I will call her Joy. She came to therapy to resolve some issues with her elderly mother – an attractive, stylish woman, in her mid-thirties, and happily married.
You know, when you start talking, you never know where the conversation will take you.
She met her husband, Jim, at a wedding. It was the most romantic courtship, and since both of them were in their early thirties, they decided not to wait too long, so only eight months later they had a beautiful wedding.
She became a partner in his furniture store, and because of her business savvy – she was instrumental in making the business thrive. “We work so hard, that we forget to make love”, she quipped with a smile.
There was another session where she mentioned that they make love only “doggy style”, and whenever she asks to change position he refuses. “You have to compromise in a marriage, and if this my only compromise, then I’m fine with it”.
One day she came upset and confused. A disgruntled employee screamed at her that she “cannot see what’s in front of her”, and that her husband made a pass at him.
“My husband loves me so much! He tells me that he loves me every day, and I cannot believe that he would do anything like that!”. I gently prodded, and it turned out that before their wedding Jim confessed that he had a couple of insignificant homosexual relationships, but it happened many years ago, when he was confused. He was positive that he loved her, and could not fathom life without her.
Jim was charming, handsome, funny and sensitive, and Joy was head over heels in love. She did not want to question him anymore, and started talking about her wedding dress.
This session took place in the height of the Aids epidemic.
You know how you sometimes feel something in your gut? I started probing and surprisingly we realized together that the last time they had sex was six months ago. He was drunk, and she initiated. We realized that almost all their employees were attractive gay men. We realized that Jim had a habit of going to have drinks with the guys while she was at the store going through paperwork.
It was not easy to tell Joy to go home and ask more questions. It was even more difficult to tell her to go and get tested. The most difficult part, though, was to confront her denied suspicions, and have her insist on Jim’s being tested as well.
When all was said and done, he admitted to going to bath houses for sex with men “very infrequently”, and while sobbing, he told her that if she would leave him he would die, because he cannot imagine life without her. They were both tested. She was negative.
He was positive.
They stayed together four more years. The business continued to thrive. She hired female employees. Every day he would hug her and tell her how much he loved her. Every day she hugged him and told him that he is the man of her dreams. He would frequently tell friends that the happiest day in his life was their wedding day. He would buy her cloths, cook for her and watch her eat. Sometimes he would spoon feed her.
It started with headaches and dizziness and went downhill afterwards. A year after his diagnosis he became very ill. She nursed him for three years, she stopped therapy at that point, telling me that I had saved her life.
She came three years later, looking haggard and depleted. “Jim died a week ago” she said softly. “We were hugging in bed and he died in my arms. And despite the agony and pain, I would still do it all over again”