When 50-year-old Steve Martin comes on to his wife in the cult classic Hollywood film, Father of the Bride 2, she is most surprised. “What’re you doing George?”, she asks laughing, to which he replies, “Can’t a man make love to his wife?” The underlying subtext? Can’t 50-year-old married couples make love just on a whim?
This conundrum was captured well in the award-winning Bollywood film Badhaai Ho, where actress Neena Gupta’s unexpected pregnancy after the age of 50, became a matter of despair for her strapping young sons and everyone around her. If love making beyond a certain age is considered taboo in society, the question arises – how often do 50-year-old married couples make love?
The 50s are marked by tremendous physical and life changes. By this time, children have grown up and flown the nest, forcing partners to re-discover each other. It is also an age where men and women face major health issues, often resulting in a decline in the frequency of sexual relations.
How often do couples in their 50s make love? Evidently, there are several factors at play. Women going through menopause face emotional upheavals, mood swings, weight gain and other physical symptoms that cause immense discomfort. These include changes in one’s vagina and vulva as well. As estrogen levels diminish during menopause, the vaginal tissues begin to thin and become less elastic, leading to vaginal dryness, a dip in one’s sex drive, painful intercourse, and affecting the overall experience of sex.
Ginny and Alan had been married for over 25 years. As they approached their 30th anniversary, they realized their physical intimacy was on the decline, and had been for a while. “It sort of faded into the background as we raised three kids, went about our careers and created a life,” Ginny says. “Suddenly, we looked up, and it’s been months since we touched each other.”
Lack of time is a common factor when it comes to 50-year-old couples and intimacy. When one has not had sex in a long time, the fear of having to perform the act keeps mounting, making it more difficult with time. Men also feel reduced sexual desire over time, due to prostate related problems and other health issues. All this affects how often 50-year-old married couples make love.
What Constitutes ‘Normal’ Intimacy In A Marriage?
Before we address the question of how often do 50-year-old married couples make love, it is prudent to examine what constitutes normal intimacy in a marriage. Now, there’s no rule as to how often should married couples make love, but the numbers tell a story.
According to a study conducted in 2018, it seems that being sexually active four to five times per week is only the case with 5% of married people, no matter their age – proving that it is not very common for married couples in general to have sex frequently.
If we speak specifically of couples in their 50s, a 2013 study of over 8000 people, conducted by renowned sociologists Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D. and James Witte, Ph.D., had interesting findings to share.
It noted that of the couples surveyed, 31% have sex at least a few times a week, whereas 28% have sex a few times a month. However, for about 8% of couples, sex is limited to once a month, and 33% of them don’t do it at all.
This is only one study done on the subject of how often 50-year-old married couples make love but others reiterate these results. The results indicated that “just over a third of people in their 50s have sex a few times a week or month, which is great when compared to 43 percent of 40-somethings who report having sex only once a week”, indicating that normal intimacy in a marriage differs depending on age and other lifestyle factors.
Related Reading: Sexual Compatibility – Meaning, Importance And Signs
What Do 50-Year-Olds Want In Bed?
A 2015 study published in Social Psychological and Personality Science journal revealed that 45% of couples over the age of 50 are quite satisfied with their sex lives, indicating that with age comes wisdom and balance.
Other studies bolstered these astonishing results – research carried out by onepoll.com revealed that modern 50-year-olds have sex every couple of days. Further, one in 10 people say their sex lives are better in their 50s than ever before.
This may be attributed to the fewer responsibilities of couples in their 50s, with children having grown up, and being more financially stable than they were in their younger days.
As for what 50-year-old men and women want in bed, the answer is simple – sexual gratification from emotional engagement with each other.
After crossing the age of 50, the overall quality of the relationship matters more to them than physical attraction.
In fact, many couples attest to their sex lives improving after crossing their 50s. Once a woman is past menopause and no longer concerned about becoming pregnant, many couples find it easier to relax and look forward to making love without stressing over protection.
Additionally, partners who are retired or working only part-time have more time and energy for each other, which is displayed in their physical intimacy with each other.
Another important factor in improved sex lives, is the knowledge that partners pick up over years of being married to each other. This contributes significantly to how often 50-year-old married couples make love.
In their mid-lives, people are more likely to know their own bodies and their partner’s intimately, and have figured out how to communicate what they find pleasurable.
Most, if not all, sexual inhibitions have been shed by this stage of life, and the surge in sexual confidence leads to better sex for both partners.
Sex may also be more emotionally fulfilling as it is driven less by hormones and more by the desire for someone who loves you and whom you love in return. It develops greater emotional intimacy.
For people that were married young – once they are over the post-honeymoon hump with children, family commitments and the pursuit of high-powered careers, their sexual experiences are likely to pick up as they are in a better, more easy-going phase of their lives.
Average Number Of Times Per Week Married Couples Make Love
A study sought to find the average number of times per week that married couples make love. The universal findings pointed to once a week being a healthy average for all couples across age groups.
The portion of the study targeted on adults aged 57 to 85 years found a curvilinear relationship between the duration of a marriage and the frequency of sex, indicating sex life as U-shaped on a graph.
This means that in the first phase of marriage, people have the most sex. Over time, this figure begins to drop till it reaches its lowest point. Then slowly the graph starts moving upwards again as the frequency improves.
So, How Often Do 50-Year-Old Married Couples Actually Make Love?
After a careful examination of the various studies, the answer is simply not enough. The most popular reason given for the lack of sex in their lives is the inability of their partners to do the act, or the partner’s absence of desire.
Though it may seem difficult to open up about one’s sexual problems with all and sundry, there are certain ways to make the sessions in the bedroom more satisfying. Here are some simple solutions to improve how often 50-year-old married couples make love.
1. Open communication lines
It’s common to wonder ‘ what does a man in his 50s want in bed’ or ‘what does a woman in her 50s want in bed?’ It’s also common to be wary of bringing it up with your partner, especially if the conversation has been pending for a while.
As with any relationship issue, the first step should be to communicate your needs to your partner. It is very likely that they have the same needs and would be happy to meet you halfway. It’s also possible they’ve been too embarrassed to bring it up themselves.
Alec and Tina had been a couple for 30 years. Sex had never been a problem till they hit 50, when there was a sudden lull that lasted nearly a year. Both of them felt it, but neither brought it up. “I had put on some weight,” Alec said. “Also, I grew tired more easily and was afraid my stamina wouldn’t be as good in bed. I didn’t want to disappoint Tina.”
For Tina, too, she thought her partner was turning away from her and she withdrew into herself. Finally, she mustered up the courage to ask him what was wrong. Once they started communicating their fears and doubts, things were a lot easier and they managed to navigate their way back to the bedroom. Talking is great in any relationship at any age. But it is essential to reunite 50-year-old couples and intimacy.
2. Get physically fit with exercise
Many of the physical changes your body faces at this stage of life, can be addressed adequately through moderate-to-high frequency exercise. The release of endorphins will help you look and feel your best, boost your confidence and your sex drive.
Try a morning jog a few times a week, or go for a walk every evening. You could even try yoga or Pilates to keep yourself healthy. There’s a couple I know (one in her 50s, the other in his 60s), who plan vacations around hiking trails to ensure they maintain a regular fitness routine while also spending time together. Be sure to check with your doctor before you undertake any vigorous physical exercise.
Related Reading: Men Over 50 – 11 Lesser Known Things Women Should Know
3. Check with your doctors on the side-effects of your medications
Some of the routine medications prescribed after the age of 50 have abysmal side effects on one’s libido. Have a frank conversation with your doctor before committing to a long-term health plan, or seek alternatives.
Remember, there’s nothing to be embarrassed about here. Age, health and medication all affect the sex drive – it’s a natural progression of things. Be upfront with your doctor and ask if your medication will have any effect on your libido. If so, talk to your partner about it. Make sure they know that you’re not turning away from them, but that your body is just not up to it at the moment. Chances are, they’ll have similar tales to share.
4. Change things up in the bedroom
Set aside your sexual inhibitions and be experimental. Try something with your partner that you have never been able to do before – it will break the rut and raise your sexual confidence.
You could try different sex positions or toys or flavored lubricant. If you or your partner are of a literary bent of mind, you can even try reading each other erotic literature and poetry in bed. We love Jeanette Winterson’s Written on the Body and the poems of Adrienne Rich and Audrey Lorde, but there’s plenty out there to choose from as per your taste.
You could also indulge in luscious lingerie, invest in some scented candles and really set the mood. The words ’50-year-old couples’ and ‘romance’ might not be used in the same sentence much, but love is all about breaking stereotypes!
5. Go on vacation
How often do couples in their 50s make love? Well, we’ll tell you this: Couples of any age find it tough to get in the mood when the daily routine gets in the way. Taking a break from regular surroundings is a wonderful way to rejuvenate the lost magic in bed. Choose a relaxing destination, indulge each other with luxurious spa treatments and quality time spent with each other. This will help to rekindle the magic.
Hopefully, you’ll reconnect strongly enough that you bring some of the magic back home with you. Keep up the quality time and you’ll be surprised at how the flame reignites.
6. Make out like teenagers
50-year-old couples and romance needn’t be mutually exclusive. A long gap with no sexual activity can be intimidating for anyone. It is easiest to begin tentatively, just as you did when you were teenagers. Go on dates, hold hands, make out and fondle each other – the fire will rise slowly but surely.
Surprise each other with flowers, date nights and little thoughtful gestures. Make her breakfast in bed for no reason, buy him fun boxers just for a laugh and keep the love and laughter going.
7. See a sex therapist
If all these methods have been attempted and failed, do not hesitate to reach out to an expert who will guide you through this challenging time of your life. Again, there’s nothing wrong with reaching out for couple’s therapy and talking your problems through with a professional. If you’re wondering what does a man in his 50s want in bed, or what does a woman in her 50s want in bed, get the help you need without hesitation.
Many married couples re-invent themselves in bed at 50. Age is just a number when it comes to making love. Use your experience to have a more fulfilling sex life with your partner. Don’t worry about how often should married couples make love, every couple is different. Be yourself, be kind to one another and express your love in as many ways as possible.