Ex-Etiquette: Be honest and straightforward about herpes

Q: My husband gave me herpes. We have been married for 10 years and I’m five months’ pregnant. I never had it before so it’s obvious that he has been fooling around so I am divorcing him. He swears he has been faithful, but I don’t believe him. I made him take a lie-detector test, which he passed, but I think he figured out a way to fool the detector because how else could I have gotten this? This is so embarrassing. Do I have to tell everyone I have sex with in the future that I have herpes?

A: Yes, and to explain why we refer you to Ex-Etiquette Rule No. 8: “Be honest and straightforward.” That said, we have to add that it’s a conversation anyone who is sexually active should have before they have sex with anyone. While it is understandable that you are embarrassed, you are not alone. Research tells us that one in five people in the United States have HSV-2 (genital herpes) and even more, up to 80 percent, may have HSV-1 (oral herpes). As people continue to have unprotected sex, the numbers are bound to go up.

We find it interesting that you made your husband take a lie-detector test, and he passed, but you still don’t believe him. To that we say, you may want to rethink your decision. Although lie detectors can be fooled, it’s not likely. Also, if either of you had unprotected sex with someone else before your marriage, it’s possible you’ve had herpes all along but you didn’t know it because the symptoms were so mild that they were confused with other medical conditions such as yeast infections, hemorrhoids, skin infections and other minor ailments. In these cases, the individual unknowingly passes the herpes virus on to others during unprotected sexual activity. All the more reason to practice safe sex at all times.

If this is the only reason you are seeking a divorce, we suggest you take a look at staying together. You are going to have a child and that’s reason enough to reconsider leaving, especially if a lie detector is telling you that what you suspect happened, might not have happened at all. Based on the information you gave us, we suggest that rather than filing for divorce you go to counseling, look at how to handle the turmoil this has caused in your relationship, and do your best to start over. If you can’t, there’s plenty of time to file for divorce later.

Jann Blackstone-Ford, Ph.D., and her husband’s ex-wife, Sharyl Jupe, authors of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents,” are the founders of Bonus Families (www.bonusfamilies.com) and the authors of “Ex-Etiquette for Parents: Good Behavior After a Divorce or Separation.” Contact them at ee@bonusfamilies.com.