Sleeping with another person is complicated. If you’ve slept with another person for over a week, you understand. I’m not going to go into the tossing and turning, sleep talking, snoring, restless legs, Charley horses, farts, and then getting up and (horrors!) turning on the light.

This is the romantic truth: DH and I used to fall asleep in each other’s arms. It wasn’t a forever thing, only about six months. It took some getting used to. Being intertwined with legs and arms can be uncomfortable until you go through the necessary “so what if I put my arm here…” negotiations. But we finally found the perfect position, with my hand wrapped around his on my chest. Damn, that does sound dreamy, doesn’t it? 

Anyway, that bliss didn’t last forever. For about five years, DH has had an ongoing, undiagnosed pain in his genitals. (Guys, can you imagine your penis hurting every day, all day?) He says he looks forward to just laying down at the end of the day, on his right side. Only then does the pain subside a little. Laying on his right side means his back is to me. No more falling asleep in each other’s arms. 

I now lay on my right side so I can face his back. He reaches over with his right arm and pats me on the hip as a way of saying good night. I pat him on the shoulder in reply. Sometimes we speak, usually we are silent. But even if we have had an argument, this ritual persists. Pat, pat. It means, “I love you, I’m glad you are here, good night.”

Now that I write this all out, it makes me kind of sad. Like we have lost something, even many things at once. 

DH likes to say, we are just in a new phase now, a different season. And he is right. That’s the only way you can look at sex, love and relationships after 50. If we consider everything a loss as we age, we get muddled in grayness and strip away the joy of everyday life. 

Despite this new normal, sometimes I feel affectionate and want DH to know it. I scoot behind his back and press into him, chest to back, my knees to his rear. He might chuckle, or he might just keep reading his Kindle. After several minutes, I pull away and go to sleep, facing his body. On my right side.