By Stephen Snyder, M.D.
Several years ago, a merchant in my neighborhood learned that I was both an MD and a sextherapist. The next time I was in his shop, he asked me if I could get him some Viagra.
“How long have you had erection problems?” I asked.
“I don’t,” he answered. “But my wife and I have been married for 30 years. To tell you the truth, sometimes I’m too tired or preoccupied to get hard without the Viagra.”
What was this man’s problem, exactly? He wanted to have sex with his wife, even though he wasn’t feeling that strongly turned on. Evidently there were other reasons he wanted to do it.
Sound familiar? Of course: He wanted to make love like a woman.
Women can have sex with their partners any time they want. They don’t have to be very excited. Sure, some lubricant might be required, especially over 50. But the absence of peak excitement isn’t necessarily a deal-breaker.
A woman can make love for other reasons besides strong desire. To feel close, or emotionally connected to her partner. To promote loving feelings. Or just for the simple pleasure of the experience. Even occasionally to keep a partner happy even though she might be too tired or preoccupied to be really into it. A useful book on the subject calls it “Good enough sex.”
One wouldn’t want ALL one’s sex experiences to be like this. But once in awhile it’s OK. Especially if the alternative is not to make love at all. If there’s one thing that sex research repeatedly shows about successful long-term couples, it’s that they keep having sex even when if the sex isn’t always earth-shaking. The ritual itself is important.
Men traditionally haven’t been able to do sex very easily under conditions of lower arousal. Especially over 50, when it ordinarily takes more stimulation to stay hard than it did at 20. If a man for whatever reason hasn’t been strongly turned on, conventional sex hasn’t usually been an option for him.
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