Making love is certainly built on the foundation of play. I [Doug] am reminded of Christ’s teaching that to truly experience the kingdom of God, we need to become like little children. An important part of being childlike is reveling in the awe of the moment and exhibiting uninhibited excitement and curiosity. Children are great teachers of amusement, as I learn every time my granddaughter and I hang out together. She squeals, claps her hands, and is awed by life. I’ve taken the liberty of paraphrasing Christ’s advice in Matthew 18:3: Unless you become childlike and learn to be playful, you will never experience God’s kingdom of unbelievable intimacy.
Learn from children’s playfulness, which is perhaps best described by the terms uninhibited excitement, eager curiosity, lighthearted fun, and spontaneous frolicking. Kids can be self-directed and demand pleasure. In their childlike mentality, life is a big playground, and they expect to have fun. Playfulness is the ability to be unpretentious and candid as you demand things with enthusiasm and laughter—expecting your needs to be met.
Being childlike lends itself to aging and maturity. Who cares what others think as we try new behaviors? We’ve been disciplined too long—let’s let loose and indulge curiosity. Time exists for more lighthearted and spontaneous fun. We know that playing has a way of connecting people. Gentle teasing, shared games, and mutual laughter can be bonding. Even sexual mistakes can create a playful memory Life is too short to let false pride or inhibitions get in the way.
An important part of love is respecting and unconditionally accepting your mate. If you want to find and focus on flaws, you will put a damper on your partner’s attractiveness and the whole lovemaking process. Allowing your mind to become preoccupied with the natural body changes of aging can be very destructive. Your vocation as a mate is the nurturing and encouraging of your lover to revel in his or her sexual appeal.
Build some new attitudes. Remember that it is your lover you are enjoying and have become so comfortable with—that is what looking through the eyes of love is all about. Tender looks of shared history, a playful comfortableness, a growing eroticism that is based on intimacy and not firm bodies—yes, that is what love is all about. Again, your individual ability to love goes beyond your mate and his or her body or attitudes.
Don’t assume that years together mean deeper love. You may need to forgive some old hurts and allow your mate to mellow in older age. A great love life depends on allowing your partner to apologize and change. We all do dumb things that can damage our lovemaking, and we need to be able to let go and move on. Mature love incorporates loving gestures that are nonsexual as well as sexual. Partners who are over fifty can place a special value on the hugs and caresses outside the bedroom that build a loving ambience and lay the groundwork for romance.
It takes more than chronological years to become a wise and knowledgeable lover. First, become a student of your mate and yourself. The apostle Peter tells husbands: “Be considerate as you live with your wives” (1 Peter 3:7 Niv). An integral aspect of true consideration is constantly trying to better know and understand your partner. Your lover often knows what makes them smile or truly feel loved; do you? Meaningful lovemaking stems from this foundation of being happy and fulfilled together.
In the language of the King James Version of the
Bible, the word know is used to describe intercourse. For example, Isaac knew his wife, Rebekah, and they conceived a son. I used to think this wording indicated a reluctance of that culture to speak about or deal with sex openly. Now, I like this word know in our era of casual sexual encounters. Lovemaking should be “knowing” what your mate enjoys and needs. This knowledge takes time, curiosity, a good memory, and the willingness to be a student.
Clients will come to us believing something is very wrong with their bodily reactions and sex lives, only to discover that they are simply experiencing normal changes with aging. Study your mates responses to know what is most enjoyable. No book can give you that information. Women, even more than men, vary about what feels good—the strokes and rhythms that are most pleasurable. This, of course, will change even more as we age. Be an eternal student of your partner’s body and responses. Acquire a reservoir of knowledge of what excites your partner physically and mentally. Set the romantic mood, practice the right moves, and reap the exciting benefits of being a wise lover.
In making love, dishonesty destroys trust, fosters avoidance, and can create confusion and hostility. It may take the form of the dishonest husband who needs more physical stimulation to achieve arousal but is afraid to ask and avoids sexual interaction. A wife may be irritated by some touch that used to feel good or be struggling with loss of sexual desire during menopause. Rather than speaking up, she begins to resent her husband and his approaches—and his continued enjoyment of lovemaking. Both may also be unaware of their changing sexual needs and feelings—a more subtle form of dishonesty. It is not easy to be self-aware and truly transparent with our needs and feelings. It takes real maturity to openly discuss issues and confront changes.
Before leaving the character trait of honesty, let’s acknowledge the ultimate kiss of death to a great sex life:
the extramarital affair. Sometimes in our fifties or sixties we wonder if we are still sexually attractive. Nothing can sabotage trust and the sacredness of a love life more than adultery. Sneaking, keeping secrets, broken promises, and divided loyalties rob a couple of sexual celebration in their marriage. An affair is a powerful negative illustration of the importance of honesty for sexual love to flourish.
Grown-up lovers take the time to develop the sensual, romantic part of their minds and personalities. Every person has an exciting romantic side, but few take the time and energy to unleash their passionate capacities. Mates might be surprised at how talented and creative they can be in planning sexual surprises for each other— yes, even husbands who may appear to be romantically challenged. They easily come up with exciting, unique ideas as they focus on the importance of sensuality and mood setting—anticipation builds, and fresh attitudes pervade the whole sexual scene.
This will be developed, but we believe with conviction that we can choose to never stop learning. Aspects of maturity encourage creative romance: more time and flexibility, a comfortableness in risking new behaviors, and creating greater quality of life.
Couples enjoy expressing their romantic nature. This may include surprise gifts, foot and leg massages, verbal demonstrativeness, a bath together, or dinner with candlelight and soft glances. Of course, romantic lovemaking doesn’t always involve new techniques and experiences. There are certain positions, ways of caressing, places, rhythms, restaurants, moods, and vocabulary that remain enjoyable favorites. You will breathe life and excitement into the material of this book as you develop your imagination, relationship, and character traits.
Discipline may seem an odd character trait to include for a fantastic lover. Most people think of discipline as the opposite of spontaneity, playfulness, and creativity. The truth is that an undisciplined lifestyle will end up producing very infrequent and disappointing sex. In fact, the creation of a scheduled time for sex will allow you and your spouse to anticipate and plan for creative and playful intimacy, with the possible added benefit of increased arousal. Discipline doesn’t have to destroy the fun and spontaneity of sex or put pressure on you. The truth is that if you don’t plan sex into your schedules and take advantage of optimal times, you will never make love with any frequency! The ambience, activity, place, timing, and technique are up to your romantic creativity. Just keep times sacredly reserved for sex.
You have the promise of being a great grown-up lover. Incorporate the character traits of being loving, honest, playful, forgiving, knowledgeable, and disciplined. Practice these skills and remember, the formula for great lovemaking takes a whole, mature person:
Great Lovemaking = A Whole Grown-up Person + A Healthy Intimate Relationship