by Gary G. Kindley, D.Min., LPC, Psychotherapist
Human intimacy is a beautiful thing. Although when we think of intimacy our thoughts tend to go immediately to sex, intimacy can occur on an emotional, spiritual, intellectual and physical level. The deepest physical expression, which can integrate all four aspects of intimacy, is sexual intimacy.
I remind readers that sexuality is not limited to the young but is expressed and experienced in some way during each of our life stages. That was made very real to me when, years ago, as a very young pastor just out of seminary, a well-past-retirement-age senior couple came to me for advice about their sex life!
All of the major religions teach that sex is a sacred and Divine gift. So how is it that the two most commonly held misconceptions that people have about human sexuality are that sex is shameful and that older adults are not sexual beings?
Medically speaking, sex is for both procreation and recreation—think health and renewal. Psychologically, it is most deeply about intimacy, attachment and feeling loved by another.
As we age, physical factors may impact our sexual health. Healthy sex in older adults may move from focusing on intercourse to cuddling, erotic physical touch and emotional bonding. As our bodies age and change, this is a good time for couples to talk about their needs and concerns, re-examine their sexual practices and make adjustments. In future columns I will speak more about this and ways we can develop intimacy with our beloved.
Above all, be patient and willing to talk about each other’s likes and dislikes, needs and desires. Lighten up! If moralistic thinking is holding you back, visit with a counselor to help you unpack your emotional baggage.
Dr. Kindley is a Licensed Professional Counselor specializing in Relationships, Trauma and Addictions. He is the author of “Growing Older Without Fear: The 9 Qualities of Successful Aging,” available at CCIADallas.org. If you have topics you’d like him to address in future columns, write to him at gary@CCIAdallas.org