Spencer Dryden thought he would simply age gracefully. But then he came face to face with what he calls “the grim reaper of the male ego”.
I always promised myself I’d accept aging gracefully. I’ve been tested since turning 65, but I was doing all right until I noticed that I wasn’t able to attain and sustain an erection like I could as recently as a year ago. It was a little frightening but mostly sad. It wasn’t as if I’d lost my sex drive—sexual fantasy was still alive and well—and so was my desire for my wife. The equipment was just failing.
Like so many men I have grown up with this distorted idea that part of manhood was defined by…, well… ‘your manhood’ to borrow a phrase from romance literature—the ability to attain and maintain an erection that brought a woman to a screaming orgasm—and left her begging for more. Hopefully, with the help of the likes of The Good Men Project, future generations of men can be spared this delusion.
I’ve been blessed with good health. I’ve never been a smoker, don’t have diabetes, my blood pressure and cholesterol are in good control, I don’t drink to excess—all the boxes that lead to early ED. Yet, the dreaded nemesis of mankind— Erectile Dysfunction—the grim reaper of the male ego, was standing at my door. At least someone was standing.
The first thing I had to do was slap myself. It’s not dysfunction, it’s normal obsolescence, and those are very different things. But I’m not ready to be obsolete. I understand why men would go running for the blue pill—pure denial. I’m not there yet. I’m scared to death of those pills. Have you really listened to the side effects? Jeez. On the other hand, if it would make me strong enough to be able to lift a couple of claw foot tubs out on to the deck, that would be something. What the hell is that brand image about? Marketing.
Marketing. I’m falling under the spell of marketers playing to my deepest insecurities. I suppose, turn about is fair play. Marketers have been doing that to women for as long as there has been marketing. I recall a statement by Charles Revson (of Revlon Co.) I heard many years ago…’In the factory we compound make-up, at the beauty counter we sell hope.’ The blue pill is hope. I ain’t buying. (yet)
I am not impotent but in a very short time, my recovery time has fallen from hours to days, which wouldn’t be bad, but I’d still like to have sex every day if I could. Maybe not. But I think about sex every day and not every four days. I’d like to be able to have sex any time, like they promise in the commercials.
We have kids at home, most of the time, so sex is still in stolen moments or at least behind closed doors. I’d love to indulge in doing it on the couch or on the kitchen table or in the shower. When we were young it was so much fun to give into the temptation to do it anywhere, any time. I’m a little sad to think those days will never return.
Sometimes a little sadness can provide you the space you need to look at life from a different perspective. Surrendering to the sadness has been part of the emergence of a new and very satisfying type of sex. With my mind only involved in sexual fantasy half the time there was room for deep thought. It started with a resolution, I want to remain a sexual being. That commitment lead to the obvious question: What did I really want from sex going forward, knowing my previous levels of performance were not going to return?
It dawned on me that in recent years there had been a subtle shift from the satisfaction of taking pleasure from my wife to the greater satisfaction of giving it. The most erotic thing in the world for me is seeing, feeling, hearing my wife’s sexual excitement. And if somehow I could continue to bring that to her, I’d be a very happy man. Doors started opening in my mind.
Both my wife and I come from such sexually repressed backgrounds that frank discussion of my fears and my sexual performance hadn’t happened. I knew I needed to do something to open the door. I went out on my own and did something very bold for me, and it did open the door to a lot of discussion and much happiness. I went to an adult toy store and bought a wand vibrator. (If you’re a little afraid to be seen in the adult toy store, go on Sunday so your pastor won’t see you there.)
I surprised her with it on a rare weekend away. I put a blindfold on her and promised her something very special. She loved it. A wand vibrator is not only great for overall body massage, which she loves, but is a nearly fool proof way of bringing a woman to an intense orgasm. I loved it too. I found her excitement arousing, enough to wake ‘my manhood’ from slumber. It got us talking about all kinds of things we had never discussed in 25 years of marriage.
I also started reading about non-coital sexual techniques that every man should learn. There are many ways to give a woman pleasure. But a word of warning, a woman has to have deep trust in her partner. We have that.
Our sex life has taken a great leap forward. There is an openness now we never had before. These days I tease her about trying some of the stuff from Fifty Shades. She has declined whips chains and most of the other practices of BDSM —mostly by giving me “the look” that says, “not unless you want it where the sun doesn’t shine”. I respect that, and no, nothing is going in there, it’s a one way passage marked ‘exit only’.
I’ve released my fear and confessed to her how much I love the new path we have taken. Turns out my wife was never unhappy with our sex life, but worried too. I’m not taking those pills unless they will make me strong enough to carry a couple of claw foot tubs out on to the deck. I still don’t get that, but I was never good at marketing.
Photo: jeronimo sanz / flickr
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