The Fortysomething Report: Romance Then and Now


by By Jeanne Faulkner /

Posted on October 22, 2009 at 4:28 PM

Updated Thursday, Nov 12 at 1:52 PM

About the Author

Jeanne Faulkner is a freelance writer and registered nurse in Portland, Ore. Her work appears regularly in Pregnancy and Fit Pregnancy, and she has contributed articles to the Oregonian, Better Homes & Gardens, Shape and other publications.

What's sexy, now that we've been married forever? Actually, not that much has changed on the hotness scale except for experience, maturity and, of course, far less opportunity for doing the wild thing now that we have children. 

Sure, there are specific differences. I'm not 21 anymore, and I've got the scar collection and stretch marks to prove it. We're focused on parenting, careers, and whose turn it is to buy groceries. Fatigue and responsibility are our sidekicks--like a foursome, only way less kinky. But even though things have changed, for the most part, the stuff we liked then is the stuff we like now. 

Passionate Kisses Long, warm kisses are always sexy. Don't, however, do this in front of the children. Take it from me, they'll gag, beg you to stop and forever after blame you for ruining their childhood.  We've learned to make the most of the "quick peck." Applied frequently and liberally, several quick pecks add up to one long kiss.

Finding a Little Romance  We take it where we can get it. Frankly, romance now means any time alone: tacos at the corner dive or a walk with the dogs if that's what we've got. Ten minutes sitting on our bed to recap the day? If we're focused on each other, that's romance.

As for fine dining, long walks on the beach or weekends in bed--good luck. Fine dining in our house is "just the seven of us" and a pan-full of mac 'n' cheese. Weekends in bed?  Not at home, unless we've got the flu. When we need a dose of classic romance, we pull out the calendar and schedule it. We get a room. We book a weekend at a hotel. No kids. No distractions.

Practicing Random Acts of K&CKindness and Consideration always count, but they may be defined differently. In the old days, picking up the check, opening the door and being nice to your significant other's friends and family went a long way on the K&C list. They still do, but the stakes are higher, and today's list offers more variations and opportunities, like the following: 

  • When I recognize that he's grumpy because he's hungry and I feed him.
  • When he tidies up before I get home.
  • When he takes the kids out so I can meet my deadlines. It's kinder still when I'm not on deadline.
  • Doing the dishes when it's my/his turn, or doing all the laundry.
  • Recognizing I'm/he's just too tired now but willing to give it a try tomorrow ... then actually trying again tomorrow.

Trying Something NewBack then, everything was new. We were young and didn't know anything. It was easy to stumble into uncharted territory. These days? Not so easy. "Something new" means finding time and privacy when we're both too exhausted to discover new ways to play. We've been at this for a while. We know what we will and won't try. But of  course we still do aim for freshness now and then in order to discourage boredom--the curse of the bedroom. 

Sticking With WhatWorksOver time, we've figured out what we both like. He knows that I really don't find  ________ (fill in the blank) enticing, but that I do like ______.  If "trying something new" is special-occasion sex, "sticking with what works" is Monday-through-Friday sex. I like a special occasion as much as the next gal, but honestly, any more than once in a while is stressful. Plain old weeknights are nice and kind of like "comfort food."

Looking Your BestPhysical attraction and attention to appearance never go out of style, though styles and bodies change. It's crucial that I take good care of myself and pay attention to my appearance. If I don't care what I look like, how I dress or how healthy I am, what message am I sending? 

There are plenty of good-looking women out there, and my husband is hot.  I'm smart enough to know that in his eyes I'm brighter, funnier and more charming than any of them, but I also know that looks matter, especially to a visually stimulated male.   My husband has loved me through thick and thin--overweight from pregnancy and hairless from chemotherapy--but that's not the norm.  I make an effort.  So does he.  

A word about keeping up with the times: I'm fortysomething, not twentysomething. I don't have the same wardrobe or hairstyle as I did 20 years ago.  Thank goodness, neither does he.  Fifty-year-old men who still sport a Flock of Seagulls hairstyle or dress like Flava Flav aren't hot.  Fortysomething women who still dress like Madonna circa 1985 look silly, not young.  We dress our age. 

Setting the MoodMusic, lighting and setting are crucial.  What that means for us is more Miles Davis, less Adam Ant. Actually, silence is a perfect sensual contrast to the punk rock blasting through the house courtesy of our teenager.  But a word of caution from our house to yours: Any music emanating from the bedroom when the door is closed raises suspicion.  Candlelight's nice but also attracts attention. "We smell matches; are you lighting candles?  What's going on?" Dark's fine. Bathroom light?  Fine.  Backyard at midnight under the stars?  Not so much.  Tends to freak out the kids.

Basically, all we need now is the same stuff we needed then:  A little privacy, a little energy and no kids outside the door.  Anything else is a windfall.