I Am A Married 50-Year-Old. Here’s Why I Only Have Sex Once A Year

by Rebecca Endicott
Becca is a writer and aspirational dog owner living in NYC.

Got a challenging question? The weekly Ask Becca column has an answer!

Every week, I put together a column dealing with life’s tricky ups and downs. Readers can submit questions of their own at!

I select four questions to answer every Friday and provide insights into dealing with difficult situations. Readers are also encouraged to leave their own words of wisdom in the comments. After all, it takes a village!

Whether your question is big or small, I’d love to hear it! Romance, family, work — it’s all on the table.

Last week, we discussed the end of a relationship, dating a dud, parents who fat-shame, and a man who expects his fiancée to do the “woman’s work.”

This week, the column will touch on a nearly-sexless marriage, a lonely neighbor, a surprise new sibling, and a disrespectful teen.

Scroll through for my very best advice, and don’t forget to leave your own thoughts in the comments section!

Infrequent Intimacy

Wife and husband in bed with concern
Laura Caseley for LittleThings


My husband and I have been married for nine years. We met and married very quickly; at first I felt adored and loved at every turn.

In the last several years, our intimate life is nonexistent. It used to be that we couldn’t wait to be alone together.

Now, when I ask him about it, he claims it’s work stress, or the fact that we never know when our last remaining child will be coming through the door — or even the fact that I suffer from back pain and he doesn’t want to hurt me. When he does try to be intimate, he can’t maintain.

He states he has talked to his doctor and that he wants to try to work on it. I have started aquacise and massage therapy to improve my back issues (which it has), and have even stopped asking about it to ensure I am not putting any pressure on him.

At the age of 50, is being intimate once a year normal?


Becca's Best Advice

Dear Confused,

Is being intimate once a year normal? My not-so-helpful answer is: well, it depends.

You and your husband have been together for a decade, and at 50, you’re both officially “middle aged.”

Does the equipment downstairs just stop working when you hit that fifth decade? Of course not, but it might require more frequent tune-ups.

My best guess is that your husband probably does have a health issue that he needs to address.

He says that he has talked to a doctor, but what he may need is a thorough physical to figure out if he’s suffering from something like a hormone imbalance or prostate issue that might make him less aroused.

It’s also very possible that his performance anxiety could be just that: anxiety.

He’s worried about your back, he’s worried about work, he’s worried about your kid walking in.

It’s possible that he has built up a mental wall around sex in his head, where getting intimate is automatically linked to negatives like pain, stress, and embarrassment.

If his GP can’t find a physical reason, it may signal that his sexual barrier is mental. Seeing a therapist and a psychiatrist could give him the tools to get past any mental hang-ups.

Meanwhile, you’re doing everything you need to do. Keep up the good work! Exercise and physical therapy for your back pain will make it easier for both of you to resume your old sex life.

One additional note: if you’re feeling sexy, don’t be afraid to let him know!

He might not be interested in traditional sex right now, but cuddling and foreplay might be a manageable way for both of you to strengthen your intimacy.

Warmest wishes,


Negative Nelly

Friend is always complaining to husband and wife
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Dear Becca,

My husband and I have recently befriended an elderly lady in our neighborhood, who we quickly learned has no other friends, and sadly no family close by. She likely has no other companions because she complains — a lot.

She has a difficult time finding the positives in life because she is going through a really tough time with her daughter, who is struggling with a drug addiction and is in another state. She is clearly enabling her addiction, paying for all of her bills, etc., so we are staying out of it.

However, she complains about everyone and everything around her: her other neighbors, other people in her life that stop by and try to help — anyone, really. We imagine that she complains about us when we are not around.

We have twin toddlers whom she absolutely adores, and she brings them gifts every time she comes around. They light up her life.

The problem is, the negativity is awful, and we have tried to talk her through her problems and be a listening ear about her daughter.

We don’t want to cut her off because we feel like we are her only friends. She adores the twins, but the negativity is draining.


The Only Friends

Becca's Best Advice

Dear Only Friend,

It’s very kind and generous of you and your husband to make room in your lives for your elderly neighbor. I think that what you’re learning is that giving back to your community can sometimes be a bigger commitment than you bargained for!

I actually think that you are handling this in exactly the right way.

You have identified the problem: she is extremely negative and draining to be around.

You have also made at least one decision about how to handle the problem: you aren’t going to cut her out of her life.

Next, you have to figure out a solution that falls somewhere in between caring for her constantly, and avoiding her completely.

I think you’ve made the right decision by choosing not to get involved in her drama with her daughter. It sounds like a very messy situation.

However, if she’s venting all of her family difficulties to you, it might be time to redirect her energy.

Maybe see if you can find a therapist or even a hotline that specializes in family conflict, and suggest it to her as a place to direct her angst and get guidance. Do this gently so she doesn’t feel rejected.

You can also try to encourage interests in new hobbies and activities. Perhaps there’s a cool class at the senior center, or a knitting club in the town center.

Then, try to manage the relationship by taking control of when and where you see her.

Establish a set time once or twice a week where you go over to her house and bring the twins. You can have tea and let her vent, and then you can say, “Oh, I have an appointment,” and head out.

This time will be a source of joy for her, and she’ll create positive associations with that kind of happy and stress-free arrangement.

You shouldn’t feel guilty about keeping the visits to a minimum. You want to help, but you’re a young parent with a lot of other tasks to address. There’s definitely a balance that you can find where you are both happy!

Good luck to you both!


Surprise Sibling

<u>Surprise Sibling</u>
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

Dear Becca,

I came across an article recently where people asked you for advice and agreed with all that you offered. My circumstances are not very little and I can understand if you don’t have an answer. I’ve never emailed a stranger for advice, but why not?

What I am about to tell you probably won’t sound believable, but it has become my life now.

In November of 2015, my baby brother (he was a teenager) took his own life. He had struggled with severe depression and anxiety for many years and could no longer continue his battle.

He was the person with whom I was closest in my life. Although they loved each other, he and my parents never got along.

A few months later, my husband and I found out we are not capable of having children. This was difficult news, but we’ve always known we would adopt some day, so this news was not the end of the world.

As of two months ago, my 50-year-old parents discovered they are pregnant. A month after my brother took his own life, they reversed their child-preventing procedures and started undergoing numerous procedures and methods to increase conception and whatnot. They had decided long ago that they no longer wanted children, so this felt very strange.

They wanted to name the child after my brother and became very angry with me when I told them that felt wrong. They have told me I am jealous for my inability to have children and claim I wish the baby would die.

Their reactions to my discomfort are extreme (in my opinion). They have made it clear they don’t want to grow old in a quiet home together, and feel that they don’t have normal lives, nor do they want normalcy.

They’ve made it clear that my role is more desired as a nanny rather than a daughter.

I feel very hurt and confused. I’ve made it clear I don’t wish negativity or harm on anybody and wish them happiness and health.

I guess what I want to know is, how should I handle everything? Are my feelings justified?

A 23-year age difference isn’t normal, and a baby to fill the emotional hole my brother left isn’t a fair expectation, right?

Speechless, With And Without A Sibling

Becca's Best Advice

Dear With And Without,

I’m so sorry for your loss; you clearly love your brother very much and miss him every day.

It also seems like his death was the catalyst for a lot of other challenges in your family life, starting with your parents and their new baby.

You write that they had no interest in having more kids, but after your brother took his own life, they immediately started on fertility treatments to get pregnant again.

It seems to me that this is clear reactionary behavior, particularly because you note that they plan to give the child the same name as your late brother.

To me, that indicates that your parents feel responsible in some way for what happened to your brother. Having another baby is their self-prescribed therapy to deal with the tragedy.

I don’t necessarily think that it’s the healthiest way to go about processing their grief, but it’s their decision and there’s not a lot anyone can do about it.

You might disagree with it, and I think it’s good that you voiced your disapproval about the name — the baby deserves his own identity. No child should live as a reminder of someone they can never be.

Still, at some point, you may find that the easiest way forward for you is to simply make your peace with the decision and welcome the new baby.

Naturally, you’ll never forget your beloved baby brother, and a new sibling will never replace him. That baby will make its own place in your heart.

However, no matter how much you love the arriving little one, I think you should establish some healthy boundaries with your parents right now.

They may think that, because you can’t conceive, you’ll be happy to take care of their baby.

Make it very clear that they are the child’s parents. Sure, maybe you’ll babysit occasionally, but you aren’t going to raise your new sibling for them.

When you’re ready to build a family via adoption, or any other routes that are compatible with your life, you’ll do it at your own pace and on your own terms.

Remember, no matter what happens, love the new baby for who he is. It’s not his fault that he was conceived under challenging circumstances.

Sending love and strength your way!


Teen Angst

Teenage daughter is annoyed with concerned mother
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

I don’t know when it all started, but my daughter hates me. I can see that in her eyes.

She does not want to help out with the chores and even if I ask her, she wouldn’t do anything — just because I asked.

She is very careless about every single thing in life. Even her weight is increasing day by day. I don’t know where to go or what to do [with her].


Becca's Best Advice

Dear Anon,

At the risk of sounding like a cliché, here’s my advice: Welcome to the terrible teens.

Your daughter is a teenager. I would be more concerned if she didn’t hate you.

When kids turn into teens, their hormones go out of whack, their bodies change, and they start to realize that they’re going to have to take care of themselves in a few short years. It’s a vicious cocktail that is bound to make anyone cranky.

Think back to when you were 13, 15, or 17. It was miserable, right? That’s what your daughter is going through right now.

One of the most annoying teenage qualities is the tendency to back talk, or refuse to do something just because the idea came from Mom or Dad. If you’re the parent, it’s painful, but try not to let it hurt your feelings.

This rebellious phase is actually a necessary part of development; your teen needs to establish who she is as an individual. A little gentle rebellion is actually a healthy sign that signals that she’s ready to split from the family unit.

She’ll always be your little girl, but she also has to figure out how to be a grown woman. Bad behavior is just part of the growing pains.

Still, you’re the mom, and if you say to do the chores, it’s your right to bug her about it until the chores are done. That’s your way of preparing her for the real world. If she can’t do her own laundry or fill up the tank, she’s going to be sorry one day.

But her weight? Don’t nag her about it. Teen bodies grow and change constantly, and the last thing she needs to hear from you is that her confusing hormonal body isn’t good enough. Unless her doctor is concerned about her weight, that’s a subject you need to leave alone.

Good luck, Mom! Just remember, some day she won’t be a teenager and you’ll miss these crabby, hormonal days!


LittleThings writer Becca
Laura Caseley for LittleThings

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