Sex and Intimacy: How the Physical Part of a Relationship Improves With Time

Attempting to write about sex within a 10, 20, or even 40-year partnership is akin to me writing about politics or knitting: I can’t speak intelligently to either. The reality of my personal experience in long-term partnership doesn’t exactly fit the definition of long-term, hovering around the 3-year mark. Which is exactly why the wisdom of Glue couples hold such fascination for me, I simply have no idea how it is possible to thrive in an intimate partnership throughout a lifetime.

Perhaps I am afraid of monogamy and commitment, but if that were true, why do I yearn for the kind of partnership that Glue couples speak of? Every time I interview a Glue couple I light up with possibility, time stops, I get the chills, and a universe opens up that I never thought possible—seeing marriage and commitment as a path to freedom, safety, and self-expression.

The yoga analogy is that when you hug into your midline, expansion is possible, and that the more you ground through your feet, the more you can extend outward physically. I would like to believe that the same be said for intimacy and relationship, that a more secure and grounded relationship yields more freedom as an individual to expand out in the world. Taking this one-step further, developing safety and trust that only comes with time, yields greater self-expression and pleasure within a committed long-term sexual partnership.

Our society seems to value casual sex. Countless political and business leaders have sought sexual pleasure outside of their marriage, as well as countless people not in the news. It’s as if many of us have bought into the belief system that excitement and pleasure within a long-term marriage isn’t possible.

What if this simply weren’t true?

Barry & Nancy have remained faithful to each other for 42 years, and Barry shares what many of us think, “When I was a young guy and being free and having other lovers, I would always say ‘I don’t see how I could be with one woman, what happens when you get to be like I am now, when you start to get a little chubby and lost all your hair’…the fact is it feels the same today as it felt when I was a young man in my 20’s—the fulfillment and the intimacy.”

Nancy adds, “Sex has been great, still is.” Yes, after 42 years, their sex is still great.

It is probably fair to say that many of us fall into the trap of Barry’s story line, that sex is more pleasurable in our 20’s with multiple partners. But what if the direct opposite were true, and intimacy and sexual fulfillment are ENHANCED as we age and grow within a partnership?

Helen & Sydney
Helen & Sydney met 70 years ago and are still learning about each other.

Helen & Sydney have been together for 69 years. In this 37-second clip, they talk about Helen losing her virginity and that they had to learn how to physically approach each other. The thing that is really remarkable about what they share is that after 69 years, “They are still learning.”

We can take something from this idea of “still learning” about intimacy 69 years into a relationship, and remember to approach our partner with a sense of newness and open communication about sex. Remember to ask your partner questions about what they like and dislike; what areas of their sexuality have they been afraid to explore and been too afraid to ask? I for one am inspired to learn that 42 years into a marriage, the sex can still be great.

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