Life

Ask Fiona: My husband is having an affair and the woman is pregnant

Columnist and trained counsellor Fiona Caine advises a woman whose husband's affair has got another woman pregnant

You need to be open and talk through how you're feeling with your husband

THREE months ago, I found out that my husband had been having an affair with a woman at work. It was nearly the end of our marriage. I was devastated as I thought we had a solid relationship after 18 years together. It took a while, but he'd finally convinced me that he loved me and that he would never see her again. Despite my doubts I forgave him, and we started to put our lives back together. We've been able to talk more openly about what went wrong in our marriage and I had high hopes for the future.

We've also been talking about what we want from this marriage and, in a funny way, we were closer than we had been for some time. It's been a slow road back, but I really did think we'd put this incident behind us – until this other woman revealed she's pregnant and expecting my husband's child in a few months. Now all the negative feelings have come flooding back and I feel my husband has betrayed me. How could he have lied to me like this? I have refused to speak to him since he told me, and I wonder if I should just walk out and leave him.

MA

FIONA SAYS: You say your husband has lied to you but are you so sure? It's possible that he ended the affair with this woman without either of them knowing she was pregnant. After all, it's only been three months since you found out and after which he ended the affair. The woman may not have even realised she was pregnant until now – not everyone knows within the first few weeks. Another possibility could be that she's lying and saying she's pregnant in order to try and get your husband to come back to her. Of course, it's also possible that your husband has deceived you and has still been seeing her. Whatever the truth of the matter is, you are facing a difficult time and you won't know how to deal with it until you talk to your husband. He probably realises how upset you are but make it clear to him that you want to get to the truth. If he admits he lied to you and has still been seeing this woman then it is difficult to see how you'd be able to trust him again. In which case, you must decide what is best for you – which may indeed mean leaving him. If you believe he didn't continue the relationship after you found out, and that he's only now found out about the pregnancy, then whilst there are other important considerations, you are in the same position as you were before.

If there is any doubt whether the woman is pregnant at all or whether she is pregnant by someone other than your husband, then you and your husband should work together to get to the truth. It would be pointless to let her deception (if that's what it is) get in the way of 18 years of marriage. The saddest thing in this mess is that there is, potentially, a baby to consider. If your husband is indeed the father then, like it or not, he will have some ongoing responsibility for the child. That will mean he will almost certainly need to have further contact with the mother - something you will probably find very difficult.

He will certainly have financial responsibilities, which could impact on you too. He may even want to be a part of the child's life – will you be able to cope if he wants to bring the child into your home? There's a huge amount for you to think about but until you know the truth, this is all conjecture. You really have to start by talking to your husband and getting to the truth of what has happened. I suspect you will also need support, whatever the outcome, so please contact Relate (relate.org.uk) and make an appointment to see a counsellor who could help you through this.

MY HUSBAND AND TEENAGERS WON'T HELP AROUND THE HOUSE

I seem to be the family doormat and I'm thoroughly fed up. I work full-time but still seem to be expected to do all the washing, cooking, cleaning and ironing, while my husband and two teenage children just make excuses if I ask them to help. If I push, I'm told I am nagging, but if I don't do things properly, I get grumbled at! I'm pretty sure I'm soon going to snap, walk out and leave them all to it.

MO

FIONA SAYS: I do sympathise but if you've let your children get to be teenagers without having learned to help, then you've created a bit of a rod for your own back. Children should start helping around the house as soon as they are old enough to understand. It's not too late for them all to learn though, so it's time to insist they do their share – however much that means nagging. It sounds like your husband has managed to get away without ever helping, so it's going to be hard for you to change his behaviour. While I don't think losing your temper is necessarily the answer, I do think you're going to have to lay down the law to them all and tell them you're no longer prepared to do everything. Explain that, with your demanding job, either they do their share or things are not going to get done. It might help them, initially, if you draw up a timetable, giving everyone a turn at making supper, doing the washing up etc, and make sure you stick to it. That may mean the washing isn't done, there's no supper on the table and the house isn't cleaned, but stick to your guns. You could just do your own things, if it all gets too much for you, but try to stick to your guns where the rest of the family is concerned and I'm sure they'll soon start to realise how much you do.

WHY DID MY BOYFRIEND SUDDENLY IGNORE ME?

I've been going out with my boyfriend for nearly three months and we were getting on great. We went to a party a week ago though and while we were there, he all but ignored me. He chatted and flirted with other girls and I only danced with him once. I thought he'd take me home afterwards, but the party never seemed to end and people were sitting around talking, until I got fed up and left.

Since then he's not called or texted me and refuses to answer if I call him. I don't know what to do but I miss him so much.

DB

FIONA SAYS: I think your boyfriend has made it clear, from his behaviour and subsequent silence, that he doesn't want to continue a relationship with you. He's behaved very badly, showing total lack of respect for you and for your feelings.

If you continue to try and get him to come back to you then I fear he will only continue to treat you badly and hurt you.

I'd encourage you to move on and look for someone else but, if you do manage to get him to come back, please be strong enough to make it clear you're not prepared to be treated like that again. If he ignores you again, as you were at that party, then walk away.

I'M NOT SURE I WANT TO GET MARRIED

My partner and I have lived together happily for nine years and we're as close and as happy as two people can possibly be. He's really keen that we should get married but I'm not so sure. My parents' marriage is stuck in a rut and I'm afraid our lives would become dull like theirs. I suppose I'm frightened of being trapped but I'm also afraid of being on my own. What's the answer?

SK

FIONA SAYS: There's no one answer to a question like this because everyone is different. You and your partner are not the same people as your parents. Usually, at the start of relationship, everything about a partner is exciting and life takes on a special sort of buzz. It might sound great to be able to maintain a relationship at this level of intensity, but it would be exhausting.

Over time, therefore, feelings tend to become calmer – but this doesn't make them any less loving or significant. Does this describe the course of your relationship? Marriage or not won't necessarily ignite a spark if there's never been one in the first place, but if you had one and it's now more of a smoulder, perhaps your expectations for your future are unrealistic.

All relationships require effort and commitment to keep the spark going. If your relationship becomes dull in the future – married or not – it's because you've failed to make the effort. If you've never had a spark to begin with, though, it's possible you're not in the right relationship, which might, of course, also explain your reluctance to commit.

:: If you have a problem you need help with, email Fiona by writing to help@askfiona.net for advice. All letters are treated in complete confidence and, to protect this privacy, Fiona is unable to pass on your messages to other readers. Fiona regrets that she cannot enter into personal correspondence.

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