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Pregnant, but my husband is not the father

Question: Dear Sir, I went to my doctor because I suspected that I was pregnant. Sure enough, after some tests, the doctor told me I was three-months pregnant. The painful thing about this is that I am pregnant for my husband’s best friend. Although my husband and I are living together, we have been having great marital difficulty, and I found myself looking to another man for understanding and love. I am ashamed! Please help me. Signed: Afraid.

Dear Afraid, you are certainly in a dilemma. I don’t know if there is a word in the English language that can fully describe the mess you are in. You certainly are in a lot of emotional pain, and confusion. Although I do not know all of the dynamics surrounding your experience, I want to help you understand what has happened and give you some insights on what direction to take.

Your situation is not so uncommon in our country. There are too many women and men who for one or more reasons get involved in extra marital affairs. I suppose you thought you would never get pregnant. This only proves the old saying that “once you play with fire you are going to get burned”. There are at least two simple reasons this happened – either you were stupid, foolish, and blind, and you did not think you would get pregnant and that it would affect you this way; or you do not understand the dynamics of love in a relationship. I have discovered in my counseling practice that many husbands and wives do not really understand the nuts and bolts of marital love. Here is another interesting point. Not all affairs occur because the marriage is bad. There are some people who have had affairs who were deeply satisfied and happy with their marriage. The affair occurred perhaps because one was not aware of his or her vulnerabilities, or fantasies, or poor boundaries.

On the other hand, there are many affairs that are a result of needs not being meet in the marriage. In past articles, I quoted psychologist Dr. Willard Harley from his book “His Need, Her Needs” stating that when any of the basic needs of marriage are unmet the marriage is vulnerable to an affair. These needs are: affection, admiration, conversation, family commitment, financial support, recreational companionship, sexual fulfillment, an attractive spouse, honesty and openness, and domestic support.

Dear Afraid:
I am certain that years ago, you denied any possibility of getting involved in an affair. In reality, you were at risk because one or more of your needs in marriage were unmet by your husband. To fulfill those needs, you sought another source of love. Your immediate search may not have been for sex, but instead, conversation, affection, understanding, and honesty to name a few. You wanted to preserve your marriage. You wanted to understand what was going on in your marriage. For whatever reason, you and your husband were having marital difficulty. Over the years, your “love bank” became dry and you found yourself reaching for love only to receive the “cold hand of indifference” from an uncaring, emotionally absentee husband. Let me hasten to say here that your husband may be just as ignorant and stupid as you were in not understanding what was going on between both of you.

The following are foolish steps that may have led to this pregnancy:

Foolish step one:
When you first sought comfort and understanding from someone other than your spouse, you went to a male friend instead of a trusted female friend or professional counselor. This is the biggest mistake anyone can make when at risk.

Foolish step two:
Perhaps you visited your male friend at a time and place that would be risky and ripe for sexual overtones and innuendoes. I have discovered that many women in your situation go to seek comfort and understanding from other male friends late at night, or during times when no one is around. This increases your vulnerability and begins the rippling effect from conversation, affection sharing, physical touching, to love making and sex.

Foolish step three:
Another very big step that led to your pregnancy was when you allowed him to touch you. I am certain when you first went to him for “help”, you did not grab him and throw him on the bed. It began with that first seemingly innocent touch.

Foolish step four:
You went to your husband’s best friend perhaps because you thought you could trust him and he would respect you. Never trust a close friend behind closed doors, especially after dark and when the lights are dim, even if he is the most respectful, dignified, caring creature on Earth. Remember, if he was truly a friend, he would have sent you away the first night you knocked on his door, and he would have arranged to see you in a more neutral environment.

Now you are pregnant with another man’s baby. You are torn between deciding to abort and telling your husband. If you choose not to tell your husband, there is still a great possibility that he will strongly suspect it after the baby is born or years in the future.

You must tell your husband.

I know it is painful, however, you have lied to him, covered up and deceived yourself in believing that this would never happen – but it did. Your husband may not accept you again; however, you must begin by being honest and responsible. If you value yourself and want to bring healing to your romantic-starved marriage, then you must be honest and do not cover up. Once trust has been broken because of infidelity, it is very hard to regain it. Building trust takes time and patience, both of which you need a lot of right now.

• Barrington Brennen is a marriage and family therapist. Send your questions or comments to
question@soencouragement.org, call 242-327-1980 or visit www.soencouragement.org.

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