Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?
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Sex in Marriage Sexual problems are common in many relationships. This section is for discussions about sexuality. Please limit discussions to those asking for help with a problem and those offering advice. Any other threads may be deleted.

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Old 03-21-2013, 01:03 PM   #1 (permalink)
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Default Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

Background

My wife and I have been happily married for 9 years, polyamorous (committed, but dating other people) for the last 6 years.

She's been with about 5 other partners in that time, I've been with none (I'm not opposed to polyamory at all—I've been on 2 dates, kissing, but no sex—just been a little gun shy about making it public). But neither of us have experienced symptoms of any kind of STD. One of the few rules we have for dating other people is being safe, and not bringing any STDs home.

The guy that she's currently seeing casually mentioned that he'd slept with someone who had HSV2, which to him was no big deal, but he hadn't been tested for anything. That, of course, raised a big red flag with both my wife and I. Honestly, it's more of a red flag for me, since the idea of contracting something incurable really scares me. From my wife's perspective she figures she's going to get it at some point, and that doesn't really bother her.

We just went to get tested (not sure why we hadn't thought to do this sooner), and we're waiting for the results back. As far as we know, neither of us have HSV1 or 2, no symptoms, but from what I've read you can have it and not even know it.

My Problem

I feel like this puts me in a really tough spot. I could have it, she could have it. We could both be clean. Not sure yet.

Where it starts getting iffy for me is if she has it and I don't. What do I do? It sounds ridiculous for me to not have sex with my wife ever again, or even worse (from my perspective) never kiss her again if she has HSV1. I love her so much, but is it worth voluntarily putting myself at risk to contract an incurable STD?

She's very angry at me right now—and I get it—for even taking the time to contemplate whether or not I would put myself at risk. For her, it's a simple choice: "Oh, you have herpes? Well, I'll have herpes too, since I love you so much." I feel like a total ****, but it's not that easy for me.

My Question

Again, this is hypothetical at this point, results aren't even in yet. But I just need some advice from others in his situation, or from those who are dealing with HSV, and those who aren't. Am I making too big a deal of this? Is it completely unreasonable to never have sex again with my wife so as to avoid contracting it.

I guess part of me is thinking what if something happens in 5 years and we get divorced, and I put myself at risk and contracted it. I would very much regret that. It's a crappy thing to think about, but it definitely scares me to get something I can't get rid of. I just feel like I'm missing some info or perspective on this. Thanks!
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:18 PM   #2 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

I thought that you could only catch herpes if you have sex with someone who has an active sore at the time.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:20 PM   #3 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

I have a hunch about something, but I'll hold back for the moment to see what others think about your problem.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:22 PM   #4 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

When you agree to allow your spouse to have sex with people outside of your primary relationship, you take the chance that her sexual partners may transmit an STI/STD through her to you.

You depended on her to be selective about her sexual partners, but you also depend on her partners to be honest with her; something that neither of you have any control over. She had sex with a man who cared so little for her that he neglected to share a very important fact about himself. That says a lot about her ability to choose sexual partners, and about you eventually contracting a potentially incurable disease.

You have every right to, and should, consider the implications of her sexual choices. If you are willing to accept those risks and continue in a poly relationship with her, then you will unfortunately have to make a very difficult choice to have sex with her when she contracts a disease given that she feels it's a matter of "when" and not "if". If you are not willing to accept the risks, then you have no choice but to renegotiate having multiple sexual partners in your marriage.

It seems contradictory to me to say that you are willing to be in a poly relationship and yet you won't have sex with her when she contracts a disease from the very activities that you agree to and support.

You most definitely should consider the risks and results, and you should have done so before agreeing to this arrangement. That's water under the bridge, but you are responsible for your health and for your marriage. If you are willing to support keeping your arrangement "as is" then your wife has every right to be upset if you will reject her when she brings home a disease. It sounds like a poly marriage isn't going to work out for you, at least given your wife's attitudes towards incurable disease transmission.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:24 PM   #5 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

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Originally Posted by ClimbingTheWalls View Post
I thought that you could only catch herpes if you have sex with someone who has an active sore at the time.
That assumes that he is aware of an active sore (viral shedding aside), and that he cares enough about her to abstain from sex if he does. If he cares so little for her that he didn't share his status, it seems likely that he won't.
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Old 03-21-2013, 01:41 PM   #6 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

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Originally Posted by michzz View Post
If this is a real post, I think i just threw up a little in my mouth.

You can't just be fine with your wife sleeping around with infected people and also not be fine with your wife sleeping around with infected people.

It's gotta be one or the other.

Once I get over my disdain for such an arrangement, it seems to me a bit appalling to be casual about the prospect of getting herpes.

And further, giving it to someone you say you love.

Ok, now I have to rinse out my mouth.
I really hope this is a troll because this situation is just too disgusting and stupid to be real. You let your wife sleep around with 5 other guys but then get all upset that she might contract herpes? Are you able to walk and chew gum at the same time? What did you THINK would happen?
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:00 PM   #7 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

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Originally Posted by michzz View Post
If this is a real post, I think i just threw up a little in my mouth.

You can't just be fine with your wife sleeping around with infected people and also not be fine with your wife sleeping around with infected people.

It's gotta be one or the other.
Haha, thanks for that Yes, this is a real post.

I get it. There are probably good amount of people on this forum who understand poly, but there are probably a lot more who don't. Poly isn't about "sleeping around with other people", it's about experiencing romantic relationships in addition to a committed one (well, for married couples at least).

I do understand that by being polyamorous we open our marriage up to risk. She's pretty comfortable asking partners about their sexual health, but there's also the risk of contracting something from someone who in unaware they carry it.

So yes, I am fine with my wife engaging in a sexual relationship with another person, but it's always been with the understanding that our marital health is first priority. I'm not ok with her sleeping with infected people, but I think she may have been leaning too much on the honestly of her partner this time, rather than asking up front.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:15 PM   #8 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

I have had herpes since I was a teenager. I have found, across the board, that women are FAR more understanding and forgiving of such things. Men are FAR more worried and paranoid. I think its exactly for reasons like you said. Its easier for women to think they will be with her man forever, where many men think about what ifs about dating in the future.

The fact that the guy told your wife he'd been with someone who had it, makes me think that was his cowardly way of telling her that HE had it too. At least he said something though, far too many people don't, because it is absolutely devastating to get rejected for it. I hope to god that both of your tests come back clean! Maybe its time to re-evaluate the rules of your arrangement.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:16 PM   #9 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

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Originally Posted by JCobb View Post
Haha, thanks for that Yes, this is a real post.

I get it. There are probably good amount of people on this forum who understand poly, but there are probably a lot more who don't. Poly isn't about "sleeping around with other people", it's about experiencing romantic relationships in addition to a committed one (well, for married couples at least).

I do understand that by being polyamorous we open our marriage up to risk. She's pretty comfortable asking partners about their sexual health, but there's also the risk of contracting something from someone who in unaware they carry it.

So yes, I am fine with my wife engaging in a sexual relationship with another person, but it's always been with the understanding that our marital health is first priority. I'm not ok with her sleeping with infected people, but I think she may have been leaning too much on the honestly of her partner this time, rather than asking up front.
So it's an open marriage that she largely takes advantage of while you do not. Then she comes home with an STD that has no known cure.

Based on your current lifestyle, the odds that you will divorce in the near future is high. With that in mind, do you really want to contract herpes yourself and then later explain to your dates how and why you got herpes? I think you know the answer already, but don't have the courage to say it.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:22 PM   #10 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

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Originally Posted by JCobb View Post
So yes, I am fine with my wife engaging in a sexual relationship with another person, but it's always been with the understanding that our marital health is first priority. I'm not ok with her sleeping with infected people, but I think she may have been leaning too much on the honestly of her partner this time, rather than asking up front.
Asking up front doesn't guarantee that a partner is either disease free or honest. If her focus is romantic interests, she might want to start insisting on a waiting period followed by testing to better meet your expectations of risk management.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:26 PM   #11 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

Let me get this straight. You're married but have an open marriage and are sleeping around with other people, dates, etc.

Why did you get married in the first place?

Marriage is between husband and wifee, not also dating and having sex with other people. That's purposely committing adultery. You insult the institution of marriage and then she may get the herps and you are now getting a red flag?!

What you should of done, is only dated each other and not get married, seeing other people, open dating so to speak.


Not cool.....
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:33 PM   #12 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

Sounds like you're getting the fuzzy side of the lolipop that fell on the floor.
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Old 03-21-2013, 02:46 PM   #13 (permalink)
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Sounds like you're getting the fuzzy side of the lolipop that fell on the floor.
Definitely.

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Old 03-21-2013, 03:07 PM   #14 (permalink)
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Sounds like you're getting the fuzzy side of the lolipop that fell on the floor.
This is a really serious subject, but this made me laugh... :-)

To the OP... My GF of two years and I have "swung" a few times, and we've faced the fears you're talking about. On of the things that anchored our early relationship was me being with her through a round of STI testing after a broken condom. So even "playing safe" has risks.

My thoughts... There's risks in everything we do in life. Not everyone has the same level of tolerance to those risks. And the "benefits" gained by taking the risk has to outweigh the risk itself. Only you can judge where you sit on this spectrum. And in my relationship, we decided that the relationship takes precedience over anyone outside of it. So theoretically, I could tell my GF with a clear conscience that I was done with that lifestyle, and we'd both shut it down. How that works in practice, who knows.

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Old 03-21-2013, 03:23 PM   #15 (permalink)
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Default Re: Do I have sex with my wife who has herpes?

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She's very angry at me right now—and I get it—for even taking the time to contemplate whether or not I would put myself at risk. For her, it's a simple choice: "Oh, you have herpes? Well, I'll have herpes too, since I love you so much."
=/

By what right does she have to be angry simply because of your human nature to avoid the plague?

"Help I'm drowning, drown with me or I'll be really mad!"

Erm... no
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