Question

I’m a 30-year-old man and I met a guy a few months ago – he’s 37. We haven’t shared a bed, but I suspect he might be HIV-positive. I want to suggest we both get tested but I don’t want my suggestion to push him away or offend him in any way. He’s a very nice guy and I love him. I would never leave him, even if he is HIV-positive because I know about HIV/Aids. I just need to know his status so we can take proper precautions. How do I bring up the topic without offending him?

Answer

You must be commended for taking precautions when it comes to your health and also for being a loving partner. It’s a good thing you want to do for both you and your partner, and if he doesn’t see it that way then he clearly doesn’t value your relationship. A lot of people today make it a prerequisite to test and share their results with their partners at the beginning of a new relationship. This eliminates any doubts when they want to take it to the next level. Maybe that could be your starting point– talk to your partner about this and ask him what he thinks. Then tell him you’d like to go together to your nearest voluntary counselling and testing (VCT) centre so you can give each other support. Good luck.

Question

I’m 29 and my girlfriend is 32. I really love her and want to marry her but my problem is that whenever there’s a misunderstanding she either doesn’t want to talk or she just wants me to listen. This really upsets me but I don’t think I have the strength to argue with her. What should I do?

Answer

We all have different ways of dealing with conflict because we all have different ways and patterns of communicating. You need to remember that even though you’re a couple, you grew up in different families, under different circumstances and with different behaviours, norms and values – and you both will have adopted some of these and made them your own. So you’ll find that some of the things you do in your relationship will have come from your past experiences.But just because you’ve learnt to behave or react in a certain way doesn’t mean you can’t learn new ways. You need to tell your girlfriend that the way she handles things when you have a serious discussion – not talking or not wanting you to talk and only listen – doesn’t work for you. Help her understand that you’d both benefit from discussing the issues that come up and from finding solutions together. It shouldn’t be an argument but a discussion that involves both of you. Communication is about opening up and listening. And you can learn how to fight fairly without saying things that hurt your partner. If you struggle and find you can’t do it on your own, see a relationship counsellor who can help you and your girlfriend work on your communication and conflict resolution skills.


Question

I’m a domestic worker and I live in the house of my employers. I get up at 5am every morning and usually don’t finish until around 11pm. I work seven days a week, my salary is not very much and I
get no overtime. I get one month off a year when they decide they don’t need me. Is this right?

Answer

What you’re describing is not employment but exploitation. Some employers think they can get away with treating their employees badly because they know jobs are scarce and workers will hang onto whatever job they have. But they can’t. The labour law is clear when it comes to domestic workers – the minimum wage is R2 545 for a person working more than 27 hours a week, and R1 788 for a person working less than 27 hours a week. The National Minimum Wage has set a rate for domestics at R15 per hour, which came into effect on 1 May 2018. It also states that the monthly, weekly or hourly rate doesn’t include food, transport, equipment, board, allowances or any gifts received. If you are a South African citizen or have a work permit you should also be registered for UIF. You can call the South African Domestic Service and Allied Workers’ Union on 021-448-0044 to get more advice.