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Sex at 50-Plus: What's Normal?

A new survey reveals how typical your romance is ... or isn't

10. How often do you do "date night"?

32 percent of couples say they "never" or "hardly ever" have date nights. But 88 percent of couples who say they're "extremely happy" plan time alone together.

Tip: Go out with your partner at least twice a month to maintain a sense of closeness.

11. Do you tell your partner how attractive they are?

47 percent of women and 55 percent of men say yes.

Tip: In unions of any length, more praise will yield more happiness. Be appreciative of your partner and you're likely to prompt more loving feelings in response.

12. Do you perform oral sex on your partner?

77 percent of women and 60 percent of men say yes.

Tip: Couples who do not include oral sex in their lovemaking tend to be just as happy with their partners as those who do. Whether you partake says more about what you and your partner enjoy than it does about the quality of your bond.

13. How often do you and your partner make love?

31 percent of couples have sex several times a week; 28 percent of couples have sex a couple of times a month; and 8 percent of couples have sex once a month. Sadly — or so we thought — 33 percent of respondents said they rarely or never have sex. But even among couples who report being "extremely happy," an astonishing one-fourth rarely or never get it on.

Tip: If you haven't been able to reignite your relationship on your own, see a sex therapist. The American Association of Sex Educators can help you find a qualified practitioner in your area.

14. If you had it all to do over, would you choose the same partner again?

Drumroll, please. Three out of four — 72 percent of respondents — say yes.

Tip: Many things besides romance can keep partners bonded: security, family, illness or even habit. But if you're among those who would not rechoose your partner, ask yourself what might make you feel differently. Could therapy help? A new joint career? A move to a better place? Sometimes recognizing problems and openly dealing with them can create new appreciation for your partner.

More than 70,000 people have completed The Normal Bar's online survey. The results on these pages are drawn from the responses of the 8,240 participants who indicated being age 50 or older. Results from respondents of all ages are included in a new book, The Normal Bar: The Surprising Secrets of Happy Couples and What They Reveal About Creating a New Normal in Your Relationship, from which this article is adapted. Copyright © 2013 by Chrisanna Northrup, Pepper Schwartz, Ph.D., and James Witte, Ph.D. Published by Harmony Books, an imprint of the Crown Publishing Group, a division of Random House Inc.

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