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Ten ways to maintain a great relationship as you age

Posted: 14th February 2018

Ten ways to have a great relationship when you’re older (and one for when you don’t)

Lucy Harmer, Director of Services at Independent Age, the older people’s charity, gives her expert advice on how to maintain strong relationships in later life. 

  1. Adapt to changes

Changes to your lifestyle such as retirement or ill health can put a strain on your relationship. Make sure you get external support from friends and charities and, where possible, do things for yourself such as keeping active, trying something new like volunteering, and keeping in touch with friends.

  1. Talk to each other

Sometimes when people have been with the same partner for a long time, they may start to feel lonely even if they’re in a relationship. Your partner might be feeling this too, so talk to them about how you feel and try to see things from their perspective. Start a conversation that’s not just about who’s going to put the bins out or make the dinner, but ask for their views on something. Do something you enjoyed when you first got together.

  1. Enjoy your sex life

Communication is at the heart of good sex. Whether it’s a new relationship or you’ve been together for many years, it’s important to keep talking and listening to your partner about what you both want and need. At times you may want sex more or less often than your partner or you may want different things – this is all completely natural and it’s up to you and your partner to work out what you enjoy.

  1. Sex isn’t just about intercourse

Sometimes, intercourse can become more difficult as you age, but that doesn’t mean that you can’t enjoy a healthy sex life. There are many different forms of intimacy you could explore that could be satisfying. Showing affection and appreciation, kissing, touching and being close are all important and can be just as enjoyable.

  1. Do things you enjoy

Create shared experiences to reconnect with each other and keep the relationship strong. Go out for a walk together, cook together, or take part in a shared hobby. Focus on things that make you both happy, rather than problems you might have in the relationship, and make sure you have plenty of positive interactions with each other. 

  1. Have body confidence

All of our bodies change as we get older, and that can affect our confidence and self-esteem. Changes in your body and hormones may also affect your desire. But sexual problems are not an inevitable part of ageing. Your sex life may not be as intense as when you were younger but it can be just as satisfying. A GP or specialist may be able to help with physical problems.

  1. Experiment

There’s no reason why you can’t be more adventurous in later life and try new things. You may find you have fewer inhibitions than when you were younger and are more willing to experiment. For some people that may include having a same sex relationship for the first time.

  1. Practise safe sex

Pregnancy may no longer be a concern, but you can still get or pass on sexually transmitted infections (STIs). Condoms are the only method of contraception that can help protect against STIs, which include genital warts, chlamydia and HIV.

  1. Think about what you want

Some people might be nervous about getting back into dating after a relationship breakdown, so make sure you’re really ready. Your past experiences can influence how you feel about dating and you might be worried about rejection or feel guilty at first, so take time to consider what you really want out of a relationship.

  1. Consider your finances

Your financial situation may change if you remarry or start living with a new partner. Make sure you’ve thought about how the two of you are going to manage your money, whether you’re still entitled to any benefits and whether or not this will affect any existing pensions

  1. If it’s time for a relationship to end

Sometimes relationships break down and separation or divorce may be the only solution. Make sure you get advice about how to sort out your finances. You may also need emotional support – remember that a relationship breakdown can be difficult even if you were the one who instigated it.

More advice about later life relationships can be found at www.independentage.org/relationships