Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage

Sexual Dysfunction in Marriage by Dr. Randy Gilchrist, LDS Psychologist (FREE LDS online dating site)

As LDS members, we have all probably heard the rule of thumb in regards to the law of chastity: complete abstinence before marriage, complete fidelity after marriage. Solo sexual outlets such as pornography or masturbation are a big no no as well. Young men and women growing up in the church hear regular talks and direction on guarding their virtue, and that sex outside of marriage is the third most serious sin besides denying the Holy Ghost and committing murder. That's pretty serious!

So how does this background leading up to marriage inadvertently contribute to sexual dysfunction in marriages? Because before/outside of marriage, sex is basically portrayed as bad, sinful, and dangerous. Then suddenly after a 30 minute temple sealing session you become married and now immediately, sexual relations together are OK, permitted, acceptable, and encouraged--both for procreation and for relational bonding and closeness. Wow. That was quick.

Unfortunately, the human mind does not so easily or quickly shift gears like that. And all of the old conditioning of "sex--bad" / "boundaries--good" doesn't necessarily go away very quickly. For some it takes months, years, even decades or the rest of their lives. Even though the church is very "pro sex" in marriage (something often referred to as "intimacy"), this truth is hardly promoted as often as discussions on the law of chastity. Perhaps sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction would be far less in LDS marriages if the "pro intimacy" teaching were a more common part of classes and discussion. But since this is not the case for whatever reason, the common problem of sexual dysfunction remains. Newly married LDS couples often have one or both spouses feeling embarrassed, dirty, awkward, or like they are committing sin together.

Suggestions to Combat Sexual Dysfunction

So, what are some ideas for dealing with this challenge? How can sexual intimacy be effectively adjusted to in a healthy and positive way? Here are a few recommendations based upon my nearly 20 years of working with LDS couples.

1) Communicate. Do it often. Openly, respectfully, regularly. Listen to understand rather than to oppose. Let each other know you thoughts, feelings, opinions, insecurities, wants, likes, needs, dislikes, preferences. Work within reason to respect what the other wants and needs. Give, receive, respect. Get on the same page together and improvement will follow.

2) Understand common barriers for men and women towards being interested in sex and work through such factors accordingly. Men tend to have less interest in sex after being told no/being rejected too often and/or with a drastic change in appearance of his wife (such as putting on a large amount of weight). Women tend to be less interested in sex when they are notably stressed or fatigued, when there is a lot of friction and/or emotional distance in the marriage, and/or if their hormonal levels connected to libido are off.

3) Read supplementary self help materials together that respectfully (and within church standards) discuss common treatments available for sexual dysfunction and dissatisfaction. Knowledge is power. And since this subject often discussion amongst church members, often a lack of knowledge exists on this topic--why the problem exists and what to try to do to resolve it. One way to hopefully find useful material on the subject but feel more OK that that material respects church standards is to see what Deseret Book carries on the subject.

4) Regularly practice giving warm, loving non sexual physical affection to the other that gives, not takes. Touch positively and affectionately as a reason and a means unto itself, rather than only ever as foreplay. Give hugs, pats, rocking, snuggling, hand holding, arm around the other, hand on knee, playful teasing, massages, cuddling, etc. Get used to giving and receiving touch positively and without the pressure or anxiety of "more happening".

5) In more serious and extreme cases, it is definitely recommended that you search out and visit with a qualified licensed clinical psychologist with a specialty in this area. Couples therapy can be very helpful with the more "stuck situations". An outside expert that can properly assess and treat sexual problems can be very useful, effective, and worthwhile.

In summary, sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction is common in our community, but it doesn't have to be permanent or crippling. There are things you can do about it. Be proactive, and hit this head on. It is worth it. Because "…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord" (1 Corinthians 11:11).

Dr. G
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2016-07-29 Randy Gilchrist Healthy relationships, Unhealthy relationships, Marriage preparation

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About the author

Hello, my name is Dr. Randy Gilchrist (aka "Dr. G"). I am a licensed clinical psychologist, a licensed marriage & family therapist, and a certified hypnotherapist in private practice in Roseville, CA (, practicing since 1997. Also, I am happily married in the temple (Manti) since 1996 and have 4 sons. I am a volunteer writer and contributor to LDS Dimension. I use my training, education, and experience to share insights with LDS Dimension on all things of interest to the LDS dating community. Please read my articles and columns on this site to assist you in your online dating journey. Also, to be considered for an answer in a future Q and A column, please email me your dating/relationship oriented questions to Finally, I also offer a powerful, effective worldwide custom hypnosis recording service just for LDS Dimension members for weight loss, pornography, and many other issues of concern to those in the LDS dating community (please learn more now at; email me questions to