Skip to main contentSkip to footer

What divorce taught me about keeping desire alive

HELLO!’s Second Act columnist, Rosie Green, shares how divorce reignited desire  

Rosie Green smiling in jeans and jumper
By: Rosie Green
12 April 2024
Share this:

Have you retired your desire? Side-lined intimacy? Would you rather have a cup of tea and a Garibaldi than sign up for bedroom gymnastics?

Well, if you think being older always equates to apathy about such things, then new research by KYN Care Homes suggests otherwise.

It reveals 30% of people over the age of 70 say they are intimate ten or more times a month. This compares to 36% of those aged 18-69. Wow.

Rosie Green on finding the perfect underwear© Rosie Green
We don't have to retire desire as we age, says Rosie Green

But if that’s not you and you are currently favouring the biscuit option, know you are not alone.

For many midlifers, exhausted by caring for children, work demands and endless life admin, sex is the last thing on the to-do list. Ditto boomers juggling older parents, health problems and body confidence issues.

I get it. But it took me a divorce to understand how important intimacy is to a relationship and thus your happiness.

Just as we are now working out how vital it is to keep our minds calm and our bodies flexible and fit, we are understanding how key sexual wellness is to fulfilment.

READ: Ask a life coach: I'm newly single at 52 –how do I begin dating? 

When I was researching my book, I examined all the reasons my marriage failed (more fun than it sounds, I promise) and this was one area where I recognised connection was compromised.

I discovered there are psychological reasons that mean keeping sexual excitement in a long-term marriage is hard. Everything is familiar and secure – basically a water bucket on desire, which thrives on the opposite.

Woman laughing on a boat
Rosie Green says there are psychological reasons it's hard to maintain sexual desire

The experts say the way to keep connected is talking. I know it’s easy to put your head in the sand and avoid the (potentially uncomfortable) conversation, but it’s essential. You might be just confirming you are both happy with the status quo, but there’s often someone who feels hard done by while another feels put upon. Dissatisfaction can brew.

You might – gasp! – have to initiate this chat. Hard, because for women of midlife and beyond we’ve been conditioned that good girls don’t talk, or even think, about sex. As Goop’s former chief content officer Elise Loehnen said on Gwyneth Paltrow’s Netflix documentary: "We have been taught not only not to name our desires but not even to acknowledge we have them." Hmm.

Let me end on a twist. My marriage ending was not fun, but there was a massive gain to be had in that it made me see myself as a sexual being for the first time in decades.

Suddenly I was desired and desirous. When life gives you lemons...

What divorce taught me about keeping desire alive in a relationship

You need to boost your sexual currency

Sexual currency is where you actively position yourself and your partner as desirable. Tell each other you are attractive. Send flirty messages. Keep the mystery.

Deviate from your sexual shorthand

Sexual shorthand describes the pattern you always fall into in the bedroom with a long-term partner. Same place, same time, same same. Shake it up. Even if you feel vulnerable.

Know confidence, not the perfect body, is sexy

Psychologist Karen Gurney told me that body image is the number one sexual concern for women.

Well, here’s the thing: it’s not about the perfect body – I know Victoria’s Secret models who are still riddled with insecurity. I learnt from my time on the dating scene that the sexiest thing is confidence.

Introducing HELLO!'s Second Act

Two women out shopping for the day, taking a break and sitting down on a couch in a clothing store together.© Getty

HELLO! wanted to create a space dedicated to sharing incredible stories from midlife; somewhere you can find inspiring stories of like-minded women, living their best life beyond 45.

Enter, Second Act...

For too long, we were expected to fade into the background when we hit 45, but we're here to reframe your Second Act as a celebratory, exciting new chapter with endless possibilities ahead.

From women who embarked on new careers in their fifties, to those who travelled the world alone after their children left home, to women who finally felt confident when they reached their forties, Second Act is devoted to celebrating the incredible stories of midlife, and we'd love to have you along for the journey - because being part of a community makes everything more enjoyable.

Visit HELLO!'s Second Act hub 

Sign up to HELLO Daily! for the best royal, celebrity and lifestyle coverage

By entering your details, you are agreeing to HELLO! Magazine User Data Protection Policy. You can unsubscribe at any time. For more information, please click here.

More Weddings

See more