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Dr. Michael
Dr. Michael, Psychologist
Category: Mental Health
Satisfied Customers: 2177
Experience:  Licensed Ph.D. Clinical Health Psychology with 30 years of experience in private practive and as a clinical psychology university professor.
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What do we do with our 40+ year old, married with two

Resolved Question:

What do we do with our 40+ year old, married with two children, son who has a sex addiction?
Submitted: 5 years ago.
Category: Mental Health
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 5 years ago.
Hello. I believe I can be of help to you with this issue.

His wife will have to take the lead in helping him get treatment---under the threat that if he does not, it may result in a divorce. She can do this under the premise that when she agreed to marry him, the vows were based on an understanding that the both believed deeply in having an exclusive, and totally monogamous relationship. He is sexual addiction behavior is grossly violating the terms of their marital vows. In other words, when she married him, she did NOT "sign on" to accept a man with sexual addiction problems. He has always had this problem (since his late teens) and kept it from him. He can externalize blame for the problem all he wants (e.g., marital stress, lack of communication with his wife) but if he does, this attempt to escape/avoid responsibility is simply to be seen as part of his behavioral disorder.

His wife should insist that they enter marital therapy and that HE enter individual psychotherapy with clinical or counseling psychologist or clinical social worker who specializes in so-called addictive behavior. There are self-help supplements to therapy (not replacements) that can be helpful---both your son and his wife should review; as a parent, you may find the information valuable and supportive as well:

My main point is that unless your son is motivated to get help, it is up to his wife to place maximum pressure on him to do so, or face the possibility of separation or divorce if he does not. You need to assess whether you are on the 'same page' with his wife about what needs to be done. That is, the more your son's social support network is unified and 'gangs up' on the problem jointly or collectively, the more likely he is to get help.

What is your son's frame of mind regarding his problem? Other thoughts, reactions to what I've written so far?
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
Thanks for the info. so far Dr. Michael.
Our son feels he has every right to be upset with his wifes lack of intimacy with him. He says she is like a maniken when he wants sex.
That he "needs" a woman to want him and to "come on to him".
He has started going to bars and worse yet, has had two affairs which culminated into acquiring a hotel room. What is soooo distressing is that he seems to "brag" about his actions....telling his wife the next day and calling us, his parents, to inform us of his actions. We are so distressed over all this and can see a divorce coming. They have two precious childre..7 and 5 yrs of age. His wifes first marriage ended in a childless, thank goodness, divorce due to her dislike of "intimacy" in her marriage. She looks at sex as dirty. Thus, you see, some her fault also. They have both been to a marriage counselor who told our son to masturbate. Did not go over well at all!!
They have been married 10yrs so far, and have soooo much to lose if there is a separation!! We just want to help if at all possible, but staying our distance right now.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 5 years ago.
Your main role may be in providing a healthy emotional environment for your grandkids. They are the ultimate, true 'victims' in this. Amazing to me why a woman would want to marry a guy and simultaneously believe that sex was dirty or something she didn't want to do, knowing that he has a high sex drive. On the other hand, your son's behavior and how he is managing this is despicable. The marriage counseling was unprofessional and the counselor, irresponsible. I don't know where you live but it is possible to locate marital therapists who actually know what they are doing and who have strong background in health, physiology, psychology and sex therapy. These are usually clinical psychologists or clinical health psychologists. It is possible to LEARN to tolerate or enjoy sex more, OR, at least go through the motions of trying to provide sex for your partner, if you really love them---do it as a self-less act, even if you don't prefer it. Your son is already acting "AS IF" he is a single guy with no marital obligations; so if things remain unchanged, divorce is an inevitability.

If you can talk to your son, outline to him the suggestions above including the self help books for himself; you can explain that it presents him in a highly insensitive and negative light---it does little for the image others hold of him in the world to be acting like this. He looks like a promiscuous adolescent guy hunting down 'conquests'. He doesn't see himself as other do, for certain!!

His wife needs to get into individual therapy with a qualified sex therapist who can then, bring your son into the therapy. He needs to curtail his extra-marital activity and determine to try again to fix the marriage; he should offer up this suggestion to her, with the agreement that they will try marital therapy again. He and she need to understand that frankly, only a minority of 'therapists' are very helpful and one often has to try out several before they find someone very good. More patience and persistence is required than to say, "we've tried therapy and it doesn't work". Well this is absolutely correct---it doesn't work very well for most couples!!! But trying multiple therapists usually does, over time.

He needs to be frank with his wife and let her know where the marriage is heading; she has to want to save the marriage and be willing to learn---accept the idea that she CAN learn to engage in sex and do so without it being as aversive as it is now. But she needs to believe that he will put more effort into the overall quality of the relationship FIRST, before he can expect her to work on the sexual aspect. That is, I strongly suspect that their ability to really communicate and listen is extremely poor. They don't plan things together, pre-agree on basic aspects of the marriage e.g., how to plan on where the paycheck goes each month; they don't have a standing 'date night' together, etc. If he wants to have the sex life improve, he needs to be a much better husband in these areas. She then, needs to reciprocate by working on the sexual issues that beset her. You may want to do the legwork for her and locate and pre-interview (on the phone) several prospective therapists who can help, and provide 1-2 as specific referrals for your son and his wife.

You and your wife should begin to discuss how you can support the grandkids emotionally---provide them with more respite time away from home if necessary, spend more time with them, communicate with them through phone calls, etc. The more stability and emotional safety you can provide them, the better. THEY are actually your first priority here.

Hope this information is helpful to you. Let me know if I've overlooked any aspect of your original question. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the page. Thanks
Customer: replied 5 years ago.
I am very thankful to you for your detailed answer to my request.
May I ask you one more thing? Do you know of anyone in the Nashville, Tn. area who might be of help to this couple? If not I find myself very inadequate at locating someone who could actually help with their situation. The wife will lean toward her Baptist minister to find someone to help them as she has in the past. As I previously told you, the lady marital counselor was of little help after spending quite a large sum of money with her.....masturbation was her only solution.
Thank you again and I will accept your answers when I hear from you again.
Thanks again so much.
Expert:  Dr. Michael replied 5 years ago.
Here are a few leads for Nashville:

I would call them, talk to them.

Unfortunately, the Baptist minister can't possibly know who is really a great therapist and who is not----he aligns himself with counselors tied to his faith, primarily; again, you need someone specifically with the training I suggested, not another marriage counselor who suggests masturbation as the remedy.

I hope this information is helpful to you. Please let me know if I have overlooked any aspect of your original question. Please click on the green Accept button at the bottom of the screen. Thanks.
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