The distance from my side of the bed to Ray’s felt huge. I had so many questions before I started scooting.

“What if he doesn’t want to cuddle?” “Should you talk about it first?” “Will it hurt his back?” “Are you starting something that will frustrate you both?”

Why was I doing it? Why was I inching my way across the king-size mattress, pushing and pulling away the pillows between my knees, from my arms, and between us? Lincoln fortunately wasn’t on the bed to block me. After what felt like a half-hour but was only a minute or two, I scooted the distance and spooned Ray from behind, connecting with as much of his body as possible. I put my left arm over him, synchronized our breathing, and gently kissed his shoulder.

The next morning, I did the same, but only after getting up to pee, and washing my mouth out with water. Inch by inch I moved slowly toward him, not wanting to wake him. He snored gently after I found the special place where I could feel his body heat and the softness of his skin.

We used to do this every night for 30 years, and then things changed. Our bodies were suddenly different because of surgeries and medications. One or the other of us couldn’t get an erection. We knew intellectually that it shouldn’t make a difference, but it did. Physical intimacy felt loaded with challenges that eventually impacted our libidos. We ended up each on our side of the bed, still kissing “Good Morning,” and “Good Night,” and still holding hands when the lights went out, but no more full-body contact. We each got used to it. It became normal. We read our books, and played “Words with Friends” on our iPads. “Sleep tight, honey.” “Thank you. Pleasant dreams.”

Why at nearly 7:50 a.m. I'm motivated to risk rejection by taking the initiative to cuddle? There was a convergence of reasons. I have, for some time, imagined one of us in our final days in a hospital bed or at home, and the other one climbing in to cuddle. The question that would be silently asked is, “Why did we wait so long to get back to something that feels so right?” Also, we both have been reading “man-on-man” romance novels so our libidos have felt stimulated. And, from discussions with other gay men my age, I’ve heard a lot of frustration that they and their beloved sleep in separate rooms, or have little access to physical intimacy.

It’s a little embarrassing to acknowledge that Ray and I, though together for 46 years, haven’t had sex in a long time. It hasn’t bothered either of us, perhaps because we’re intimate throughout the day in the way we talk to, and take care of each other. There’s nothing that says couples need to have sex in their relationships. And, often, it’s not possible. But, cuddling is usually quite easy to do if you put yourself out there.

After cuddling twice, I asked Ray, “Are you enjoying our morning cuddles?”

“Yes,” he said quite enthusiastically. “I’ve missed them.”

My plan is to spoon at least once a day, morning, noon, or night. I’m kind of excited about it. And, I don’t regret telling you.

A lot of people my age, regardless of their sexual orientation or gender identity, are hungry for physical intimacy, but don’t speak up about it with their spouses or friends. We feel that everyone else our age is having lots of sex, and if we acknowledge that we don’t then it will be assumed there’s something wrong with us, or with our relationship.

If you find yourself in a situation like mine, where you’d like more physical contact, go ahead and scoot over. It’s never too late, and you won’t regret it.


Brian McNaught has been a leading educator on LGBTQ issues globally since 1974. He has made his many books and DVDs available for free at Brian-McNaught.com. The New York Times named him “The Godfather of gay diversity training.” Brian has a weekly YouTube/FaceBook podcast called, “Are You Happy Without the Movie?” and McNaught's latest book, “On Being Gay and Gray: Our Stories, Gifts, and the Meaning of Our Lives” is available now on Amazon for $14.99.


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