Dear beloved partner of mine:
We’ve been together for a long time. We’ve weathered some storms; we’ve had our ups and downs. The kids are raised; the house is ours again. These should be our golden years, right?
That’s why we need to talk. (I saw you cringe.)
You don’t like to admit it, but things are changing for me. Yes, it’s the change. The hot-flash and mood-swing change. The big M.
Maybe you’ve noticed that I don’t lubricate as well during sex and that it takes me longer to become aroused. In fact, maybe you’ve noticed that I’m not “in the mood” much, or rather, I’m in a lot of moods, not all of them pleasant. That’s because my emotions are on a trapeze, my body’s changing, and so is the way I feel about sex and the way it feels to me.
And because I want our sex life to be fabulous in our golden years (I’ve read that after menopause, sex is often better than ever), I want to share some of the stuff I’ve learned. This may require some adjustment on your part, but in the interest of a happy, satisfied, sexy wife, it’s worth it. Right?
Let’s start with a little quote from a friend, influenced, I think, by Shakespeare: “Tup my mind and you can tup me.”
There’s a deep truth in that colorful nugget. Sex begins in our minds long before our bodies kick in. If you want good sex, here are some ways to get my mind in the game:
- Make me feel valued, desirable, beautiful. Maybe I’ve gained a few pounds; maybe I’m drenched in sweat at night; maybe I’m feeling old. But yours is the only opinion that matters to me. Look at me the way you used to. Bring me flowers. Tell me I’m beautiful—and mean it.
- Listen to me. Turn off the TV. Don’t offer solutions. Don’t try to fix things. Validate what I’m going through. Don’t patronize me or belittle my experience. And don’t even begin to think that it’s “all in my mind.” This is just a rough patch, and frankly, how sexy I’ll feel toward you on the other end will have a lot to do with how attentive you are now.
- So—be attentive, just to be supportive, not for sex. Make dinner or clean up afterward. Leave a love note on the dresser or a sexy text on my cell. Do small things that let me know you’re thinking of me. And not once or twice. Make this the new normal.
- Work out with me. I’m not happy with the way my body’s changing. I don’t feel sexy, and I don’t feel confident. You can help by not only encouraging me to exercise and eat healthfully, but also by doing it with me. If we both diet and get in shape, think how much better sex will be—and maybe how much longer we’ll have to enjoy it!
- Touch me. Just loving, compassionate touch without a hint of horniness. You know I’m a sucker for a good snuggle. You don’t? Well, it’s time you learned. A quick hug; a little shoulder massage after work; a nighttime cuddle—just to let me know you care.
- Be patient. You may be a magnet for my moods, and not the mood you’re hoping for. Try to understand that my hormones have run amuck and that my body’s playing tricks on me, and that you (certainly not my boss or my mother) are the safest target. I don’t like it, either. Give me some space. Don’t take it personally. If I was once a nice person, she’ll be back, and she’ll be very grateful for such a thoughtful, supportive partner.
- Be playful. Lighten up. Make me laugh. You don’t have to be seriously funny, just be a little goofy. Laughter releases all kinds of soothing juju, and it reminds us that life is good.
- Educate yourself. Read this blog and the MiddlesexMD website so you have some idea about what’s going on with my sexual apparatus. Then you can be on board when I suggest trying lubricants or sex toys.
With your support, I’m going to come out of this stronger, sexier, and more sure of myself than ever. We’re in this together, Honey, whether you like it or not.
As one gynecologist said, “The key to a woman successfully going through menopause is the quality of the support she gets from her husband, or the man in her life. The major mistake a woman makes is to think it’s her problem, because she doesn’t want to stress [her partner] out. There is no such thing as an uninvolved partner.”
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.