Marty Levin, a retired Upper West Side businessman, 74, is so nutty about his wife, Jean, that he sounds like a schoolboy. “Basically, it’s a hell of a love story,” he says. “I feel that it’s something special. I think she’s fabulous in every area. She’s bright as a star, lovely to look at, and just a delightful human being.”
Marty and Jean, 70, a homemaker, have been married since 1990. They’d known each other for many years before they fell in love; Jean, a widow, was best friends with Marty’s first wife, Edie. When Edie got cancer and realized she was going to die, she decided to do a little advance matchmaking. “Edie suffered for six years,” Marty remembers, “and when she knew it was close to the end, she gave me a dossier of a few girls she thought would make good wives. Jean was one of those women.”
After Edie died, Marty and Jean began spending time together in Massachusetts, where they both had ski houses. Thinking strategically, he didn’t tell her that she was on his list.
“We were always very good platonic friends,” Jean recalls, “and then the friendship turned into a love affair. It wasn’t a surprise to me. It was something that I had actually thought about before.” Three years later, they were married.
“I might have gone my whole life without marrying again,” he says, “without meeting someone I love as much as Jean. And it just happened.”
Marty is aware that it’s rare to have this kind of excitement this late in life. “I play golf with sixteen guys, and most are older than I am. My life is different from theirs. It’s far more romantic. There’s no week that goes by that I don’t buy Jean flowers. I go out and get two dozen roses. I don’t know what comes over me. Just yesterday I was telling a friend, ‘Jean and I are going on vacation together, and we’re going to have a ball.’ He said, ‘You’re so lucky to have a life like that, to have someone you care so much about.’ ”
With Edie, it was different. He wasn’t faithful—although once she became ill, he was. Nowadays, Marty says, “I am the best-behaved husband. It’s easy to be faithful, because I know she feels the same way about me. I don’t even look at other women. I would not jeopardize in any way my relationship with her. That would probably kill me more than it would kill her.”
It doesn’t hurt that their sex life is, by both accounts, great. “I’m always chasing her,” he brags. “I have a sexual appetite for her, and I hope she appreciates that. A lot of older women don’t want to be bothered getting laid, but my wife enjoys the intimacy of sex. There’s nothing an older woman is more flattered by than a husband who still desires her.”
Marty’s been taking Viagra for the past four years and says it’s made a world of difference. Granted, sex requires some planning—they have to decide when to do it so he can take the Viagra in advance, and on an empty stomach. And it’s not as simple as it used to be. “With younger people, it’s ‘How many times can you do it?’ ” he says. “With older people, it’s ‘How many times can you do it right?’ ”
They are particularly grateful for their thriving sex life given the fact that so many of their peers have no sex life at all. “People think the dance is over once a couple gets older,” he says. “But if a guy’s in good condition, he can go a long time. You’re not dead. A lot of guys physically don’t have it because of prostate problems. I have friends that can’t get it up with a stick of dynamite, but I’m not in that bracket yet and I hope I will never be. I can use mine as a pointer.”
“We’re very sexual,” Jean agrees. “It is different now, because when you’re younger, your hormones are flowing and it’s easier to have an orgasm. After menopause, it’s harder. There’s no way as a senior that sex could be as hot as it is when you’re young. But the Viagra helps and Dream Cream”— a female sexual-pleasure enhancer—“brings heightened sensitivity and is the greatest lubricant I’ve ever had.”
Jean also has several vibrators, including the Eroscillator (endorsed by Dr. Ruth), which she uses during sex, and says they’ve made her orgasms easier: “I am in love with my vibrator. A lot of my friends are not comfortable using a vibrator, and more should. I had a lot of friends who, when we were young, had orgasms from penetration and are having more difficulty now. The key to a great relationship for seniors is to have sexuality and never give up on it.”
The Eroscillator isn’t the only key to Marty and Jean’s happiness; both say they pick their battles, which makes getting along easier. “Because you’re more mature,” Jean says, “you don’t sweat the little things. You’re smarter about what’s important to fight about. You don’t have to be right. Nothing is more important than keeping the relationship healthy and happy. When you’re young, you don’t have those priorities.”
“Men I can fight with,” says Marty. “Women I can’t. There are times when we disagree about her time commitments to family”—both have grown children, and many grandchildren— “but I sit back and I listen, and eventually one of us comes around.”
There’s another difference, too: They talk, like friends. “The first time around, I didn’t make my husband my friend,” Jean says. “In those days, men and women weren’t friends. I would go to my girlfriends when I had problems. But Marty and I were friends for so many years that it was natural to talk to him about my life, which is why we fell in love. I’d never had that happen before.”
“Jean sleeps with her arms around me,” says Marty. “She just loves to curl up next to me. I can hear her breathing and going out like a light. And I got so that I couldn’t go to sleep without feeling somebody next to me. She’s a very cuddly person. What can I say? I got a winner.”