Q: Does sexual fulfillment decrease as we get older? My spouse and I are in our 60s, and I'm concerned normal aging issues might have negative implications for our relationship in the bedroom.
Jim: Many people seem to believe that libido inevitably fades with age, and that elderly couples who are still interested in sex are abnormal. This idea is largely mythical. In actuality, sexual desire depends more on a state of mind and emotional attitudes than on one's chronological age.
Generally, it's normal to have an ongoing interest in sex throughout one's adult life. Like the young, older people experience the full range of human feelings and emotions. They also need love and affection -- sometimes in large amounts. Researchers have shown that normal interest in and capacity for sex continues into the 80s. It may in some cases decrease in intensity because of specific problems with self-image, such as a feeling that one is no longer attractive, but this is not always true. It can also be affected, of course, by illness, aches and pains, complications of surgical procedures or certain other physical problems that accompany the aging process.
It's important to bear in mind that sexual intimacy in marriage is a lifelong process. Different forms of expression may be appropriate at different phases of the relationship. Where pain or physical incapacity has limited certain types of sexual activity, it's worth remembering that sexual intercourse per se is not necessarily the only option for physical intimacy. Touch, physical closeness, skin-to-skin contact, even intimate conversation can be extremely satisfying in the absence of other forms of sexual pleasure. At every stage of life, healthy attitudes toward marital sex should be characterized by candor, vulnerability, flexibility and willingness to communicate.
Please call one of our licensed therapists at 855-771-4357 if we can help further.
Q: We're a year out before our son is scheduled to begin kindergarten. For a variety of reasons, he won't be attending preschool, and I'm afraid this might put him at a disadvantage next year. Is there anything I can do to compensate for this?
Danny Huerta, Executive Director, Parenting: It's important to understand that cultivating "school readiness" isn't simply a matter of formal academic training. All of a child's early experiences, whether at home or in organized preschool settings, are educational. There are a number of things, then, you can do at home to optimize his chances of succeeding in the academic arena. Here are a few suggestions:
-- Read books aloud with your child. Get him used to handling books and help him recognize the difference between pictures and print.
-- Engage in informal counting activities. This will strengthen your child's understanding of numbers. Familiarize him with the alphabet.
-- Develop reading readiness by promoting your child's phonological awareness. You can do this by reading nursery rhymes, singing and clapping along with songs, and playing games with rhyming words.
-- Spend time talking, playing and cuddling with your child. Take steps to stimulate informal conversation. Give him opportunities to ask lots of questions. Encourage play that promotes creativity, imagination and problem-solving skills.
-- If your child has trouble sitting still, practice having him concentrate on a task for a short period of time (10 minutes). Over several months, increase that time until he can remain focused for 30 minutes or so.
-- Create and maintain a regular routine in your home. Emphasize mealtimes, naptimes, bedtime, etc. Help your child to become comfortable with this rhythm.
-- Encourage behaviors and activities that develop a sense of responsibility in your child (e.g., simple chores) and that demonstrate respect and courtesy.
-- Look for opportunities to develop your child's social skills through playgroups.
If you have additional concerns or if our counselors can be of further help, please call us at 855-771-4357.
Jim Daly is a husband and father, an author, and president of Focus on the Family and host of the Focus on the Family radio program. Catch up with him at www.jimdalyblog.com or at www.facebook.com/DalyFocus.
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