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He cheated on me now he is HIV+

By Faeza
14 October 2016

Confused Wife writes: 

About two years ago, my husband told me he had cheated on me and that he had just found out that he is HIV positive. Since then I have tested regularly and I am HIV negative. We are still together, but I have my doubts as to whether I should stay with him. He is 13 years older than me and we have been together for 10 years and married for seven. We have an eight-year-old daughter. He doesn’t like to talk about his HIV status and kind of acts like it doesn’t even bother him.

I still love him, but love only goes so far when there is resentment. He was there for me when I had a very bad drinking problem, and I feel like if I leave him I would never forgive myself for being selfish. He made a mistake that almost cost me my life. I am extremely mad about that, and I also think my daughter’s life is at risk just living in the same house. He will not go to marriage counselling because he doesn’t want anyone to know he is HIV positive. I feel a lot of unforgiveness and resentment towards him for what he has done. What do I do?

Linda Yenda responds:

My suggestion is, start by figuring out why you have stayed until now. List those reasons, but leave your daughter off the list. The reasons that you have stayed will probably be the same reasons you should stay if they are compelling enough. And if the only reason you have stayed was uncertainty, then it is obviously not a good enough reason to stay. Try to figure that out first.

WHEN MARRIAGE ENDS

The reason I say that you need to leave your daughter out of the equation is because having a child together should never be the only reason you stay together. The worst thing you can ever do to a child is stay in a loveless marriage for their sake. Your child will have to watch her mom and dad resent each other. Children learn about love and marriage from watching their parents. The last thing you want to do is give this poor child a distorted view of what a happy marriage looks like. So sometimes when a marriage ends it might be good for the child. Just as long as your child knows that just because mommy and daddy are no longer together does not mean they love her any less.

TELLING YOU THE TRUTH

Needless to say, you are angry. You feel betrayed by his actions. He was selfish and inconsiderate and he added insult to injury by not using protection. The truth is, though as ironic as this is, you do need to acknowledge the fact that with all his faults, the one good thing that he did was to let you know the moment he found out that he is HIV positive. I have seen many cases where people have found out they are positive and selfishly kept the information to themselves. Rather than confessing, they choose to keep quiet and expose their partner to the virus. So, although we are not about to hand him the Husband Of The Year award, we must at least commend him for coming clean.

HE NEEDS TO MAN UP

Now, having said that, what steps has he actually taken since admitting to his infidelity? Once a spouse has been caught cheating, the onus is on them to make amends. In as much as he can never make up for what he did, the absolute least he can do is to go out of his way to show you that he is remorseful. He has to win back your trust and confidence. That should be his number one duty. If you require couple’s therapy or to talk to your priest, then he must be willing to do that. He needs to man up. There is no time for him to try to keep his deeds a secret and to look innocent to the world. I understand the shame that this is causing you too, but in the end, it doesn’t help to bottle it up and to have all the pain and resentment inside you.

THE VIRUS ITSELF

Now, let’s talk about the virus itself. Firstly, if he is taking his antiretrovirals (ARVs) then he still has a long and healthy life ahead of him. As for your daughter’s safety, here are some facts about the virus:

¯ HIV is transmitted by four body fluids; blood, vaginal fluid, semen, and breast milk as well as other body fluids containing blood.

¯ Saliva doesn’t transmit HIV and you cannot get HIV by using the same bathroom. I would advise you to do some research to educate yourself on the virus. You should go to counselling by yourself if your husband won’t go with you. He may change his mind if you start the process.