Is lots of sex the secret to a happy retirement?
Is lots of sex the secret to a happy retirement? Well, it’s certainly true that sexually active retirees tend to be happier, says Bettina Arndt.
It makes sense, of course. There’s nothing like physical intimacy to create a rosy glow and that vital sense of connection. And it can even beat a round of golf for hearty exercise, depending upon your level of enthusiasm.
According to a Florida University survey of 239 married people, 60 per cent of married folk who had sex more than once a month were “very happy” with their life in general, compared with just 40 per cent of those who had not had sex for more than a year. That doesn’t mean couples who prefer to read a book or have a good night’s sleep were miserable with each other – 59 per cent who reported no sexual activity in the last 12 months still said they were happily married. But it stands to reason that couples still keen on the dancing doona will have an extra level of intimacy.
Unfortunately, the togetherness that retirement brings sometimes highlights the flaws in a marriage. Divorce is a growing hazard facing older married men. The percentage of divorces involving men over 50 more than doubled between 1985 and 2010 – leaping from 11 to 22 per cent for men in their 50s and four to 10 per cent for men aged 60 plus. And it’s mainly wives who choose to opt out – a Family Court study by Pauline Presland and Helen Gluckstern showed that women made the decision to leave in two-thirds of mature aged marital separations; a finding supported by a recent study from Bowling Green State University in the US.
The Australian researchers found that it was the prospect of spending the rest of their lives in unhappy, unfulfilling relationships that inspired these older women to end their marriages. As one woman put it: “At this time of my life, my children have all left home. I felt I was just part of the furniture and needed someone to notice me. I decided if I stayed any longer I’d be stuck forever.”
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