Family can be complicated enough on a good day, but as this reader wrote to share, sometimes things don't go as expected.
He explains briefly that his wife has cheated and is now pregnant, but he loves her and needs help to get through what's coming.
He wrote to us to share:
"My wife is 5 months pregnant with another guy's baby right now. We've been married for 13 years. I am totally devastated. I love my wife and family, but I don't know how to navigate through this."
We spoke to family mediator Rushka Lee Pedro, founder of Minor Impact in Randburg, to find out what this husband should consider.
First, Pedro says that there are many unknown variables that would impact his response and approach to this situation.
Do they have other children together? How is something like this possible, were they perhaps separated at the time of conception? Are they still together? What does she want? Where is the biological father?
Also read: Who is eligible to pay child maintenance?
A clear plan of action
"Regardless of the facts, this is most certainly not the ideal situation, but having said that, we need to focus on the fact that new life is entering into the world," she says.
"Whatever the circumstances may be, the baby is completely unknowing and innocent," she adds.
Pedro says there are a number of variables that need to be taken into consideration; and he should consider the following questions: Where is the biological father and does he want to be involved? What are your future plans as a married couple? Has there been a discussion on a way forward once baby is born?
"Something like this takes an emotional toll on a marriage or any relationship for that matter – however, what’s of utmost importance is that everyone must be on the same page as soon as possible,": she stresses, "to avoid any unresolved issues springing up later and causing unnecessary conflict and extreme emotional fallouts between the parties."
A clear plan of action needs to be put in place to manage the relationship between all three parents if in fact, the biological father wants to be involved or not, Pedro says. Another side to consider would be the financial responsibilities; who would that fall on?
"Once the baby is born a formal document needs to be put in place to ensure that all agreed-upon responsibilities are determined and adhered to, to avoid any push back later on," she says.
A lot of big feelings
Emotional Wellness Coach Kate Tregan Rowe, founder of explorare.co.za, says that after reading this brief letter she can hear that he really loves his wife and family and would like to find a way through.
"This is an incredibly tough situation with a lot of big feelings to try and deal with. I would highly recommend finding some professional support for yourself and then for you and your wife together," she says.
Rowe adds that an important part of this is to know that this will be an ongoing process, and there will be moments where he feels he is okay and have dealt with something, and then the next day similar feelings come up again.
"This is totally natural and part of the journey," she stresses.
Rowe says that if both spouses are willing to work on their relationship and keep turning towards each other and connecting, especially when it feels like his heart is breaking, he can find a way through.
"This will be difficult and probably one of the hardest things you will do together in this life, but with the right support there is a possibility to navigate your way through," she says reassuringly.
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