A few words about me first of all. It took me most of my adult life to realise I’m not like most women. I discovered sex at the age of seventeen and have loved it ever since.
I’ve thought a lot about why women vary so much in their attitudes towards sex. There’s no logical reason why it should be. But I can’t abide mangoes, even the scent of them makes me feel slightly nauseous, while other people can’t get enough of them. Sex is the same.
Because of my age my clientele is largely older men in long term relationships. I hear many different variations of the same story: “My wife has lost all interest in sex.” “My wife says sex is painful since menopause.” “My partner used to love sex when we first met but now she won’t let me touch her.”
In many of these cases the physical side of love has died while everything else proceeds as it always did. You can still communicate, share a house and children and grandchildren, have interests in common.
But you have separate beds or even separate bedrooms. You’re more like housemates than the lovers you used to be.
What can you do?
You know this person well. You’ve spent 10 or 20 or even 40 years with her. You know you want to be with her, and that you still love her.
Is she menopausal? When I went through menopause I had no sex at all for two years. This was unprecedented for me, but once I was no longer fertile I felt like a husk of a woman, like a shell. I knew I still looked like a woman, but everything inside me was dried up and useless. I was nothing, even less than nothing. There’s been little work done on the psychological effects of menopause to date, although articles like this one show this is changing. I was lucky – I met a delightful Englishman 15 years my junior who convinced me that yes, I was still an attractive and desirable woman. I can never thank him enough. Now I enjoy sex more than I did pre-menopause.
I suspect my ordeal – and it was an ordeal – is not all that unusual. If it could affect me so severely, what would it do to a woman who didn’t have my huge sex drive to start with?
A note first of all about the physical symptoms of menopause. They are real. Your average GP can make recommendations relating to vaginal dryness and prescribe hormone replacement therapy, but the physical symptoms may not be the root (forgive the pun) of the problem. He or she is not trained in psychology. Every woman is going to handle this differently.
Please understand this woman you met when she was 25 now looks in the mirror and sees someone very different. You may not. You probably still see her as she was back then – her fresh, smooth skin, her richly colored hair, her vitality. She’s forgotten that. Our Western culture is constantly bombarding her with adverts for products to make her look younger, less wrinkled, less stooped. Age, experience and wisdom are not valued in our culture, while youth is glorified, especially for women.
So what can you do?
Menopause may not be the reason for the end of sex in your marriage, but in our age group there’s a fairly high chance it is. Even if it isn’t, the following still applies.
Seduce her again, very slowly and very carefully. You both fell in love a long time ago, but you were two different people back then. She needs to know that you love her now, that you love the woman she is NOW.
What did you do to gain her attention back then? Before children and mortgages and work? Take her on a date, have trips away, give her little gifts, go on Sunday drives? You used to know what she liked.
Be wary of using stock standard solutions. For example, I don’t much like gifts, because my ex-husband would always buy me something extravagant when we were having a financial crisis. I learned to associate gifts with being on the verge of bankruptcy.
We all have a love style. I love just spending time with someone who is important to me and having great long conversations about all sorts of things, although the conversations are optional. The key thing for me is time. Other people enjoy having things done for them, or hugs, or being told, often, how much they’re loved. For more on various love styles, read up on The Five Love Languages. Perhaps you could even talk about them with her.
Remember too that you already have a head start. You know her well, what she likes, what her interests and hopes and dreams are.
Winning her again may not be easy, but then nothing worth having ever is.
Meanwhile, if you still want to see me or phone, you know where to find me.