Assisted Loving: New Beginnings

By Ginger Manley | Posted: Wednesday January 4, 2012

Dear Ginger,

I am in my 80s, and I've just celebrated my first year wedding anniversary. We were both happily married for many decades before our spouses died, and neither of us ever thought we would marry again - but miracles do happen. I just want to tell your readers that while sex is different in this stage of life, it is really good. Happy New Year!


Dear Patricia,

You are a dear to help me find the words to begin 2012. January is always a time of new beginnings, and what better time to address renewing or updating our sexual health and wellness? As a part of that, let me invite all readers to join me for the first-ever-in-this-area series of classes – “The Journey through Aging and Sexuality” – which I will be offering through the Osher Lifelong Learning Institute at Vanderbilt. Classes begin in Nashville on Jan. 10 and continue for six consecutive Tuesdays. We will share a great adventure exploring the meanings of sexuality in our lives, how it was shaped and shorn, the majesty and the heartbreak of relationships, how to communicate with our children and grandchildren in this area and ways to remain sexually fit throughout life – plus much more. For more information, call 615-322-5569 or visit

Patricia, it doesn’t sound like you and your hubby need any help, but for the rest of the folks out there, here are some things to reflect on as 2012 begins:

1. Each day, are you doing your part to nurture and grow the relationships you have or want to have?

This means relationships with family and friends, and with whomever you hold dear. If you have a special someone with whom you are intimate, remember that relationships take work – not just showing up. I’m a gardener, so gardening images come to my mind as I consider this question for myself. If I want my garden to prosper and thrive in droughts, floods and everything in between, I need to start taking inventory now, while things are dormant. I also need to reference any notes or diaries I’ve kept about successes and failures, and I need to make sure all my tools are in good working order for when the opportunity comes to use them.

In a personal relationship, this means taking stock of what is adding to the relationship and what is detracting from it and taking responsibility for the weeds and pests on your side of the street, like checking in regularly and offering praise and gratitude more often than griping and nagging. When my now-six-year-old granddaughter was visiting my garden last summer, she asked me if I patted the tomatoes every night – “they grow so much better if you love on them,” she said. The same is true for relationships – pat them whenever you can.

2. Is your physical health at optimum for your stage in life?

Maybe you need to lose some weight – don’t most of us after the holidays? Maybe you have been putting off getting a mammogram or prostate or testicular exam – who wants to rush right in for those, but they may save your life and are really not a big inconvenience. If you are recently new to menopause, maybe you need to address the ways those hormonal surges (or lack thereof) are creating havoc in your sexual relationship, like with drying vaginal tissue or decreased desire or just plain exhaustion from night sweats keeping you awake all night. Maybe you need to be on hormone replacement therapy (under the guidance of your health care provider) or you need to begin using some lubricating oils during lovemaking. If you have been following my column, you know I am a huge advocate of lots of good quality oil in the bedside table – sesame, grapeseed, sweet almond or coconut oils are all good choices and available right on the grocery shelf next to the canola or olive oil. Most folks can use any of these safely, but it’s a good idea to check with your primary care provider if you are unsure. These are not just beneficial for women – men find that incorporating oils into a lovemaking experience can be very sensual and sexy. Just make sure you have a very large absorbent towel underneath you, or you could have a mess to clean up.


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