KUALA LUMPUR ? In its latest bid to stem rising divorce rates, a northern Malaysian state is providing sex education for the elderly, following newlywed sex courses and free honeymoons for couples in crisis.
The weekend seminar for elderly couples in Terengganu state aims to "bring back the joy of sex" and to show long-married couples how to get their partner's libido going again.
"Many elderly couples sleep in separate bedrooms and are not intimate. This is unhealthy as they can still have vibrant intimate relationships, especially with all kinds of therapy and health supplements available," state family development foundation head Mohamad Shafaruddin Mustafa told AFP.
"Because of the lack of intimacy, the couples who are already in their twilight years, get more agitated and tense and this strains their marriage badly to the point of divorce.
"This can be avoided with tips on how to keep things exciting," he added.
Such courses are rare in Muslim-majority Malaysia where open discussions on sexual health are considered taboo.
However, with three out of every 10 marriages end in divorce in the state, and officials are trying to keep couples and families together with courses aimed at retaining intimacy.
Last year, the state's family development board organized a sexual relations course for newly-married couples, encouraging them to bathe together and use exotic fragrances to "arouse sexual desire."
The state government has also asked local cosmetics firms to introduce special perfumes for couples following complaints by some that they were divorcing because of routine sex and their partner's bad body odour.
Last October, Terengganu offered to host a two-night "second honeymoon" for couples on the brink of divorce, providing a romantic holiday at one of the state's beach or island resorts where they could also undergo marriage counselling.
Shafaruddin could not say if the various schemes have helped reduce divorce rates but said the state would hold another 16 newlywed sex courses next year as the programmes have improved the level of intimacy among many couples.