Curl Up with a Good Book…and the One You Love

Reading is usually thought of as a solitary activity. Sure, back in our grade-school days, we sat around in groups and pretended to listen as one classmate after another read aloud, and then we blushed and stammered a bit when it was our turn.  But ever since we got out of school, we’ve done our reading alone.  Who knows, maybe it has something to do with those unpleasant school room memories.

Reading together is actually a very enjoyable past-time for people to share, especially when they’re in love, and even more when they’re reading about love. Curling up together with a good book can bring you and your partner closer — not only in a very real physical sense as you snuggle together and turn the pages, but in an emotional sense, as well.

There are a few things to keep in mind to make the experience as satisfying as possible.

COMFORT COUNTS

If either of you is uncomfortable, reading pleasure — and comprehension — is going to go downhill fast.  Prop up the pillows, adjust the lighting, make sure the room temperature is right, and that ceiling fans aren’t whipping the pages around.

CHOOSE THE RIGHT TIME

Don’t rush through reading. Choose a time when you can relax and not worry about where you have to be later or all the things on a long to-do list. It doesn’t matter if you spend fifteen minutes or several hours reading together. What does matter is that you can fully enjoy the experience.

TUNE OUT DISTRACTIONS

Maybe a little music in the background is all right, but usually nothing works better for reading than quiet. Remember those blue-haired librarians who always shushed you? They did it for a reason.  Please do keep the television off, and shut off your cellphones, too.  Candles and incense might sound like good ideas, but they can easily become distractions. You can’t concentrate on reading — or your partner — if you’re worried about setting the curtains on fire, or if your eyes are watering from too much sweet-smelling smoke.

TAKE A CASUAL ATTITUDE

Nothing can spoil the fun of reading more than feeling that it’s mandatory. It’s not, you know. Reading together is supposed to be fun, not a chore. Neither of you should feel pressured or anxious. Some people read better than others. Some people just don’t enjoy reading aloud.  It’s fine if you do the reading and your partner listens. It’s fine the other way around, too. It’s even all right if neither of you reads aloud. In fact, you don’t even have to be reading from the same book or magazine.  Being together and sharing the activity is what makes it special. If you’re reading from separate books, newspapers, or magazines, take a moment now and then to share things that catch your interest.

DISCUSS WHAT YOU’RE READING

Talk about it. Ask questions. Express opinions. If you find a subject that catches your attention, build on that interest and seek out more books on the topic. Of course, if you start reading a book and quickly discover that one of you has lost interest or, if you’re reading non-fiction and one of you has strong negative feelings about the author’s premise, put the book aside and find something you can both enjoy.  The key word is discuss, not debate. Above all, don’t argue.

A PICTURE IS WORTH A THOUSAND WORDS…OR MORE

Reading isn’t always about words. Remember the picture books you enjoyed as a child? Adults can enjoy picture books, too, and no, I’m not talking about THOSE kinds of pictures. You know what I mean. I’m talking about picture books that take you to faraway places, or ones that offer new things to learn. Always wanted to visit Paris? Find a travel book, curl up together on a rainy morning, and wander the Champs-Elysees together. Or if art is your thing, check out a book of masterpieces and turn the pages slowly. These are the sort of books that are often called “coffee table” works, but they’re great for bedside tables, too. Even a cookbook makes for great reading. Pick out recipes you’d both like to try.

WHERE TO BEGIN?

Where you start is up to you, but some subjects are more suited for romantic bedtime reading than others.  Here are a few topics to consider:

Books on Love and Marriage

You’ll find lots of books written for couples, both for newlyweds and those who’ve been together for a lifetime. There are books for wives, books for husbands, and books to address specific problems.  Here are a few you might want to check out:

A Short Guide to a Happy Marriage

The Seven Principles for Making Marriage Work

The Secret of Happily Married Men

What a Husband Needs From His Wife

10 Lessons to Transform Your Marriage

Books on Sexuality

For more intimate reading, you might want to explore massage techniques, or learn about Tantra. With the right book, reading can become a pleasurable “hands-on” experience.

Tantra for Erotic Empowerment: The Key to Enriching Your Sexual Life

The Essence of Tantric Sexuality

A Little Bit Kinky: A Couple’s Guide to Rediscovering the Thrill of Sex

A Celebration of Sex: A Guide to Enjoying God’s Gift of Sexual Intimacy

The Art of Sensual Massage

Joke Books

What’s even more fun than reading in bed? Well, besides THAT.  How about reading and laughing in bed? Especially if you do your reading in the evening after a long, hard day, you might enjoy tickling each other’s funny bones with a good book of jokes.

Adult Only Joke Book

Dave Barry is Not Making This Up

The Mancode Exposed

Advice for a Happy Marriage: From Miss Dietz’s 3rd Grade Class

A Perfectly Funny Marriage

Picture Books

You’ll find lots of delightful picture book to explore, depending on your interests. Check out books on art, photography, travel, nature and wildlife, foods, cars, motorcycles, seashells…the list of possibilities is endless.

Paris in Color

Art: Over 2,500 Works from Cave to Contemporary

The Sculptures of Picasso

The Calvin and Hobbes Lazy  Sunday Book

Wildlife: The Nature Paintings of Carl Brenders

The suggestions given here are only a few of the many, many possibilities for fun, relaxing, and romantic reading. In addition to non-fiction titles, try reading fiction, choosing from popular titles, romance, or erotica.

Or how about the classics? Poetry? Scriptures? There’s a huge world of books waiting to be read. So, indulge, enjoy, and share the experience with the one you love.

A FEW FINAL THOUGHTS ON FICTION

  • Fiction, like film, is subjective. Choose titles that appeal to both of you.
  • If you do your reading late at night, select “quiet” stories that will leave you in a restful, peaceful state of mind.
  • Don’t spoil a story for your partner. You might have the ending figured out early on, but keep it to yourself, OK?

Reading: Share it with the one you love.

Forgivables…What’s on YOUR List?

Everybody has certain stories they love to tell. They’re stories that are part of us, part of our lives, part of who we are. So, those who know me well or who have followed me in cyberspace will already know the story I’m about to tell. I call it the story of THE LONG AND HAPPY MARRIAGE.

The Long and Happy Marriage

Once upon a time, way back when I was growing up, a story was published in the Reader’s Digest about a couple who’d been happily married for a long, long time.  As this happy couple celebrated another anniversary, the reporter covering the story asked the smiling woman, “What’s your secret for a happy marriage?”

“The list,” she quickly replied. She went on to explain that when they were first married, she told her husband she would make a list of ten things for which she would always forgive him.  “It always worked out,” she continued. “Whenever he did something that annoyed me, I’d give it a little thought, then nod, and say, ‘Lucky for you, that’s one of the ten.'”

Naturally, the interviewer’s next question was: “What was on that list?”

The woman blushed, then shrugged. “Well, you know, I never actually got around to making the list…”

And the moral of the story is…

Everybody has annoying little habits, or does things that irritate a spouse or partner, but how many of those things are actually worth fighting about? Not very many.  As people like to say today, Don’t sweat the small stuff. And sometimes folks go on to add that, “It’s all small stuff, really.”

Well, maybe, or maybe not. Some things are worth fighting for, but most of the problems we face in relationships day by day are probably little things we could learn to live with.

As I was thinking again about the story of THE LONG AND HAPPY MARRIAGE, I wondered what “forgivables” would be on my list of ten things if I were to make one.

I have to admit, it was a bit of a challenge. I’m very fortunate to have a loving, understanding husband who really doesn’t annoy me too often…or maybe it’s just that I’ve grown so accustomed to his quirks that I don’t even notice them.

OK, so my list. In no particular order, I will always forgive my husband for:

  • Leaving things on. The television is on day and night — but that’s partly for the parrot — and my husband seems to believe some awful catastrophe will strike if the light above the stove is ever turned off. He’s heard that burglars don’t bother houses with a porch light burning — even all day. He never shuts off any lights. It never occurs to him to shut off radios or fans, either. Oh, well. Honey, I will always forgive you for this.
  • Forgetting the laundry. I should be glad he at least thinks of laundry. I just wish he’d finish what he starts. He’ll throw a load of dirty laundry into the washer…and walk away without washing it. Or, he’ll wash it, then forget it’s there. I’ll find it a few days later. Sometimes he does get a load washed and into the dryer, but then forgets to turn it on. (You’ll notice he seems to have problems turning things off and on.) Once in a while, he will get a load of laundry washed and dried, but that’s as far as it gets until I start looking for something and find the wrinkled mess in the dryer. But, I love him. I can forgive him for this.
  • Not putting a trash bag in the wastebasket. Now, first of all, my husband is very “old school”.  In his opinion — with which I happen to agree — a woman should not have to mow the grass, nor should she ever have to take out the smelly garbage. On occasion, I do take out the trash, but only if he’s not there to do it. I always get out a fresh trash bag, too. But he’s got a habit of…well, forgetting, I guess. I think once he gets outside, he gets distracted or something. So, I forgive him, and I put a new trash bag in for him. It works for us.

  • Setting the toilet paper on the floor. This one, I can’t really figure out. We neither one care if the roll goes “under” or “over”, so that’s not the problem. He’s always great about getting a new roll  when the old one runs out. But instead of putting in ON, he puts it on the floor. Why? I don’t know…but, yeah, I’ll forgive him.
  • Ruining my menu. I plan our meals carefully. I make sure to include a variety of fresh fruits and vegetables, different proteins, and healthy multi-grain carbohydrates. I even post the menu on the refrigerator so he’ll know in advance what I’ve got planned. But he can’t help himself. Now and then, he’s got to stop at the store to pick up milk or bread, and he’ll fill an entire shopping cart with things that aren’t on the menu. He’ll bring home a whole ham, grab a hot, rotisserie chicken, or load up on frozen pizzas because they were on sale. And don’t even talk to me about the hot dogs. I’ve not only forgiven him for messing up my scheduled meals, but for our anniversary last month, I bought him a hot-dog storage container. If he’s going to buy them, at least now he has a place to put them.
  • Channel Surfing. I’m not much of a television viewer, but hubby is. Now, with the wonders of satellite TV and the availability of hundreds of shows on hundreds of channels, he can always find something to watch. Or, more like 5 or 6 things to watch. All at once, of course. With remote in hand, he’s flipping back and forth between his half-dozen shows, and my head starts spinning trying to keep up. For the rare occasions that I watch a show, I’d like to actually watch it.  I guess it’s my problem, not his, so I forgive him. Of course, we’ve got a DVR, so I can always hit the “record” button and watch what I want when I want…which is when my husband isn’t home with his hands on the remote.
  • Blocking my car in the driveway. He does it on purpose, and I know he does. He knows it, too, and he knows that I know it, but he’s a little on the possessive side. He just likes to know I’m safe at home, and that’s where I like to be, so I forgive him when he blocks me in and then says, “Honey, you’re not planning to go anywhere, are you?” No, I’m not. If I were, either he’d gladly move out of the way, or he’d offer to drive. No problem. I’ll forgive him.
  • Promising to do things “later”. He’s such a kind, sweet, loving husband, and he’s always so helpful. He knows I’m busy, so he’s quick to say, “Don’t worry about doing the dishes, honey. I’ll take care of them.” Or, “I know I made a mess on the table, but I’ll pick it up.” Or, how about, “I’ll take those folding chairs out to the shed later.” He fully intends to do what he says…later. It’s just that his conception of “later” and mine aren’t quite the same.  So, I smile, do it myself, and forgive him. I know he really was going to do it…later.
  • Ranting and raving. Thank goodness, he never rants and raves at me. But he does rant and rave to me, which is almost as upsetting. Things annoy him, especially if it’s hot or he’s tired. He’s learned to control his temper when he gets angry, but then he comes home and all his pent-up frustrations spill out in a torrent of four-letter words — usually shouted, of course.  I’m surprised that parrot of ours hasn’t dropped a few f-bombs. She’s certainly heard enough of them. I hate it when hubby gets upset, and I always wish I could do more to calm him down. I guess it helps to have someone who’ll listen to his rants and raves, so I forgive him, and do whatever I can to help.
  • Unscrewing light bulbs. OK, we’re back to the lights again. He never turns them off, but he usually keeps half of them unscrewed in each fixture. “To cut down on electricity,” he says. I have to laugh. Honey, turn them off. That’s how to save on the light bill. But, no, that would be too easy, I suppose. Instead, I have to live with light fixtures that always look as if half the bulbs are burned out. But, I’ll forgive him.

While I can poke fun at him, I know I have just as many — probably more — little quirks that he’s got to forgive. I hope his “forgivables” list might include forgiveness for:

  • Leaving cabinet doors open. Hey, I’m short.
  • Saving empty boxes. You never know when you might need one!
  • Cramming junk in the drawers without sorting through it.
  • Eating rice cakes in bed. Sorry about the crumbs, honey.
  • Leaving half-finished cans of cola sitting around.
  • Buying plants for “my” garden — for him to plant for me.
  • Calling him at work because I don’t know how to switch between the television and the DVD player.
  • Needing him to change the cartridge on the printer because I can’t figure that out either.
  • Not throwing out the wilted flowers. He buys me flowers. All the time. I love them, but I get busy and forget to throw them out after they’ve wilted and died.

And my number one most annoying habit for which I hope he’ll forgive me:

  • Collecting pepper seeds. I have this thing about peppers. Green peppers. Red peppers. Orange peppers. Yellow peppers. I can’t cut one open without saving the seeds. Yes, I’ve planted some, grown plants from them, got peppers from them, and saved those seeds, too. We have pepper seeds everywhere. I save them in baggies, I put them in jars, I roll them up in tissue, I try to hide them…it’s an obsession!  I can’t help myself!
Fresh picked from MY garden!

Fresh picked from MY garden!

Honey, please, forgive me for the peppers!

~~~~~~~~~

Now, it’s YOUR turn. I want to hear about YOUR list of “forgivables”.

What foolishness, foibles, faults, and flaws are YOU willing to forgive?

Leave a comment and you’ll be entered in the August giveaway.

Looking for Love in All the Right Places

Lots of people meet in bars. Right? Right. But sometimes the club scene just isn’t where we want to be. Especially not when we’re hoping to find that special someone.  The bar scene gets tiresome. Maybe we’ve been meeting the same sort of man over and over, and maybe those relationships haven’t worked out. Or maybe we’re just fed up with loud music and bad drinks.

What’s a girl to do when she wants to meet a good man?

Fortunately, there are lots of places to look other than bars and nightclubs, and when you begin looking for love in different places, you’re more apt to find a romantic prospect who shares your interests, who has more in common with you, and who can bring new excitement and enthusiasm into your life by challenging you to live your dreams.

Sound good? The key to meeting the right partner lies in doing things you love, so start by making a list of activities you enjoy — and ones you’d like to try. The simple truth is, the more activities on your list, the wider your social circles will be. The more people you know, the more opportunities you’ll have for meeting romantic prospects who share your values and who will enhance your own life experiences.

 

Book lover? Your library might be the start of a true life love story.

Here are a few ideas for places to visit where you might meet like-minded souls:

Art Galleries, Museums, Libraries, Bookstores, Book Clubs

Intelligence is considered a great aphrodisiac, and if you’re a bit on the brainy side — maybe even a real nerd — you deserve someone whose intelligence matches your own, someone who enjoys your conversations about the historical significance of the Battle of Bladensburg, the contributions of Francis Poulenc to French music, or the question as to whether or not Mark Rothko should be classified as an abstract expressionist.  As you explore your interests in art, history, and culture, strike up conversations with people around you. Ask questions, or share your own knowledge with others.  Smart women always stand out from the crowd, so surround yourself with people who will appreciate what you have to offer.

Animal Shelters, Pet Stores, Dog Shows, Trail-Rides, Humane Associations, and Rescue Groups

Animal lover? The right partner for you probably has a few critters, too.  More than one story has been told of couples who were brought together through their playful pets. Go dog-walking on Saturday mornings or saddle up for an afternoon on horseback. Become an advocate for animal rights, help out at a local shelter or animal rescue operation, and share your love with lots of furry, finned, and feathered friends. While you’re waiting for love of the human variety, you’ll have lots of tail-wagging puppies and purring kitties showing you how much they care.

Sports Clubs, Fitness Centers, Gyms, Sporting Events, Running, Swimming, and Track Meets, Tennis Courts

If you’re the athletic sort, the perfect partner for you is one who can keep up. You need somebody who shares your appreciation for healthy habits, proper diet, and regular exercise. Training can be time-consuming, but it can be enjoyable, too, when you’ve got somebody special sweating alongside you. Best of all, you and your partner can cheer one another on during competitions, celebrate victories together, and console each other when inevitable losses occur. You can’t win ’em all, you know, but finding a sports-minded partner will make you a winner in the romance arena.

Foreign Language Classes, Cooking Classes, Photography Classes, Self-Improvement Seminars, Educational Venues, Community Learning Programs, Lectures

Some folks love to learn. Anything. Everything. Maybe today it’s Chinese cooking, and next week you’re ready to plunge into Swahili. Does your city offer community education programs, such as a “Communiversity”? Check out what lectures and workshops are happening around your area.  And always ask questions. Make yourself visible by participating fully in any classroom activities or groups taking place. Classrooms offer great opportunities to “link up” with new friends, too. Get together for discussions or become “study-buddies”. Offer to share notes or provide a little after-class tutoring.  When you pursue knowledge and new skills, you might find a few A+ romantic prospects, too.

Church and Religious Activities, Scripture Studies, Spiritual Retreats, Healing Workshops, Yoga Classes, Shamanic Workshops

It doesn’t matter what your religious beliefs or affiliations may be. From devout Christian to practicing Wiccan, there are others who share your beliefs, your values, and your spiritual activities.  Religious harmony is one of the key elements in a good relationship. Even if you’re able to remain open-minded and tolerant of others’ beliefs, inter-faith relationships can present tremendous challenges. Relationships are naturally stronger when both individuals involved share the same spiritual beliefs and practices.

Acting Classes, Public Speaking Clubs, Choirs, Orchestras, Film Groups, Playhouses, Theatres, and Improvisation Clubs, Concerts

A bit outgoing? Love to be center-stage? Enjoy dramatic scenes? Oh, what fun you can have if and when you find the right romantic partner. What was that memorable play about people who acted out scenes from other shows? Imagine the love scenes you could rehearse together! And think of the fun you’ll have laughing, singing, and dancing with someone you love. If you’re an extrovert, don’t hold back. Speak up and tell the world what you want. You’ll probably get it.

Food Pantries, Volunteer Organizations, Civic Associations

If serving others is a high priority in your life, then put your skills to work by volunteering to help out wherever needed — and you’ll find lots of places where help will be welcomed and appreciated. Food pantries and soup kitchens can always use another pair of hands. Meals on Wheels and programs which deliver food or other items are always looking for caring individuals who are willing to give of their time. Check out the organizations in your community and the activities they sponsor. Get out your hammer and help build a house, or work with educational programs to defeat illiteracy. Opportunities for community service abound and can bring huge rewards. You get back what you give in life, remember, so share your love with those who need it most.

Flea Markets, Bargain Barns, Thrift Stores, Second-Hand Shops, Craft Fairs, Antique Malls

Looking for something different? Something old? Something hand-made? Or just looking for something cheap? Browsing flea markets, craft fairs, and antique malls can bring hours of pleasure.  You never know what you’ll find, and that handsome hunk who’s hunting for some obscure treasure might prove to be the bargain of the day.

Coffee Shops, Political Rallies, Campaign Events, Political Clubs and Cause-Related Organizations

Like to work hard? Have strong opinions on political issues? Want to make a real difference in the world? Join forces with folks who share your views and let your voices be heard. Meet with others to discuss current events and important issues. Take part in rallies. Work to get voters registered. Hand out pamphlets or literature in support of causes in which you believe.  When you find someone who shares your deepest convictions, the passion between the two of you might truly change the world.

 

What about the Workplace?

When all is said and done, the surprising fact is that the workplace is regarded as the best place for meeting prospective romantic partners. While it may be true that the workplace environment offers great opportunities for getting to know someone, it also offers a lot of problems. Most companies have strict policies about inter-office relationships, and in many instances, if the relationship gets serious, somebody’s going to be required to change jobs. Maybe it’s worth it. On the other hand, there’s nothing worse than an office romance that fizzles. Imagine seeing that fellow  you despise…every day… 9 to 5, Monday through Friday. Imagine listening to him make snarky remarks about you to colleagues, or constantly whining and begging you to take him back.  With all the things that can go wrong in a relationship, getting involved with the guy in the next cubicle may be an invitation to disaster. He’d better REALLY be worth it.

 

What about Online Dating?

Sure enough. More and more people are signing up at online dating sites.  And yes, we all know people who’ve met online and made it work. But even if you do meet someone online, a relationship still requires getting to know each other, not just through photographs, computer chats, and emails, but face to face, as well…which means spending time together, sharing activities, and discovering each other’s interests.

Why not start with the interests first? Follow your heart, engage in activities you enjoy, join groups where you’ll find people who share your beliefs, your loves, your excitements, your passions.

This is where you’re most likely to find that special someone who can ignite all the sparks and make all your dreams come true.

 

 

 

Sex After Fifty – Myths and Realities

Sex After Fifty — Myths and Realities

When we’re young, we spend a lot of time thinking about how nice life will be when we’re older. When we’re older, we’ll have more money saved, we’ll have more time for the good things in life, and best of all, the kids will be grown, gone, and life will be so much easier.

Right?

Well, yes…maybe…and, no, not always.

Even assuming all of the above are true, i.e. more money, more time, fewer responsibilities, getting older brings its own array of new challenges. Aches, pains, vision and hearing problems. Arthritis. Bad backs. Dentures. Fallen arches. And the list goes on and on.

Years ago I worked for a delightful boss in his seventies, whose wife advised me to “enjoy yourself now, because the golden years are more than a bit tarnished.”

Women on Top: How Real Life Has Changed Women'...

Sex

Of course, when we’re younger and look forward to those golden years, one thing we rarely think about is intimacy. We take it for granted. Like breathing. As one man I know quipped one day, sex and breathing really are about the same. “You don’t think about either one until you can’t do it anymore,” he told me.

But, wait! Does getting older mean you have to give up intimacy?

Not exactly, although it may mean changing your ideas about what intimacy is, learing new ways to please your partner — and yourself — and for many couples, getting older can mean that sex gets even better.

“Sort of like a fine wine,” a friend remarked when we discussed the myths and realities of sex after fifty. “It improves with age,” she said with a smile.

The Myths

Probably the most common myth or misconception about sex and aging is that as we grow older we simply lose interest.

Nope. The good news is that there isn’t an age limit on sexuality. The even better news is that, according to a survey from the National Council on Aging, more than 70% of those over 60 who have regular intercourse say their sex lives are more satisfying now than when they were in their 40’s. Studies show, however, that at midlife and beyond, sexual satisfaction depends more on the overall quality of the relationship than it does for younger couples.

Another myth is that when older couples do have sexual relations, it’s what you might call “routine”. In other words, dull and not all that exciting.

Think again. Older lovers are more comfortable together, and therefore tend to be less inhibited. In a survey conducted by the University of Chicago a few years ago, over 3,000 people between the ages of 57 and 85 were interviewed. More than half said they gave or received oral sex. Even for those between the ages of 75 and 85, the rate was nearly a third.

OK, so what about the frequency of sex? Surely that’s going to decrease with age, right?

Not necessarily. It’s another myth for the most part, although the answer does depend somewhat on the individuals. Some couples are content with less-frequent intercourse, but most couples maintain the same patterns they’ve established in earlier years, rather it’s once a day, once a week, or once a month. Whatever has worked in the past, will still work.

Well…let’s back up a bit there. Some things won’t work like they did in the past. That’s where the realities of sex after fifty come in.

Realities

His erection probably won’t be what it was when he was younger, but that’s all right. It can still do what it needs to do. It might take a little longer, but since when has that been a problem? Longer arousal times mean more foreplay, more intimate talk, more pleasure.

But what if he really can’t perform? Medical conditions such as diabetes can lead to erectile dysfunction, as can taking certain prescription medications. Does that mean sex is out of the question?

Of course not. It means it might be time to discuss the situation with a doctor. Viagra, Levitra, and Cialis all work by increasing blood flow to the penis. Another drug, Stendra, was approved by the FDA last year. There are also pumps, implants, and shots available. Do yourself — and your partner — a favor, gents. Have that little chat with your physician.

Another reality is that female parts don’t work quite the same either. Menopause can lead to vaginal dryness and discomfort, but there’s a quick fix for that. You’ll find a variety of different lubricants available. You might also want to discuss estrogen-based creams with your doctor.

One of the best realities about sex and aging is that it not only feels good, it’s good for you. People who remain sexually active over fifty are apt to be more active overall and tend to stay more physically fit. Regular exercise boosts the libido, keeps the heart healthy, and muscles strong.

Will sex change as you age? Yes, of course, it will. The most important reality to remember is that sex doesn’t always have to include intercourse, and it doesn’t always have to end with orgasm. Touching, kissing, stroking, cuddling, or “spooning” as it’s often called, can sometimes be every bit as exciting and pleasurable as the sex act itself, and many times it’s even more emotionally satisfying.

For younger lovers, sex can actually be stressful, with both individuals feeling pressured to “perform”. Older couples have no such worries. They’re much more willing to relax and let things happen — or not. Either way, the time spent sharing yourself and your body with the one you love brings a genuine satisfaction that young lovers can’t yet begin to imagine.

Why Sex Gets Better After Fifty

  • Female sex drive often increases after menopause because the ratio of testosterone to estrogen and progesterone shifts.
  • Orgasms may be more frequent, more intense — or both — for women after menopause.
  • Longer arousal times for men mean more time for foreplay and intimate talk.
  • Woman past menopause no longer have to worry about pregnancy, making it easier to relax and enjoy their sexuality.
  • Retiring or cutting back on work hours means more time to enjoy sex with your partner.
  • By the age of fity, you know your body and what gives you pleasure.
  • If you and your partner have been together for a long time, it’s easier for  you to communicate your needs.
  • As we age, we lose a lot of our inhibitions, making sex more of an adventure than ever.
  • Mature couples are more experienced and much more sexually confident.
  • Sex after fifty is driven more by love than hormones, and being loved brings the greatest satisfaction of all.

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Love and Marriage

Anillos de Matrimonio, Aros de Matrimonio

Love and Marriage

“Love and marriage, love and marriage…

Go together like a horse and carriage.”

I remember hearing and singing that song eons ago, along with a very popular children’s rhyme, often used for jumping rope:

Susie and Tommy sitting in a tree

K-I-S-S-I-N-G

First comes love

Then comes marriage

Here comes Susie with a baby carriage!

The names changed, of course, depending upon whose turn it was to jump. Now, actually, I’ve never seen two people sitting in a tree and kissing, but it was always fun to recite this little rhyme in a sing-song voice.

The simple truth is that love and marriage do go together, so I’ve been browsing around looking for little quotes to remind us all that love can be inspiring, amusing, thought-provoking, rewarding, and above all, enduring.

Sometimes we do poke fun at the idea of marriage, as in Groucho‘s famous quip that “Marriage is a great institution…but who wants to live in an institution?”

And sometimes sages have warned of the problems that can arise. Benjamin Franklin put it this way: “If there’s marriage without love, there will be love without marriage.” He was no doubt speaking from experience, having fathered an illegitimate child who later grew up to be the governor of New Jersey. But let’s talk love, not history.

I’ve added a page to this blog especially for Thoughts on Love and Marriage.  I’ve included a few of my personal favorites, and I’ll continue to add to the list. If you have a favorite quote on love and marriage, please share!

What’s Your Romantic Fitness Quotient?

English: A young woman and man embracing while...

How strong is your love?

How strong is your relationship? Strong enough to withstand trials, troubles, and temptations? Check your RFQ — Romantic Fitness Quotient — by looking at these twenty-one key relationship issues. No, you won’t find any scoring guidelines at the end, but you will find a few tips you can use to build your relationship and put more love in your life today.

  • Acceptance: He’s not perfect, but then again, neither are you. Do you and your partner make allowances for each other? Can you tolerate his quirks? Or do you nag at him about picking up his socks or leaving dirty dishes in the sink? Does he complain that you spend too much time in the bathroom? Does he fuss when you forget to turn off lights? In the early stages of a relationship, we strive to hide our flaws and always be on our best behaviors. We’re polite, we’re courteous, we’re thoughtful of our partner. As the relationship continues, though, we ease back into being ourselves – warts, belches, farts, and all.
  • Arguments: Arguments run the gamut from minor disagreements over trivial matters to full-blown shouting matches. Note: If arguments ever escalate to violence, GET OUT! Never stay in an abusive relationship. Even couples with strong, healthy relationships have spats from time to time. In fact, if you never argue, that might be a warning sign that the relationship is faltering. People are free to express disagreements in a healthy environment. But, how bad are the arguments? How frequently do they occur?   What happens afterward? An occasional argument offers opportunites to clear the air, to get unresolved issues out into the open, and to reach new levels of understanding with your partner. Learn to argue effectively, admit when you’re wrong, and always be willing to say “I’m sorry,” when the argument is over.
  • Balance: Good relationships really are 50/50, not necessarily every moment of every day, but in the long run, both partners should be making similar emotional investments. If he’s controlling all aspects of the relationship – choosing what you do as a couple, setting the rules for your behavior, and making all decisions — it’s a dictatorship, not a partnership. Relationships are about give and take, just be sure you’re getting back as much as you’re giving.
  • Character: Do you truly like, respect, and admire your partner? Healthy relationships are formed between morally-healthy individuals. If you question your partner’s character, what you should really be asking is why you’re staying in the relationship. People who lie, steal, and cheat aren’t trustworthy partners.
  • Comfort Zone: When  you’re with your partner, are you relaxed and at ease? Or do you sometimes feel a little uncomfortable with yourself and your surroundings? Are you rushing around to put every pillow in place and dust every shelf before he arrives? Do you fret about having spotless silverware or worry that he might not like the wine you’ve chosen? Do you go out of your way to fix your hair and make-up and “dress to the 9’s” even if the two of you are spending a quiet night at home? Sure, it’s good to care about appearances – to a degree. It’s also good to be comfortable enough with your partner that you can dress in baggy sweats, kick off  your shoes, let down your hair and forego make-up, and still feel loved and appreciated.
  • Communication: Your ability to communicate with your partner is a critical factor in making or breaking the relationship. Communication is more than mere conversation, although that’s important too. Communication means exchanging ideas, discussing issues of importance, talking through problems, and expressing understanding for one another. Can you talk about anything that’s on your mind? Or do you feel a need to skirt around certain topics? Does your partner listen to what you’re saying? What about your own listening skills? Communication is a two-way street, remember. Do you ask one another for ideas and opinions? Do you work together to make important decisions? Do you take time to talk about trivial things too? Communication isn’t always on major issues. Sharing that crazy dream you had, or babbling about nothing in particular can be great ways to relax and enjoy time with the one you love.
  • Drama: Most of what’s on this list are qualities or skills you’ll want to cultivate in order to maintain a healthy relationship. Drama, however, is not one of them. Some people actually equate “roller coaster emotions” with being in love. Not so. If your relationship lifts you to the heights of heaven, then plunges you to the gates of hell – in the space of twenty-four hours or less – you’ve got a bad case of drama going on. It can be fatal to the relationship. A constant environment of questions, problems, frantic situations, and desperate emotions is as unhealthy as it can get. The highs and lows may give you a rush, but eventually you’ll burn out. Life offers enough drama in itself; you don’t need more from within your relationship. Instead, your relationship should be a strong, secure shelter from the dramatic storms taking place in the outside world.
  • Dreams and Goals: What are your partner’s dreams? Do you know? Do you support those dreams? Do you encourage your partner to pursue them? Or do you tend to roll your eyes when he talks about making his million, leaving his mark on the world, and pursuing that crazy childhood ambition of his? Of course, you’ve got dreams of your own. Does your partner support your dreams? Do you get the support and encouragement you need? Supporting a dream means more than merely tolerating it. It means helping your partner make that dream come true. Sometimes it might mean making sacrifices. Of course, your partner would do the same for you…right?
  • Flexibility: How easily can you adapt to changes within the relationship? We often fall into patterns, and those patterns become comfortable ruts. When something happens to force us out of our ruts, we may find ourselves getting very uncomfortable. Maybe your partner’s work schedule changes, or maybe you decide to enroll in evening classes and you won’t be getting home until late. Would those changes throw you or your partner into a tither? Flexibility in a relationship also means being willing to make last-minute changes in plans, when necessary. Sometimes, things happen. Are you and your partner able to deal with the occasional cancellations, delays, and postponements life sometimes throws your way?
  • Flirting: Yes, flirting. With each other — definitely not with other people. Chances are you did a lot of flirting when you first met your partner, but do you still flirt and tease now? Do you still look for little ways to make your partner feel special, ways to say “I‘m interested in  you,” without words? Does your partner still flirt with you? If the two of you have stopped flirting, it’s time to start again. Flirting adds fun to the relationship and keeps it feeling as new and exciting as when you first met.
  • Friends and Family: Quite simple. Do you like them? Do they like you? If you can’t stand his friends or if he truly hates your mother, your relationship is going to suffer. It’s equally true that if your friends don’t like your partner or if your parents think he’s a real loser, you’re going to have struggles to deal with. There are also time issues involved here. Does he spend too much time hanging out with the guys? Does he think you spend too much time with your family? For older couples, there can also be issues with ex-spouses and children from previous marriages. To make your relationship work, you’ll have to be willing to work through the problems friends and family can bring.
  • Happiness: One question here. Are you really happy in your relationship? Be honest with yourself, and if you’re not happy, admit it and find ways to fix the problems. Being happy in a relationship means laughing with your partner, having fun, and enjoying life — even the difficult moments. Happiness comes from within ourselves, of course, so don’t blame your partner entirely if you’re not happy. A problematic relationship, however, can wear us down, making it hard for us to find happiness within ourselves.
  • Hobbies and Interests: Do you and your partner share the same interests? Probably not all of them, but having at least one hobby or interest in common can strengthen a relationship in many ways. Although it’s wise for each individual in a relationship to have his or her own interests, it’s also beneficial to find one significant interest or activity the two of you can enjoy together. Do you share a passion for football? Both love modern art? Photography? Dancing? Find things that excite you both and enjoy them together. Nothing comes to mind? Take a look at classes offered at local colleges. Sign up together to learn Chinese cooking or wood-burning. You’ll be able to expand your horizons and strengthen your relationship at the same time.
  • Honesty: How honest are you with your partner? Can you always say what’s on your mind? Lies come in different shapes and sizes, and for the most part, deceit is bad for a relationship. But there are little exceptions. Your partner might not want to know every detail about every previous relationship you’ve had, but important facts need to be out in the open. The real issue, of course, is trust. As they say, trust is a must…or your game is a bust. It’s true in sports, and it’s true in the relationship game, too.
  • New Things: Before you read on, stop and think of the last “new experience” you shared with your significant other. How long has it been? New experiences can be as simple as going to a new restaurant, or as challenging as sky-diving, and the results won’t always be positive. Be willing to venture out of your “comfort zones” with your partner. Even if the experience isn’t all you’d hoped it would be, sharing it with the one you love will make it worth the time and trouble, and you’ll have memories to share later on.
  • Personal Space: Togetherness is wonderful, but personal space is required, too. People have different needs where space is concerned. Some need very little; others need a lot. Be sure you’re getting enough time for yourself, and that you’re giving your partner enough personal time, as well. In a strong relationship, couples respect one another’s privacy. Both individuals should have times and places to call their own. In other words, stay out of his “man-cave” unless you’re invited in, and let him know that your purse is “off-limits”. It’s not that either of you is hiding anything; it’s just that “personal space” thing.
  • Playing Head Games: Relationships should be fun, and you and your special someone might enjoy a lot of games together. “Head games” are not part of any good relationship, though. What is a head game? Messing with somebody’s mind. Devising little tests or tricks. Manipulation. Think “junior high”, all right? Remember all those dreadful little schemes you and your friends cooked up? “Hey, I want you to flirt with Tommy before I get to the party, then let me know if he flirted back.” Or how about “I’m going out with Bobby next weekend, but only to make Tommy jealous.” I could go on and on. Unfortunately the human mind’s capacity for devious thinking knows no boundaries. If you’re playing destructive mind games with your partner, it’s a sure sign your relationship is headed for trouble.
  • Quality Time: Everybody’s busy these days, and relationships suffer because of it. Couples in good relationships know the importance of finding “quality time” to share together. Even if it’s only a few minutes each day, take time to set all else aside and concentrate on each other.  Sit on the porch together, hold hands, and watch the sun come up before you start your busy days. Or end the evening together watching the sunset. Set aside a little “talk time” — just the two of you, no phones, no television, no radio blaring in the background. And no complaints, no whining, no criticism. Use the time to tell your partner how glad you are to be together. Show your appreciation. Share your hopes and dreams. Now and then, be sure to take time away together, too. Slip away for an hour of “afternoon delight” with your partner. Now, that’s real quality time!
  • Sexual Compatibility: OK, we all know that sex isn’t supposed to be the most important factor in a relationship. But, let’s be honest. While good sex isn’t enough to make a relationship, bad sex can sometimes be enough to break it. Like everything else in life, sexual preferences vary from one individual to the next. Some lovers are very conservative; others are willing to try anything — once, at least. No matter where you fall on the sexual adventures scale, unless your partner has similar needs, your intimate life won’t be satisfying for either of you.
  • Temptations: Time to be honest now with yourself.  Have you given in to temptation and cheated on your partner? Not good, but of course, you already know that. Or maybe you haven’t strayed, but you’ve thought about it. Not good, either. Ladies, if that good-looking fellow in the next cubicle has your heart doing flip-flops, or if you’re fantasizing about other men during sex, something is wrong in your relationship. Gentlemen? Yes, we know you like to look, but if looking leads you down the path toward infidelity, your relationship probably isn’t going to last. Here’s the simple truth. Temptations are everywhere. Couples in strong relationships won’t give in to them. But couples whose relationships are weak can easily succumb. The three danger areas are (1) boredom in the relationship, (2) lack of communication between partners, and (3) lack of romance.
  • Values: What are values? They’re our beliefs, our standards, our ideals. Values are those things that are personally important to us, our guidelines for how we conduct ourselves and how we want to live our life. Some people place great value on education; others, not so much. For some, family comes first, above all else; others make their career their top priority. One person might stress the virtues of time-management while another believes that living in the moment is the only way to happiness. One woman spends hours in front of her mirror because she feels appearances matter, while another woman says it’s who you are inside that counts, not how you look. Different people. Different values. Different beliefs. Although you and your romantic partner won’t agree on everything, it’s important that your overall values be the same, or, at the very least, compatible. Don’t make the mistake of thinking you can change your partner’s beliefs or that every difference can be resolved by compromise. It won’t work, and neither will your relationship unless you and your partner share key values in your lives.

So, how does your relationship score? Room for improvement, maybe? Good relationships are “works in progress”, and time spent strengthening our romantic bonds is always time well-spent.

If you want to give your relationship a boost, here are a few tips to keep in mind.

Tip #1: Bring back the romance. Do something today to woo your sweetheart. Flowers. Soft music. A candlelight dinner. Stop by the store and pick out a “thinking of you” card. Or make your own. Tuck a “love note” inside your honey’s lunchbox. Be creative and look for little ways to show your love.

Tip #2: Shake things up! Plan something a bit out of the ordinary for you and your partner to enjoy. If you usually spend Friday night at the movies, pick up tickets for a concert instead. Always take the kiddies to the park on Saturday morning? Hire a trusted babysitter to do it for you while you and your sweetie enjoy a little time in bed — alone. Look at the habits and routines you’ve fallen into, then look for a way to shake it up now and then.

Tip #3: Listen to what your partner says. Really listen. Don’t just nod your head and pretend to be listening while your mind is off on other things. Communication has always been the most important factor in making any relationship work, and the key to effective communication isn’t talking. It’s listening to what others say. Today, make it a point to give your partner your full attention. You’ll see immediate benefits.