Should I Tell My Husband Our Last Child Isn’t His?

Ask Demetria: The only way to truly save your marriage is to reveal all the secrets and lies.

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Dear Demetria:

I am the mother of two. I have an amazing husband and father to my children. The last child is not his, and he is unaware. His best friend and I had a one-night stand two years ago when my hubby was out of town. I can’t bring myself to come clean.

I just started going to therapy about this. The guilt is making me miserable. I feel honesty would break our whole family apart. I'm afraid to find out what my husband may do. —Anonymous

My grandmother had a saying about truth: “What’s done in the dark will always come to the light.” You’ve been carrying some huge secrets, and despite trying to ignore and avoid them, they’ve come to the forefront of your mind nearly three years later with a crippling vengeance that’s making you miserable.

I’m glad you’re in therapy. That’s a good starting point. If you have a good therapist, she or he will help you find the courage to “come clean,” as you put it, and tell your husband the truth about your affair and the child that resulted from it. It’s not the easy thing to do, but it is the right course of action here for everyone involved, including you.  

Your husband deserves to know the truth, and sooner rather than later. Your child, though too young to understand what’s going on now, also deserves the truth, and the older she or he is when you tell her or him, the more devastated the child will be. Surely you’ve seen that viral video of the trailer for Paternity Court when a grown man discovers that his dad is not his biological father. He was broken, and it’s heartbreaking to watch. You don’t do that to your kid.

Your husband will be devastated, and he will be angry (to put it mildly). And the longer you wait, the more intense those feelings will be. I suggest that you speak with your therapist about bringing your husband into a session sooner rather than later and confessing to him in a controlled environment.

But before you do that, let’s make sure you’re accurate about what you’re confessing to. Have you had a DNA test done on the child to verify who her or his father is? I hope so, but if not, you need to do so immediately, and before you tell your husband anything. There’s no sense in having an unnecessary back-and-forth about who the actual father is, if your husband is actually that person.

If your husband is positively not the father, you need to inform your husband’s best friend that he is, if he’s not aware already. The best friend needs to know right after you tell your husband what you’ve been hiding. (Why after? Because your husband’s been on the back end of secrets long enough.) Your husband is also going to be hurt by and angry with him, too, but that’s not your concern. The men will work that out with each other.

Oh, and even if the child is biologically your husband’s, he still needs to know about the affair. You can leave out the part about spending the last two years thinking the child isn’t his.

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