Being married to a younger man has been a learning experience, for sure. I'm not one of those women who fear my younger spouse will ditch me eventually for a young hot babe but there are definitely some drawbacks:
1. The Comments: If one more person, after finding out my husband is 10 years younger, says "You GO, girl!" or "What a cougar!" I'm going to lose my shit. I didn't stalk him in the bushes and drag him home to my senior assisted-living apartment. My husband pointed out no one ever says anything to him so he is off that hook. What would they say, anyway? "Way to work out your lingering mother issues, dude"?
2. The Assumption We Are Having Sex 24/7: While it's true younger men have more (ahem) stamina, our sex life is as boring and predictable as any other married couple. For example, when I ask my husband if he is in the mood for a "BJ", he knows I am asking if he would like to snarf down a pint of Ben and Jerry's with me. Doesn't get sexier than that, folks!
3. Communication Issues: Words change meanings over generations which can result in some humorous exchanges. I used to say I was "hooking up" with my friends meaning I was going to meet them and hang out. In my husband's world, "hooking up" means getting together for the purpose of sexy-time. You ought to see the glazed look that comes over his eyes when I announce I am "hooking up" with a few friends for lunch.
4. Rap Music: I'm a rock chick. While kids my age were listening to Bobbie Sherman and Donny Osmond, I was head-banging to Led Zepplin and The Who. My husband, however, grew up with old-school rappers like KRS1 and Public Enemy. I have tried my best to appreciate the art form of rap but I just feel like someone is talking to me really fast and I can't get a word in edgewise. It's never a real problem until we go on long car rides when there is inevitably a power struggle for the radio. This is when I get fake car sick and we pull over to a rest stop for me to recover. The hubs is then so concerned about my health that he accommodates my every wish. Which is listening to Pearl Jam.
5. He Doesn't Know How to Fix Things: By the time we were married, I had owned several homes and encountered the many issues that arise with home ownership. My husband had not and his reactions to things breaking often left me scratching my head. For example, when one of the knobs in the shower completely blew off and water jetted out of it like Niagara Falls, my husband tried to stuff a wash cloth in the hole while I went outside, turned off the water, called a plumber, then went back to the couch to watch trashy TV. Fairly standard procedure for the circumstance but I have to give him credit for trying to be creative.
6. Video Games: Nintendo released its first console in 1983 and playing video games became a huge part of every kid's life. My husband was 10 at the time and, for many years up to and through college, his socializing with friends including gaming. I was twenty in 1983 and thought video games were for weird, nerdy guys who spent all their time in their parent's basement. I played games, too, but most of them involved the consumption of alcohol including "What did I do last night to embarrass myself?" and "Why is my underwear in the mailbox?" The benefit of his gaming hobby is I can usually get a bulk discount when buying Christmas gifts for him and the children.
7. Time Warp: Sometimes, while discussing important cultural events, my husband will say "I read about that in my "Recent Significant Cultural Events" class in college while I say "Wait a minute! Didn't that happen just last week?"
8. Junk Mail: While my husband receives mail advertisements for vacations to exotic lands, the latest exercise equipment, and GQ-esque magazines, I receive ads for urinary incontinence products, end-of-life planning services, and cemetery plots with lovely views of a serene lake. It's depressing. If I weren't waiting for a check from my new Nigerian friend who emailed me for help with a wire transfer, I wouldn't check the mail at all.
9. Building a Career vs. Practicing for Retirement: My husband is at the pinnacle of his career and spends much time on education, networking, and working long hours. I, on the other hand, am exhausted from so many years of the daily grind and prefer to spend my days scheming how to get out of work and into something fun. His co-workers think I am either a figment of his imagination or suffering from a mysterious chronic illness as I have "not been feeling well" for the last 32 office functions involving spouses. On the flip side, he is not available when I decide I want to drive cross country to attend all three days of Coachella.
10. Physically Aging at Different Rates: When I discover another disturbing sign of aging to go along with wrinkles, an expanding waistline and the unexpected wetting of pants, I don't have someone to laugh it off with because they are going through it, too. I know my husband is probably thinking "Um, EW!" but he is banking good karma for when he starts growing hair out of his ears. I try to use my declining physical state to warn him of the long-term effects of bad habits, however. When I see he has chosen soda and Oreos for dinner again, I whip off my clothes and say "Don't let this happen to you. Save yourself while you still can!" Very effective. He's lost his appetite every time.
The best thing, however, is being loved so completely by someone that your age doesn't matter one bit. And in the end, that makes up for everything else.
After what may be decades of commitment and teamwork in a marriage, couples often reach a point when they stop viewing sex as a necessity in a relationship now built upon the strong tenets of trust, friendship and love. A lack of sex in a marriage, however, can turn couples into buddies or quasi-roommates and make that special spark even harder to ignite.
Despite the effects that hormonal changes can have on the libidos of older couples, rest assured men and women can enjoy sex at any age. It might not be as easy to become aroused in your 50s as it was in your 20s, but you can increase your sexual stimulation with frequent exercise, healthy changes in diet and, yes, those little blue pills. Here's a tip: the more you have sex, the more you will want to have it.
Though oft repeated, this claim is not necessarily true. By now, you should know what you like and dislike and be able to shed any sexual inhibitions that you may still be holding on to. Sex after 50 is no longer about exploring foreign terrain, it's about feeling good in your own skin. For these reasons, many women find sex after 50 to be more emotionally and physically satisfying than at any other stage in their lives.
Though diminishing hormone levels can increase the chance of erectile dysfunction in older men, it shouldn't prevent couples from having healthy, fulfilling sex lives. Apart from Viagra, Cialis and a host of other medical options, men can increase their ability to become aroused in the bedroom through exercise, masturbation and increased foreplay with a partner.
Many couples tend to sweep problems they have in the bedroom under the rug with the assumption that sex and romance in their marriage will thrive once the kids leave for college. Unfortunately, without curfews and defiant teens to discuss, couples can often find themselves struggling to make conversation with one another. Such disconnect will create further problems in the bedroom. If the state of your union isn't as strong as you'd like, confront the issues head on and don't make excuses.
The common narrative goes that a midlife crisis will wreak havoc on the stability and romance of a marriage and may even lead to infidelity and divorce. To combat feelings of boredom and wanderlust, couples should take advantage of the midlife crisis to explore each other sexually in new ways. Incorporate fantasies, toys and roleplaying scenarios in the bedroom to spice things up and turn a midlife crisis into a catalyst for adventure.
Follow Emma Nicholson on Twitter: www.twitter.com/emmajnicholson