Barbara, 60, keeps it fun and exciting with her husband, Larry, 65. They have been together for 10 years, got married seven years ago, and have a house (and a hot tub) in Boston.
Tell me about your relationship with Larry.
When we were deciding to get married, our very cool faith leaders, a rabbi and a Methodist minister, both said to us in different ways: “You don’t have to do this. You have done this before. You are definitely old enough to make your own decisions about marriage with or without a formal contract, and you have no parental pressure.” We didn’t have to; we wanted to.
In the commitment ceremony, we got to combine both of our faiths, and we got to celebrate with our family and close friends. We each had 20-year previous marriages, and our family and friends were so happy to witness us finding love in the second half of our lives. I am spiritual, and it was important to me that my very good friend, who got me through my divorce and happened to be my minister, marry me in the religion I had grown up with. In addition, Larry’s Jewish upbringing is very important to him, even though he doesn’t attend synagogue. After I bought the book “Celebrating Interfaith Marriages,” I immediately googled the author, Rabbi Devon Lerner. We discovered she lives in Boston, so I called to inquire about her officiating our wedding service. It all seemed exactly the right thing for us. We wanted our grown children to be part of a unity ceremony that brought us all together too. My son, 23 at the time, walked me down the aisle and presented me to Larry; his son was the best man.
Some people tell me because we married late that it’s easier to keep our relationship fun and exciting. I disagree. We are going through the same life developments as other 60-somethings: health declining, surgeries, medications, exhaustion, body aches, body changes, menopause, sleep issues, empty-nest issues, retirement decisions, sleep apnea machines, mouth guards for teeth grinding, etc. I think everyone can keep a relationship fun and exciting!
If you had a fun and exciting courtship, then you should be able to continue to have that in your relationship. I love life and try to make each day fun. Larry and I love food and wine, so this calendar year I’m making a different recipe and serving a different wine each night. We love to travel too, and planning trips together to new places gives us an activity outside of the regular day-in, day-out household management. I also plan theme nights: for the first frosty night of fall, there’s a fire in the fireplace and we enjoy frog legs and foie gras. Larry is a workaholic, so I provide outlets for artistic dates, like sailing to Salem to see the “Turner & the Sea” exhibit and having seafood, or attending a “paint night” together.
What surprises you about love and sex after 60?
Being in the world of sexuality for my professional work, I thought all would just continue to be hot, hot, hot, because I know this subject. I’m a sexpert. I discovered that after menopause, a hysterectomy and losing hormones, there are adjustments to be addressed. It really did surprise me, because I felt I had a handle on all the facts and knowledge. What we discovered is that it takes a bit more effort to actually have intercourse, so we must cuddle and kiss and hug much more because sometimes that’s all of our love-making. Medications can have many side effects that impact sexual activity, but our medications are necessary to live, so we must make adjustments. Self-pleasure should always be a part of sex, and at 60 it becomes important again in ways that are different from when we were young.
Love begins to take on a sincere “helping your partner” attitude. We’re no longer just being attentive to each other’s needs in lovemaking, but in day-to-day life also. Early in life there’s help around children, school activities, work and chores, but now help is in the truest form when an illness takes place or when your parents die or your friends die. We try to make each day count with fun and exciting love, however it works that day.
What are the best parts of sex after 60?
- Being comfortable with your body
- Understanding your body
- Being able to have loud sex in an empty house
- Not worrying about pregnancy
- Not worrying about transmitted infections (if you’re in a monogamous relationship)
- Knowing your partner’s special hot spots
- Not caring about anyone judging you for your desires
What’s the most challenging part about sex after 60?
Realizing that sex all-nighters aren’t in your repertoire anymore. The body takes longer to recover, it gets tired easier and it doesn’t bounce back the next day. All of the fantasies are still in your head; you just have to learn to act them out in a way that works with a 60-year-old body. With love and creativity, all can still be great.
What are your goals as you and Larry continue on in the adventures of older adulthood?
We share articles with each other about older adult sexuality and always consider how important touch is to both of us. Kissing, hugging, talking and developing new interests as individuals and as a couple are important to both of us. Retaining our own friendships with other people stimulates our own minds and builds our support systems. Our goals are to be caring and loving and to continue to adjust our lovemaking and our lifestyle. We plan to remain accepting of change until the end of our lives.