Dear Barb – Paternity Confusion

Dear Barb,

I have never discussed this with anyone before. My husband and I have been married for five years and we have a three-year-old son. Just before I became pregnant with my son, my husband and I were having marital problems and separated temporarily. During this separation, I had a brief affair with another man, which I never told my husband about. As far as I know, he did not see anyone during this time. My problem is I became pregnant with my son soon after and now I’m not sure whose child he is. I feel confused and guilty about this situation. I was raised in a strict Catholic home, so I don’t feel that I can talk to my family about this. I want to tell my husband, but I’m afraid of his reaction. Barb, do you think I should tell my husband or should I just let sleeping dogs lie?


Thanks for sending in your question. Fortunately, it seems that you and your husband have been able to work through past marital difficulties. At the current time, I can see where it might be easier to just “let sleeping dogs lie.” However, since you feel you are being deceitful and are unable to live with these feelings, I would suggest you disclose this matter.

The manner in which you discuss this with your husband will be pivotal to his reaction. Perhaps a counsellor will be able to help you sort this out and suggest the best way to tell your husband. You could choose to disclose this information to your husband at the counsellor’s office. This way the counsellor may be able to help your husband defuse some of the intense feelings he will undoubtedly experience.

Since you know your husband best maybe you can determine a better way to tell him. What is the preferred form of communication in your marriage? Do you feel he would prefer to be told something like this in private, or would he appreciate having a neutral party there as well? Also, what are your preferences? Do you want to tell your husband privately, or do you feel having a counsellor available will be beneficial?

No matter what route you take in telling your husband, be prepared for his reaction. He will most likely be devastated, angry and probably withdraw from you for a while. Do you believe he has any inkling that you were with someone else during the separation? If so, maybe the possibility of your son not being his child has occurred to him since you became pregnant so soon after.

Ultimately you will probably choose to have DNA testing done to determine who is the biological father of your son. If the biological father turns out to be the other man, you will then have to consider telling him as well.

Your situation is a difficult one, but my belief is that “honesty is the best policy.” You can “let sleeping dogs lie,” but ultimately you must live with the possibility that they may awaken at any time.

I don’t know if I have been able to help, but I wish you the best of luck.

E-mail your questions to Some submissions may be edited for length or to protect confidentiality: your real name and location will never be printed. This column is for entertainment only. The author is not a professional counsellor and this column is not intended to take the place of professional advice.

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