I have posted on marriage and infidelity sites for advice from anyone in similar situations. The most common advice has been that I need to get divorced and run. It just isn’t that simple. I found out a month ago that my husband was HIV+ and had been cheating on me with strange men. He has a long recovery ahead of him. Right now he is trying to recuperate from pneumonia - which is how we found out he has AIDs and he was forced to confess. We have 2 small girls, so most of my thoughts just go to them and what’s right for them. He was selfish in all his decisions that he made, and I don’t want to do the same. Of course I can never trust him again… I feel like I married a fraud. Our whole life together has been a lie - 18 years together and 11 years married. I have to forgive him almost every day. It’s still a shock that this happened. I didn’t take our marriage vows lightly, but he obviously did. I never thought that I would have to make this decision. It shouldn’t have to be me to end it… even though it was really his actions that ended it. He thinks that I am just going to forget about it and go on living with him. Obviously there can no longer be a normal married life. It’s just tough to figure out where I need to go from here. The only thing that I can thank him for is that he never touched me after being with men, and I have tested negative.
51 Views, but no replies… I really am that pathetic. Any good Bible verses of encouragement that anyone could share?
Sister in Christ, you have been deeply hurt and it may take daily forgiveness for a while, but you will make it to the other side with God’s deep love for you and His grace. Keep praying, and I will keep you in prayer, as well as your children and husband. John 14. Psalm 73: 21-26.
I’m glad you are negative for HIV! It’s really hard to give advice on such a subject on an online forum, but I think you need to be preparing yourself to protect and parent your children by yourself. Whether or not you decide to end your cohabitating with your husband, there is still a very good chance that he will leave. I think you should speak to a lawyer about your rights and protecting yourself and your family. I highly recommend that if you own your own home, you require him to sign it over to you. I know a woman who has a certified sex addict for a husband and she made that a requirement for her continuing to live with him. That way if he got himself into legal trouble over it, they couldn’t come after her home. Depending on how the house is mortgaged though, that may not be a possibility for everyone.
I’m guessing from your question that you know that
a) you can marry in good faith and still not have a valid marriage. (It is quite likely that you don’t have a valid marriage, based on your husband’s deceit at the time of marriage concerning his sexual orientation. It is no exaggeration to call his lack of disclosure 18 years of a lie.)
b) even in a valid marriage, infidelity against an innocent spouse is grounds for separation with the bond remaining. (This is in canon law.)
In other words, according to the pastoral mind of the Church you are not bound to live the common conjugal life with your husband, even if you are validly married, by reason of his infidelity. Although readmitting him to the common conjugal life is praiseworthy in the case where the wayward spouse is contrite and intends to make amends and avoid any future transgressions, that is not a realistic appraisal of your situation, because of the habitual and long-term nature of his deceit. (If it is found out that someone working in retail has been helping themselves here and there to the till for 18 years, nobody in their right mind ever lets the person near a cash register again. Forgive–let go of ill will or a desire for vengeance–but see the person as totally unsuitable for any position requiring integrity beyond reproach.)
You see that he has always been lying to you, you have no reason to believe he is capable of fidelity and you know him to carry a deadly sexually-transmitted disease. Re-admitting him to the marital bed is out of the question. According to the Church, that is a choice that is yours to make unilaterally, as the innocent spouse. (Again: It does not matter whether or not your marriage is valid. You have that right, either way. The only exception would have been if you are in a valid marriage and had chosen to forgive him, readmit him to the common conjugal life, and he did not re-offend with regards to infidelity.)
I don’t know what you mean by “it should not be on me to end it.” Separating with the bond remaining or filing for a divorce and a request to find the marriage null does not imply you have done anything wrong. It only says that you are asserting the rights that the laws of marriage give to you. If you are lured into an attempt at marriage in good faith only to find you were deceived, you have a right to have the marriage declared null. You have the right to seek a *valid *marriage. More to the point: it does not make sense to expect that the spouse who wants to continue to benefit from the deceit is going to move to have the nullity of the marriage recognized by the Church or by the state. When you realize your rights are being violated, of course it is “on you” to defend them from continued violation!!
OK–so you aren’t going to have sex with him again. There is no morally-compelling reason that you would and serious reasons that you won’t. That does not mean you have to kick him out of the house, if you don’t want to do that. Considering, however, that you are not going to continue in the common conjugal life, there are practical problems with that approach.
If you want to keep him in the house, ask yourself these questions:
–is it better or worse for your daughters to have him in the home? I don’t mean as he ought to be. I mean as he probably *will *be. Be honest with yourself about that. You need to take their welfare into account.
–do you ever intend to re-marry, since the Church would probably find you in an invalid marriage and free to marry once you are divorced and have your case investigated? Taking your vows seriously does not mean abdicating your right to attempt a valid marriage for as long as your husband lives unless your marriage to him is valid.
–is there a compelling reason such as the financial welfare of your children to seek a civil divorce or to avoid seeking a civil divorce? (Divorcing and maintaining the cost of two households is a very expensive proposition, parenting from two households can be extremely stressful on both the parents and the children. When it comes to custody, you have the choice of losing control of your children some of the time and not allowing them to have any contact with their dad–and his social circle, which you do not get to choose. Opting to stay under the same roof with the habitually unfaithful parent of your children has obvious drawbacks of its own…)
–which leads to the final question: Under what circumstances could you tolerate having him in the same house? Do you need a home with a separate bedroom for him? Does he need to live a chaste life? Is that a realistic possibility? You cannot force reality to give you what is not realistically possible.
You are in a very difficult situation. Had it happened to me back when AIDS was a death sentence, I’d probably have thought about sticking it out for the sake of being there for such a difficult trial in the life of the father of my children. Now that those infected with HIV can live independently for a very long time, I would probably not consider tolerating his presence in my home unless I realistically thought he would maintain something like a chaste life. If he was going to keep frequenting lovers and living with all the sexual self-control of an animal, I’d feel forced to get him out of the house and to seek full custody of the children. I would not trust the people he was consorting with around my children, because I would realistically have to assume he would be choosing his lovers on totally self-centered grounds from a field of prospects that had nothing to do with whether or not they might pose a threat to the girls and everything to do with whether they were willing to have sex with a man that was already HIV-positive.
I hope the last post did not sound cold-hearted, but as the Lord told his disciples before he sent them out to preach: “Behold, I am sending you like sheep in the midst of wolves; so be shrewd as serpents and simple as doves. But beware of people, for they will hand you over to courts and scourge you in their synagogues, and you will be led before governors and kings for my sake as a witness before them and the pagans.” Matt. 10:16-18
If you do not recognize that it is realistically the most likely that your husband will use law, emotion, history, relationships and a certain amount of deceit to take advantage of you just as he already has for 18 years, then he almost surely will do just that. I say this because he actually expects you to be fine with having him in the house. He has to be either lying, totally self-centered and without empathy, or both. Nobody who is really contrite about something like he did expects to continue as if nothing happened. The contrite expect to have to make amends and to work to demonstrate they are worthy of trust. They also realize that even the opportunity to do that requires a great deal of mercy from the victims of their offenses. Those who do not have a sense of contrition to drive them to change their habits are not going to change their habits. It is hard enough to build character if you want to do it! It doesn’t happen when you don’t even think it is a priority.
I am not saying to “be of the world,” but I am saying that if you are going to protect yourself and your daughters, you need to act as wisely as a serpent, “beware of people,” and choose the sacrifices you make with your eyes open. Wishful thinking will get you nowhere.
I kind of look at as someone who has a mental malady as well a physical illness which makes it doubly sad. He must have loved you in his own way or he wouldn’t have stayed with you for all those many years. Compassion is in order even if the marriage is no longer viable, for compassion and mercy never go out of style.
I could tell you to seek annulment, but I am not sure if that would be good advise. Ask a priest. The only sure thing is that he will need support, care and palliative comport in the future. I don’t know what I would do if I had to walk in your shoes other than to turn yo God for strength. I will offer up my prayers for you.
Easter Joy has made some excellent points. prayers for you and your daughters.
I would never advise divorce except in extreme cases and I feel this qualifies. No way did you at any point have a valid marriage and he put you at risk of infection and concealed that information.
Be merciful, be forgiving, be supportive but it’s time you and your children separated from him and I would only allow supervised visits for a while. He is not going to change and you do not want your children exposed to his alternative life style.
My prayers are with you.
Thank you all so very much! Your words are all so comforting! EasterJoy you gave me so much information that I did not know and a lot to ponder. I really do know where this needs to go… It’s just hard taking the step and making sure what I do is right for my kids. I hate that I have to think of finances, but that is a big stopper… but then when I think of it, most of the debt that we have is his. I could handle mine on my own, without the mortgage… The house probably isn’t worth now what we paid for it, so that is a scary thought… which is just an excuse from keeping me from doing what I need to. The other hard part of it all is that no one in my life knows about this, except me, him, and his Drs. Everyone thinks he is just trying to get better from his pneumonia that had him in the hospital for a week. While I was home in a daze from all this new information being dumped on me, everyone was worried about him and helping him. I could never let him not be taken care of for the sake of his daughters and his mother.
He may have have real emotions for her, but by no means should it automatically be assumed that someone who stays with someone who is good to him for a long time “must have loved you in his own way.” Sometimes, this is true. Sometimes, a partner stays for a long time for no other reason than that they know what side their bread is buttered on.
I don’t mean to say anything about the OP’s husband, because I don’t know him. I mean that it is necessary to accept the hard fact that some people pretend emotional attachments that are not there and some others pretend emotional attachments that they are incapable of developing. We cannot say, “he must have loved her in his own way.” We can’t know that, because it is surprisingly common for long-time partners to feel no such thing.
It is also far more likely but by no means certain that someone who is HIV positive will need support, care, and palliative comfort beyond that needed by other people. HIV treatment has advanced so far that it was recently found that gay white men with HIV who receive current treatments have the same life expectancy as white men who are not infected with HIV. (Men don’t do that well when they are diagnosed later or who are not retained in what is now the standard of care as reliably as white gay men typically are, but still have a much better life expectancy than in the past.)
In other words, if her husband had been unfaithful with lots of women and not picked up any diseases but was not only an inveterate womanizer but also a smoker, that husband would also be at risk for facing a difficult illness alone if his wife left him.
The OPs husband seems to have been inveterate about indulging in sex with men. Because of the long-standing habitual nature of the infidelity, it is more likely than not that it will be continued at some point in the future, if it has stopped yet. There are HIV-positive people out there who are willing to be the partners of those who are also HIV-positive. If he wants to cheat, he’ll be able to find someone even if he is honest about his HIV status.
OP, you and your entire family have our prayers.
I think that you should be talking to a good Christian counselor to decide the best path forward. You have big decisions to make. Strangers on the internet cannot really advise you on this.
You are one incredible Lady !! To stand by your Husband after all he has put you through …
I certainly hope he appreciates you for your love and patients with him,
And it seems your not staying with him for the Sake of your children,
You feel something much more deeply for him,
You couldn’t possibly start again from where you were before you found him out,
Your life , and marriage must have a whole new set of Boundaries ,
I couldn’t imagine you getting close to a person that has done this,
Firstly I can understand how men can get to this stage , I know this because I’v worked
With men that have done this, and being curious about the complexities of humanity ,
I would talk to them about why,about what was missing in their life , about how it began ,
These people in my humble opinion are not truly Homosexual , just missing some element in their life that they can’t find in a natural Hetrosexual life ,
I would encourage you both to seek counselling , as to how best to cope with this,
And he must be aware of the consequences of what he has done ,
And HE. Must want this to work , you have done your bit, now HE must do his bit to make this work , I certainly will pray for you to keep your strength ,
I cannot begin to imagine how your mind must be racing. Having a spouse face a serious illness like pneumonia is stressful; learning a spouse has been unfaithful is stressful; learning that your spouse has been unfaithful with men and has this serious illness takes those stresses and multiplies them exponentially.
You have received excellent advice; the only thing I could add would be to take your time before you make any decisions. Investigate all of your options and the legal ramifications of all the decisions you might make. Give yourself some time to absorb all the information and make sure you are at peace with the answers you reach.
I will keep you in my prayers.
Thanks Phil… I don’t feel incredible.
I’m not sure why you think I am not staying with him for the children… I am still pretty
much in a daze over this. We are definitely not “together”… We are just under the same roof. I could never live with myself if I just let my children’s father die. I am giving him time to get better and for me to heal also - before making any life changing decisions. It’s not as easy as just packing of a bag and going. I also couldn’t imagine myself getting close to a person who has done this either.
You should consult with an attorney to protect yourself and more importantly the children. I know you have many years of your life invested in this relationship and it will be very, very difficult to end it, move on and get on with the rest of your life, but what you have now is just a living arrangement and it is not healthy for the children.
Thank you so much for your thoughts and prayers! Whether it’s strangers on the internet or strangers in person, it’s pretty much the same advice… only the internet advice is free.
This is not really true. You need professionals with this one. Professional counselors, lawyers, clergy, et al. This is one thread that actually had my jaw dropped. Easter joy’s response was the best you will get. You have my prayers…
WOW. I am shaken.
You do not need to rush into deciding how you are going to proceed on the big picture right now. You do need to get right to educating yourself about those decisions that need to be made right away. Identify which of the important questions are urgent, and act on the urgent matters right away. That will give you a certain bubble of safety from which to work your way to those decisions which are very important but not so pressing with regards to time.
I would absolutely find your pastor or a priest whom you trust with regards to getting help in absorbing this huge helping of violation and grief, and after that deciding how to move forward. This is not the kind of spiritual trial that you want to guess about getting through. Get a good spiritual advisor in place. If your pastor can’t do it, ask him to help you find someone who can.
You will also want to talk to your husband’s doctors, so you can decide what sort of scenarios your family might face with regards to other serious medical issues that could be looming–what are they, how likely are they, and how will your family choose to navigate them in a way that is tenable for all of you? You don’t have to suffer through four different mutually-exclusive medical scenarios. Your work is to prepare for them, not to project yourself forward into suffering several different things at once when none of them has happened to you yet. Think of it as being similar to getting your house and emergency supplies ready because you are in a hurricane zone. Being prepared does not mean obsessing over a storm that might never even hit you.
As for other professionals, include an attorney. Do your homework before you choose an attorney, but do choose the best you can find and consult with him or her first about what sorts of legal protections you need to consider, both in terms of finances and in terms of protecting your position with regards to custody of your daughters. Your attorney can help you to sort out what other sort of information you’ll need and what sort of specialized advice you might need. Get that on your calendar very soon. Ignorance of the law could be very harmful and can cause untold headaches. When you are dealing with someone who has deceived you, assume you are in a situation where you may need the law to defend you. (I wish this wasn’t true as often as it is.)
Violation of marital trust is an area where the mistakes made by the uninformed can be extremely costly and painful. Learn, learn, learn about your situation, and do not rush in to anything* except when delay will leave you vulnerable to another serious set-back*. Those are the fortifications you ought to see to first. After that, you’ll have a little breathing room to think about what to do next.