Advice: The child's not mine

Last updated 10:11 11/07/2013

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He loves his daughter so much, but has just found out she's not his biologically. Can he get over the betrayal? 

Send your questions to lifeandstyle@stuff.co.nz, and remember to include a nickname if you don't want to be identified.

Hi there, here is my complicated case...

I've been married for the last seven years, and four years ago we decided that it was time to have a child. We started working on the task and a few months later my wife was pregnant, what I didn't know until 11 months ago is that she actually got pregnant by another man.

Now I have a three-year-old girl that is not mine, but I love her so much. How did I realise about this lie? By a paternity test I had without my wife knowing about it. When I confronted her she admitted everything, and said to me that she hid everything thinking the little girl was mine.

By law, the little one is my daughter and honestly I don't have any problem with that, I'll do the best to keep in touch with her and raise her as my own blood. But my wife and I are getting a divorce, the thing is, she is begging me for another opportunity and swearing by God she is going to recover my love and make me happy.   

I am not sure about my wife, should I give her another chance or try to close this chapter of my life and move on?

J.

Hi J,

This is an incredibly painful situation for you to find yourself in, and understandably you are feeling betrayed and hurt by your partner. The betrayal of trust created by an affair can be very damaging to a relationship. Ultimately couples need to decide whether there is enough to the relationship that they want to resolve the issues that lead to the affair, and then heal and go forward together, or if they want to move on separately. This is the choice you face.

You should know that many relationships can and do survive affairs. To get through it well requires work on both sides, and you both will need to want to do this. Is there enough in this relationship for you that you want to recover it? If so, I strongly recommend that you get some professional help from a relationship counsellor. They will help you to understand the dynamic between you that led to the affair, constructively manage some of the strong and painful feelings that you will be experiencing, help you to identify useful behaviours moving forward, and check that what you are doing is moving in the right direction.

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They will also help to de-escalate tensions and stop you from re-traumatising each other. As part of this process you will both come to understand the dynamics that led to the affair and how to put a plan of action in place together to ensure that it doesn't happen again. Over time she will need to act in ways that enable you to rebuild your trust in her, and you will need to be willing to forgive and open up to a new story with her.

Consider whether you want to go through this kind of process with each other. If you do, then you are both sure to grow and learn a whole lot about who you are and about your relationship with one another, this learning can ultimately help you build an even stronger relationship with one another. If you don't then it may be better to separate and let bygones be bygones.

Whatever you do, remember not to get into fights or conflict with one another in front of your child as this is not good for her. You will also need to think about how you communicate with her about what has happened and how her wellbeing is considered while you and your wife each go through a powerful fixing of emotions. If you decide to continue to separate then I suggest that you do a Parenting Through Separation course, they are free and it will help you to know how to support your child well as you all go through a difficult time. Also, remember to find places where you can get support for yourself and talk to others about what you are going through, you will be experiencing some strong feelings and it is important to have the support of others.

Best wishes

Chris

For more advice and information on counselling, visit Relationships Aotearoa online or join them on Facebook.

We'd love to hear your take on this week's issue. Before you comment below, though, remember that this is a real-life situation. This reader has bravely shared their personal life with you; please show them respect by refraining from hurtful or abusive comments.

- Stuff

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