“I Discovered My Husband Had A Child With Another Woman”
I’d been married to Jim* for five years and we had two children when he discovered he had a 12-year-old son he’d never met.
One night I was at home with our children while Jim was attending a work function. I expected it to end around midnight, so when he walked through the door at 7pm, his face ashen, I was scared – I thought he’d cheated on me at the party. I followed him to the bedroom, ice cold, my heart feeling like it would jump out of my throat.
“Remember That One-Night Stand…”
He sat down next to me and started speaking: “Remember when I had that one-night stand at a party 12 years ago?” Of course I remembered: we were friends at the time and at the same party. “Well, it seems she fell pregnant,” he said slowly. “She called to say I have a son.”
My first reaction was actually relief; at the time, I was just grateful he hadn’t cheated on me. Then I felt confused, and kept asking how it could have happened and why she was only telling him now. Turns out, her son had been asking about his dad – who he was and whether he could meet him.
Panic… And Other Reactions
That night, we only discussed the past. We didn’t even consider the future. The next day at work, I couldn’t keep it to myself; I had to tell my colleagues. Their reactions made me panic: they were concerned that the boy’s mother wanted money. Until then I’d felt semi comfortable with the idea of Jim having another son – after all, it happened before we were married – but suddenly I felt guarded. I needed to protect my own children.
In tears, I called my lawyer who said that because the mother hadn’t told Jim about his child until now, we wouldn’t have to pay maintenance to cover the past 12 years. On the other hand, if the mother wanted maintenance now, Jim would have to start paying. I was frightened and angry: with Jim, the child’s mother, the entire situation.
The Actual Meeting
A few days later, at my lawyer’s advice, Jim and I arranged to meet his son’s mother for coffee. Fortunately, she’d told him over the phone that she didn’t expect anything from him. It sounds terrible, but when we met her, I was relieved that she was so much older, and not particularly attractive. I know I would have been jealous if Jim was forever linked to a gorgeous woman.
After a tense introduction, I asked her what her intentions were. She assured us she didn’t want anything except for her son to meet his dad. She even gave us the choice to be part of his life or not. I asked to see a photo of the boy, and as soon as I saw it, I realised we didn’t need a paternity test: he was the spitting image of Jim.
Ironically, I really felt for the boy. I grew up without a father and always wanted to know who he was and whether we had similarities. But I didn’t feel we should have to pay maintenance – Jim was never given the opportunity to bond with his son, and I don’t think it’s his duty to have to pay now.
A Million Emotions
His son stays with us every second to third weekend. We give him pocket money and presents, and he will join us on our annual holidays. My kids enjoy playing with him, even though they don’t understand he’s their half-brother.
Still, as selfish as it sounds, he cramps my lifestyle. I’m uncomfortable with him in my house – he’s a stranger; very conservative and quiet. I try to talk to him but it’s not easy and I have to watch what I wear and say in my own home. It changes the dynamic and I often wish he wasn’t there. I brace myself before his visits and it’s taking its toll on me.
I’ve still got a million emotions over this. I’d be lying if I said there isn’t a part of me that wishes it hadn’t happened to our family. I don’t want to share with someone else’s child what I would give to my own family – time, money and attention. However, I promised to love my husband through the good and the bad, so I make an effort, as I know how much it means to him. We’re taking it one step at a time.