Facing Problems Together

01 Sep 2006
SHARE
Facing Problems Together

Q: My husband and I have been married for 36 years. Three years ago we had a phone call from a 35-year-old woman stating that my husband was her father. My husband admitted that he had a "fling" with the girl's mother before he met me and that he might be her father. When we met her, she seemed more interested in getting money from us than in forming a relationship. The stress recently caused my husband to be hospitalised for a month. I have sent some clothes and tried to communicate with her through email but she has not responded. Lately, however, I have discovered my husband is having contact with her behind my back. He only calls her when I am at work. This situation is creating a rift in our relationship.

A: This must have been a shock to both of you. It is not the kind of news you expect to receive when you are about to retire! The fact that your husband did not push the issue of the paternity test suggests that he must have been fairly sure the claim was genuine. Yet without proof you could be acting upon a supposition rather than fact. I would recommend a paternity test be done. The test is almost 100 per cent accurate and would definitely indicate if your husband is not the father. DNA samples (usually mouth swabs) will be needed from the mother, child and alleged father. By doing this, you would know the facts of the matter.

The issue that seems to be worrying you the most, though, is your husband keeping things from you. I would suggest you talk to him openly about how his actions are affecting you. Tell him: “When you do ...I feel . . .” Blaming him for your current distress will not help the situation but probably cause him to become defensive about his actions. State your feelings clearly with the use of an “I” sentence. It is possible your husband is feeling embarrassed to talk to you about it so you may have to lead the way. There is little that cannot be cleared up when we are prepared to talk to each other.

Talking helps us understand each other and be compassionate.

Everyone makes mistakes. By offering forgiveness we open the way for God's love to flow through us. Your challenge is to be a channel of love to your husband and his alleged daughter.

A crisis is not necessarily a bad thing; it can also be an opportunity for growth.

You and your husband have a healthy past upon which to build. It would be a pity if this allegation proves to be the undoing of a good marriage. Get the facts and then act upon them together.

PUBLISHED IN SIGNS OF THE TIMES MAGAZINE.