shall we talk about sex?

One of the challenges that I had to face, when Jack and I decided to really give our marriage a chance, had to do with sexual intimacy. After menopause, I really didn’t care if I ever had sex again. The physical urges were all but gone and that was fine with me…it even seemed like the natural course of things. It was a relief.

I’d never had a healthy body image, even when I was young, firm, and fit…and sex…what a loaded issue. Growing up Catholic, sex was at best, a necessary evil if you were married. Otherwise it was considered dirty, disgusting, and a sign of moral depravity and weakness.

Even though I left the church when I was in my 20s, at some level I still carried these beliefs about sex, and by extension about myself. I thought I’d finally banished these beliefs when I no longer felt like a sexual being, and I wasn’t being “challenged” at home; Jack had felt rejected so many times that he gave up asking. What I didn’t recognize or should I say, what I didn’t want to see was how Jack felt about sex; how it meant acceptance and love to him.

So when we “reconciled” a year and a half ago, I knew that I’d have to face a part of myself that was painful; namely an aging, sagging, bagging, body that didn’t look or feel at all enticing/sexy, and these old beliefs that sex was somehow wrong.

I didn’t jump back into sex with full abandon: inhibitions suddenly gone, free and open at last, but I did, to the best of my ability (sometimes with inner trembling) open myself up to be present in this way for Jack. What I came to see was that my apparent rejection of Jack’s advances was in fact a rejection of myself; I really never believed that I could make peace with sex or myself as a sexual being.

Does sex sometimes feel “obligatory” to me? Yes. Could I turn away from it and never give it another thought? Maybe…but maybe not. I’ve been surprised by how wonderful it is to not be fit and firm, buff and sexy, but to feel deeply appreciated…to talk about our insecurities and apprehensions about sex and to see them met with such tender understanding.

A part of me that I had relegated to the past, is now opening, growing, and pushing me to live more fully in the present, and these old beliefs are falling away. My softer body is mirroring my softer inner self who is willing to be more vulnerable, less in control; more open…and I welcome her with a soft, wrinkled smile.



Several days ago, a friend sent me a wonderful article from the New York Times entitled, “What sleeping with married men taught me about infidelity”, the link is below.

11 thoughts on “shall we talk about sex?”

  1. A tangled place no doubt, but a perfect temple to unravel all the fears of intimacy and vulnerability. Thank you for this small piece of vulnerable bravery. Here’s to loving our mature bodies and our steps towards wholehearted living.

  2. Mary, you’ve sure touched on a ‘sexy’ topic…you’re not shying away from it, but I’d like to ask, what happens to respect for the other partner when for reasons that are personal, sex is no longer on the table so to speak. I’ve watched a 34 year old marriage of a good friend, end just recently, because she could no long ‘honour’ that need in her husband. What’s followed is the dissolution of a family business, a buying of a second home, financial restrictions for both parties and their children being upset with their father all because he ‘needed’ to have what his wife was tired of providing. It reminds me of something I heard years ago, about the bad snow storms we were having at the time, it went something like: it’s like having sex after seventy, Flossie, grin and bear it, here is comes again…..

    .I’m no help here with your subject matter, Mary…but good for you for bringing it up….’ladies’ didn’t discuss sex when I grew up….
    Sandy P, in Ont.Can..

    1. Dear Sandy,
      Thank you for your comment…I had to laugh at the Flossie quote! As for your friend who’s marriage ended, I cannot comment because, as you also know, marriages and Life itself are not simple or formulaic. Love,

  3. Mistyped, it should read “here it comes again” not here is comes again…fingers move faster than the brain,
    Sandy P

    1. Mary, no comment necessary on my friend’s marital situation other than she blames herself for not being able to facilitate her husband’s needs…but there are varying circumstances in an issue such as you brought up and some are medical. I would hope that there is consideration for partners/spouses in all ways in regard to this ‘sensitive’ topic. Brave you for bringing it up publicly. To me, what a partnership/marriage is all about is friendship first and loyalty to that friendship.
      Sandy P

  4. Alison Armstrong is a world renowned expert on male/female relationships. Learning from her has changed my life with all the men I encounter in my life. She has LOTS of free stuff on her website. She has lots of YouTubes as well. I highly recommend checking this out.


  5. Tell it, Mary! I love your candor and generous spirit, it all comes through in your beautiful writing voice. Xo Kim

    Sent from my iPhone


  6. OMG! this is so beautifully expressed, and speaks to me so personally. I lost a marriage because of it. I have followed you since the beginning! Thank you for your bravery, and wisdom., always.

  7. Yes, Mary I have also followed you for a long time and always, always treasured your words. Thank you for being so honest and open with “The flock”. Love, Myrna

  8. Oh Mary you always write just how I feel. It is true…… I am happy for you and Jack to work things out. Although we never met in person- yet- I do love Jack and I love you too😘

    Sent from my iPhone


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