DEAR ABBY: I am a 22-year-old mother of two. Until two months ago, I was happily married. During his last overseas tour, my husband contracted herpes-2. He claims he was under the influence and the woman took "unfair" advantage of him.
I don't know if I'm more upset that he wasn't capable of controlling the situation, or the fact he had unprotected sex with a stranger and then with me. I feel robbed, not only of my trust and the sanctity of our marriage, but also of my dignity, my self-image and my future.
I have decided to stay in this marriage. How could anyone else love me if he knew? I have drilled my husband with accusations and questions. How can we put this behind us and have a happy marriage again? Every time I have an outbreak, I'm reminded of what he did to us. Now, because I loved and trusted my husband, I must live with this for the rest of my life. Can you help me to heal my heart -- or should I just leave? -- CAN'T FORGET
DEAR CAN'T FORGET: According to the American Social Health Association (ASHA), more than one in five Americans over the age of 12 are infected with herpes-2.
Although you may feel isolated in having this problem, nothing could be further from the truth. ASHA has a wealth of information available on this subject, and support groups as well. Please call the National Herpes Hotline for information and referrals in your area. It operates from 9 a.m. to 7 p.m. (EST). The number is (919) 361-8488. The Web site is www.ashastd.org.
I sincerely hope you and your husband can overcome this marital crisis. But if the only reason you're staying in your marriage is that you think no one else would want you because you have herpes, that's the wrong reason for staying.
Marriage counseling would be very helpful to you and your spouse. He behaved irresponsibly, but it doesn't have to be the end of your marriage. Other marriages have survived this. With work and forgiveness on both of your parts, yours might, too.