Add Spice to Marriage
Q: I'm 45 and have been happily married for 20+ years, but I lack the drive I should have. I wanted to know if my wife and I ought to try experimenting with our life style. I know of couples that have gotten into role playing or fetish (light bondage, etc.) to create a new mood and excitement. Is this healthy and acceptable? -- Lance
Dr. Susan: Face it, Lance: most of us don't have the drive we had 20 years before. That doesn't mean, though, that there's anything wrong or that our drive isn't what it should be. Beware of thinking that there's a "right" amount of sex a couple should be having.
That said, let me assure you that it's perfectly healthy and more than simply "acceptable" for a couple to try anything they both agree on. That's the key, though: it won't work if only one of you is anxious to experiment and the other is fearful or repulsed at the idea of certain activities. You might begin gently by going to a bookstore or couples-oriented sex shop with your wife and perusing the books and sex toys. Shopping online for this stuff can be titillating, but beware of finding yourselves at sites that may be too hardcore or distressing to either of you. In other words, be very sensitive to one another as you branch out.
There's such a variety of ways to liven up your intimate lives that I suspect you'll find something you can both agree to try. Keep the mood light and playful, and don't be critical if either of you feels awkward at first. Above all, reassure yourself and your wife that reduced drive doesn't mean a thing about your feelings for each other. Novelty is always refreshing. I do hope, though, that your mention of "lifestyle changes" doesn't mean you're toying with swinging or anything like that. I believe that's playing with fire.
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Susan K. Perry, Ph.D.
Susan K. Perry, Ph.D., is a social psychologist, relationship expert, and bestselling and award-winning author. Her books include Loving in Flow: How the Happiest Couples Get and Stay That Way, and Kylie's Heel, a novel for adults.
Pamela G. Chollet, Ph.D.
Dr. Pamela Chollet has a Ph.D. in clinical psychology and Master degrees in educational psychology and fine arts. Her passion has been helping people face and get through those times when they feel trapped and unable to move forward.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D.
Anna Charbonneau, Ph.D., is a clinical psychologist, stress management expert, and author. If you're feeling overwhelmed, stressed out, or struggling to make changes in your life, Anna can help.