Hubby says his friend’s child looks like him…

Dear Counsellor,

I have been married for 17 years with children aged 16 and 14. My husband is very friendly, loves to socialise. To make a long story short, he said he suspects that his female friend’s child might be his.

I had confronted him about my suspicions and he confessed that he had sex with her one early morning two years ago when they were tipsy.

He said he used her bathroom and when he finished she approached him in the nude and things happened.

He said she presented a condom to him. He said he called her the same morning and both of them apologised to each other for what happened because they are good friends and it wasn’t supposed to happen.

This woman and I work at the same place. I see her every day. I have not confronted her nor have I shown her any “bad face”. She doesn’t know that I know of the situation. My husband made numerous apologies to me. He said the thought of suicide came to him many times.

He explained that when he saw the child and thought the child looked like him, he asked her and her response was to ask why he wanted to ruin his marriage. The child was registered in the mother’s name. He wants to do a DNA test and if the child is his, he wants to take care of the child as well and I support him in wanting to do that.

He has shown me pictures of the child. I try to be objective. The child looks like my husband’s father and my husband sometimes. I might be in denial. My husband tries to make me happy.

He professes his love all the time. I am confused. I have not spoken to anyone about it and neither has he. I told him I have forgiven him but I will never forget. He is a good husband and father. We have not said anything to our children.

We are even closer than ever. He doesn’t want to break up his family and I truly don’t want that either.

You must be commended for your mature approach in dealing with this situation.

So recounting what your husband reported, assuming he is telling the truth, the sexual encounter with his female friend was a mistake. It is not unusual for people under the influence of alcohol to lose control of rational thought and inhibitions and be driven by the pleasure principle.

So it could well be a case of him being at the wrong place at the wrong time with the wrong person. As they say, things happen.

The argument could be made that the female involved was either self-controlled enough to present a condom to your husband and so was smart, or she deliberately lured your husband, knowing full well that men are visual beings.

So the obvious question would be, if a condom was used, how come she got pregnant? But one can speculate that the condom may have somehow failed to carry out its intended purpose. The only persons who could say what actually happened were the people involved.

So after two years and in the absence of a DNA test your husband has concerns as to the parental legitimacy of the child, linking same to that fateful early morning at his friend’s house.

And wisely or unwisely, the lady in question has decided to register the child in her name as she did not want to destroy his marriage. This again is not an unusual occurrence, albeit short-sighted, as the child will want to know one day who his father really is.

That is something the mother of the child will have to deal with sooner than she thinks.

Your husband seems to have accepted responsibility for what may have resulted from his act of weakness and has expressed his regret for the occurrence.

The burden he must have been carrying for years would have evoked his suicidal thoughts, so it was good that he was able to disclose his skeleton in the closet.

You in good faith have accepted his apology and have forgiven him. But as is expected the trust you once had in your husband has been eroded and it would take some time for the trust that was built up over the 17 years of marriage to be restored.

Certainly you will have doubts and will even question your decision to forgive your husband for yielding in his moment of weakness. He must, however, reassure you that he will not go down that road again, neither with the same lady nor with someone else.

So even if the result of the DNA proves that the child is really his, this is no excuse for him to strike up a close relationship with her. You both must sit and establish the rules of engagement as far as his involvement in the life of the child, which you have wisely agreed to.

He must tell you for example when he is visiting the lady’s house to look for the child and the child must be allowed to visit him sometimes as well. On the matter of whether or not to disclose to your children that they have a half-brother or sister, that is a matter that both of you would have to mutually agree on. If the child is to visit, then they must be told the truth.

The disclosure would have to be handled according to the ages of your children. Your husband must appreciate that his action is going to cause a reaction and must be patient with the unification process.

As the children’s mother you would have to take the lead as they would be guided by your own reaction.

This is a life-changing and sensitive event in the life of your family and must be handled with the seriousness it deserves. If it is the wish of the child’s mother and yourself and your husband that the marriage and by extension the original family unit be preserved, then all parties concerned must take a mature approach to handling the matter.

Out of a bad situation can come good. As you have reported, this incident has drawn you both closer. Use this as an opportunity to maintain the strong bond and keep the lines of communication open at all times.