School of Behavioral Sciences


Doctor of Philosophy in Counselor Education and Supervision (PhD)


John C Thomas


Sexual Shame, Sexual Communication, Marital Relational Intimacy, Sexual Satisfaction, Marital Satisfaction, Religiosity


Counseling | Higher Education


Sexual shame is a construct that has garnered increased research and interest in recent years, with much of the research targeted towards how sexual shame is affected by pornography use, moral disapproval of certain sexual activities, and shame about one’s belief about the sexual self. There is little research on the etiology of sexual shame and the determination of whether it is domain-specific or a component of global shame. This research studied how marital satisfaction may be affected by sexual shame through the mediation of sexual communication, relational intimacy, and sexual satisfaction, based on the belief that a couple’s satisfaction is developed by interdependence on each partner’s satisfaction with each of these variables. Participants for this study (N=104) met the inclusion criteria of married living with their spouse, age 25 years and up, and heterosexual. Correlational data about sexual shame, sexual communication, sexual satisfaction, emotional intimacy, and marital satisfaction showed significance as expected, with sexual shame being negatively correlated to all other variables. A parallel-serial mediation from sexual shame to marital satisfaction through either sexual communication and then relational intimacy or sexual communication and then sexual satisfaction was performed with an outcome of significant indirect effects through sexual communication and relational intimacy. This research also looked at the possibility that religiosity may moderate sexual shame but was found not to interact with any significant results with the individual variables or the mediated paths.