One of the challenges in a longtime monogamous relationship is creating newness and surprises. Another is continuing to deepen intimacy, communication, and empathy. Reading Wild Monogamy: Cultivating Erotic Intimacy to Keep Passion and Desire Alive by Mali Apple and Joe Dunn is like having Mali and Joe personally coach you through these issues and more. If you and your partner have hit a roadblock, or if you need information and a boost to take your relationship to the next level, this book is your valued guide.
In Wild Monogamy, Mali and Joe share stories that illustrate how partners can support one another in overcoming insecurities, inhibitions, shame, and self-consciousness that often accompany aging. I invited Mali to share some of her own aging issues and how the two of them cope.
Interview with Mali Apple,
co-author of Wild Monogamy:
Cultivating Erotic Intimacy to Keep Passion and Desire Alive
What’s one arena in which you help each other heal limiting ideas about yourselves?
I turned 60 this year. I have to admit that at times I feel a sense of shame about being an aging woman. I guess I drank the cultural Kool-Aid about older women not being attractive, desirable, or even worthy of pleasure!
These societal beliefs can be deeply ingrained. They might only emerge when we’re confronted with signs of our own ticking clock. The ever-more-unachievable images we’re bombarded with daily magnify our discomfort.
Since ageism in our culture disproportionately affects women, I have a tougher time than Joe when it comes to accepting my own aging face. When I can’t see beyond the newest spot or wrinkle, he’s right there beside me. His words and actions guide me toward accepting —even appreciating! — the woman looking back in the mirror.
What does Joe say to help you let go of your insecurities?
From Joe’s perspective at 65, age isn’t important. “When I look at you,” he’ll tell me, “I don’t see an aging woman, I see an amazing woman!” He insists that it’s the whole me that makes me beautiful to him. This includes my heart, my spirit, my energy, my ideas, and my enthusiasm for life.
Or he’ll say,
- “These lines on your face are a celebration of your life.”
- “Your body has brought me more pleasure over the years than I can possibly even remember.”
- “The beauty that radiates from within you is timeless.”
- “There’s no one else I’d rather get old with.”
When he catches me fixating on my age spots and wrinkles, he encourages me to speak to myself more kindly. “You have to put your wrinkles into perspective,” he’ll point out. “They’re such a tiny part of who you are!”
You might try affirmations like these with someone you love. When it’s coming from a person you trust, you can consciously choose to accept their perspective as truth. Joe gives me these reminders anytime I need them. This is a beautiful gift for partners to offer each other!
Do you have rituals or activities that help you embrace the changes that come with time?
Here is one ritual that helps us. We intentionally see each other as continually evolving works of art. Together we reflect on the truth that all our life experiences — the everyday ones, the challenging ones, and the extraordinary ones — have contributed to this masterpiece before us.
We also practice seeing each other as spiritual beings in human form moving through the natural stages of aging. This has been the genesis of more than a few heart-opening conversations!
During our sexy time, Joe will often encourage me to shift my focus from how I look to how I feel. For example, he’ll ask me to put all my attention on the sensations created by the silky scarf he’s trailing across my skin. When we clo
se our eyes and touch or kiss, he’ll point out that nothing tells us our age is a problem.
Joe and I also actively look for role models our age or older who are filled with vitality. Sometimes we’ll sit in a public place and observe the older people around us. We make a point to find something beautiful in every one of them.
Here’s one more sweet activity we enjoy together. We choose a few photos from when we were younger and immerse ourselves in them. We talk about where each was taken and how we felt about ourselves at the time. We get a sense of who we were during those moments. As we kiss and make love, we become the people in those images, connecting with who we were back then. Sharing our past selves in this way creates a uniquely healing and intimate experience in the present.
What is a key truth you’ve come to about aging?
The older we get, every moment we have together deepens and becomes more precious. We feel honored to be with each other on this journey. We’re excited to be a witness to the shifts, insights, and personal transformations to come. And we’re confident that plenty of sexy adventures await us!
Learn more about Mali Apple and Joe Dunn at https://maliandjoe.com/, and watch their many TikTok videos at https://www.tiktok.com/@maliandjoe. Purchase Wild Monogamy at your local independent bookstore or order from Amazon.