Relationships

In Praise of Older Men

He comes to the entirety of the female package with gusto when we need it, and equally, with appreciation

My old man.

There’s no need for Viagra to prop up his virility, no requirement for products to camouflage his gray, no cause for alarm when it comes to his vitality. Sure, we opt for olive oil and flax seed in deference to his cholesterol, and blood pressure pills are part of the morning routine, but however irritating the 30-year old dude who flaunts his six-pack abs at the gym may be, there's no reason for gents over 50 to lament, "If only I were younger …”

Allow me to sing the praises of the older man: We know his ease in bed, his knowledge of our terrains, his understanding of how children changed our bodies and our world, not to mention those pesky hormonal peaks and valleys. He comes to the entirety of the female package — however voluptuous (and at times, weary) — with gusto when we need it, and equally, with appreciation.

My reverence for older men extends beyond the realm of the physical. Typically, we turn to the more mature partner for the texture of their experience or sometimes even a mentoring role. I certainly know men who sing the praises of the older woman.

My own earliest romantic adventures frequently involved older men. In my twenties, any guy under 40 seemed callow or clueless. In my thirties, I was dating men my own age. In my forties and divorced, I enjoyed the company of younger men. Yet here I am, in the 50 range, circling back to an older man.

This is more about serendipity than the pursuit of a specific strategy, and in praise of this particular older man, I imagine these words serving as a sort of love letter, as I recognize the way he sighs when his back aches just a little, I am amused when he fusses over the belly he can't seem to reduce and I chide him when he refers to himself as "an old bugger."

It’s been nearly three years since we met: We’re maturing as a couple and we can’t deny the passage of time. But nor will I deny that I love the heat of his skin when I’m chilled by the night, the confidence of his hands when they know where they’re leading, the bounce in his step after an evening’s entertainment. I will admit my pleasure at his pleasure when I admire the lean line from buttocks to thigh as he bends to retrieve his shoes (or my lingerie) from the floor in the morning.

I will surely praise his distaste for hurrying through preparation of a meal or its consumption, and I laud his leisurely foreplay that begins — as with all good French men — in conversation. I also confess that I am a fan of his unabashed adoration: It’s more than telling me I’m funny or brave or even beautiful; it’s the way he asks me for a salami sandwich and clarifies, “It tastes better when you make it.”

When he shares stories of his youthful indiscretions, I’m glad to be in the company of this mischievous man with silver hair. When I flip through his photo album filled with images of an earlier life, though I wonder what we would have been like as a couple then, he’s the man I treasure just as he is, now.

I will praise his ability to find humor in everything, to linger over an article in the Sunday Times or Le Monde, to explore our mutual reserve of knowledge, his willingness to challenge my ideas and opinions. I am envious of how easily he sleeps, yet I watch and I’m warmed that he is safe beside me.

On those rare occasions when stress and insomnia are so crushing as to leave me frail, I find myself in a place of indecision. If I say, “Tell me what to do,” he takes my hand and he shakes his head. In doing so, he acknowledges that my choices are and will always be my own. It is one more reason to praise the older man — this older man — for his conscious awareness of our separate selves and our precious togetherness.

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