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Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.Allan Schwartz, Ph.D.
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Sex, Marriage and Aging

Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D. Updated: Jan 12th 2012

Sex, Marriage and AgingI remember sitting around with friends of our's trading "war stories" about the adventures of raising kids. Inevitably, we would get around to kids and sex. No, not sex education, at least, not directly. Rather, the stories had to do with kids lurking outside the bedroom door intently listening to the sounds of their parents making love. Understand that, most of the time, the kids, siblings, planned this out so that they would get out of bed late, when everyone is supposed to be asleep, with silence and stealth, sneak up to the closed bedroom door and hope to hear what they could hear. By the way, this is perfectly normal and nothing to be concerned about. It just reflects the fact that kids are curious about what goes on in the parental bedroom. Its a good reason for parents to wait until later in the evening and close the door while actively engaged while the children are asleep.

Once these kids have grown up into full adulthood just the opposite takes place. Here is what I mean:

It's both amusing and true that most adults react with horror to the thought of their aging parents having sex! The only thing worse than that is the notion of grandma and grandpa having sex. In fact, there are some aging people who do not react with horror to the idea of having a sex life but are convinced that it's something that is for the young only.

In reality, people do continue to have sex as they age, including into old age. The frequency diminishes to 16 times a year down from 112 times for people ages 19 to 29, according to various surveys, in addition to the work done by famous sex researcher, John Mckinley, Phd. You can read more about this at this URL:

Whether it's the declining rate of sexuality during the later years or other problems faced by younger people, there are things couples can do to bring romance back into their lives. This is important regardless of the age of the couples involved. Older people will not resume the kind of frequency they had when they were younger but can once again make sex part of their lives. Here are some of the strategies recommended by Mckinley and others:

    * Treat your partner as if you’re dating
    * Romance your spouse outside the bedroom
    * Plan a date night
    * Talk with your partner
    * Listen to your partner
    * Understand your partner’s sexual needs and desires
    * Keep physically fit and attractive for your partner
    * Maintain perspective on sex as life ebbs and flows
    * Resolve any underlying conflicts as they will spillover to the bedroom
    * Have fun and engage in foreplay, whether that’s kissing, sexual banter or anything else
    * Be adventurous and creative in and outside the bedroom
    * Exercise, preferably together
    * Stop smoking and get your partner to quit
    * Watch your weight and cholesterol
    * Consider seeking specialized treatment from a specialist if behavioral changes don’t work

In addition, always seek medical attention and advice in order to rule out any potential physiological problems that can interfere with sexuality and this may include a change in the types of medications that are known to interfere with libido.

The strategies for an improved sex life are relevant for both young and old couples.

In looking at this list, do you see strategies that are missing from your marriage? Can you discuss these with your spouse or is sex an issue that one or both of you do not talk about?

These and others are the types of problems that will be discussed in our new forum, the Marriage Corner once it is launched.

What are your experiences, opinions and questions about sex, marriage and aging?

Allan N. Schwartz, PhD


Allan Schwartz, LCSW, Ph.D.

Readers who live in the Boulder, Colorado metro area, or in Southwest Florida may contact Dr. Schwartz for face-to-face consultation. He is also available for psychotherapy through Skype video for those who are not in Florida or Colorado. He can be reached via email at for details.

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