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J Marriage Fam. 2012 Jun 1;74(3):428-443. Epub 2012 May 24.

All Shook Up: Sexuality of Mid- to Later Life Married Couples.

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University of Texas at Austin.


The authors integrate theoretical work on the performance of gender with a life course perspective to frame an analysis of in-depth interviews with 17 long-term married couples. The findings indicated that couples' sexual experiences are characterized by change over time, yet that change is shaped by the intersection of gender and age. Midlife couples (ages 50 - 69) were distressed by changes in their sex lives likely because they impede couples from performing gendered sexuality. The source of this distress stems from age-related physical changes; however, it manifests in different ways for husbands and wives. In contrast, later life couples (ages 70 - 86) were more likely to emphasize the importance of emotional intimacy over sex as they age. Marital sex is a source of conflict for many midlife couples because of husbands' and wives' incongruent experiences, but later life husbands and wives tend to have more congruent experiences of marital sex.

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