Today, more and more women over age 50 are finding themselves sharing their households with parents and/or grown children. A recent article in the Atlantic magazine, “Grandma's in the Attic, Junior's in the Basement,” talks about the big jump in multi-generations living under one roof, from grandpa or grandma who move in to adult kids who move back.
The article cites a recent Pew Foundation study estimating that 16 percent of the U.S. population now lives in multi-generational households—the largest share since the 1950s. Reasons range from economics to caring for elderly parents.
These findings made me think about how complicated it can be for women in that situation to keep their sex lives alive and kicking. If you’re married, having a romantic evening (let alone having sex) presents all kinds of logistical problems. Knowing that your 78-year old mother is in the next room is not exactly an aphrodisiac.
If you’ve got grown children around, they can be even worse: Even a hint of parental romance can still gross them out (although they should know better!)—and curtail any action on your part.
To make matters worse, this multi-generational living may not have been your first choice; it may be happening just when you were starting to really enjoy being alone with your partner again, comfortably settling in as empty nesters.
So what’s a sexually active, post-menopausal woman to do? Make an effort, that’s what.
Go on an overnighter every few months, even if it’s just to the hotel downtown. Or ask friends if you could borrow their cabin in the woods some weekend.
Yes, it might take some planning ahead, but that in itself could be exciting (as those Viagra ads imply). So when grandma goes to visit your sister and your kids are out on their dates, make your own date to “meet in the bedroom” once the coast is clear.
Or be spontaneous and grab any moment that presents itself. Make a game out of it.
The point is, if you have a healthy sex life, don’t let these new circumstances ruin it for you. Good sex is not something to let casually slip away. And the way to keep it is to keep at it, making a commitment to get together in spite of your situation. Make it a priority; put it at the top of your “Things to do” list once in awhile!
Because, remember, having a good sex life is good not just for your relationship but for your overall health. If you do get caught by an older or younger resident, tell them you were just “exercising”!
Dr. Barb DePree, M.D., has been a gynecologist and women’s health provider for almost 30 years and a menopause care specialist for the past ten.