Sexual Hangups in Marriage

Sexual Hangups in Marriage As members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-Day Saints, we are given a clear edict to always uphold the law of chastity. On the current official church website ( in the law of chastity section, they give a classic quote from President Spencer W. Kimball that gives a clear definition of this law: “Total chastity before marriage and total fidelity after are still the standard from which there can be no deviation without sin, misery, and unhappiness.” So basically, there is to be no acceptable sexual outlet outside of marriage, and within a marriage, the only appropriate sexual outlet is sexual relations with your spouse. Clear enough. That is the standard.

So, what are the effects that come with living the law of chastity? Well, on the positive end, church members living this law enjoy feelings of worthiness, having the Spirit with them, being worthy to take the sacrament, temple worthiness, and living with less natural guilt and regret that come from breaking this law. So yes, living the law of chastity is definitely the standard we are to live. However, are there negative results that can come from living the law of chastity? From my experience as a marriage & family therapist working with church member couples, I have noticed one main common challenge coming from a background growing up learning to live the law of chastity: common sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction in marriage. In their efforts to live the law of chastity, it is common for spouses—especially women—to have lower libidos, have less general interest and enjoyment of sex, and for sex to be approached more as a duty, chore, or obligation versus a truly enjoyable activity within a marriage. And it makes sense: with the enormous pressure growing up in the church to save oneself for marriage—especially on girls in young womens--feelings that sex is to be avoided and is a dirty, evil thing doesn’t necessarily turn off--and enjoyment turn on--simply because a man and woman go through a marriage ceremony. A magical switch doesn’t necessarily turn on.

The Purpose for Sex in a Marriage: Besides serving as the vehicle for procreation, how many times in a marriage does sex actually lead to procreation? 3, 4 times? Not very often. So, what is the role of sex in a marriage beyond procreation? The general authorities have given several quotes making it clear: sex in a marriage serves as an important bonding agent to help keep couples close, connected, and affectionate.

From the official church website, in the “Intimacy and Marriage Section”, we read the following quotes:

“An unlawful gratification of these feelings and sympathies (sexual feelings) is wrong in the sight of God, and leads down to death, while a proper exercise of our functions leads to life, happiness, and exaltation in this world and the world to come.”
--President John Taylor

“The lawful association of the sexes is ordained of God, not only as the sole means of race perpetuation, but for the development of the higher faculties and nobler traits of human nature, which the love-inspired companionship of man and woman alone can insure”
--President Joseph F. Smith

“It is the destiny of men and women to join together to make eternal family units. In the context of lawful marriage, the intimacy of sexual relations is right and divinely approved. There is nothing unholy or degrading about sexuality in itself, for by that means men and women join in a process of creation and in an expression of love…We know of no directive from the Lord that proper sexual experience between husbands and wives need be limited totally to the procreation of children.”
--President Spence W. Kimball

“Our natural affections are planted in us by the Spirit of God, for a wise purpose; and they are the very main-springs of life and happiness—they are the cement of all virtuous and heavenly society—they are the essence of charity, or love; …There is not a more pure and holy principle in existence than the affection which glows in the bosom of a virtuous man for his companion; …The fact is, God made man, male and female; he planted in their bosoms those affections which are calculated to promote their happiness and union.”
--Elder Parley Parker Pratt

“Keep yourselves above any domineering or unworthy behavior in the tender, intimate relationship between husband and wife. Because marriage is ordained of God, the intimate relationship between husbands and wives is good and honorable in the eyes of God. He has commanded that they be one flesh and that they multiply and replenish the earth (see Moses 2:28; 3:24). You are to love your wife as Christ loved the Church and gave himself for it (see Ephesians 5:25–31).”
--President Howard W. Hunter

Ideas to Increase Sexual Satisfaction in a Marriage:

Within marriage—ideally, temple marriage—sexual satisfaction and functionality can be increased and improved in several acceptable ways. Here are a few ideas to keep in mind for possible discussion and application with your future spouse:

*Communicate: have regular positive, supportive, empathetic conversations with each other. Show consideration and compromise. Discuss likes, dislikes, preferences, and how often/under what circumstances you are and are not in the mood. If needed, learn and practice assertive communication to boost your conversations. For more information on communication skills development, see:

*Learn: There are informational, non-pornographic self-help materials to help educate couples on positive, healthy sex lives in marriage. A safer avenue to search for such books/related materials can be found at Deseret Books screens and chooses materials that both educate and support church standards at the same time. For instance, you can screen through numerous useful books with the keywords “sex” and “marriage” at

*Get Professional Help: Go with your specific issues of sexual dissatisfaction and dysfunction to a licensed clinical psychologist or hypnotherapist with relevant experience in this area. Preferably, a therapist that is also a member of the church, or at least understands and respects the standards. You can ask you bishop or stake president for referrals or look into therapeutic services through LDS Family Services.

Final Thoughts

Sex in marriage (often called “intimacy” or “sexual intimacy” in church circles) is a positive force helping couples bond, connect, and remain close. To minimize potential challenges or difficulties in this area with your future spouse, consider the ideas reviewed in this article. Also, consider reading these previous articles for additional related ideas and information:

Finally, remember “…neither is the man without the woman, neither the woman without the man, in the Lord.”—1 Corinthians 11:11.

Dr. G
P.S. If you can questions, comments, or a future article request for me, feel free to contact me at

2019-08-19 Randy Gilchrist Healthy relationships, Communication

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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