Kissing and Massage


If you want great sex, kiss and massage often. Both show love, but don’t forget that competence matters too. When someone tongues like a Roto-Rooter or slobbers like a Saint Bernard, kissing quickly goes from erotic to gross. Don’t do that.

Kissing can be gentle or intense. Either person can control the kiss, or the control can go back and forth. Kissing should be intensely personal.

Ask your partner to kiss you the way she or he likes. That’s a good place to start—and come back to from time to time. Strive to build increased intimacy with your partner year after year.

Have you noticed that most women dance better than men? It’s another generalization that has plenty of exceptions, but it holds some truth. Like dancing, most women tend to be better at kissing than men.

Here’s some advice for wives: If your husband kisses like he’s trying to prime a pump, consider teaching him to kiss differently. In attempt to modify any husband’s behavior, you may want to use the following steps:

  1. First, tell him. Use words. Tell him in English. No hable Español. Unless he does hable Español, then that’s probably fine.
  2. Then, tell him again a few more times. Understand this great, not-so-secret secret: men are dense.
  3. Finally, when you’re telling him, do it without contempt or judgment. You’d be surprised if you knew how tender his heart really is and how much your criticism hurts him. Just don’t expect him to let you know; he might not know himself.

One way or another, your kissing should continue to be a source of pleasure and play. Now let’s consider massage. Almost everyone likes a good massage. Our tight muscles relax with the right pressure, allowing more overall relaxation. Here are some massage tips:

1.     Consider the various types of massage and decide which ones you want to give and/or your partner wants to receive:

a.     Back massage

b.     Foot massage

c.     Hand massage

d.     Scalp massage

e.     Neck and shoulder massage

f.      Leg and butt massage

g.     Full body massage

2.     Consider sources of friction and ways to lessen it for a more pleasurable experience:

a.     Over the clothing

b.     Hands on raw skin

c.     Hands on powdered skin (Baby Powder is just cornstarch. You may have some in your kitchen.)

d.     Hands on oiled skin with heated massage oil, baby oil, or another oil option

3.     Go slow. The most common massage error—after not even trying—is moving your hands too fast. Go with slow, firm pressure that moves the muscle under the skin.

4.     Don’t cause too much pain. A bit of discomfort often occurs in a good massage, but it shouldn’t really hurt. Ask your partner to tell you what feels good and what just hurts.

5.     Use all your tools: fingers, palms, heels of your hands, forearms, a tennis ball, massage sticks, or massage vibrators. Each of these can produce great results. To keep from making yourself too tired, mix things up. Some light punches and Karate chops also add fun variety...just don’t do that when you’re angry.

6.     Be careful with bones and joints. Don’t push directly on the spine and be gentle at all joints.

7.     Cool down with light touch strokes, perhaps using only fingernails.

8.     If you’re a visual learner, go to YouTube and type in “How to give” any of the items listed in #1.

9.     Experiment and have fun.

To build a wonderful relationship with your spouse, give massages. By the way, make sure that, “Let me give you a massage,” doesn’t always lead to sex.  Occasionally practice the “Art of Self-Restraint.”

Aphrodisiacs: Who-ahhh!: Fruits of the Spirit


Through history, people yearned for aphrodisiacs. Like medieval knights searching for the Holy Grail, people wanted the secret ingredient that makes sex better. Aphrodisiac means “arousing or intensifying sexual desire,” but we’ll use a broader definition that includes:

1.     the lowering of sexual inhibitions

2.     the intensifying of sexual desire

3.     the increase of sexual pleasure

The effectiveness of aphrodisiacs has always been murky. In Macbeth, Shakespeare wrote that alcohol “provokes the desire, but it takes away the performance.”

Viagra, on the other hand, has no direct effect on sexual desire. But it gives an erection that, according to the ads, can last for hours. So Viagra is a performance item (or perhaps a form of torture).

Confused? Good. Let’s start at the beginning. Desire precedes performance. So what drives desire?

Fruits of the Spirit

God gave us a clue for making ourselves desirable to him and to one another in Galatians 5:22. The Fruits of the Spirit are love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control. As we strive each day to live into these attributes, we make ourselves attractive to our spouses. We create desire and intimacy.

I developed an expansion of the Fruits of the Spirit that I repeat almost every day. It helps me move in the direction of living the Fruits. I encourage you to make this part of your daily prayer time:


Let me judicially give and judicially withhold, to know that love is action, and to act. Let me care about others more than myself.


Help me to have the happiness that comes from knowing I am doing Your will on Earth. Give me lightness that flows out of You that I may feel and others may see. Help me not be depressed or dreary.


Give me that sense of calm that comes from knowing how much You love me and that nothing happens apart from You in this universe. Give me the peace that passes understanding.


Allow me to live in a way that acknowledges Your timing, to know that I can’t always have what I want when I want it, and to be mature enough to accept Your will.


Show me the heart of others. Give me sensitivity to their pain and rejoicing in their successes. Help me to treat others well.


Make me good, Oh Lord. Give me the desire to do the things that I ought to do and avoid the things that I ought not to do.


Grant me the belief and understanding that lets me stand in times of trouble—to hang tough and to know that You are God and I am not. And in the good times, Lord, help me not to forget You.


Give me compassion for others, the exact right touch for each situation, and a kind heart.


Provide in me the restraint that keeps all things in my life in harmony with You, Lord. Help me to walk straight, live with integrity, and keep up the good fight.

The Fruits of the Spirit are the ultimate in biblical sexiness. As you struggle to live them, you make yourself more appealing to your spouse, and you learn to live God’s plan for your life. If you want to have fun with your clothes off, work on how you live with your clothes on. 

Aphrodisiacs: Who-ahhh!: Alcohol

Alcohol must be the most used aphrodisiac in the world. Why? Alcohol lowers inhibitions. Many people have sexual hang-ups. Drinking alcohol tends to relax people and put them more in the mood for a little rumpy-pumpy.

We can use alcohol to address a challenging Christian principle: What are we allowed to do?

Let me tell you a story. When I was in my late 20s, my co-worker, Jack, and I went to a bar together and got drunk. We laughed as we talked about our kids, our wives, and our work. We were good friends and brothers in the Lord. I remember barely being able to walk as we left the bar. A few days later, Jack called to tell me he was going into a 30-day alcohol rehabilitation program. As I prayed for him, I got a clear message (which I believe to be a directive from the Holy Spirit) that if Jack couldn’t drink anymore, then neither could I. So I abstained from alcohol for over 25 years, and I never regretted the decision.

I didn’t have a drinking problem like Jack did, but I did have a maturity problem. I needed time to grow into the man God wanted me to be. I’m still working on that. I knew, though, that God didn’t want me drinking alcohol anymore. It was forbidden for me. But I recently felt a strong urging that I was too prideful about my abstinence—that an occasional drink would be right for me, even though I don’t particularly enjoy drinking.

 I like when Debby drinks, though, because her inhibitions go down. I don’t really have any inhibitions. I’m thinking of asking for some for Christmas. Regardless of inhibitions, Debby and I both feel God gives us the grace to drink alcohol.

The Bible explains this principle of grace in different ways, but it’s difficult for us to grasp. We tend to want simple rules. Grace tells us that everything is allowable, but the Holy Spirit will tell you what is permissible for you.[1] Jesus tells us not to judge others.[2] How could I possibly know what the Holy Spirit is telling you to do? Yet, we spend much of our lives trying to manage the behavior of others. We all love bossing someone else around. It’s easier to do that than to deal with our own issues.

Regarding alcohol, then, follow God’s leading. But remember: alcohol may be poison for you, or it may be poison to your spouse; the struggle to abstain from alcohol may be so challenging for your spouse that your only reasonable response is to also abstain. The beautiful grace of Christianity lets you decide and live with the consequences.

Caution about alcohol-sex dependence: Be careful not to become dependent on alcohol for good sex. Remember that variety keeps sex fun for years. Don’t get caught in the trap where good sex only occurs with alcohol onboard. If that tends to be the case in your marriage, figure out what the alcohol changes about you or your spouse’s behavior and try to address it in another way.

For example, if your spouse tends to be tense and the alcohol acts as a relaxer, try a full body massage instead or watch a funny show that you both enjoy. Laughter works well as foreplay. On the other hand, perhaps your spouse feels on some deep level that sex is disgusting. Alcohol helps temporarily alleviate that feeling, but you don’t want to always rely on alcohol for fun sex.

You may want to talk to a counselor or perhaps study a Song of Songs together.  Perhaps study this book, Great Sex, Christian Style, together. I can’t imagine being able to talk Debby into doing that, but it might work for you and your spouse. Remember, it can take considerable effort to understand the source of sexual hang-ups. And it takes even more effort to change them. You’ve got the time, though. Are you are willing to put in the effort?

[1] I Corinthians 10:23-31 and I Corinthians 6:12

[2] Matthew 7:1-5


Aphrodisiacs: Who-ahhh!: Cannabis

Did I just lose half my readers with this title? If you’re still here, let me help you “just say no” to fear thinking. Cannabis is legal in many states now and will likely soon be legal in many more. It is a life changing medicine for many folks.[3] For others, it simply provides a way to relax. As with any drug, though, it’s bad medicine for some.

As the trend toward legalization continues, you may find that recreational cannabis spices up your love making. Our son, Lex Pelger, works as a drug writer and researcher. After conducting hundreds of interviews, he found a pattern of cannabis driving sexual desire…especially in women.

One woman in her 50s noted a downside of menopause being loss of libido. She couldn’t get that “Off to the races” feeling anymore, but then she smoked a bit of hash for the first time in decades. She felt like she’d had a multi-orgasmic miracle. She says:

When I smoke, the worries of the day and the plans for the next day vanish, which allows me to be truly present for having sex. It only takes two tokes; I don’t need much. I try to do it at least once a week. For menopausal women, when you think you’re done, it’s a new lease on life.

Her 64-year-old husband added:

When menopause came, our love life slowly faded. It was sad. We were loving, just not very sexual. Then she discovered the effects of cannabis and hash on her libido. To be able to pleasure my wife again, so ecstatically like before, meant the world to me. It makes growing older so much better.

Cannabis isn’t just for us old-folks. Terence Mckenna, an advocate for the responsible use of naturally occurring psychedelic plants—called the Timothy Leary of the 1990s—spoke about the sexual stamina cannabis provides. As a young man, the thrill of sex was haunted for him by the fear of premature ejaculation. He said, “I discovered that smoking hashish gave me an incredible ability to control my ejaculation and also my sexual stamina...invaluable social skills.”[4]

If you decide cannabis is something you want to try, the ingestion options have greatly improved from just rolling and smoking a joint. Edibles are simple, but can take up to two hours to kick in. That makes date night planning a bit more complicated. Also, the dosage of edibles is difficult to calibrate. You probably don’t want to get uncomfortably stoned. If you use edibles, be cautious about dosage. You can always consume more but you can’t un-consume.

Vape pens provide a great method to get high for sex. The vape pen warms the cannabis enough to release the psychoactive agents but not enough to burn. You inhale vapor but not smoke. Within a couple minutes of taking a puff, you will know exactly how high you are. You can also easily take another puff during the belly bumping.

The most challenging aspect of using cannabis as an aphrodisiac or as medicine is the dose variation. Start small and see how things feel.

On the other hand, time suspension seems the best benefit of cannabis during sex. The normal experience of time changes. Love making becomes a fascinating dance where pleasure and time roll together.

[3] Lex Pelger, “The War on Weed is a War on the Elderly,” Ladybud, February 10, 2014,

[4] “Quotes from Terrence Mckenna,” The Dope Smoker, April 25, 2011,

Aphrodisiacs: Who-ahhh!: Chocolate

Let’s look at something less controversial—something Debby and I both love: chocolate. I eat some wonderful dark chocolate every day to make myself happier and healthier. Drizzling dark chocolate on your spouse’s naughty parts and licking it off is a fun way to use this aphrodisiac in your sex life. Maybe add a side of strawberries or blueberries. Have some healthy, messy fun with dark chocolate and fruit.

 Or try a love making meal of chocolate fondue with fruits, breads, and cheeses:

●      3 oz chopped dark chocolate bar

●      1/2 cup natural cocoa powder

●      1/2 cup heavy cream

●      1 tablespoon sugar

●      1 tablespoon butter

●      1/2 teaspoon ground cinnamon

Mix and microwave for two minutes (or melt in a fondue pot). Then, find whatever you want to dip: strawberries, bananas, pretzels, pound cake, raspberries, pineapples, blueberries, angel food cake, etc. Consider sprinkling grated coconut on top (because everything is better with coconut). You could add some sliced almonds or anything else your crooked little heart desires.

Perhaps you want to have some hot cocoa to refresh you after one love making session to get you prepped for Round Two. Try this recipe for two servings:

●      1/3 cup natural cocoa powder

●      3 tablespoons of sugar

●      Pinch salt

●      2 1/2 cups whole milk

●      Whipped cream or marshmallows

Mix the dry ingredients and 1/4 cup of milk and whisk till smooth. Then add the rest of the milk and stir as you heat on the stove for a few minutes until hot (don’t let it boil).

Adding a splash of vanilla will heighten the chocolate flavor, or add mint or cinnamon. Various types of liquor can also be added. You could even add a bit of butter browned to a pan...just don’t do all these things at one time. Just like in sex, consider variety and timing.

I don’t know if chocolate should really be considered an aphrodisiac or if it is just wonderful. I don’t care. Chocolate makes life and sex better, so why not eat some?

Aphrodisiacs: Who-ahhh!: Healthy Living

Another fantastic thing you can do for your sex life is eat healthy and live healthy. If your body is in good shape, your sex life has a better chance of being in good shape. Get adequate sleep, water, and exercise. Laugh often. If you feel invigorated often and live a life filled with joy, you’ll be sexier.


There aren’t any shortcuts for healthy living. You know what to do. If you don’t do it, take a moment to think, “Why don’t I do it”? Could better sex be a motivator for you to change some habits? It works for me.

Criticism Destroys Intimacy

Want to know my guide for criticism? If I want to criticize, I don’t. If I have carefully thought the situation over and really don’t want to deliver the criticism but feel the Holy Spirit guiding me to criticize, then I do. And remember, as Debby often tells me, “Timing is everything.” (I’m never altogether sure what she means by that, but I hope I’m learning.)

An example of criticism in our marriage involved Premenstrual Syndrome (PMS). When I was a younger man, I tracked the first day of Debby’s period and the one week prior to the onset of PMS in my Day-Timer calendar. I used a little red frowny face for the period and a black one for PMS.

 It was a good reminder for me when I got home from work and the feces hit the fan. I’d remember, This is a chemical reaction that isn’t necessarily my fault…unless it was. Debby rarely made excuses and never apologized, but one time she said, “Do you think I like being this way?”

When PMS was intense for Debby, sex was particularly annoying to her. I often acted the jerk and pushed for sex anyway. Looking back, though, sex during these times wasn’t really much good for either of us. One of the advantages of age is that sex drives aren’t quite as intense. The ability to wait a day or two makes our whole relationship, including the sex, better.

Some women feel as though they are out of control when they experience PMS. That tends to present itself as feelings of anger, peevishness, and resentment. The wise man plans and executes a strategy to support his spouse during this time. He decides not to criticize. It’s a great time to practice the discipline of not taking things personally. Besides, we both know you probably deserve much worse.

Lack of Interest in Sex

Did you ever think about why you have sex? We seem to be able to break it down into two main reasons:

1.     Your hormones drive it.

2.     Your partner wants to.

If you both are in category one, schedule the countdown. If one of you is in category one and the other in two, well, that’s a normal situation.

Debby and I got married when I was between my sophomore and junior years in college. In the locker room after wrestling practice, a teammate said to me, “Wow, it must be great to be married, to get it anytime you want it.”

I asked him at our 35th class reunion what he thought of that comment now after 30 years of marriage. He just laughed and shook his head. We agreed it’s not quite as simple as “getting it anytime you want it.”

In marriage, one partner will always have a lesser libido, and it’s not always the woman. The person with less sexual drive has power, having the ability to withhold sex from the more motivated partner. Of course, the motivated one can badger, pout, and push to get his or her own way.

Jesus tells us how to behave in this situation, though none of us actually wants to obey. Jesus commands us to not strive for our own way but to give in love to one another. If both partners in a marriage are striving to give in love, beautiful things happen. Practice the discipline of not pushing to get your own way and experience the joy that follows.

Contemplate power and kindness in your sex life. What power do you have? How do you use that power? In what ways could you give up that power by acting with kindness? These questions challenge you in ways that can transform your life.

Even if resentment runs deep, forgiveness goes far to solve the problem resentment causes. Of course, there are people and situations from which you must flee. Jesus doesn’t tell us to be abused; he tells us not to be jerks.

I deal in more detail with anger or resentment in the chapter titled, “Aphrodisiacs: Who-ahh!” I’m fairly certain this will be the only sex book you come across that classifies forgiveness and the rest of the Fruits of the Spirit as aphrodisiacs. If the brain is the most important sex organ, the Fruits of the Spirit are the best aphrodisiac.[1]

Finally, if you are always feeling guilty about lack of sex drive, please don’t let my words pound you down. Turn to the Lord in prayer and ask God what you should do. It’s God’s direction you should follow.

[1] Love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness, and self-control (Galatians 5:22).

Keeping it Up: Sex through the Ages

My Dad tells the story of being on a ship in WWII. The first mate woke the sailors every morning by yelling that when they got old like him, a good bowel movement would feel better than coitus (he used more vivid words, but that’s the gist).

When I was in my mid-30s, a friend in his mid-40s told me that by 40 I wouldn’t care about sex any more. He said that part of life just sort of goes away. I remember thinking, “Man, I hope not!”

Fortunately, I’m in my 60s now and neither of those predictions has come true. Sex remains an important aspect of my life and is in many ways better than it ever was.

As I think back, I remember working as a roadie on rock and roll tours to pay my way through college. We were unloading a truck in Milwaukee and an old stagehand said, “You young guys just lather them up. It takes an old guy to finish them off.” This mildly crude comment makes me happier as each year passes.

Your sex life will change throughout different stages of life. Let’s look at some of the sex stages. We can look back with the ghost of coitus past or look ahead with the ghost of “getting-laid-future.” Wise people try to understand the continuum.

Early Marriage


Maybe you had a big, fancy wedding, or perhaps you just went to the courthouse and picked up your marriage license. One way or the other, you’ve gotten yourself married to a whole other person...a person you thought you knew and adored.

Then the reality of married life strikes. This spouse you’ve promised yourself to until death lives like a slob. In fact, he or she is a slob. Or wants sex all the time, constantly, like three times a week. Or never wants to have sex, is always tired, and it only happens like two times a week. Or your spouse perpetrates various other offences that annoy you.

There is little that can prepare us for marriage. Humans seem to put their best behavior forward during courtship (even if it involves living together) but drop the charade after marriage. We all do it, so don’t be surprised if your spouse did it to you. Don’t focus on how your spouse changed and the resulting disappointment. The only effective action is to strive to forgive. It will be the best thing you can do with your early marriage years.

The other best thing you can do in your early years of marriage is to work toward agape love. Strive to love your spouse regardless of his or her behavior. To love with agape love is an act of will—a demonstration of character—but it’s not just a sappy, “taking whatever comes” type of love.

M. Scott Peck defined love as “to judicially give and judicially withhold.” This thoughtful and faithful agape love doesn’t allow abuse. It loves deeply. It sees someone as God intended them to be seen.

Learning to love and forgive your spouse will be a lifelong challenge, but it is never more challenging than in the early marriage years. Let’s consider how this may work in your sex life. One of you likely wants sex more often than the other. One will be pushing and one will be resisting. If you both strive to put aside your own strong desires and accommodate your partner, you’ll grow as a couple. You’ll build character.

During this time, the “How often do we have sex?” struggle can be combined with “No kids, minimal worries, lots of energy, our sex life will never be better than this, right?” And that can morph to, “You mean this is as good as sex will be...forever?”

That thinking puts unnecessary stress on sex levels. Think of the lie so many teenagers hear, that “these are the best years of your life.” That simple lie creates so much depression among young people. Were your teenage years the best of your life? I hope not.

You likely recall some fond memories and perhaps long for less responsibility in your life, but think of all the wisdom you’ve gained since then. Think about how much more you know about love and about God. If we strive to grow more Christ-like each year, we understand the lie that the best years are the early ones.

Another thing to consider during the early marriage years is the likelihood that your sex is enthusiastic but perhaps not satisfying for your partner. It takes lots of trust, communication, and practice to figure out what curls your spouse’s toes.

Many couples don’t get to this level of sexual satisfaction until their 40s or 50s. Some never get there. Do what you can to connect earlier and better. If you’re going to be spending all that time having sex with each other, why not seek to understand your partner and what they like and don’t like?

If things really aren’t going well in your sex life, please go to your doctor together. Write down your questions. Write down your problems, struggles, or concerns. If you’re too embarrassed to talk, just hand the doctor your lists and respond to his or her questions.

Learn to look at your early marriage struggles through the lens of growing more Christ-like—your lifelong project. Your early marriage years give you a great opportunity to try, fail, forgive, ask for forgiveness, and try again.

The Baby Wars


Then God may show his sense of humor by throwing a baby into the mix. If you’re fortunate enough to have babies, you will have a major upheaval in your sex life. God repurposes the woman’s recreational and waste disposal area to grow another human. Soon after you conceive the little nipper, the changes start, bringing about wonderful and dreadful consequences.

Sex during pregnancy can go from little change (other than morning sickness) to some logistical challenges (i.e., how to work around a beach ball-sized protrusion under her shirt). Mood swings for a pregnant woman vary from minor to scary. Sexual desire can go from none to greatly increased.[1]

You’ll both be running that gauntlet without an instruction manual. Pay attention to the “I feel fat” vs “I feel beautiful” matrix. It varies from woman to woman and from day to day. Husbands should show some extra love and kindness here. This is only one of many things going on during pregnancy. Here are a few others:

1.     Female genitals swell around the fourth month, which often produces constant lubrication and sometimes more desire for sex.

2.     You can’t get already are.

3.     Female orgasms can be more intense (and multiple).

4.     Male orgasms may also be more intense due to swelling female genitals (and the increased level of love that’s developing in you).

5.     Breast tenderness may occur. Men should “Wax On, Wax Off” with coconut oil.

6.     When the man wants sex and the woman doesn’t, the man should consider “Waxing Off” in a different way.

7.     Get a zippered mattress encasement to ease concerns about leaking urine and other fluids. It protects against bed bugs as well, so just do it.[2]

8.     Don’t worry about hurting or annoying the baby, he or she will have plenty of years to get back at you.

9.     If your doctor does tell you to refrain from sex, ask why, for how long, and what’s included in prohibited sex. You get the health care you accept.

10.  Pay attention if the soon-to-be Mom wants more touch or less touch during pregnancy (and what kind of touch). Perhaps she will want less intercourse but more romantic touching. Or she may desire to masturbate more. Or it could be something completely different. Just pay attention to touch needs and wants.

Then the baby arrives. Wow! You really didn’t believe it actually worked like that, did you? Try to bond during this amazing experience, as plenty of stress to your bond will hit you soon. For example, consider having sex after the baby. Generally, a woman’s libido drops to record lows right after giving birth. Unfortunately, this doesn’t usually happen to men. Lack of sleep may also play a major role in sexual negotiations.

This time in life, which can last years, often becomes sexually stressful for both spouses. You’re tired and you often don’t like each other...and sometimes you’re not so sure about the baby. Don’t freak out about it. Most folks have gone through it without ending up in jail, and you can too. One tip that will help you succeed in the baby wars is to talk about sex before the little tax deduction arrives.[3] Here are some questions you could ask each other:

1.     What do you think our sex life will be like right after the baby is born?

2.     How about a few months in?

3.     What do you think our new normal will become?

4.     What do you want it to become?

5.     What if the baby is colicky or I get postpartum depression?[4]

6.     Her: What if you see me as a mother instead of a lover and aren’t interested in me? What if I look different?

7.     Him: What if I’m ready for action and I feel guilty asking you because I don’t want to put you on the spot?

By the way, a good answer to this last one may be that we agree for this special time that it’s always ok for the more sexed-up partner to ask and ok for the less sexed-up partner to say no. Learn to think of a trip to the shower as part of the Fruits of the Spirit.

Finally, make a plan to get out on a date on a regular schedule. If you don’t plan, it won’t happen. Keeping your friendship and romantic love alive will bless your baby more than anything else you do.

The Teen Wars

The early school years aren’t simple, but they tend to be a breathing break between the baby years and the teen years. As your children struggle to become adults—or independent at the least—you will encounter conflict. The more that conflict bothers you, the more it will affect your sex life. Hopefully you and your spouse learned to work together as a team when the kids were young. Kids are masters of the “divide and conquer” strategy. Parents need to hang tough as a team, even when one spouse says something that drives the other crazy.

Debby and I found parenting in the teen years a tremendous challenge, but God used this time to help us draw closer. This “us against them” time made us stronger as a couple. We loved raising our kids and thought we’d hate when they left home. The teen wars helped with that. By the time they were ready to leave, we were ready for them to be someplace other than home. We actually looked forward to having an empty nest.

When the Chicks Fly the Coop

When our last child left home, we found energy to reconnect in a much less stressful manner. We took the time to learn to enjoy each other again without the constant stress of teenagers. We started building the foundation for the rest of our lives together.

But some folks divorce soon after their kids leave home. What drives one couple one way or the other? Look at your relationship trend through the baby and teen wars. Have you been getting closer as you worked as a team through the struggles, or have you split the tasks and drifted apart?

When the last kid leaves, are you waking up the next day with someone you don’t like very much or with your best friend? If you’re waking next to your best friend, you’re going to love the empty nest, and more adventuresome sex can follow more available time and energy.

On the other hand, if you wake up with someone you don’t like, you need to take up a realistic view. There has probably been a process of withdrawal on the one side and ignoring the withdrawal on the other. Many couples now divorce after 50, often around the time the kids leave. Unfortunately, it often takes one spouse by almost complete surprise.

Planning can help prevent this ugly surprise. A few years before you’ll reach the empty nest, initiate conversations about what you want your “no kids at home” life to be. Just like business planning, make a strategic plan for your marriage future. Discuss your marriage strengths, weaknesses, opportunities, and threats. Dream about what you’d like to have and do with each other. Make an action plan that moves you in the right direction.

Make sure that action plan includes spending time together as a couple. Even if you find you talk about the kids most of the time, get in the habit of spending regular and special time together. Consider the emotional and financial costs of divorce; work to avoid it if both parties are willing to try. As my accountant says, “Divorce is too difficult and costly; it’s better one of you should die.”


Moving Toward the Sunset

Unlike a real sunset, no one knows when our light will extinguish. We can decide, however, to live vigorously until that time comes. We can keep having great sex in our 50s, 60s, 70s, 80s, and 90s. I don’t know much about post-centenarian sex. Send me a note if you do (you’ll be one of my heroes).

Here are a few “Sex for old-folks” tips:

1.     Let go of expectations. Don’t focus on how things were years ago. Enjoy what you are and can do right in this moment.

2.     Strive to be honest. It’s sexy, and at your age you’re not going to be so good at remembering lies.

3.     Protect yourself from sexually transmitted diseases. Pregnancy scares may be in the past, but STDs are ever present. Take the time to learn how to have safe sex.

4.     Focus on physical touch and intimacy. You have time. Use it to enjoy each other deeply. Don’t make it all about intercourse. Include baths, massage, talking, playing, maybe even wrestling. Just avoid Ultimate Fighting.

5.     Lube, lube, lube (and yoga, yoga, yoga for flexibility)

6.     Watch your back (and knees). Aging reduces the utility of joints. Try spooning instead of doggie style to put less stress on your back and knees. The lap dance position (man sitting on a chair and woman sitting on his lap facing him) also yields fun sex with little body stress.

7.     Think beyond intercourse. Try mutual masturbation with some oral sex thrown in. Or try 69. Or maybe try 68 (you do me and I’ll owe you one). Whatever it takes.

8.     If you just aren’t getting that “off to the races” feeling about sex anymore, revisit chapter 5, “Aphrodisiacs: Who-aaaah!” You may find something there that stokes your fire. I don’t want to be the pusher man, but cannabis can have an amazing and immediate effect on your libido.

9.     Give each other foot massages regularly. Geriatricians stress the importance of proper foot function. Falls are one of the main risks of aging, and functional feet help prevent falls. If you have some kind of foot phobia, get over it. You don’t have that much time left.

10.  Finally, if you are having a physical problem with sex (e.g., erectile dysfunction for men or painful sex for women), don’t ignore it. Many medications have side effects that muck up sex; work to find medications that don’t. Don’t be embarrassed to talk with your doctor. He or she has recently had a finger inside you, so assume you are on intimate enough terms to ask questions about sex.

I hope the tips above encourage you to keep at sex as long as you live. Orgasms are good for you. Don’t give them up.

[1] Paul Joannides, Guide to Getting It On: A Book About the Wonders of Sex (Oregon: Goofy Foot Press, 2014), 805-822.

[2] I recently bought some at Amazon for about $40. Search “zippered mattress encasement.”

[3] Paul Joannides, Guide to Getting It On: A Book About the Wonders of Sex (Oregon: Goofy Foot Press, 2014), p. 819

[4] Here are two excellent books to help you with those challenges: Love in the Time of Colic by Ian Kerner and Heidi Raykeil, and After the Stork: The Couples Guide to Preventing and Over-Coming PostPartum Depression by Sara Rosenquist.