in your posts that you think a woman’s orgasm is important. A man can orgasm even if sex may not be the way he would love it, so he would still orgasm 100% of the time. If she needs something to orgasm, that matters for something. Do you care if women orgasm or not? Do you think it’s fair that a man may, but a woman may not? Should a woman give up her orgasm so that he enjoys sex better, even though he would orgasm regardless?

          • Mike

            Sheila,

            Why are you confused?

            I explicitly stated in my examples that a wife determines what is important to her on the arbitrary Monday and Wednesday. I don’t determine that, neither do you. If it’s physical intimacy she wishes, then great. If it’s certain type of physical intimacy, then great.

            What I don’t hear from you is that a wife shouldn’t control how her husband wants physical intimacy on HIS days, if that’s what he wants. What I hear instead is “guys have it easier” so the wife gets to control the bedroom.

            You wanna clarify?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Mike, I’m not saying that she gets to control. I’m saying that she gets to ORGASM. For a husband to orgasm 100% of the time, but then to want sex in a way that the wife does not orgasm, because that’s the only way he likes it–well, that’s just selfish.

            If you want to do a once-a-month thing where it’s special for him, that’s one thing. But you’re talking 50/50. That’s unfair.

            If they’re going to have sex, she should get to orgasm. Libl was saying that she can only orgasm when she’s able to concentrate, and her husband doesn’t like that. You then jumped into the conversation and said that they should do 50/50. I’m continuing that conversation here (and there) and saying that that is not right or in line with what God made sex to be–a mutual experience. Her pleasure matters as much as his.

          • Belle Grace

            “Too often women feel physical intimacy must ALWAYS be on their terms or they are “used”. This really needs to change.”

            says Mike…who’s perfectly happy for a woman to just lie their like a bathroom for her husband to use & release himself.

            Mike, you need to raise your sexual standards so you can want a woman who’s actually enjoying the sex with you…instead of pretending to.

            That INCEL mentality really needs to disappear.

          • Mike

            Sheila,

            “50/50” is the very definition of fair. It literally means shared equally. So you absolutely are for control. And it’s very easy to see that when written out in black and white.

            Libl’s husband demanded intimacy 12 times a month his way, and 0 her way.

            You suggest intimacy 11 times a month for a wife and only 1 time a month for a husband. You even called it “special”.

            I recommend 6 times a month her way and 6 times a month his way.

            Only one of those models seems loving to me. The first model is husband dominated. The second model is wife dominated.

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            Yes, it is unfair, if the 50/50 means that he chooses what he wants 50% of the time, and she chooses what she wants 50% of the time, but what she chooses results in his orgasm, but what he chooses does NOT result in her orgasm. That means that we’re talking about her orgasming 50% of the time and him orgasming 100% of the time.

            I am saying that if you want to do something special, that’s fine occasionally. But making love should be about BOTH people receiving pleasure, not just one. Libl is saying that she can only orgasm one way. He can still orgasm then. They can still have fun then. For him to demand that she move around the entire time is to deny her orgasm for his own pleasure. She is not denying him orgasm. She is simply saying, “I need this to orgasm.” Why shouldn’t that matter to him?

            Having sex in such a way that they both orgasm is not “for her”. It’s “for them.” It just so happens that women have a harder time reaching orgasm than men, and so, yes, that means that men will have to cater to their wives more during normal sexual encounters. This is what men should want. Don’t they want their wives to orgasm?

            What you’re essentially saying is that if she wants an orgasm, that’s something “special”. No, that’s called having a mutual sexual encounter, which is what we should be aiming for.

            The only way that what you’re wanting is “fair” is if on her nights he DOESN’T orgasm, which is just very rarely going to be the case. Would you want to have sex in such a way 50% of the time if you didn’t orgasm? Why do you think it’s okay to ask women to do that?

          • Sheila Wray Gregoire

            One more thing, to sum up: What you’re saying is that it’s unreasonable for a wife to want to have sex in a way that’s pleasurable for her, if that’s not exciting for her husband. So his excitement matters more than her pleasure. If a man cannot receive excitement through giving his wife pleasure, then there’s something wrong with his attitude towards sex. And if a wife can only receive pleasure in a really boring way, then perhaps he’s not very good at sex, and should work on other things? The solution that you’re giving–that she should deny herself pleasure just for his excitement–is wrong.

            How about they EACH get pleasure, and then occasionally they do something really “hot” that he may enjoy, or really “hot” that she may enjoy, but in general they concentrate on what is able to bring them both pleasure and to orgasm?

          • Mike

            Belle Grace.

            You have no insight into the relationship that my wife and I share.

            You also have no knowledge of what my wife or I concerning physical intimacy and pleasure.

            Nor do you have any concept of what would make either of us feel “used” by the other.

            So why do you make up scenarios that you intend to be rude and insulting?

            If you truly want to have a dialogue then great, but otherwise have a blessed November.

        • Dandelion

          Still arguably a whole lot more fun than having sex for years and years without any physical or emotional enjoyment at all. Boohoo, you have to spend a few minutes getting her in the mood before you get to have your orgasm. Sounds tough.
          I assume my answer is harsh and probably missing your point to a large degree. I get not loving the reality of how women are designed, a lot of us would also prefer sex to be a lot easier.
          I spent over 20 years thinking I was broken because I didn’t have pleasure during sex. I put in the work to make sure my husband had a good sex life during that time. Now that I can finally orgasm, and am excited to figure out what feels good, while feeling a bit guilty over the extra work that gives my husband, to read that some men resent the extra effort and the women who require it is really discouraging.

          Reply
      • Dandelion

        Bill, I’m interested in your response because I do think the male-female conversation is really difficult. I sent this podcast to my husband to listen to because I thought it described women so well. I didn’t think any of it would really be big news to him because he is a good husband and we have a really good sex life. He hated it. I don’t even know what he hated or what his emotion was…hopeless, discouraged, angry? He was really upset about how different men and women are and figured that God must be a jerk throwing us together. I know I can feel that way when I listen to guys trying to explain their attraction to lusting after other women and porn. It seemed like Shiela’s main points were that women want to feel safe, emotionally intimate, and have enough foreplay for arousal. Was it one of these things that you found upsetting? I’m not trying to sound critical, I’m just genuinely curious.

        Reply
    • OneWife

      Sorry Bill for your crappy experience. I can kind of understand where you’re coming from. My husband has said things to the effect of me always finding something but really it’s simple- love us. I will simply provide concrete examples that does not mean I need all of that, it’s just ways that show me his love. My husband uses the same wallet argument. It is not about any amount of money – yes we appreciate his hard work but no I am not just married for his wallet. I would rather go on a date with my husband to ANYWHERE even a park for free, than him throw money at me (proverbially). The point being, women really aren’t complex – I’d venture to guess many women just want some quality time or some help around the house. For instance my husband will do the dishes sometimes, that means so much to me and shows me he loves me and our family. Now I understand to him sex is more important than it is to me and beliefs aside, a vital aspect of any marriage but to encourage such behavior, ask your wife what she wants? Ask your wife what makes her happy? Lastly, have you had a conversation with your wife about this? I ask because my husband just assumed I knew how he was feeling and I did not.

      Reply
      • Anonymous this time

        Onewife,
        I tried a few weeks back to have a conversation with my wife about sex. She’s a teacher and she says to me in response “Can we talk about this over Christmas break?” So now I have to wait a couple of months just to talk about it.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Bill, that was an incredibly hurtful comment, considering how many women are on this blog, desperate because their husbands are porn addicts and choose masturbation and pornography over them. Please don’t say such things. It’s okay to say, “I’m frustrated in my marriage.” It is NOT okay to say, “women are the problem with all marriages.” I don’t believe men are the problem in all marriages, or women in all marriages. We all have our issues. But to say that women are the problem–well, quite frankly, that may be the reason that you’ve having a problem in your marriage.

      Yes, women were made to need more than just physical release. Do you know why? It’s so that men would have an impetus to work on the relationship, and so that the relationship wouldn’t only be about a physical connection, but would also be about emotional and spiritual connection as well. So, yes, women need to feel safe to make love. Yes, women need to feel close to you to make love. And all of that is so that you will have a much richer marriage.

      For a woman to deny sex is not right, but to discount the value and importance of emotional and spiritual connection is to miss out on what God really intended for marriage.

      Reply
    • Jane Eyre

      Bill, to be incredibly blunt, if that’s the kind of woman you know, you need to figure out why you are pushing good women away and attracting bad women into your life.

      Because eventually, your perception of women says far more about you than it does about women-in-general.

      Reply
    • Belle Grace

      Bill Johnson I’m like you when it comes to the subject of sex…I think men & women should be blunt about their true feelings. The ugly truth hurts. It exposes so much about how people really feel.

      Bill, us women also have a Woman’s Rule #1:…We Want QUALITY.

      Unfortunately that wrecks the enjoyment for guys like you who…want things simple. Your standards are set really low in the sex department so you wouldn’t care if you were having intercourse with a corpse. A lifeless corpse that won’t/can’t tell you how they really feel about the sex that you’re pushing. That simplicity allows men with your low standards, to orgasm 100% of the time from the bad sex that you expect women to enjoy from you.

      I’m also glad that you brought up OUTRAGEOUSLY UNREALISTIC EXPECTATIONS. Because men who expect women to pretend they like bad sex, to just lay there waiting for the misery to be over…is the ultimate self-entitled men’s fantasy. Now porn is a fantasy. Yep, any man who idolizes the porn industry will be completely crushed when they hear that their favorite pornstar who paid millions….ended up in rehab, on drugs, committed suicide because they couldn’t handle the trauma & memories of all the times they were brutalized or raped on camera for your simple enjoyment.

      Mr. Bill,
      Women are not turned on by lackluster sex.
      Women love good sex.
      Most of all, women love & respect real men who love QUALITY too.
      All men do NOT have simplistic needs.

      And any man who loves his wife as thyself…is a Prince Charming…his higher standards allow him to appreciate quality.

      Reply
  2. Nathan

    Based on his post, my main two guesses are that Bill either…

    Wants free sex without having to worry about his wife’s needs or wants.

    or

    He has indeed tried to be a good person and build a good relationship, but the person he was with gave him a series of impossible standards to meet.

    I’ve known men and women in each category. Maybe Bill can come back and give us some more background.

    But I do agree with you, Jess, in that marriage is about mutual love, respect and self-sacrifice. Each person should work to be good and to make the other one happy.

    Reply
  3. Natalie

    That stock photo of the couple on the bed with the wife looking at the camera really struck me. That was a good photo to include. To me, they look totally happy and comfortable not only together but also in who they are as individuals. She is an older woman with wrinkles and (probably) dyed hair. Yet she looks totally content and blissful.
    By the post-menopause stage in my life, I hope I’m as content with myself and who I am as that woman looks to me. I hope I’ve grown and matured to that point. With an outlook like that and a husband with similar views, I find it hard to believe a wonderful marriage with a wonderful sex life and intimacy to boot – even if there are ED issues or vaginal dryness or difficulty orgasming – wouldn’t be highly likely. By that time, I like to think patience in bed and just enjoying as much intimate time with your spouse as you could would be the goal. 😊

    Reply
  4. Susanna Musser

    I’ve been fascinated since childhood with old ladies. I’ve paid attention as long as I can remember to the qualities I want to emulate and those I want to avoid. One of my many goals was to be very active, but I always thought I didn’t have an athletic bone in my body. This year, I turned 47 and decided that it was time to become fit. I had NO idea how dramatically resistance training and running would impact my life for the better. My fitness journey caused me to strive for a better diet, better sleep habits, cut out caffeine and most sugar, address health issues such as chiropractic and pelvic floor. I am now at an athletic level of fitness and plan to maintain at this level. I’m completely free of the physical and mental perimenopausal symptoms as well as the PTSD, anxiety, and caregiver burnout that had been increasingly plaguing me. I now have default happiness, abundant energy, wide emotional margin, and this amazing confidence that I’ve never experienced before. I’m lifting weights with a trainer for an hour a day five days a week and training for my next running event after winning third place for my age and gender in my first half marathon a month ago. I have never felt better in my life. My impetus for becoming strong and fit was to attain the ability to care for my disabled children without injuring myself into a good old age, but I have discovered that a high level of fitness has had profoundly positive effects in nearly every area of my life. It’s one of the most powerful steps we can take to fight off the bad stuff as we age. I’ve found out that I’m capable of FAR more than I had ever dreamed.

    Reply
    • Susanna Musser

      Oh, I meant to add that my 79-year-old dad began running this year after watching my journey and reading a book on defeating dementia. He started out in July unable to run half a block and is now planning to run his third 5K next week. He makes me want to challenge others with, “What’s your excuse?” Lol

      Reply
      • Sheila Wray Gregoire

        Ha! That’s awesome.

        Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I love this so much! I’ve been doing a lot of this recently, too, and it really doe shelp!

      Reply
    • Mike

      You are awesome and a wonderful mother. For the record, God has designed the typical female body to be amazing.

      Not only can you run a half, but at 70 you could run it in less 1.75 hours.
      Of course you have other priorities, but never forget what you are capable of.

      Reply
      • Susanna Musser

        Mike, I will remember your words, and they will strengthen me when I am struggling with the unkind words I hear from time to time. Thank you.

        Reply
    • Lindsey

      Thank you for sharing this – it’s encouraged me so much. I definitely need to do a better job taking care of myself. I’m only 28, but I want to live a much healthier life than I’ve been living. I wish I could afford a trainer, but I do want to start running again!

      Reply
      • Susanna Musser

        Lindsey, I don’t know where you’re located, but I live 7 minutes away from a Planet Fitness, which offers free classes with a trainer as part of the $10/mo. basic membership fee. I’m also currently on a $15/mo. trial membership with RunSmartOnline, and I can’t recommend it highly enough! I would encourage you to check it out for yourself! It truly is the motivation and hard work you bring to it that makes the difference! Fitness doesn’t have to be expensive! We’re a family of 15 on one moderate income, and I have to say that with the challenges of my daily life, if I can make it happen, most other people can, too. It might not happen without other changes to your life, but it will be more than worth it!

        Reply
  5. Eb

    Then you have the couples who have a large age gap and this can be an interesting time because the man is at this age, but still with a younger wife and young children. Do you have articles on age gaps? We are really connected after 16 years, but I know some women who struggle.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s a great idea for a post, EB! I’ll think about that.

      Reply
  6. Obviously anon

    Peri menopause is kicking my butt.

    Simultaneous with some stressful life situations.

    Makes for a really fun time. Sexually and otherwise. Honestly, I have always loved sex (minus some short times due to medications or childbirth/breastfeeding) and now I’d just as soon it was off the table. Bought the libido course and still, just no. Add in that my husband is having some issues that often just leaves us both feeling sad…After periods of time of trying, I just give up. When he wants to I will, because I won’t withhold.

    Reply
    • Also Anon

      I’m right there with you, Obviously Anon. Used to enjoy it, but now I wish it didn’t exist.

      Reply
  7. Chris

    “But you’re talking 50/50. That’s unfair.” I hope this statement was unintentional or I am getting worried about the direction of this blog.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      I think there was some confusion because I’m replying to comments on the back end, and I didn’t realize that this conversation between Mike and me is going across two different blog posts, so you’re only seeing half the conversation. Sorry about that!

      What I was saying was that if they make love the way he wants to 50% of the time and the way she wants to 50% of the time, it will result in him orgasming 100% of the time and her only orgasming 50% of the time. It’s not truly 50/50. Why not instead make love in a way that they BOTH orgasm the vast majority of the time, and then they can do something special for him on other nights?

      Reply
  8. Lindsey

    Honestly, Shiela, some the the comments from the boys (because I would not consider those comments to be congruent with actual manhood) have reminded me of a scene in a movie I used to watch as a child, “Babe”.

    In the movie, the grandfather presents his granddaughter with a handmade dollhouse on Christmas morning. This dollhouse is filled with beautiful, handmade furnishings. The entire thing is a work of art that represents countless hours of labor. It’s a gift that is screams “I love you so much!”. It is a unique treasure.

    After ripping the wrapping paper off, the spoiled child give it the most fleeting glance, scrunches up her face and whines “it’s the wrong one! I want the one I saw on the television!”.

    That’s what the pornographic culture in which we are steeped has done to sex. These comments make it seem that the commenters don’t appear to be satisfied pursuing a meaningful, emotionally deep relationship with their wife. That beautiful, unique thing that they share together. Instead, they want the flashy, heavily marketed sex that they’ve been fantasizing about. The mutually satisfying experience that could be crafted with their wife barely warrants a fleeting glance before they’re off and whining about the cheap, plastic imitation that could NEVER measure up to real, mutual intimacy, both in and out of the bedroom.

    On a side not, it must get so discouraging in your ministry to constantly come up against this type of attitude.

    PS – just in case anyone who is reading thinks that I’m saying wives get a pass to demand perfection before consenting to sex – I am not. Both spouses should be showing love and grace in and out of the marriage bed. But the attitudes in the comments above are MUCH more likely to produce less sex of any type, than they are to produce more sex.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      Thank you, Lindsey. By the way, I loved the movie Babe. When Rebecca was about a year and a half, it was one of the few things we ever put on TV, and she would get to watch it only when I made dinner. She loved watching the animals. She called it “Pig and Duck.”

      That was around the time my son was born, and in the hospital I used to sing the song that was in Babe to him all the time, because I heard it all day–

      If I had words to make a day for you
      I’d sing you a morning golden and new
      I would make this day last for all time
      Give you a night deep in moon shine

      I sang that to him right before his surgery. It still brings tears to my eyes now whenever I see that movie, for all kinds of reasons. Beautiful movie, beautiful memories!

      And I remember that scene, too, very well. That’s a perfect illustration of what I’m talking about.

      Reply
    • Anonymous this time

      Lindsey, I hear what you are saying. And I loved that movie too! But you need to know that many of us men in sexless marriages (I am going on 8 years I think) have tried to nurture loving relationships with our wives and we are saddened because we know there is so much that we are missing out on in our marriages because there is no physical closeness. Then, we get blamed for it. That blame takes many forms: imagine a wife going to her church’s elders and informing them that her husband uses porn. She would get loads of sympathy and support, and rightfully so. If a man goes to the pastor and says my wife and I haven’t had sex in a decade, its turned around on us with “What did you do?!” Or “ did you help around the house?!” In short, victim blaming. Or even Sheila has said (though I tend to give her a pass as its her blog) “maybe guys you are not very good at sex” i consider this man-shaming. Because in all honesty i may stink at sex, I wouldn’t have anyway of knowing after all these years if i am any good at it or not. The truth is that there are wives out there (and a few husbands) who just don’t care about sex because its just not their thing. Meanwhile the other spouse suffers. And people who are hurt and suffering tend to lash out, like Bill above did, and then we insult their masculinity by calling them boys.

      Reply
      • Lindsey

        Dear Anonymous this Time,

        I am so, so, so very sorry for you and the incredible suffering that you are enduring in your marriage. I cannot imagine what it would be like to go months without intimacy- let alone years. My heart just breaks for you and the countless others like you who are suffering the same circumstances. I would not presume to tell you what you should do in your marriage, only that I would personally feel that choice to withhold intimacy for years would be a breaking of the marriage covenant, and a place where I would feel compelled to draw a hard boundary and insist on qualified council or separation. However, everyone has different feelings about divorce, and different circumstances to consider (children, finances, etc). Just know that you are in my prayers this morning.

        As to the content of your comment, I was not directing my post at Bill. Although he came across as angry and accusatory towards women, basically equating them to back stabbing gold diggers, I read his post and saw the hurt behind it (probably because he did mention actual withholding). My comment was more directly about the man who implied that a wife should give up having mutually satisfying sex every other time, just to ensure that her husband got to have sex “his way” and be more titillated. I maintain (and my husband, with whom I discussed this thread last night, agreed) that his attitude is selfish and extremely immature. That’s why I used that term.

        Situations such as your own is why I put the PS at the bottom of my post. Because I do think that it is wrong to withhold sex from your spouse (not to postpone for a very brief time, but to actually withhold), when we are the only legitimate place that our spouse can go to have their sexual needs met.

        That being said, I am sorry for using the term “boys” because a man, such as your self, who has been victim-shamed by the world at large, may find it triggering or take it personally, and that was never my intent.

        I pray you find healing in your marriage, or peace in leaving it, and that you are able to find a community that encourages you and puts all blame where it rightly belongs. Until such a time, may the love of God, which surpasses all understanding, in Christ Jesus sustain you.

        Reply
        • Sheila Wray Gregoire

          Thank you, Lindsey. That’s lovely.

          And Anonymous this time–I am so sorry for what you’re enduring. It is wrong. I wish I knew what else I could say to women who don’t think sex is important and who think it’s okay to have a sexless marriage. I tried re-running my post last week on why your husband wants you to read this marriage blog, and I do recommend that men try to start the conversation with their wives that way. It does matter.

          And also–my post for today was addressing again this situation that Lindsey was talking about, when a man thought it was okay to have sex in a way that gave the wife no chance at orgasm. You may find that post hurtful, too, though I tried to put in a lot of caveats. It really isn’t meant for people in your situation, and I’m not trying to blame you for your situation, either. It’s hard to write posts that apply to everyone, because everyone has different problems. Like Tolstoy said:

          “Happy families are all alike; every unhappy family is unhappy in its own way.”

          Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      By the way, I’m copying and pasting this comment into the comment section of today’s post, too!

      Reply
  9. LB

    As I am peri menopausal after 26 years of marriage, I appreciate this piece. The confidence at this stage in life has taken our sex life beyond any expectations we may have had. We had years where I struggled with orgasm, not for lack of him trying to please me, but now it’s been graciously restored and we are closer than ever.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s wonderful! I’m glad to know that for some couples, this is a great phase in life!

      Reply
  10. Anonymous old guy

    Married four decades, menopause well behind us, performance issues on my part often with us. Know what? We do more now than we have done since our children were born decades ago. I mean, multiple times a week and sometimes morning and evening of the same day.

    That said, if we are stressed or angry, things can slow down for days or weeks, but they bounce back.

    Intimacy is different in some ways, with the same shapes, parts, warmth, and the same neat way we fit together perfectly now (when I am up to it). It is a wonderful gift to our golden years. It is a powerful source of bonding.

    Yet, we still stumble, misfire, misread, and generally live like a human couple. That is just the nature of life.

    Reply
    • Sheila Wray Gregoire

      That’s lovely!

      Reply

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