Sex and Love at Midlife

It's better than ever

By: Bernie Zilbergeld


Products specifications
Attribute name Attribute value
Size: 203mm x 127mm
Pages : 328
ISBN : 9780982357392
Format: Paperback
Published: September 2010

Is it really better than ever? Now that the children have grown and you have plenty of time on your hands, do you find that the love and intimacy is still as strong as ever or has it gone from your life?

  • Fact: As we mature, our sexual drives mature as well.
  • Fact: We may slow down and lovemaking may be different, but that doesn’t mean that the quality has to be lower or the pleasure less.

In this honest, down-to-earth volume, Dr. Zilbergeld, a world renowned sex therapist and bestselling author draws on his many years of clinical experience to explain why we should be enjoying our love making and intimacy even more as we mature. Replete with stories and anecdotes that present a variety of tools and techniques to help us all develop the kind of openness we desire, he honestly tells us why age is no barrier to a better and more rewarding sex life. Don’t just complain about your love life, get started today to make it better than ever!

Picture for author Bernie Zilbergeld

Bernie Zilbergeld

Psychologist Bernie Zilbergeld was a leader in the field of human sexuality and a beloved sex therapist and educator for over 25 years. He wrote the bestselling book, Make Sexuality, and its successor, The New Male Sexuality, which still stands as the "bible" in this field. Through his lectures and presentations on various aspects of sexuality, as well as courses for professionals and lay people alike, Dr Zilbergeld made a huge difference in people's lives. Dr. Zilbergeld was a popular guest on hundreds of radio and television shows including Donahue, Oprah, Today, Charles Grodin, CBS Morning News, and Sonya Live.


  1. Hope and encouragement run through this book, which was published by the author's brother after Dr. Bernie Zilbergeld died shortly before the book came out. Through 145 individual interviews with people over the age of 45, Dr. Zilbergeld has gathered stories detailing the intimate sex lives of this group, and discovered that many of society's stereotypes and assumptions foretelling that sex and desire shrivel up as one grows older are false. The book begins by dispelling these stereotypes, as well as providing a lengthy, realistic examination of the process of aging and illness and their effect on an individual's desire and ability to have an active sex life. The author shares the stories of those interviewed, classifying those that continue to have satisfying love lives as “lovers.” Dr. Zilbergeld shares the “lovers” secrets to aintaining a passionate and active sex life in a committed relationship and encourages readers to make changes in their own lives. He also highlights what not to do and how relationships can end up stale and unfulfilling.

    The author encourages above all communication and acceptance, as well as willingness to seek help, for couples to maintain a satisfying and active sex life as they age.

    A strength of this book is the approachability of the writing. The book is written in a conversational style, and the author's perspective and voice are engaging and present throughout. Another strength is the quotes used to illustrate the author's points. The stories of the participants in this research are interesting and engaging. They bring to life the claims that the author makes. An additional strength comes toward the end of the book where the author presents checklists for the reader to complete and assess his or her own relationship and how it could be improved. A final strength of this book is that it is realistic and does not attempt to gloss over the real trials that couples face as they age. Instead, it is encouraging and supportive of couples in finding new ways to connect emotionally and physically even as their bodies change due to age and/or illness.

    The main weakness of this book is that it was rather repetitive in its remarks and messages. Main themes were repeated multiple times with multiple examples; this makes for a lengthy book. The main message normalizing that “sex changes as you age but it doesn't have to get worse, in fact it can get better,” could have been shortened. As a clinician I thought that I already knew much of the information presented. It was a good reminder, but beyond that it did not open up new insights. When I consider recommending this book to couples, I would worry that they might think that a book of this length could be daunting. Most of the stories of individuals that the author interviewed are more than two pages long and, though they are very interesting, can be lengthy.

    For most clinicians this book will likely present little new or novel information. However, if you are a clinician whose main client base is older or dealing with illness, this could be an excellent reference and recommendation to clients who themselves are dealing with issues around dissatisfaction in their sex life. Reading this could help them to feel less alone and give them hope that things can improve.
  2. The book Sex and Love at Midlife: It`s Better Than Ever by Bernie Zilbergeld and his brother George Zilbergeld is the 2010 paperback edition of the 2004 book Better Than Ever: Love and Sex at Midlife (Zilbergeld & Zilbergeld, 2004), which was published a couple of years after Bernie`s death (he was only 62 years old). Bernie was a sex therapist for 27 years and codirector of the Sex Therapy and Counseling Unit of the University of California Medical School in San Francisco and was well known for the book Male Sexuality (1978; and the revised edition The New Male Sexuality, 1992). Sex and Love at Midlife is based on Bernie`s research and combines his clinical and life experiences to highlight the viability of lovemaking and intimacy in the maturing adult. The bottom line is that age should not be thought of as a barrier to a fulfilling sex life.

    The book begins with a clear and informative chapter on myths and realities about sex and aging. Another chapter speaks to the advantages of mature sex. For believers, there is a chapter on problem solving sexual issues in relationships. For those who continue to doubt, findings are presented that a good number of men and women are having gratifying sex in long- and short-term relationships on the basis of 145 interviews with men and women, ages 45 to 87, that Bernie conducted. The goal of this book is best summarized by Bernie`s statement in the introduction, `But that`s not what is important about sex to me [quickest route to orgasm]. It`s the connection and the relating that I enjoy most of all, and that is what I have chosen to write about` (p. xxi).

    One`s functional capacity at a different pace and under different circumstances does not necessarily mean or dictate the final chapter in one`s life. The challenge seems to be once you get started . . . how do you keep it going? One key element may be the groundwork of a secure emotional partnership that carries the desire, love, and care for one another over the lifetime and not just the moment. Another challenge is for those who never get started for a multitude of reasons, whether due to skill deficits, lack of interest, or chance. However, if one views each day as an opportunity, then midlife and beyond provide an opening for change. Within the book are rich stories and narratives detailing techniques and offering means to enhance our openness for relationship beyond what was once thought of as our `prime.`

    A central theme from those successful and those not successful in satisfaction in later years have to do with the insight that unfortunately, too many of us are locked into the `certain program` of life`s first half. . . .

    We turn the second half into a `midlife crisis` by pretending that everything is supposed to stay the same-only to discover, to our surprise, that nothing does stay the same. (Gerzon,1996, p. 13)

    Flexibility in emotional thought and behavior is needed to go forward. However, not everything gets left behind. In childhood, we are taught to play, laugh, share, love, work, develop friendships, avoid harmful relationships, have dessert, eat what is best for you despite how it tastes, and to grow as strong as possible.

    It seems that these basics could easily relate to the new landscape of midlife and later years. If sexuality and intimacy are stripped of the pressure of performance, mission, and approval, we are left with the activities of play and relationship. When we were younger, the message was that play entails an inborn disposition for curiosity, imagination, and fantasy (Elkind, 2007). The message is actually the answer for our adult years as well. This inborn
    disposition can revitalize us in later years if we allow it to surface, actualize, and develop.

    If one finds the glass half full, the course of life provides opportunities for new skills and experiences. This is not a novel concept but one that easily gets lost in the hierarchy of society`s and daily living`s priorities. One path is filled with complaining, judging, and attempts to change others. The other path is filled with openness, understanding, and appreciation for differences. Choosing the latter life path brings the potential to not be impaired or weakened but embraced and strengthened by life`s vicissitudes and transformations. In the journey, having a book such as Sex and Love at Midlife in your survival kit enhances the likelihood of choosing the right path.
  3. This book by the Californian therapist, Bernie Zilbergeld, stands out for its easy-to-read conversational style, and common sense approach to discussing sexual life after the age of 45. The good news is that Dr Zilbergeld's research shows that, contrary to popular belief, sex continues to improve through middle age and beyond, and can remain satisfying for both men and women even into their 90's. He deals with the physical changes of ageing and emotional issues, and cites several case histories to support his contention that a loving sexual relationship and orgasm do not have to disappear in old age and that the -˜barriers' of physical disabilities or other health problems may be able to be overcome if people discuss these with their doctor or therapist. As Dr Zilbergeld says, couples need to “talk openly about the issues” and show “flexibility about possible solutions”. He describes the differences between the groups he calls Lovers (ie couples who have mutually satisfying sex lives) and Non-lovers (those who have unsatisfactory or problematic sex lives), and supports his analysis with excerpts from interviews with people from each of these two groups. One of the key points he brings out is the importance of having a good and close emotional relationship, where partners care about each other's well being, talk and make time for each other.

    In summary, this is an enjoyable and informative read for everyone, health professionals, psychotherapists, and the general public, of whatever age.
  4. A guide to reigniting the sexual spark once you hit your 50's, this book is a well-written manual that covers a broad range of sexual problems facing many baby-boomers these days. From stress, to physical changes in men, to menopause in women, every chapter relates to the most common problems couples face in the bedroom.

    Written by two brothers (one of whom passed away before this book went to press, the other, a professor at Montclair State University), with lots of input from couples around the country, this book is a must read for any couple who thinks they are the only ones having trouble in the bedroom.

    Although most of the topics covered here are common and not all that out of the ordinary, they can prove to be extremely stressful and put a great deal of unnecessary strain on a relationship. However, once the reader realizes that these problems are indeed common and not permanent, working towards resolving them becomes much easier and less stressful.

    The book addresses different ways to not only resolve problems in the area of sex, but also guides the reader on how to recognize and distinguish red flag problems from minor ones.

    A great read for anyone who is reaching the 50 mark.
  5. According to the author of Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever, Bernie Zilbergeld (who also wrote The New Male Sexuality), “...this book is useful for anyone who wants to learn about the actual and potential sexuality of women and men no longer young: adults at midlife or beyond who want to enhance their own lovemaking.” By conducting interviews with 50 couples over the age of 45 and then weaving them together in themes, Zilbergeld has written this excellent resource on sexuality, aging, and health problems.

    If you find personal stories helpful, this book will be useful for you. A majority of the text consists of the couples describing their sex lives and relationships as they've grown past middle age, sharing their successes and strategies for dealing with change or illness. The author himself struggled with diabetes since the age of 20, and openly discusses his own experience with sexual health and relationships. You'll find chapter titles like, “Myths and Realities About Sex and Aging” and “Normal Physical Changes in Men and Women at Midlife.”

    If you are someone who is struggling with the impact of age-related health problems on sexuality (your own, or someone else's), or you want to learn more about maintaining a great, fulfilling sex life as you mature, Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever is an illuminating and helpful tool.
  6. A lot of the things we think we know about long-term marriages are actually as shaky as a nervous groom.

    The key to long-term marriage is working out all your problems “Most problems in relationships simply cannot be solved,” says psychologist Bernie Zilbergeld, author of Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever. That's not a bad thing. Just a fact. The road to a long-lasting marriage is accepting"even appreciating"the differences, rather than resenting them.
  7. The keys to being a good lover, asserts sex therapist Bernie Zilbergeld, have little to do with age and everything to do with attitude and communication. In his book Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever(Crown House, $21.95), he makes a convincing case that a good sex life can make the years beyond 45 the most enriching.

    Zilbergeld died before the book went to press.

    He explodes myths about aging and sex, as well as excuses couples give for their lack of vibrant intimacy.

    His research demonstrates that body changes and medical issues need not diminish anyone's capacity or enjoyment of sex and notes that older couples take more time during lovemaking and put their partner's pleasure above their own.

    Connection in the bedroom, Zilbergeld says, flows out of intimacy in other aspects of the relationship.

    Scorecards aren't necessary: 'Good sex has nothing do with performance ... Good sex has to do with expressing feelings and sharing pleasure and delight.
  8. The collaborative work of Bernie and George Zilbergeld, Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Everinforms couples in their 40s, 50s, 60s, 70's and 80s just how they can continue to enjoy their love life -- sex is not just for the young and horny! Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever reveals the myths and realities of sex and aging, addresses the normal physical changes in men and women of mature years, considers medications and their uses with respect to human sexuality, how to identify and deal with health issues that affect human sexuality, and even how to "talk sexy" at any age! Coherently and accessible written in language ideal for the non-specialist general reader, Better Than Ever is highly recommended reading, and an invaluable addition to community library "Human Sexuality" reference collections.
  9. Famed sex therapist, Bernie Zilbergeld, gives the good news that one does not have to be twenty in order to enjoy a deeply satisfying life of love. In this book, he explains the wonderous world of love and sex among men and women aged 45 - 87. He provides practical solutions to common obstacles that get in the way of love and sex.
  10. Famed sex therapist, Bernie Zilbergeld, gives the good news that one does not have to be twenty in order to enjoy a deeply satisfying life of love. In this book, he explains the wonderous world of love and sex among men and women aged 45 - 87. He provides practical solutions to common obstacles that get in the way of love and sex.
  11. The keys to being a good lover, asserts sex therapist Bernie Zilbergeld, have little to do with age and everything to do with attitude and communication. In Better Than Ever: Love and Sex at Midlife (Crown House, $21.95), he makes a convincing case that a good sex life can make the years beyond 45 the most enriching. Zilbergeld died before the book went to press. While the editing and proofreading could have elevated the work, it's still a strong legacy to leave behind. He explodes myths about aging and sex, as well as excuses

    couples give for their lack of vibrant intimacy. His research demonstrates that body changes and medical issues need not diminish anyone's capacity or enjoyment of sex and notes that older couples take more time during lovemaking and put their partner's pleasure above their own.

    Especially effective are excerpts from his extensive interviews with individuals and couples who range in age from the 40s to the 80s. Connection in the bedroom, Zilbergeld says, flows out of intimacy in other aspects of the relationship. Scorecards not necessary: "Good sex has nothing do with performance. Good sex has to do with expressing feelings and sharing pleasure and delight.
  12. Bernie is the undisputed leader in male sexuality and lack-lustre long-term sex is a problem nearly every couple struggle with. A must-read for anyone who wants brilliant sex for life”
  13. What a fabulous book!

    It's fun to read, full of humour, sensitivity and down to earth information. Dr Zilbergeld has taken a subject that is supposedly “taboo' and opened it up to everyone in a way that does not make it boring and serious but enjoyable and fun.

    I really like the way that he has divided the book into two parts. First he explores and expels the sexual myths and clearly explains the realities of sex and sexual functioning. Then he details the ways that sex can be enhanced, intimacy increased and mutual joy shared ” it is a treat to read, really.

    And all this in what is supposed to be at a time in our lives when society says that we should have forgotten how to do it, let alone want to do it!

    This book gives everyone, both young and older, hope for what sex in our later years can be like ” fun, enjoyable, intimate and satisfying. I, for one, am looking forward to my so called twilight years if that is what I can continue to experience.
  14. An amazing read of extraordinary insight into the sexual lives of older couples. Essential for those who are interested in knowing how to make your relationship so special and so magical that you cannot keep your hands off each other. This book is a great contribution to the realm of sex and lasting relationships.
  15. I wanted to review Bernie Zilbergeld's book on sex and aging because I have admired his straightforward style and enthusiasm for the subject and because I have used his earlier books, Male Sexuality and The New Male Sexuality, with my clients for 25 years.

    An appraisal of his work is timely as Bernie died in 2002 from long-standing diabetes. As a result he came to live some of the difficulties he was describing: Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever became the vehicle for learning more about the complex subject of sexuality and intimacy from the inside out as well as from the couples that were the cornerstone of his research.

    Part 1 of the book deals with the myths and realities of sex and aging, the normal physical changes in men and women at midlife, challenges of midlife sexuality, (medical and otherwise) and the advantages of mature sex. He quotes Leslie Shover (Shover, 2000) who describes the heightened risk of sexual problems in chronic illness, and balances this with the 1984 findings of Edward Brecher who, working with a similar population, suggests that those couples who value erotic expression, will find ways to express their sexuality.

    Part 2 is the heart of the book. In it he describes the findings of 145 interviews with men and women aged 45 to 87. He distinguishes between a group he classifies as the Lovers, comparing them to the Non-Lovers who had either no partner, sex or less than satisfactory sex. He quickly identifies the quality of the relationship between people as defining the success of their shared sexuality and from the interviews he identifies the qualities that make for a good relationship. He cites respect and liking for one another; trust and, by inference, commitment to the relationship; acceptance of who the other is, rather than who they would like them to be; a willingness to deal with problems as they arise; attentiveness and appreciation of one another verbally, for instance with complements and appreciation and by maintaining physical contact. Finally he suggests it's helpful if one member of a couple has equanimity!

    The book is written in a readable and easy style. It is intended -˜for anyone who wants to learn about the actual and potential sexuality of women and men who are no longer ... who want to enhance their own lovemaking' and all professional helpers -˜who work with the intimate aspects of the lives of mature adults'.
  16. This excellent book is about the sexuality of older people or -˜matures' as Zilbergeld calls them. He has interviewed a range of couples and single people about their sexual experiences in later life and places couples into two categories -˜Lovers' and -˜Non Lovers'. Non Lovers have poor sex lives, other aspects of their relationship may be good or poor, whilst Lovers have good sexual relationships and usually the rest of their relationship is good. Zilbergeld is aware that his sample is not a representative cross section of the population, however he feels able to come to some interesting conclusions about the differences between the two groups. His conclusions will not really come as a surprise to Relate counsellors and therapists. The common feature amongst Non Lovers is their inability to communicate about sex, they cannot tell each other what they like or discuss sexual problems if they arise. Not surprisingly Lovers are able to communicate well about sex. They are also good problem solvers who do not blame each other for problems that arise but look for solutions and are capable of being flexible in their approach to life. The book gives a realistic account of the problems, particularly health problems, that people can face as they get older and Zilbergeld makes it clear that people in his Lovers category have just as many of these problems as Non Lovers but they tackle them a different way.

    Easy to read, the optimistic tone of Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever made it enjoyable for this -˜mature' reader. It is one of those rare books that counsellors and therapists can learn from and so can their clients.

    A valuable contribution to our understanding of sex and relationships in older couples. Full of useful insights for couples and therapists. Excellent at debunking the myths about sex and aging.
  17. Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever is a new kind of book about love and sex for people over 45 years. It looks at the pleasure and benefits that can still be gained from a full and healthy sex life whether all the appropriate bits are working or not!

    This book challenges the myth that older people don't have sex. It answers questions on the physical changes we experience as we age. Disease and disability are common among mature citizens as are prescription medicines designed to combat them. Dr Zilbergeld looks as these issues and explains how to deal with them. A world renowned sex therapist for 27 years, Dr Zilbergeld uses intensive research and the words of people he calls the -˜lovers' to illustrate and explain the world of sexuality.

    This is the second title to be published by Crown House Publishing which includes an “embarrassment sticker”. This feature neatly sidesteps the problem of books' subtitles that readers would rather not be caught reading. Once the sticker has done its work on the bookshelf it can be peeled off the cover for unselfconscious reading in public.
  18. This book breaks the myth that older people do not have fulfilling and passionate sex lives. It will make great bed time reading for anyone who feels their love life needs a little help, and encourage those who already enjoy making love, whatever their age.
  19. If you're one of the millions who enjoyed Bernie's The New Male Sexuality, you'll love Sex & Love at Midlife: It's Better Than Ever. 

    It's vintage Zilbergeld: honest, funny, wise, helpful, and a little bit in-your-face. Bernie interviewed sexually satisfied people to learn more about how they continue to make sex enjoyable as they get older. He has taken their wisdom, techniques, lessons, and experience, added his clinical savvy and quirky way of saying things, and created a book that will benefit practically everyone.
  20. If you think passion and sex fizzle out after your 40's think again! This hopeful, eye-opening book reveals what really goes on behind closed doors at midlife. Apparently, the best is yet to come!

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