My husband and I were regularly having sex—we had four kids in five years to prove it—but true intimacy between us was lacking. It took a two-week NICU stay for our fourth child, the stress of trying to be in two places at once for the duration of her illness, and feeling exhausted from meeting the needs of our other three children for us to realize something needed to change. We needed time for physical and emotional connection.
Our haphazard solution? Showering together. It was an easy way to connect on our busy schedules, and it turned out to be fun too.
We didn't realize it at the time, but this simple act is actually a scientifically validated way to increase sexual satisfaction. How? Showering together gave us the alone time and the vulnerability we needed to have true emotional connection and honest conversations.
According to the relationship counseling sessions on Lasting, a research-based app committed to helping your marriage last, “the secret to a satisfying sex life has nothing to do with romantic feelings, technique or even frequency. Research has found that good sex is related to two main factors: maintaining a strong emotional connection and having conversations about your sexual preferences with your partner. Simply put, staying connected and learning about one another are all that matter." In fact, data from Lasting, which is backed by The Bump parent company, shows only 9 percent of couples who say they can’t talk comfortably about sex report sexual and relational satisfaction.
Which rings true—our own marriage needed help in both areas, as intimidating as it was to actually talk about sex, we discovered that talking in the shower—a place where we were free of interruptions—resulted in significant improvements in the overall health of our marriage. The shower become our sacred place to give each other our full attention.
Having an open dialogue about sex requires vulnerability, but this kind of raw honesty will deepen your intimacy. These are the three things I learned from our deeply vulnerable shower conversations:
1. Reveal Personal Expectations
I realized I didn’t even know what my expectations were about intimacy until we started talking about it. I knew when something felt ‘off’ or when I felt disappointed, but I couldn’t articulate why. As we asked questions and listened without being defensive, we discovered the areas where our expectations weren’t being met.
The result: Mutual understanding. We no longer assume what’s expected or feel selfish in expressing unmet expectations. We feel free to continue asking questions and evaluate each other’s ability to succeed in this area.
2. Reveal Personal Fears
When you talk about sex, your fears are exposed. I struggled with the fear that my husband wouldn’t delight in my body. He feared selfishness for wanting more sexual intimacy when he knew how exhausted I was. But as we continued to press into conversations about sex, love drove away our fears.
The result: Mutual security. A committed spouse will hold your fears gently and carefully. By pushing through the discomfort of voicing your fears, you’ll experience a deeper connection, and ultimately better sex. As Lasting emphasizes, "The quality of sex in your marriage stems from your ability to talk about sex openly and honestly."
3. Reveal Personal Desires
As much as I thought I knew what my husband wanted or needed, it wasn’t until we started asking pointed questions—away from the heat of the moment—that we learned our true desires.
The result: Mutual satisfaction. We’re better equipped to delight in one another when we know what that should look like. Lasting sessions underscore that "if you keep responding to one another’s emotional calls and updating your knowledge of one another’s sexual preferences, it is very possible to sustain a satisfying sex life for a lifetime." My husband and I decided to make meeting each other’s sexual desires a lifelong pursuit.
Our shower conversations started five years ago, and we’ve been investing in them ever since. We want a marriage that will last. We want a marriage where we feel secure, understood and satisfied. The good news? My husband and I are experiencing all of this—and more—as we use our shower time to communicate about sex.
Need a little coaching as you communicate about expectations, fears and desires with your spouse? Download a free trial of Lasting, the no. 1 relationship counseling app, and check out the sex series.
Lauren Washer is a Norfolk, Virginia-based military wife and proud mom to now six children!
Published April 2019
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