I’ve confided my passion for The New York Times‘s ‘Modern Love’ series before, but lately I’ve heard others wonder whether the column isn’t running out of inspiration. This week’s proves just how endlessly intriguing the subject can be.
Written by an artist named Nancy J. Freedman, ‘Yes, We Do. Even at Our Age’ tackles that enduring taboo: golden age passion. It’s a subject guaranteed to get even the most with-it 20-somethings shuffling their feet in embarrassment. Threesomes? Whatever. Latex? That’s so, like, last millennium. But sex among the over-70s?
In her candid yet discreet essay, septuagenarian Freedman ponders her own happy marriage, reflecting on the assumptions she’s encountered among health care professionals, and the ‘creative lovemaking’ DVDs she and her husband mail-ordered after spotting an ad in a magazine for retirees (they arrived in an unmarked package).
Yet it raises plenty of the questions that aren’t age-specific. Is lifelong passion a realistic relationship expectation? And what constitutes an active love life anyway? Pharmaceutical companies are eager for us to define it in sexual terms, but what if it’s something altogether more complex?
My favourite passage is this:
‘An active love life isn’t based on a random number in a study of couples’ intimacies. It’s based on decades of enjoying each other’s company; sharing silly jokes; recalling life’s events both good and bad; voicing our opinions, concerns and fears; and encouraging and caring for each other as we age.’
You can read the whole thing for yourself here.
p.s. It all reminds me of my wonderful great aunt’s response to receiving a copy of Chastened. She was thrilled that I’d finally got around to writing it, and she loved the jacket, too. As for what lay within, ‘I’ll read it when I’m old enough,’ she promised.