“I found out my husband has a secret child with his ex”— experts weigh in

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(PHOTO: Getty/Gallo Images)
(PHOTO: Getty/Gallo Images)

Question from reader

My husband had a short fling with an ex-girlfriend a few months after we started dating.

He later came clean and told me about it because he said it made him realise that he wanted to move on with me and take our relationship to the next level. I forgave him, probably because we hadn’t been going out that long and we never really spoke about it again.

We got married after two years of dating and we have now been together for four years. Just before Christmas last year, a friend told me she heard that my husband has a child with someone else. I was totally shocked and expected him to tell me it wasn’t true but when I confronted him, he admitted it.

He said he didn’t tell me because he didn’t know about the baby until he was a few months old and he panicked, thinking I might dump him. I can’t believe he intended to keep this a secret from me. I hate that he has lied to me about something this big and it feels like I barely know him at all. I’ve lost confidence in myself and our marriage. I was really happy before this and we were even planning on trying for a baby. 

Expert advice from Mo and Phindi

This is a hot topic and we find people understandably emotional and opinionated about their views on what to do when there’s a secret child from an affair.

Just because a certain approach is someone else’s strong opinion, doesn’t mean it is the only correct way. The most important thing is to get as much perspective as you can and then make your own decision about what you believe is right for you and your marriage.

FOCUS ON HEALING

Firstly, don’t make any rushed decisions while you feel so angry and hurt. You don’t need to don’t need to immediately make a decision about what is going to happen concerning your marriage and how you’ll relate to the child.

As your husband said, he withheld this very important information from you because he was frightened you would leave him. Be aware that you are an emotional wreck at the moment and whatever you try to do may in fact work against a course of action you’ll decide upon in future. The best thing you can do is focus on your own healing first and take things one step at a time.

It can be overwhelming to try to imagine dealing with a child from an affair when you have just found out. When you add the secret child to the fact that he managed to hide this from you can be quite devastating. The disappointment isn’t just the child but it’s also asking yourself what other secrets he is keeping from you. Notwithstanding his regret and apparent sincerity, you’ll also hav to rationally consider whether you’re willing to continue being with a man who is able to hide a human being an continue with life with you as though he knows nothing.

We just think that a lot of people, including your husband, don’t realise that it’s easier to handle the truth no matter how upsetting than deal with being lied to. Lies are such blatant disrespect not just to you but the marriage itself.

ASK IMPORTANT QUESTIONS

It is understandable that you’re hurt and feel very let down. However, you forgave the affair in the first place and continued with the marriage. Therefore, while it’s harder now that there’s a child involved, all is not lost. All you have to do is to make an honest assessment of his sincerity, attitude, as well as his behaviour. That should give a pretty good idea of whether to move forward with him or not. Once you feel ready, talk through how you’re going to deal with the situation and ask questions. Has he been paying his child maintenance? How is he going to be physically involved in his child’s life going forward? Will you be able to handle and cope with that? How is his relationship with the mother of his child? H

ave they been in contact without your knowledge and to what extent? Furthermore, we believe it is important to have paternity tests done just to be sure that your husband is indeed the biological father. He needs to lead this process and you can be there as a support so that you’re not seen as being antagonistic with the baby mama.

She needs to understand that it’s not about her but about this huge bombshell that will change the rest of your lives. We’ve seen incidences when all parties assumed the husband is the father but only to find out when the results finally came in, he is not the father.

SEEK COUNSELLING

We believe your marriage can work. There are many people who have walked this road before you. While the welfare of any child is of utmost importance, so is the marriage. And if healing the marriage is important to you, then you have to consider all the factors involved in this situation in order to make it possible for the marriage to work.

Going forward, you need to be convinced that he’s worthy of your trust and he needs to know you won’t forgive him lying to you again. We also would suggest couples counselling for the two of you. You need to get your feelings out in a controlled setting and see if you can move on from this.   

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