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Will Kids Moving Back Home Ruin Your Sex Life?

Emily Flake answers your questions about marriage therapy, back scratches and mother-in-laws.

College student returns home with boxes, parents sitting on sofa as she walks in the door
Getty Images

My wife wants to go to couples counseling. Is she subtly telling me she wants a divorce? No marriages have actually been saved by therapy, right? It’s just code for “I want out and I’m not sure how to tell you yet.”
—Marc, Tucson, AZ

I think it’s fair to assume that your wife is, in fact, invested in saving your marriage, not ramping up to a divorce. In fact, the subtext here (and really, it’s so straightforward that we may as well go ahead and call it “text”) is that she’s trying to head off divorce by whatever means she can, including by talking to an expensive stranger. It’s debatable whether marriages have been saved by therapy, but according to recent research, around 70 percent of couples say that therapy has helped. Maybe your knee-jerk pessimism is something you all can discuss at your first session.

My adult son wants to move back home. But my wife and I have just gotten used to being a childless couple again. I’m afraid that having a 23-year-old living with us is going to throw a wrench into our newly rekindled sex life. How do I tell my son, “Sorry, but your mom and I are having too much fun. Find another place to crash”?
—Eric, Santa Fe, NM

Eric, I guarantee you if you tell your son, “Don’t come home — Mom and I are busy making afternoon delight,” you will never, ever have to worry about this again.

My partner asks for a back scratch more than he used to ask for sex. Should I be offended? Or is it enough that I’m still able to give him pleasure, however unerotic it might be?
—Larry, Chicago, IL

The eventual fade from hot erotic touch to cozy comforting touch over the course of a relationship is a slow-burn tragedy, but it’s pretty much inevitable unless you happen to be that rare couple who are just as horny for each other as they were as teenagers, which we all know is only possible if you’re keeping things spicy by doing secret murders together. Absolutely don’t take offense! Acts of loving service are an important part of any stable relationship. But if you’re feeling like it’s all back scratches and not enough back scratches, wink-wink, you might want to consider taking the lead in terms of initiating sexy times (and/or maybe doing some couples murders).

Would any good come from checking my spouse’s Google search history?
—Max, Madison, WI

The author, Emily Flake
Generation Sex: Emily Flake answers your burning questions about love, marriage, and midlife sex. Send your queries to aarparrow@aarp.org. / Matt Salacuse
/ Matt Salacuse

By “any good,” you mean, like, finding out she’s been googling “extra-special birthday presents that aren’t puppies” or “how to bake a pie every single day”? Because I think what you’re actually asking is “What bad can come of this?” And the answer is: Almost all the bad. The best-case scenario is that you see the search terms everyone would prefer to keep private — “boogers calories how many” or “can swans have sex with geese,” that kind of thing. Worst case, you find searches like “divorce lawyer cheap.” In any case, this is a serious violation of trust. I say this as a boundary-violating creep who would absolutely read my husband’s diary if he kept one: Mind your own business, Max.

My mother-in-law is moving in with us—she’s too old and frail to care for herself. If years of watching sitcoms have taught me anything, it’s that we’ll become rivals who constantly berate each other with wisecracks and insults. Is that still accurate?
—Jason, Petaluma, CA

No. Also, girl robots no longer have to wear pinafores, and six white dopes can no longer afford enormous apartments in Manhattan. The world has changed since you first learned about it from the extremely accurate source of [checks notes] mainstream sitcoms.

Follow Article Topics: Sex-&-Relationships