I’ve Discovered My Cheating Husband Has an Affair Child—What Should I Do?

Dear Newsweek, two years ago I discovered that my husband of 30 years had cheated on me—and I found out in a rather spectacular way.

A young man of 24 contacted me saying that my husband is his father, something my husband immediately and vehemently denied. My husband continued to lie about until I threatened him with divorce. I forced him to do a DNA test to see once and for all whether this man was his son, and it came back with a 98 percent match.

Since then I have found out who the mother and other woman was and it turns out I know her, and had at one point considered her a good friend. I have PTSD, nightmares, and I have lost all trust in a man I have been married to for 30 years. My mental state is weak and my health is suffering.

We have our own children and I’m staying for the time being for them but my husband has done nothing to put things right. He says it was 25 years ago and I should just get over it, but he has lied to me for 30 years and was never going to tell me the truth. There is no trust left and I feel broken, he knew that cheating was one of the few things I would not stay for, but my family are begging me not to leave. Please help.

Cheryl, Unknown

Newsweek’s “What Should I Do?” offers expert advice to readers. If you have a personal dilemma, let us know via life@newsweek.com. We can ask experts for advice on relationships, family, friends, money and work and your story could be featured on WSID at Newsweek.

Married woman finds out husband has child
A stock image of a couple arguing, with an inset of a woman realizing she is pregnant. A woman has written in to Newsweek for advice after discovering her husband of 30 years has an adult child with someone else.
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You Did Not Break the Marital Vows, Your Husband Did

Dr. Chloe Carmichael Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and USA Today bestselling author.

Dear Cheryl,

Thank you for your note. I am so sorry you are experiencing betrayal on multiple levels.

Assuming your children are adults, I would challenge the idea of staying together “for them” or because other family members are begging you. This is your life, your marriage, and your choice.

While a marriage can survive infidelity, it requires a restoration of trust. This entails the adulterer taking full ownership of the need to repair what they have broken. Your husband’s infidelity and his denial of it when confronted—combined with his current attempt to minimize it—suggests that he is not earnestly engaging in the repair. Since he has broken the marital vows and is not attempting to repair them, one might suggest that your marriage is actually already over; and a divorce would simply be updating the paperwork to reflect reality.

It is possible that he wants to engage but is shutting down because he doesn’t know how. Since you were successful in insisting on the DNA test, perhaps you could be successful in insisting on couples therapy. A skilled therapist might help him take the necessary steps to restore the marriage. If he remains unwilling to take accountability, I would not blame you for seeking divorce. Of course I would not blame you if you chose to stay in the marriage either, it is truly a personal choice. I tend to advocate for taking marital vows very seriously. In your case, I actually would not blame you for seeking divorce because you did not break the marital vows, your husband did. The only question now is whether or not they could be restored.

I encourage you to take your time, and seek personal counseling from a therapist or clergy. Whether you work to reunite with your husband or embark on your own, it would benefit you to have a wise, consistent and non-judgmental support system.

Wishing you all the best.

Your Children Are Asking A Lot Of You

Nicole Sodoma is a divorce attorney and author of Please Don’t Say You’re Sorry.

Hi Cheryl,

Knowing what separation and divorce look like on the other side of this decision is paramount. Will you need financial support? Are there assets or debts to be considered? Legal consequences of adultery may not result in what you feel is fair given the circumstances, even if it was something truly egregious. In addition, someone who is unwilling to accept their behavior or acknowledge the impact of their betrayal on you doesn’t sound like someone who would be easy to manage through a divorce process. Consider a postnuptial agreement that would set up what separation would look like while you work on the relationship. However, you can’t change his perception of events or how he is responding to yours.

An emotional divorce is different from an actual divorce. Your children are asking a lot of you to stay with your adulterous partner, as it will require a lot of work from both of you to heal, if it’s even possible.

Even this marriage-loving divorce attorney would have a difficult time embracing this dark secret, kept for so long, and I would be worried about whether there are any more skeletons in the closet.

welcome to your health-fighters.us

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