Why Are Your Kids Allowed To Grow Up — But Not Your Wife?

Many men cannot accept that their wife has changed in a fundamentally biological way.

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All healthy parents want their children to grow up, although this can also be bittersweet and, at times, sad.

Yet some men are not okay with their wives maturing and instead want to freeze time and keep their wives in a younger incarnation.

Some men will think this post doesn’t apply to them because they still love their wife’s aging body or, if they take this to be a more macro level post, are supportive of their wives changing careers or going to therapy or some other life change that they believe is reflective of growth. 


However, if you become angry about your wife not having the sex drive or sexual enthusiasm of a younger woman, this post is for you.

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Let's discuss my "freeze tag" sex analogy. 

When men expect women to think about sex as much as they do, and assume that women must be "getting it somewhere else" if they don’t want sex within the marriage, this is as inaccurate as a child thinking you must be playing freeze tag with some other kid during your workday if you don’t act excited about playing freeze tag with him when you get home.


You do not think about freeze tag because you are no longer biologically predisposed to think about "play" as a huge part of your consciousness the way you did at your child’s age.

The way that your perimenopausal or menopausal monogamous wife thinks about sex is similar in frequency and enthusiasm to how you think about freeze tag.

You may enjoy freeze tag if you get into the headspace to say yes when your kid offers to play it, paralleling responsive desire, but the odds of you remembering that you like freeze tag and constructing your day around the next time you can play it, and the odds of you being as enthusiastic a player as your child are all extremely low.

RELATED: 15 Ways Women's Bodies Change As We Age (That Are Nothing To Be Ashamed Of)


When a man cannot get over the fact that his wife has changed in this biological way, and is constantly complaining that she doesn’t act enthusiastic enough about sex, he is in deep opposition to her natural and normal growth as a person.

Aging mammals do not play and have sex as often and with the same avidity as old mammals. Nobody drags their old dog into counseling for not playing like a puppy anymore, but I see some men do this with their older wives, EVEN IF she is generally kind and game to have sex, in a more measured way, despite feeling no spontaneous desire.

I discussed this topic in depth in my podcast episode on when men want their wives to take hormones to combat age-related lack of drive and the wives instead want to accept and embrace this next stage of life. Certainly, a woman refusing all sexual or even physical contact is not being a good partner and needs to work on empathy and compromise.

But there is something very different about a woman in her 30s who refuses all touch and a woman who is in her 50s who still touches you but cannot feign deep interest and enthusiasm in the way she used to when she was her daughter’s age.


When a man cannot accept the changing face of desire in a woman who is still trying to compromise and be intimate regularly (although certainly not as regularly as when she was younger), this generally speaks more to his own tendencies toward preoccupied attachment and inability to accept aging than it speaks to anything maladaptive in his wife.

Such men often are late bloomers who feel they never had enough sexual experience even as younger men, so they hold their aging wives up to impossible standards in order to somehow extend their sex lives on the other side.

Often these aging men struggle with erectile issues but take Viagra/Cialis in order to still act as though they are younger, although their bodies are literally telling them that they don’t have the drive of a younger man.

In this case, Viagra is stopping the couple from naturally aging together and experiencing the decrement in drive that happens in both genders over time. The man’s self-concept as sexual and high libido is more important to him in this case than his marriage and graceful aging into a new sexual modality that may be more comfortable for both, including changed activities and frequency.


Porn can also act like Viagra, and artificially inflate the man’s libido to the point where he truly thinks he has the sex drive of a man thirty years younger. I work with many men who masturbate to porn once or even multiple times a day in their 40s and beyond and assume this is their natural sex drive, resenting their wives for not keeping up with it.

When they stop using the drug of porn, where the variety and dopamine-inducing scenes inflate their sex drive massively, these men’s libidos drop to whatever they were normally supposed to be at that age. Often this means they want sex 1–2 times a week, or less, instead of over seven, which is then much better for the couple as a whole and often the same as their wife’s own sex drive!

This is often an epiphany for the men about how unfair their expectations for their wives had been, as their own self-awareness had been colored so dramatically by porn use.

RELATED: 7 Life Events That Usually Cause Libido Changes And How To Handle Them


Would you ever be angry with your 28-year-old son for not wanting season tickets to see baseball with you every weekend and instead wanting to hang out with his friends and girlfriend and live his life? Would you tell him he was being selfish to only want to watch the game with you sometimes, even though when he was 8 years old he would have been thrilled to go see the game with your every weekend? Certainly not.

You might be wistful about the change, but you would consider it a natural and normal effect of maturing. You likely would think of many positives about your son being a young adult, including being able to talk to him on a different level, having more in common, watching him make good decisions, and being proud of who he is turning into at this new stage.

Much like your hypothetical adult son, over the last twenty years, your wife has likely changed in many positive ways as well.


She is likely much less moody and easily upset than when she was younger and ruled by hormones/pregnancy/nursing. She has likely accomplished a lot and is wiser than she was when younger. You likely respect her even more and think she brings a lot more to the table in some arenas now than when she was 20 years younger.

You can be happy about these positive changes while also being wistful about her decreased sexual appetite. Tell her some of these positive things if you have been harping solely on the negative impact of aging on her drive.

Use this post to spark discussion between you and your wife or just to use as a springboard to introspect about whether you have been expecting her to like freeze tag far beyond when anyone likes freeze tag! And till we meet again, I remain, The Blogapist Who Says, Every Time A Husband Understands Female Biology, An Angel Gets Its Wings.

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Dr. Samantha Rodman Whiten, aka Dr. Psych Mom, is a clinical psychologist in private practice and the founder of DrPsychMom. She works with adults and couples in her group practice Best Life Behavioral Health.