Dear Wendy
Dear Wendy

“My Husband Has a Secret 14-Year-Old Child From an Affair When We Were Newlyweds”

My husband and I have been married fifteen years, together twenty. I suspected he was having an affair shortly after getting married. I confronted him and he denied it, of course, but I knew something was going on. However, we worked it out and stayed together, and his behavior no longer indicated he was sleeping around. One year ago today a woman contacted me on Facebook saying she has a 14-year-old daughter by my husband whom he’s not caring for. I asked her why she’s waited so long to contact me. She says he paid her money “every so often to keep her quiet.” I asked if a DNA test was performed, and she said no because her boyfriend signed the birth certificate.

I confronted my husband. He admitted to the affair, and he said she told him about the pregnancy when she was nearly due. (They had ended the affair months earlier and hadn’t talked anymore.) He says she refused a paternity test back then and told him that her boyfriend was the father and that the boyfriend had signed the birth certificate and paid her child support. He says that, when the child turned three, the mother contacted him again and told him she then believed he was the father, and she insisted he come see the child. He refused. She threatened to tell me, so he went to see the child and agreed to pay “hush money” (and then saw this child at least eight to ten times over an eleven-year span, without, during the same period, any sexual or emotional affair with the mother). He says he paid a total of $700 “hush money” over the last eleven years.

We decided to reconcile six months ago (we separated six months after the child’s mother contacted me). Since we reconciled, she has been sending me cryptic messages on Facebook to which I don’t respond, saying things like he needs to “man up,” he slept with her for months behind my back, and she’s getting a lawyer to sue him for support.

Is it a mistake to reconcile?? What legally should be done about this child?? I always try to do the right thing, but I just don’t know what that is. — Reconciling a Betrayal

The first thing that needs to be done is a damn test to confirm paternity. If your husband is not the father, then, obviously, that provides some sense of closure, at least in terms of child support and what is owed the mother, financially. It does not close whatever emotional tie your husband has made to this child over the years, with somewhat regular visits and thinking that this child is his. And it does not close whatever trust issues or feelings of betrayal you may have from his years of keeping this huge secret from you. Both for his sake, and for the sake of your marriage should you continue to stay married, these issues need to be addressed with the support of a good counselor.

Should a test confirm that your husband is, indeed, the father, then that is a little more complicated. He needs to decide how to move forward with that knowledge, he needs to determine what kind of relationship he’d like to have with his child, and, of course, he needs to be financially responsible in a way he hasn’t been so far.

Whether or not you stay together is something only you and he can decide. Twenty years is a long time to invest in a relationship, marriage is a commitment, and I would assume you have much you love about each other and a life you’ve built together that would be very difficult to disentangle. That’s not to say you should stay with him. Those reasons are not necessarily enough to stay in a marriage that isn’t working or can’t be salvaged. But there is a lot to say for working through the kind of challenge you face, together, and rebuilding a stronger relationship. I just read an article the other day about infidelity in marriage and the benefits of staying with a partner who cheats. This particularly might resonate:

“People who’ve been betrayed need to know that there’s no shame in staying in the marriage — they’re not doormats, they’re warriors,” said Ms. Michele Weiner-Davis, a psychotherapist in Boulder and author of “Healing from Infidelity: The Divorce Busting® Guide to Rebuilding Your Marriage After an Affair.” “The gift they provide to their families by working through the pain is enormous.”

Ms. Perel concedes that “some affairs will deliver a fatal blow to a relationship.” But she wrote, “Others may inspire change that was sorely needed. Betrayal cuts to the bone, but the wound can be healed. Plenty of people care deeply for the well-being of their partners even while lying to them, just as plenty of those who have been betrayed continue to love the ones who lied to them, and they want to find a way to stay together.”

I thought this, too, was insightful:

“Ms. Weiner-Davis readily admits that recovering from infidelity is hard work and the process cannot be rushed. Yet, as she wrote in her new book, “many clients have shared that had it not been for their partner’s affair, they’d never have looked at, discussed, and healed some of the underlying issues that were broken at the foundation of their relationship.”

Rather than destroying the marriage, the affair acted as a catalyst for positive changes, Ms. Weiner-Davis maintains. In her new book, she outlines tasks for both the betrayed spouse and the unfaithful one that can help them better understand and meet the emotional and physical needs of their partners.”

Of course, your challenge is greater than overcoming some infidelity in your marriage. Your husband has basically been lying to you for years. He’s paying someone to keep quiet about his having a child, fathered through an affair shortly after you were married. That is really an enormous and ongoing betrayal. I’m not sure if you get past that. But I think, if your marriage is good in other ways and you feel invested as you must after all these years together, it’s at least worth going to therapy together and seeing if this is an instance where you can rebuild stronger than before.

It’s ok if you end up not staying with your husband. It doesn’t make you a failure, and it doesn’t make your marriage a failure. That you’ve already worked through so much together is a sign of success. That your husband has finally started opening up to you is a positive sign. I hope you two can continue working through these challenges and, even if your marriage doesn’t survive, you are able to grow as individuals and be stronger people from this. Good luck.

I am 50, have been married and divorced once, and have now been with my current partner for six years. We have decided to get married and will be doing so in the next couple of months. Over the years, I have discovered things about him that I am unhappy with. I first discovered my partner was looking at porn sites regularly; I talked to him about it and let him know how it made me feel but agreed that, if he wished to look at porn, I would accept that but not his paying for sex or visiting a prostitutes.

Over the summer, I discovered Víagra in his briefcase (he has never used Víagra with me) and then checked his phone and saw a “what’s up” number from a prostitute with the contents of the message deleted. I confronted him about it, and he said that he only sent her a message, found out her fees were very high, and never met up with her. I decided to forgive him and try to put it past me. However, after I recently had to go away for the weekend with my daughter, I discovered my boyfriend had lied to me as to his whereabouts while I was gone, and, again, I found Víagra in his coat pocket, which he did not have there prior. I don’t have any other evidence as I suspect he is now careful in deleting any cheating-related messages, but I do have evidence that he lied to me.

If I broach the subject with him, I know it will be over with our relationship as I have already discussed the subject many times with him. He denies there is a problem and makes out that it is me with the problem. He refuses to go for any counseling. He claims that what’s he’s doing is perfectly normal and that all men do this. I feel that if I talk to him, I need to be prepared to walk away from getting married and living together. I am confused as to what I have to gain from walking away, as I love him and feel he is otherwise a very good man to me. — He Sleeps With Prostitutes

 
What you have to gain by walking away from a lying, cheating dirtbag is your dignity, your health (I hope you have been tested for STDs and are clean!!), and your availability to someone who better deserves you. This man does not love you. He is a warm body, yeah, and he’s company for you and you aren’t “alone” in the sense that there is this person who is willing to marry you. But being alone is better than being with someone who cheats on you all the time and screws prostitutes behind your back, tells you you’re the problem, and takes zero responsibility and makes no amends for his betrayal. THIS IS NOT NORMAL BEHAVIOR!! I don’t care if the nasty president cheats on his wives all the time and screws porn stars, this kind of behavior is not normal at all and only sleazy dirtbags engage in it. Not all men are sleazy dirtbags, I promise you! You deserve one who isn’t. You deserve a man who isn’t lying to you all the time and sleeping around behind your back and telling you it’s normal to sleep with hookers. IT’S NOT NORMAL, IT’S NOT NORMAL, IT’S NOT NORMAL! Please dump this nasty person and MOA. Do not marry him. Whatever you think you gain by getting married is not worth the price you will pay in your dignity, your health, and your peace of mind.

***************

Follow along on Facebook, and Instagram.

If you have a relationship/dating question I can help answer, you can send me your letters at wendy​(AT)​dearwendy.com.

61 comments… add one
  • avatar

    brise March 8, 2018, 10:22 am

    LW1: this woman is manipulating everybody. It doesn’t exonerate your husband’s behavior, it rather makes it worse to act so poorly, but I think you are right to disengage from any exchange with her. I complain the child. The best is to take the DNA test, for everybody’s sake. It is always better to face reality.
    LW2: he is not “a very good man for you”. Your post shows that he has you doubt the obvious, doubt yourself, waste time, energy, dignity, in anxiety and agony. Frankly, if you doubt him and have to check his phone and pockets, then don’t marry him. It is doomed from the start. End the relationship, have this courage.

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  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine March 8, 2018, 10:37 am

    If the best he can come up with is he didn’t sleep with a prostitute because her rates were too high you have a serious problem. Get some dignity, he is flagrantly cheating on you with hookers. It’s not maybe, he is. Go to your doctor, get screened for everything, then get screened again six months from now. Hopefully your dirtbag fiancé hasn’t brought home anything you can’t cure. Don’t marry this man, he’s a pos.

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    • avatar

      Vathena March 8, 2018, 1:03 pm

      I guffawed. “Don’t worry baby, she was too spendy, so that’s why I didn’t sleep with her.” OH, well that makes it okay then! NOTHING TO WORRY ABOUT! Lol.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 10:38 am

    LW1 I don’t know what to suggest for your marriage. That is a huge amount of deception on the part of your husband. If you do decide to try to stay together I think you will need a lot of couples counseling.

    As far as paternity is concerned this girl already has a father. He signed her birth certificate and claimed her at birth. Her mother is probably trying to collect money from her dad as well as your husband. If there were other possible fathers she is probably hitting them all up for money. Legal paternity was determined on the birth certificate. I don’t know that she has grounds to demand a paternity test. You’d need to consult with a lawyer for that.

    Even being the biological father doesn’t make your husband her dad. She has a dad. If she doesn’t view your husband as a dad this might not be a good time for him to enter her life. The needs of the child override the desires of the adults.

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    • avatar

      Artsygirl March 8, 2018, 4:10 pm

      Sky – My initial thought was that she was double dipping into child support as well (her ex and the LW’s husband), but that still doesn’t get to the root of the issue. If he is the bio dad, he should step up and be involved in his daughter’s life and assist financially especially if the legal dad has exited the scene. Ultimately without a paternity test this is all so uncertain (Shrondinger’s Child Supprt?)

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  • juliecatharine

    Juliecatharine March 8, 2018, 10:40 am

    LW1 I’m hoping $700 is a typo because if not wow…your husband had an affair with someone so cheap their silence can be bought for roughly $75 a year. That’s pretty pathetic. I don’t know how you move past this but if you do make sure it’s on your terms. He’s violated the foundation of your marriage for years.

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    • juliecatharine

      Juliecatharine March 8, 2018, 11:46 am

      Omg I cannot do math. I’m blaming it on lack of coffee.

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    • avatar

      Stillrunning March 8, 2018, 12:05 pm

      I have to admit I laughed that $700 over eleven years!! was described as hush money.

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  • becboo84

    becboo84 March 8, 2018, 10:43 am

    LW1: This entire thing is gross, and I am so sorry you’re going through it. You should absolutely block the other woman on Facebook so she’s no longer able to contact you. And your husband needs to get a court ordered paternity test. This entire thing seems odd, not to mention, what kind of “hush money” comes out to $60/year?! There is no shame in having infidelity as a deal breaker. You also don’t mention whether the two of you have children. If so, protecting them from this shit storm should be your first priority.

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  • avatar

    dinoceros March 8, 2018, 10:48 am

    LW1: I don’t know that I really agree with the idea that this length of time you’ve been married and the life you’ve built together is worth it. I don’t think that argument works when your husband has been lying and hiding things (not just things, a child! hush money!) for the ENTIRETY of your marriage. Sure, you built a life together, but part of it is sort of fake. I don’t think I could ever trust someone again who lied for that long. And I don’t think the other woman’s behavior changes whether it’s OK to lie to your wife for 14 years.

    I’d also be curious about why you’ve reconciled with him both times. Did you guys actually work through anything? Go to counseling? Or did you just decide you like having him in your life/didn’t want a breakup so you’re therefore going to trust him? Do you actually trust him?

    (Side note: $700 in 11 years doesn’t seem like much for hush money.)

    LW2: Your boyfriend has decided that he is going to at least attempt to sleep with other women when he travels. That’s what he is going to do. If that’s not what you want in a boyfriend, then you need to break up. You know that he doesn’t mind lying to you, so even if he tells you he’ll stop, he probably won’t.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous March 8, 2018, 10:57 am

    What kind of hush money comes to $60/year? An excellent question! Even if it is really $7000, $600 per year is the kind of child support or hush money you ask for when you can’t afford to have a paternity test — either because the guy on the birth certificate would divorce her/stop paying child support or because she knows that the child is not LW’s husband’s. It is the sort of nuisance payments you demand of someone, knowing it’s easier for him to just pay than to ask for the paternity test. If she could go the paternity test route, she would do that and demand substantial child support, rather than sending facebook posts to LW. The amount of the money demands also suggests that LW/husband don’t have a ton of $.

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  • avatar

    Northern Star March 8, 2018, 11:03 am

    LW 1: If any part of you is thinking, “Do I have to try and work through this—do I owe it to my vows/husband/family?” The answer is: NO. You do not. Your husband violated those vows for 14 years. He lied to you over and over and over again. He conspired with another woman. He paid her (a pittance, but still). You do not owe anyone but yourself at this. Do whatever is best for YOU.

    LW 2: Have some self respect, woman. Good lord. Do you have a married father, brothers, friends, coworkers? Are THEY out fucking prostitutes? (No, unless you just are surrounded by terrible people.) Come on. Use your brain.

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  • avatar

    Ron March 8, 2018, 11:06 am

    That sort of very small money demand, even if the real amount spent over the years is $7000, is the sort of nuisance demand she would make in order to have the guy pay it without a paternity test. It she wanted a paternity test, she would legally demand one. Either she knows that LW’s husband isn’t the father or the dad on the birth certificate is a more lucrative source of $ than LW’s husband could be and would divorce her/stop paying if a paternity test showed he wasn’t the father.
    The fraction of newlywed men who have affairs must be very small. I’m guessing that this small percentage of men who cheat as newlyweds are so prone to cheat that they are VERY unlikely to stop cheating, although it’s possible this woman’s $ demands scared him straight. Much more likely that a guy who hid a putative child for all these years became more adept at hiding his cheating and more careful in avoiding unwanted pregnancies.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 11:22 am

      @Ron I agree. It is much more likely that he continued cheating than he quit cheating and he has shown himself to be capable of long term secrecy.

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie March 8, 2018, 11:24 am

      Even if he spent $70,000 it’s still a drop in the bucket for what a kid needs (at least in the US). That’s $5,000 a year for food, clothes, doctor’s visits, school supplies, etc. It would not shock me if that $700 was another lie.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros March 8, 2018, 12:05 pm

      Good points. Unless something drastic happened after they got married, he was probably either cheating beforehand or married her with the awareness that he probably wasn’t going to be faithful. All of it points to him being a chronic cheater, not a good husband who made a mistake once (but also chose to continue lying for what he presumably thought was going to be forever).

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  • avatar

    LisforLeslie March 8, 2018, 11:22 am

    LW#1 – you owe your husband very little at this point. You owe him your own honesty and the occasional update on where you are emotionally but other than that -you don’t owe him any consideration for how his family or anyone outside of your marriage reacts to the news.

    If I were, you, I would visit a lawyer, alone, to talk about child support laws and separation. If he gets a DNA test it might mean he has to pay child support – I have no idea. It might not, you read all the time about various cases where the Dad isn’t the father and financial arrangements and rulings.

    There is nothing wrong with choosing to stay. However, I recommend being explicit about what your expectations are. Do you expect him to go to therapy? answer any and all questions to the level of information you need? Chastity belt? What do you need from him to help you move on? Because if he just wants to sweep it under the rug … that may not be healthy.

    LW2 – Seriously? ” I think he’s great except I think he’s been visiting prostitutes even though he promised me he wouldn’t” What the ever living… Marrying him changes NOTHING. He won’t take his commitment to you and more seriously with a marriage certificate. He’s cheating on you and telling you that you’re the problem. NO. NO. NO. NO. NO.

    No.

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    • avatar

      csp March 8, 2018, 12:42 pm

      Totally agree about LW1. Find out what you want before getting the paternity test. You didn’t indicate if you and your husband have children but you want to make sure you are protected. This woman could demand back child support and it could be based on your household income compared to his. Just think about yourself first.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 11:30 am

    LW1 Take your time making your decision. You will probably go back and forth between staying and leaving for a while. It is okay to take as much time as you need to reach a decision that seems right for you.

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  • Skyblossom

    Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 11:35 am

    “He admitted to the affair, and said she told him about the pregnancy when she was nearly due (they ended the affair months earlier and hadn’t talked anymore).”

    This seems odd. How was he having sex with a woman a few months before her due date and not noticing that she was pregnant? I don’t think your husband is being honest with you. It is hard to not notice a pregnant belly at six to seven months into a pregnancy. If you husband is still telling lies I think you can give up on ever having a good marriage.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros March 8, 2018, 12:11 pm

      And she apparently didn’t experience many symptoms in early pregnancy either. I know that not every woman has a lot of them, but my friends could not have spent more than a few hours with a man without throwing up one during that time when they were in their first trimester. And why would someone who wanted hush money hide it for that long from him?

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 12:20 pm

      I keep coming back to his statement.

      I think he is definitely still lying. He is telling you that he had an affair with a woman who was pretty advanced in her pregnancy and didn’t know she was pregnant. Then the affair ends, according to him, and then out of the blue she contacts him to say she is giving birth soon and he isn’t the father because her boyfriend is going to sign the birth certificate.

      Why would anyone who is done with a relationship who is having a baby with someone else bother to contact their past fling to tell them this. The contact was because he knew she was pregnant and she was letting him know she chose the other guy as the father and he was off the hook because she didn’t want a paternity test. That contact was to let him know she chose the other guy.

      As far as paternity goes she probably has a very good idea who the father is. She either turned down having your husband take a paternity test because she knew he wasn’t the father or because she knew he was the father. In the first case, why have a man who isn’t the father take a paternity test to prove he isn’t the father when you have already moved on with the actual father of the baby. In the second case she wouldn’t want the paternity test because it would prove a paternity that she didn’t want. She couldn’t ask for a paternity test from the man she didn’t want if it would prove that the man she wanted wasn’t the father. That would be way too risky.

      Again, why contact him at all if he isn’t the father and their fling is over and done. I think they both know that he is likely the father and she didn’t want that proven with a DNA test because she wanted the boyfriend to be the father of her child. When the child was 3 she realized she could hit up your husband for money every so often and use the threat of a DNA test to make him help out now and then.

      I think your husband is still lying to you. I think you will never be able to trust him. He is in his very essence untrustworthy.

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    • avatar

      Anonymous Wife March 8, 2018, 2:18 pm

      The affair lasted a couple weeks (according to my husband). They broke up and he didn’t hear from her again until right before she gave birth. I don’t think I explained that part very well.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 5:34 pm

        If the affair lasted for only a couple of weeks and ended a few months before she gave birth there is no way he could be the father and yet he thinks it is possible. He isn’t telling you the truth. What he is saying doesn’t add up. He had to be having sex with her at the time of conception, so eight and a half months before the baby was born. His story doesn’t fit basic facts about the length of a pregnancy.

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  • avatar

    TheRascal March 8, 2018, 11:50 am

    Regarding LW1: Any man who could treat a child so cruelly would be dead to me. That he could act so callously, terribly, irresponsibly, cold-heartedly when it comes to a kid would be the ultimate deal breaker to me. He’s just not a good person, end of story. He’s a coward and a liar, and with no sense morals.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 12:07 pm

      I agree. When a man is willing to abandon a child it is such a breach of moral values that he isn’t worth keeping.

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    • avatar

      dinoceros March 8, 2018, 12:08 pm

      Exactly. I never understand how LWs are totally cool with their partners abandoning their children as long as it doesn’t hurt their relationship. I couldn’t look at someone the same way knowing that’s how he felt about his own kid.

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  • avatar

    anonymousse March 8, 2018, 11:56 am

    I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg of lies your husband has told you. I don’t think all the comments about the mother trying to milk money out of various men is very appropriate. $700/14 years is nothing. Clearly that’s not her motivation, although that amount is probably ano5er lie told by your husband. I bet he has been playing Daddy, hence how he’s been in this child’s life all these years.
    Sure, consider counseling if you want to, (do you have kids?)but I’d contact the best divorce attorney you can and feel not a twinge of guilt about it. He’s been lying to you for the entirety of your relationship, and marriage.

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  • avatar

    Rangerchic March 8, 2018, 11:56 am

    LW1: Maybe a trial separation is in order while you wrap your head around everything he has done. That’s a pretty HUGE betrayal. I’m not sure I could forgive my husband for that one…
    LW2: MOA

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  • avatar

    JD March 8, 2018, 12:05 pm

    LW2: Texting prostitutes is not just “something men do”. Why do you have no self respect? Who cares if he gets mad if you bring it up again? Pack your stuff and leave, NOW.

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  • avatar

    BakerBabe March 8, 2018, 12:13 pm

    I’m still confused about why the woman the husband had an affair with won’t get a paternity test?? Also, WHY did she wait so long to contact her, even with the “hush money”? Presumably she still got the money any so she could have contacted LW at any time. I have a feeling maybe the boyfriend finally left this woman and now she needs more support/money.

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  • avatar

    Susan March 8, 2018, 1:06 pm

    I work in child support and I doubt the court would even order a paternity test as another man signed the birth certificate and has been the acting (whether biologically or not) father for all these years. It is called equitable estopple or something similar.

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    • avatar

      Artsygirl March 8, 2018, 4:23 pm

      Yes – there is a division between the terms of biological father and legal father. My most cases that is the same person, but some states hold the legal father (i.e. the person named on the birth certificate and who raised the child) financially responsible for the child even if they are not the biological parent. I remember a particularly heartbreaking account in Chicago where a man was jailed for not paying child support on a child that was not his. He had done his best, but had broken up with the mother of the child when he found out he was not the bio dad, had lost his job, and was doing everything in his power to pay child support but because of the economic downturn, he was not able to make the payments.

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  • avatar

    Anonymous Wife March 8, 2018, 2:10 pm

    Thanks for all the comments!!! I am LW1. Yes, the actual amount was 700 dollars. he says he paid 100 dollars seven times in lad 11 years. She contacted me after he had refuseed to send any more cash. She is refusing paternity test, stating she can’t get one ordered because her then boyfriend is on birth certificate. This man also pays her child support. The child is active in his and his family lives and she does have his last name. My husband claims he has seen the child but was introduced toThe child as her uncle. She confirmed this story. The mother sends me messages and torments me onbFacebook, but she is not willing to do anything legally. I want to know what, if anything, can be done legally from my husbands perspective? This is so much to deal with. We started therapy a year ago after separating, and ended up reconciling 6 months later. We’re still in therapy. I’ve always been a stand up person. I really want to do what’s right even though my heart is aching. Deep down, I think she played my husband for extra cash, but that kid could actually be his. I want to know. I have no clue if we can survive this. I’m seeking direction. I appreciate everyone’s response. They make me feel normal because much of your posting reflect how I’ve been thinking and feeling. God bless you all!!

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    • avatar

      Rangerchic March 8, 2018, 2:52 pm

      The best way to figure out if your husband is the father is a paternity test. I think your best option is to consult a lawyer. She’s right that in the eyes of the law (in the US), the boyfriend is the father since he signed the birth certificate. You can do your own DNA tests – it doesn’t have to be court ordered but then she would have to be willing to go along with it. It doesn’t sound like she wants to do that. Though I think even if the boyfriend is turns out to not be the biological father, it won’t matter in court eyes since he signed the birth certificate. It might matter in his eyes (lets hope not!). And maybe close your Facebook for a while if you can’t seem to block her/not see her posts. Sorry your going through all this!

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    • avatar

      LisforLeslie March 8, 2018, 3:24 pm

      You’ve asked for guidance, let me turn that back to you. If you could have any outcome now… without changing what you know and without changing the past – what does that look like? Are you with your husband? Is this woman out of your life?

      If that’s what you want – it is achievable I suppose. You can block her on social media. I’m sure there are ways you can approach this legally as well either to confirm paternity or prevent her from contacting you. If she’s extorting him for money -go to the police. Seriously, they’ll handle it. It’s not a lot of money, but you’re still not allowed to blackmail people.

      But what you can’t have is the same peace of mind you had a year ago or before whenever this started. You will always have this between you and your husband. Not this woman -this lie.

      And in 4 years when the child is 18, your husband can approach her and tell her she might be his biological daughter. But if he chooses to do that, it might upturn her world. If nothing else, her best interests should come first.

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    • avatar

      csp March 8, 2018, 3:26 pm

      These extra details actually change my answer. Block this woman but first tell her that if she continues to harass you, the you will need to take legal action and bring all of this to the attention of her ex, her daughter and everyone involved. This is plain extortion. I originally thought that this girl had no support instead of trying to get support from two men.

      Now, for you, just try to process this as much as you can. You don’t need to process this all at once. You don’t need to make rash decisions. There is no timeline here so take that pressure off yourself.

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    • juliecatharine

      Juliecatharine March 8, 2018, 3:36 pm

      LW, I’m really sorry this is happening to you. I really can’t imagine how difficult it must be to wrap your head around all this. It worries me that you seem to be putting this on the other woman. I’m sure she’s making it easy by sending you nasty messages on FB but it’s your husband who is responsible for all of this. Also, unless you live somewhere other than the US it seems exceedingly unlikely that your husband was ‘played for extra cash’ to the tune of a measly $700 over 14 years. I have no doubt he told you that, I have serious doubts that it’s true. Your husband hid a child’s existence from you for 14 years. The one thing you do know is that he is an excellent liar with no qualms about betraying and deceiving you. Whatever you decide to do don’t let your heartbreak blind you to what your husband did for the entirety of your marriage.

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      anonymousse March 8, 2018, 5:34 pm

      Are you delusional? That’s a lot of work for a hundred dollars every two years. Why would he give her any money at this point? You know his dirty secret, at least this one.
      Block her on Facebook, on your phone, and he should, too. She has no legal recourse! He’s not named as the father in anyway.

      And why would you even think this 14 year old isn’t his? He says it is, right?

      And what about the elephant in the room?

      Your husband has lied and cheated on you for years. YEARS. 14-15 years, at least, conservatively speaking.

      Come on, lady. This is your eat, pray, love, Stella’s got her groove back moment. Kick the asshole to the curb and stop wasting your thought on all this drama.

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      • avatar

        anonymousse March 8, 2018, 5:35 pm

        Life is seriously way too short to waste anymore of it with a lying dirtbag.

        It can be better if you want it to.

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        SpaceySteph March 8, 2018, 5:58 pm

        Hah this is all so true. Its hard to walk away from a 20-year-long relationship, but the man you thought you married doesn’t exist. He has been lying to you for your entire relationship. Go, be free, be your own greatest love!

        And also, as someone said upthread, even aside from the cheating he may have a child that he’s had nearly nothing to do with and paid $700 for over the course of its life. This man has no honor. Does he kick puppies too?

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      Aliecat March 8, 2018, 8:31 pm

      I really recommend that you check out chumplady.com. You need to cut this man loose. I don’t know how you can trust a word out of his mouth given that he’s been lying to you from almost the day you married him. If he lied about this, I’m sure it’s just the tip of the iceberg. Get out while the gettin’ is good.

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    • bagge72

      bagge72 March 9, 2018, 9:02 am

      I mean what can she actually say now? She can’t blackmail him anymore about the affair because you know, so I’m not sure what she is even harassing you about now. If you plan on staying with your husband, she needs to be told that she either needs to have a paternity test or leave you alone, and if she doesn’t you’ll send all her messages to her boyfriend and his family so they know what’s actually going on.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 9, 2018, 9:19 am

        She used her nuclear option and so now has no leverage and yet she continues to threaten.

        If the LW still has the threatening messages she could take them to the police. Trying to extort money is illegal.

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    csp March 8, 2018, 2:16 pm

    LW1: I love Wendy’s advice here. You need to think about what you want. I have been thinking about your letter for hours. On one hand, this betrayal happened a long time ago. Yes, there was a cover up but you both were younger then. You need to decide if this is a marriage you want to stay in. First deal with yourself then approach this mess. If you want to stay, then think about what both outcomes would mean and what relationship you want with this girl. Could you welcome her into your life? If you have kids, how would you bring her into the family. What will you tell your families? I find walking through these things is helpful. If you are filled with hate and anger, that can’t be helpful. If you see this as a way to grow and change together, then stay and start to figure out how to build this crazy new family.

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  • avatar

    chi chi March 8, 2018, 5:53 pm

    Dear wendy

    I love you and your site but I wish you would adjust the way you speak about STIs. I understand of course that you care for the well-being and health of your readers but as someone with a large platform and as someone highly respected by a lot of people, you might consider the terminology and attitude you display surrounding STIS. No shade! I have just witnessed first hand how language plays a massive part in reinforcing stigma which leads to shame which leads to ignorance. Love you wendy!! Xx

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    • Dear Wendy

      Dear Wendy March 8, 2018, 7:14 pm

      I re-read my response, trying to figure out what you might be referring to. The only reference I made to STDs was: “I hope you have been tested for STDs and are clean”). So, I am inferring you have a problem with the use of STD vs STI and the term “clean” in reference to negative test results? I’m all for being enlightened and woke up, but if you want to call me out on what you think is wrongdoing, it would be helpful to not make me guess at what you mean.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 8, 2018, 8:47 pm

        I don’t understand it either.

        I think she is saying that if you hope someone didn’t catch a disease that you are reinforcing stigma. I hope chi chi understands that a disease is a disease and hoping that someone didn’t catch one is hoping for their best outcome and best interest. It is okay to hope that someone didn’t catch a disease. Absolutely okay.

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        LisforLeslie March 9, 2018, 7:25 am

        I would guess it was the use of the word “clean”, as the opposite of clean would be “dirty”. As in a dirty person has STIs.

        Perhaps going forward use “Get tested for STDs and I hope the results are negative” – because the opposite of negative is positive and that’s a positive word!

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 9, 2018, 8:04 am

        Yes, that’s what I figured, but my point is if you’re going to go to the trouble of publicly calling someone out for perpetuating a stigma, you should enlighten/educate on how that person is doing that. Not only would it have helped me, but it would have signaled to other people who are using the same terminology that it can be offensive.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 9, 2018, 8:07 am

        And I don’t mind being publicly called out when appropriate (and I think this was an appropriate time). But be direct about what you’re actually calling out: “When you use words like “clean” to refer to negative test results, it implies that the opposite — a positive test result — is “dirty” and that perpetuates stigma and shame around STIs and those infected.” Or something like that.

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        LisforLeslie March 9, 2018, 9:31 am

        Agreed. It’s very much “You should know how I feel” which is ridiculous because despite all of my efforts, I have yet to gain ESP with the people nearest and dearest to me let alone people across the internet that I don’t know.

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        ron March 9, 2018, 10:10 am

        The poster is telling you that you are middle age, no longer hip, and not plugged into the latest new jargon and inclusion battle fostered by college professors and their students. Constantly creating their own new politically correct language and behavior is how collegians distance themselves from older generations and the not-with-it ‘uneducated’ masses. It is important for them to always feel ‘in the know’ and to use that as a conversational weapon. Just popping in to word-bomb you and then vanishing is all part of their fun.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy March 9, 2018, 11:58 am

        Haha, ok!

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        Lily June 14, 2018, 1:41 pm

        For one thing, please stop using the term “STD”. Sexually transmitted infection is a much more accurate term, and it lessens the stigma of “disease”, which in most cases isn’t even an accurate description. Secondly, please stop calling people with STIs “dirty”. Women especially face a lot of stigma and abuse for being “dirty” or “ruined” when they get an STI from an unfaithful partner. It can even lead to women avoiding seeking treatment or further relationships, out of shame and embarrassment.

        Also, if you were really so happy to be called out when you’ve done something hurtful that perpetuates real harm against victims, I would have to think you wouldn’t be guffawing so happily at the commenter who made the rude remarks about asking for kinder and less stigmatised language around sexually transmitted infections. Pointing and sneering at folks who are trying to gently tell you that your words are hurtful, accusing them of “being too PC” and “demanding all this hip new liberal ideas” (like—not shaming victims of infidelity or talking about women’s bodies as though they’re dirty?).

        Not impressed.

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      • Dear Wendy

        Dear Wendy June 14, 2018, 1:53 pm

        Where and when did I point and “sneer”? What does sneering look like it written context? Where did I “guffaw happily”?! When I said “haha” to Ron calling me old and unhip? Is THAT guffawing happily? And I’m opposed to “hip, new liberal ideas”? Yeah, no, you’ve misinterpreted something along the way, and projected a lot into my response that doesn’t reflect my feelings of values at all, but thank you for your candor and constructive feedback.

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    • Skyblossom

      Skyblossom March 9, 2018, 9:17 am

      This reminds me of a woman I work with who is always hypervigilant when it comes to looking for insults. She finds them everywhere. When her son graduated from high school and a girl won awards she felt insulted when the teachers who were saying a few words while actually giving the awards to the girl praised her my coworker felt insulted for all of the other students in the class who weren’t praised in the same moment.

      If someone says good job to anyone else she feels insulted. If there is a comment about value she feels insulted. If there is a comment about education she feels insulted in spite of having a college degree. She seems to search for insults and she manages to find them. She is generally outraged for all of us feeling that we have all been insulted when the rest of us don’t feel so at all. It gets old.

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      • avatar

        LisforLeslie March 9, 2018, 9:32 am

        That sounds exhausting. I’d be tempted, when thanking or calling out someone’s achievement to then nod in her direction “And thanks to Linda for existing and continuing to do the same work that she has always done.”

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        ron March 9, 2018, 10:06 am

        Likely she knows she is doing an awful job at work and coupled with very low self-esteem resents anyone getting positive feedback, because she feels everyone is better than her and that everyone else in the world recognizes that. She craves the elementary school ‘we’re all on the team so we all get the same award’ world of self-esteem-boosting awards for participation. She voted for Trump, because he will get people like her the respect they deserve.

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      • Skyblossom

        Skyblossom March 9, 2018, 10:20 am

        She almost certainly voted for Trump. She likes a strong person in charge even if they are deranged.

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  • avatar

    baccalieu March 11, 2018, 6:30 pm

    Assuming that the husband is telling the whole truth, which, of course, I completely agree with Wendy on LW1 (so maybe she might want to reconsider her answer). It is a big deal to throw away a twenty year relationship (that at least appears to have been happy)because an old affair came to light, even if there may be, if the child is his, ongoing consequences and fallout of the affair. I don’t agree with people who say that, because he had an affair and didn’t tell her, their whole life together was a lie, and I can also see, why, having started down the path of not telling her, he was willing to keep it up: her demands were relatively small, probably deliberately so, because, if they were more onerous, he wouldn’t have complied. Like others here, I have some trouble understanding the motivation of the mother of the child, but we may be making the mistake of thinking that she had a coherent long term plan instead of just acting on the spur of the moment, and repeating as it reoccurred to her.

    The problem with LW2 is that she is asking an irrelevant question, it doesn’t matter whether seeing prostitutes and/or cheating is “normal” the question is whether she are okay with it (or willing to live with it) because it’s going to be normal for him. Just by getting into the “normal” debate, she is playing his game. I have a hard time seeing that there is “normal” behaviour that one person doesn’t have a right to object to in a partner. Even if it gets to be as “normal” as it gets , for example, “I don’t like my husband masturbating”, the woman has a right to object if she wants. Of course, she probably has to recognize that she will have a hard time finding a mate who doesn’t do this (particularly one who isn’t deeply flawed in other ways) but it is not illegitimate. I think labelling various behaviours or activities, normal or abnormal, is unhelpful and tends to aid dickheads and abusers more than it helps people see clearly. (e.g. “You should put up with me doing what I’m doing because it’s ‘normal’ “, or the opposite, “you have to stop doing the thing I want you to stop doing because it’s ‘abnormal’ “) Human societies frequently adopt views of what is “normal” that are wrong or at least unreasonably limiting. 75 years ago, it would be normal to consider masturbation a terrible sin or abherrent behaviour, and virtually everyone would think that a wife had a right to expect that her husband would not engage in it (or vice versa). However, I expect that just about everyone masturbated then, too. So what would happen? The husband would lie to his wife and deny he did it (if the subject ever came up) then continue doing it. Since it is hard to share a house (let alone a bed) with someone without coming upon (no pun intended) some evidence that they are masturbating, the wife would likely realize it and conclude that her husband is a monster and their life is a lie. Until much more recently, the same was true of watching porn, it was abnormal and any reasonable woman would be within her rights to demand that her man abstain if he wanted to stay with her. But since most men did watch porn (or at least wanted to badly enough that they couldn’t keep up the effort to refrain) you had a lot of men watching porn and lying about it and a lot of women concluding that their men were untrustworthy as a result.

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