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Recently, someone anonymously asked me how to handle "golden showers" -- a sexual act she found degrading.
While I wasn't familiar initially with the term, I was familiar with the act itself.
A "golden shower" or "golden bath" is the act of urinating on another person or in another person in order to derive sexual pleasure. (I have heard it referred to as "water works.")
For those of you who have never heard of this, you can take a deep breath and pick your jaw up. I know. This is a lot to take in.
Please keep reading, though.
It is important to address this matter of one spouse being turned on by something that is humiliating, degrading or just plain mean to the other spouse.
Golden showers are one act on a spectrum of fetishes or behaviors that would hardly be considered mainstream, yet still do happen.
(Don't even get me started on a few sexual terms that one of my high school teachers openly shared in casual conversation in class one day, assuming that a room full of 16-year-olds would be well-versed in such terms. Awkward. Inappropriate. Probably grounds for dismissal of the teacher, but I digress).
What do you do if your husband wants to do something sexually that you find degrading?
Here are my insights:
It is okay to say no.
Certainly God desires that we as wives be sexually available to our husbands, but sexual availability does not involve subjecting ourselves to humiliation.
And I think the vast majority of people -- particularly women -- would agree that being urinated on does not endear spouses to one another. If anything, it causes division, anxiety, confusion and isolation (all of which are the exact opposite of what God desires sexual intimacy to do to our marriages).
Plain and simple, it is not a loving act. The foundation of marriage -- and therefore of sexual intimacy -- is love.
I recognize that actually saying "no" is likely going to take a tremendous amount of courage, especially if the sexual act in question has been in your repertoire of sexual activity for awhile.
But I can't emphasize this enough -- you are free to change your mind!
I encourage you to talk to your husband in a non-sexual setting about your concerns. Speak with a tone that clearly conveys your boundary, yet still emphasizes your desire for nurtured intimacy.
Here is one suggestion:
"I know that you find ______ arousing, but I do not. It makes me feel embarrassed and degraded. I'm sorry I didn't tell you this before, but I'm telling you now. I don't feel loved when you want to do that. Sex is important to me, though. I want us to enjoy sex. Can we talk about other ways to be creative in bed without either of us feeling bad afterward?"
If it is too difficult to initiate this conversation face-to-face, then I suggest writing it in a letter, with the added note that you want to talk about in person soon.
I know that changing unhealthy patterns in sexual intimacy is not easy. Believe me, I get emails regularly from people who are desperate for their sexual intimacy to be a place of safety and oneness.
But if your husband is doing something that you find degrading, I implore you to start grasping how treasured you are by the Lord. It is because you are treasured to this degree that you are worth being treated with respect.
And if your husband -- the man who stood at an altar and vowed to protect you with his very life -- continues to demand or force sexual acts that you have clearly said you will not do, then this is abuse.
You need support. I don't know what that looks like for you, but I implore you to seek it.
Speak with a counselor?
Seek the intervention of church leaders?
Lean upon close female Christian confidantes who will listen and pray with you?
At any rate, don't keep going along with sexual acts that are destroying your self-image. You are worth so much more than that.
Copyright 2011, Julie Sibert. Intimacy in Marriage blog.