When your partner uses menopause as the reason for diminished desire consider it your wake up call to something more serious…
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See the author’s TEDx Talk on Creating Extraordinary Intimacy in a Shut Down World
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I recently visited a dear friend of mine in the mid-West. On all outward appearances he is happily married with two incredible teenage children and an attractive wife in her early 40’s. For fun I gave him some of my “secret” pheromone cologne to see how his wife would respond. After two doses he finally admitted that she didn’t even notice. He then went on to explain that his wife has been exhibiting much lower desire for sex lately because she said she’s going through menopause. However, I suspected that was something more going on here than what was meeting the eye.
(Author’s Note: the following is based upon observations made by myself and my partner who happens to be post-menopausal. I am not a therapist, and any implied generalizations are really just my opinions based upon my personal experience –your mileage may vary. And, as always, there are exceptions to everything.)
Why Menopause Is a Lame Excuse
When I shared this exchange with my Partner (who is post-menopausal), she matter-of-factly said “Oh, women just use that as an excuse –I used to say that to my former husband all the time if I didn’t want to have sex with him.” Apparently, as women age, saying to their partner: “Not tonight Honey, I’m going through menopause.” is the preferable post-child-bearing years “I have a headache.” excuse. Let’s face it, what guy in his right mind will argue with a partner that is going through the ravages of menopause? That is clearly a losing proposition.
My Partner went on to explain that menopause did indeed impact how she wanted to have sex, not necessarily how much of it she wanted. Intercourse for most women during and after menopause can be uncomfortable, if not downright painful. There are several factors at play here. First of all, vaginal dryness typically associated with menopause can cause great discomfort during traditional intercourse. And, add on top of that a British university study which indicates that most women of any age are not all that into intercourse to begin with. This can be inferred from their research showing approximately 87% of all women (regardless of age) “moan” or vocalize during intercourse to: a) boost their man’s self-image as a lover, and b) speed things up (i.e. “Let’s get it over with already.”)
Also, based upon my own observations, a majority of women hesitate to authentically tell their partner what they really want in the bedroom. This is out of fear that the man will become hurt, angry and ultimately abandon them. Now you can see why menopause is the perfect inarguable excuse to avoid physical intimacy between long term couples. Yet, it simply doesn’t have to be that way at all.
Sexual Desire vs. Expression
In previous articles and numerous interviews I have shared how desire and expression (i.e. how that desire is manifested) are two completely different things, particularly as women age.
Physiologically speaking, intercourse is typically not the most pleasurable way most women can experience sex. Direct clitoral stimulation almost always trumps penetration. It has been my personal experience and that of others I’ve talked to that desire for physical intimacy in women does not have to diminish with age. However, *how* they want physical intimacy expressed in the bedroom very often does. Yet I’ve seen many men have a hard time understanding that what worked before (i.e. intercourse) is no longer that interesting for their maturing partner. And this disconnect can be the source of major frustration and even eventual marital celibacy or breakup. An all too common occurrence for long-term relationships.
Resignation is Not the Answer – Authenticity Is
When I offered to help my friend, he simply said: “Thanks, but that is just the way it is.” This is clearly a difficult subject for most couples because it is tied to so many primal fears associated with our standard Sexual Operating System. The danger here however is that resignation almost always turns into resentment. And resentment is one of the most powerful corrosives that can eat away at an otherwise beautiful relationship until there is nothing left to save.
The way out of this almost inevitable conundrum facing most long-term couples is by both parties insisting on authentic communication. The female partner needs to have the courage and fortitude to sincerely express what she wants from her mate with respect to physical intimacy, especially as it changes over time. And likewise, the male partner needs to authentically listen and do his best to comply. Now before too many guys reading this knee-jerk into a “Hey, what about my needs?!” response, know this: When you are able to genuinely please her (i.e. she’s not faking it), you will be one very happy camper. This is very much part of our hard-wiring as men.
So, next time you hear: “Not tonight Honey because I have _____________.”, treat it as an invitation to start an authentic conversation about what she really wants. Chances are she will love and cherish you all that much more because risked doing so.
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