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Spiritual Support and HIVSpiritual Support and HIV
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husband positive,me negative
Jun 21, 2001

My husband is hiv positive and i am negative well the problem is that he treats me mean at times and says that since i wont have sex with him this is not a marriage well he is right i guess and i do love him but the problem is that i met my ex fiance 2 weeks ago and we went out and got drunk nothing happened cause it was the wrong time of the month for me but if it wasnt i would have had sex with him because we do still care for one another that i know is true but with my husband there is no touching or anything what am i suspose to do about my ex because i still love him but dont want to hurt my husband in the process

Response from Rabbi Sacks-Rosen

I am glad you shared this concern.

Sometimes what we say we need is not exactly what we mean inside. To the degree that your husband's plea for sexual intimacy may well be a cry for support in general, I hope that you are able to give him that. It may well be that he needs two arms around him as much as anything.

However, while your husband's diagnosis may have complicated matters, I do not sense that your issue is one directly related to HIV.

After all, if having loving, passionate, erotic contact is your concern, you and your husband can do so quite safely. You indeed can have physical contact with your husband without putting yourself in any danger of contracting HIV. If you would like guidelines on safe-sex practices, please contact your doctor, a local health agency or call an AIDS/HIV hotline.

However, you tell me in one part of your letter that you do love your husband. On the other hand, you tell me you love your ex-fiance but do not want to hurt your husband.

Did you marry your husband even though you loved someone else? Does your husband know that you saw your ex-fiance on what amounts to a romantic date? Does your ex-fiance know you are married? Is it really respectful of him to go on dates and contemplate sexual intimacy with a married woman? Why did you and your ex-fiance break it off? How long after that did you and your husband get married? Do you have children? What are their ages? From the emotion that comes through your words, it sounds as if you are confused. I would suggest not carrying on two relationships simultaneously. It will not be good for anyone, especially you.

You need to clarify your feelings and then examine your options. I think you might wish to see your spiritual leader or a therapist to help with this process.

You, of course, bear most responsibility to your legal and primary relationship right now. It sounds as if you and he have not communicated successfully about why you have chosen not to express affection be intimate with him. Your hooking up with an ex-fiance may well be the symptom, not the cause. If so, try to figure out what the problem is between you and your husband and see if it can be resolved. Perhaps couples counseling, by either a therapist or your spiritual leader, would be advisable.

If the problem cannot be resolved--and you cannot know that until you have honestly worked on the problem, a process which usually takes quite some time--then the answer is still not to immediately find another person with whom to have sex or intimacy--especially an ex with whom things did not or could not work out previously. How much the more so you should not avoid dealing with your feelings and the real issues by seeking out another while you are still confused and, therefore, vulnerable.

I think that you are in need of support. You may be thinking that if your husband is HIV-positive then he is in need of support, not yourself. Please do not treat your own needs lightly. You might talk to a trusted and sensitive family member or close friend, in addition to a spiritual leader or therapist. But I think you will feel better about yourself by respecting your own need to figure things out. That requires patience and time, distance and cooling things off.

I pray that you will find a way to greater clarity--and that all people involved find the love and support you all need and deserve.

God bless all of you.

Lost friend
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