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Anne Bercht, author
"My Husband's Affair Became the Best Thing That Happened to Me"

 
When There is a Child From an Affair ...

Question #1: Do you have any articles on how to survive infidelity if the other woman is pregnant with your husband’s child?

Question #2: My husband’s affair produced a child and the way you advise to end the affair is to sever all ties with the third party.  I am really struggling with this because my husband wants to have a relationship with his son which is okay with me. My problem comes because of the need to communicate with the third party.  This makes me really nervous.  My husband has assured me that they communicate strictly about their child but I don't know if I can or should believe that.
 
Answer:

This is one of the most difficult situations that can arise when healing from affairs, and it is much more common than people realize. However, it is certainly not impossible. Many marriages have gone on to healing and wholeness even when a child has resulted from the affair. One thing that can be helpful is to work towards rising above one’s own pain and focusing on what is best for the child, because the child is an innocent party and deserves a good life and to know its parents.

A friend of mine is the product of an affair, raised by her single parent mother who had an affair with a married man. The man’s wife told her husband (my friend’s biological father) when she found out about the affair that if he ever had anything to do with the other woman (my friends’ mother) or her child (my friend), that their marriage would be over, so he never has. Like most young adults do these days, my friend went looking for her biological father at about the age of 20. Because of his wife’s threat, he refused to even acknowledge her or say the words “hello,” deepening my friend’s wound of rejection.

My friend has created a relationship with this man’s children, her brothers and sisters, and has gotten to know their children, cousins to hers, all of which has been done in secrecy from the parents because of the wife’s threat. My friend is still not healed, and 40 years have passed since the affair and her birth. I understand the wife, but I also see my friends deep wound. She will have to learn how to heal in spite of the fact that her biological father cannot even say the words “hello” to her, but I really think it would be more correct to put the needs of a child above our own.

When the other woman is pregnant with a child as a result of the affair, there is usually a need to make an exception to the #1 rule of healing from affairs; no contact with the 3rd party. It is fair and right that the biological father should take his share of the financial responsibility for raising this child, and also play an appropriate role in the child’s life, as can be agreed among all the adults concerned.

There is no one size fits all solution to this challenge. It is a good idea to seek legal advice as to what are the obligations and rights of each parent and the child.

In some situations the woman may choose to give up her child when she sees that her pregnancy is not going to win her the husband. Then the husband and wife can legally adopt the child into their family, if they choose to do so, which would eliminate the need for ongoing contact with the OW.

One reason it is more difficult to heal a marriage when pregnancy results is that the child becomes a reminder (a trigger) of the affair. On the other hand the couple can actually draw closer to each other by choosing to work together as a team on solving the problem, healing their marriage and loving the child.

I am personally acquainted with a number of adults who were born out of an affair, and many of them have become great people, even famous people, who are making great contributions of good to our world. It’s almost as if these little babies born out of adversity have an extra special calling on their lives.

If the wife has had the affair and the couple chooses to stay together, it almost seems inevitable that the child is adopted by the betrayed husband as his own child. To me this is the utmost demonstration of strength of character. In my experience, when we are able to put aside our own pain and focus on the needs of others (the child in this case), life has a way of paying us back with the best rewards in due time.

If you are in this situation, you may like to read the story of Bob and Audrey Meisner. Audrey had an affair, became pregnant, they have healed their marriage and Bob has adopted the son into his family as his own. It is a powerful story of reconciliation. Bob and Audrey’s book “Marriage Undercover” has a strong Christian emphasis and may not be palatable to people with other religious beliefs, but if you can put that aside, you’ll find you can learn a lot from their book.

I’m not saying you should heal your marriage in spite of the affair resulting in a child. Only you can make that decision. Only you can decide what’s right or wrong for you. You have every right to walk away from your marriage if you feel dealing with the child, or the inevitable ongoing contact with the 3rd party is more than you can do. No one can blame you for this. At the same time, you need to know that if you choose to, you and your spouse can work through this, and your marriage can become stronger, and the child can even become a blessing in your life.

If the other woman is keeping the child, making ongoing contact unavoidable, you and your husband can still make this work, by setting clear boundaries about how that contact will take place. For example it could be agreed that the contact regarding both money and visitation would all go through you and not your husband, or you could agree that both you and your husband would be present during necessary contact, even on the phone. Your husband needs to respect your pain and be accountable. Together you will need to come up with agreeable guidelines for contact.

You may decide to utilize the services of the website listed below, which was designed exactly for couples with complicated issues like yours. They provide an online calendar that minimizes the need for contact and the potential for conflict. www.ourfamilywizard.com

In conclusion, focus on the needs of the child and remember that challenges like this, no matter how difficult at first, can be resolved. When couples work together as a team to resolve issues, it’s exactly storms like this that can draw them even closer together. Relationships that haven’t weathered any storms lack depth. When we choose to react with grace and understanding under difficult and painful circumstances, we have the opportunity to earn even more love and respect from our spouse than we had before. What at one point seems to be the very thing that is destined to tear us apart, can in fact, become the very thing that draws us closer together.

©Copyright 2005 Anne and Brian Bercht. All rights reserved.

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