A NEED FOR BETTER COMMUNICATION
J.B. from St. Louis, Missouri:
I got married last year. As a widower (after 51 years of marriage to my first wife), I was very unsure about whether I
could ever really love another woman. Thankfully, I discovered your Seasoned Romance eColumns (as you call
them) on
MyBestYears.com, then came to FirePointe.com through the link there. Next, I read your Seasoned
Romance
book. All this leads me to say that if I had the power to back and repeat my adult life, I would have tried to
be a better at communicating with my first wife. I'm so much better at it with my current wife, and it has made such
a difference in every area of our married life, including sex. Why did I wait so long? Maybe this will help some
other man, at least.

Jeoffrey and Renée:
Don't sell yourself short. You sound like a gem for both your first wife
and certainly your current Mrs.

Your awareness for a need of better communication means that you
are certainly not alone. Men and women of all ages and back-
grounds can benefit from better and more open communication.

Certainly openness can work wonders in improving romance for older adults,
since we face numerous challenges. As you have well-stated, it's is so
important to be open and discuss sex-related issues with one's partner,
especially as you experience both changes and challenges.

Without open communication, misunderstandings so often lead to negative
consequences and walls of hurt. Something as simple as a pulled muscle or stress
at work can lead to a lack of physical intimacy, which can then be taken as a personal
affront or rejection. Those things, left to fester, can build up into huge walls of distrust and hurt.

Communicating with your partner about what's going on in your life, what you are feeling, what you want
and what you don't like, always in a positive, heartwarming, non-threatening way, is one of the best
avenues to a healthy relationship in every way, certainly in the area of romance!


TO FORGIVE OR NOT TO FORGIVE
F. F. from Nashville, Tennessee:
I'm 59. My ex-husband left me five years ago for a young cookie, and I was devastated. Now I realize that he did me
a great favor. Number one, I realized that I had driven him away with my crappy attitude. Number two, I didn't have
to keep the crappy attitude for the rest of my life.

Fast forward five years, and I have gone through counseling, picked myself up, dusted myself off, and now have
finished my degree in culinary arts that I always had planned to do someday. My problem, if you want to call it, is
that I've never stopped loving my ex (he's no longer involved with anyone). The past few months, we've actually
found a way to be civil at family get-togethers. In fact, we've gone on a few dates, and I find that I truly enjoy being
around him again. I believe he is genuine in his apology for what he did, but there's also been no pressure on his
part for us to get back together. Both of us seem to be wanting to take it slow.

There's been no sex, but I'm possibly open to that, and I know he would like to be romantic again. He was always
great in the sack, and I sometimes wish we could have that part back again. I enjoy my freedom and don't think I
want to be married to him again, but who knows? My question: Have you seen this sort of situation very much in
your research? And how does it usually turn out?

Jeoffrey and Renée:
First, congratulations on building a new future on your own, rather than hanging on to past hurts.

Yes, we have seen this situation a lot, especially during the past 20 years. It often works well because of a shared
past, as long as both parties go into the "new" relationship with reasonable expectations and open
communications. Many, however, discover once again why they split up in the first place.

And often, especially if both parties treasure their freedom and don't want to live under the same roof anymore,
they decide to enjoy dating and even romance, but with no strings.

Follow your heart, but also get a blood test before jumping in the sack. Trust, but verify!


ROMANCE YOURSELF
O.P. from Morganton, West Virginia:
I'm a guy from a family that never talked much about feelings. It was that way with my first wife who passed away
five years ago. I'm dating a woman that I met while on vacation in South Carolina. She seems to like me, and she's
a lot of fun. We're making plans to get together again in a month or so.

Meanwhile, I'm thinking a lot about the fact that I'd like to be able to express myself better with her than I've done
in the past. I want to learn how to be more romantic. Is it possible to change this late in life? I'm 75. She's 63. I think
we might have a chance to make it work. The sparks flew between us when we were together. I just don't want to
blow it with her.

By the way, I've already learned so much from your
Seasoned Romance book. I feel as if I can trust you to point me
in the right direction so I can make good changes in my life.

Jeoffrey and Renée:
    You wouldn't believe how many letters and emails we get on this
    subject. There's no magic formula for being a better communicator
    and a more romantic person, but there are some proven principles
    that can work for you:

    Present a neat, clean appearance.
    Ralph Waldo Emerson wrote, "A man's style is his mind's voice."  
    How you look and act in both romantic and non-romantic settings
    sends nonverbal messages that speak volumes about the kind of
    person you are. People notice.

    Smile a lot.  
    The single greatest feature you possess and the one that controls
    your tone of voice is your smile.  You sound warm and wonderful
    when you talk and smile at the same time. That smile translates well
    to the page, over the telephone and through all forms of business
    communication. The late comedienne Phyllis Diller once said, “A
    smile is a curve that sets everything straight.” Be genuine, of
    course, and practice in front of a mirror (by yourself!) until you feel
    confident doing this, but smile. Smiling lets people know that you
    are happy and filled with joy. Go ahead. People will be attracted to
    your smile.

Use a person's name.  
This is a great principle in helping you to be better at communicating because it seldom is unsuccessful. It has
been said that the sweetest sound in all the world to any person is his or her name. People have powerful
feelings for a person who makes the extra effort to remember and use their preferred name. It certainly beats
“Hey, you!”

Become a great listener.
Pay attention. Engage the person talking. Don't glance around the room or appear easily distracted. Show that
you're listening by nodding occasionally, smiling, noting that you are open and inviting in your body's posture.
Respect, credibility, and trust are gained when you present yourself as an effective and warm listener. The great
self-improvement trailblazer Dale Carnegie often said, ""You can make more friends in two months by becoming
interested in other people than you can in two years by trying to get people interested in you."

Romance yourself.
Does that sound strange? The truth is that you can't give what you don't have. Do good things for yourself. Say
positive things to yourself. Be romantic to yourself by filling your life with beautiful music, sheduling time to take
care of yourself, treating yourself in special ways, lighting candles when you pleasure yourself. This "fills" you up
so you don't feel so desperate to get romance from someone else, and when this happens, you may be surprised
at how attractive you appear to others.

These are just beginning steps. Never stop learning. You've already dealt with the most important part...the need
to become better at communication and romance.

We wish you lots of happiness! We look forward to great reports in the future.


NURTURING INTIMACY
G.T. from Springfield, Missouri:
Once in awhile, I'd love for my husband to initiate sex through something other than pawing me and asking me,
"You wanna do it?" He loves reading your column and has enjoyed reading
Seasoned Romance. I enjoy intimacy,
but sometimes I wish it would be something other than just about the sexual act itself. What does your research
show? Am I the only woman out there who feels this way? He's 73, by the way. I'm 71. We've been married for three
years. He's a tiger in the bedroom, and I love how he sets my heart a-flutter. I just wish...

Jeoffrey and Renée:
You're certainly not alone. You're in fine company. What's the answer?

    Back in the 1980s, we were walking through an airport and saw a guy with a red t-shirt that proclaimed
    in bold letters, "SEX BEGINS IN THE KITCHEN." We were heading to Asia to begin a long research
    project on sexuality, so we were intrigued. His name was Dr. Kevin Leman, and in our short
    conversation, he talked about his brand new book by that title. He was on a book tour, and did he
    understand marketing or what? There's no telling how many books he sold just from the t-shirt.

    His book, since updated, started with a story about the Mom of a
    busy family who heads out to work on preparation for a church
    banquet.

    As she heads home, worn out, she remembers that she had left the
    kitchen in a mess with dirty dishes and all the rest. She dreaded
    walking back into the house, knowing she should spend the next 30
    minutes or so cleaning up before going to bed.

    Imagine her surprise when she walks into the kitchen and can't
    believe her eyes. Her husband was hanging up the dish towel.
    Behind him was a beautiful, sparkling-clean kitchen!

Dr. Leman's book was based on the idea that one's mate should be the Number One priority
in life, which included being tuned into each other's spiritual, emotional, physical and sexual
needs.

What does this have to do with your husband?

Read the book. Better yet, get him to read the book with you. Bottom line, consideration and
respect can do wonders in bringing lovers closer together, much more than simply the
physical act.

Hmmm...maybe sex can begin in the kitchen, after all!
DEALING WITH NOSY KIDS
Name Withheld from Wyoming:
    On a recent family get-together at our house, one of our grown children saw our
    copies of Seasoned Romance, both 1 and 2, on our bedside table, picked them up
    and began leafing through them. Later, two of our children cornered us and
    mentioned surprise that we were reading  "things like that" and having a book
    about senior romance lying around the house where the grandkids might see
    them. It was a tad uncomfortable, but we got through it.

    Why do we suddenly feel like teenagers who were caught with skin magazines
    stuck between the mattress and box springs? We were always open with our
    children about sex and romance when they were growing up. Now it's as if like
    they are the disapproving parents and we are the wayward kids.

    Without saying, "It's none of your business," how do other seniors handle this?

Jeoffrey and Renée:
Believe it or not, we get a number of emails and letters describing similar situations. We've asked several well-
known professionals for input, and we've received a variety of answers. Take your pick and tailor it to your situation:

  • Answering a question by asking a question: "What do you mean by 'things like that?'" Or "Does it seem unusual
    to you that we would be reading about senior romance?"

  • Humor: "Trust us, we promise not to do anything dangerous or life-threatening!" Or "We noticed certain
    seniors with big grins on their faces, and when we asked why, they told us about these books. So..."

  • Absurdity: "You're not going to turn us in to the senior thought police, are you?" Or, "Actually, we've been
    asked to star in an erotic training series about people our age, and these are our workbooks. What do you
    think?"

  • Honesty: "We're more in love today than ever, and we never want to stop learning about love and romance to
    make things even better. We hope you feel the same way, too, as you get older."

Just remember what worked when you had the "talk" or "talks" when your children were young. Keep it simple. Be
honest. Don't belabor your explanation. Mainly, treat romance as very natural, even among seniors. Then let them
know that you hope they will be as happy and active as you are when they reach your age.

You can tell when you're giving TMI (Too Much Information). Their eyes will glaze over and they'll stop listening, just
like they did when they were teenagers.

By the way, since first posting this, we're received a number of answers to the "nosy kids" question, including these:

    "We're like fine wine. We believe in getting better with age."

    "Uh, since when did we have to start asking permission from our children about what we do in the bedroom?"

    "We've both decided to be like Peter Pan. We're never gonna grow up!"

    "We're training for the Guinness Book of World Records."

And our favorite:

    "A love the produced children as wonderful as you should only get more beautiful as the years go by. Right?"

Better yet, buy them copies of SR 1 and 2, and let them see that romance isn't just for the young. Far from it! They
might be inspired to know that lots of seasoned seniors and "doing it" with great passion, regardless of the nunber
of candles on the most recent birthday cake!
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