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A husband's painful dilemma on paternity, infidelity

By Gloria Ogunbadejo - Nigeria

Gloria Ogunbadejo
A child's paternity has always been a topic of interest and many times of great contention in the African culture. In the western world if there is ever any doubt, a paternity test is the answer and the problem is solved. Within our culture, things are a little more complex than that. I have always been quite clear in my mind and unyielding about my position about a woman muddling or lying about the paternity of a child. I have always felt it cheats so many people and can lead to irreparable damage mostly in the life of the child. However, as I have gotten older and have had a taste of life's whip, I have mellowed somewhat, simply in the ability to have empathy that there are sometimes mitigating reasons for decisions to be made. Having said that from a moral point of view, it still feels very difficult a concept and in some cases it is unfathomable especially when it is just a deceit to cover up illicit activity. The letter I recently received from a reader is one of those complex situations when being judgemental feels inappropriate. What are your thoughts?

Dear Gloria,
I feel odd writing you this letter but I have been reading your column for a few years and I think you are mature and responsible. Besides I enjoy the topics you write on. I have to implore you not to use my personal details. I don't mind if you share with your readers because I'm sure there are many people who are in the same situation.

I am in my fifties and I have been married for over twenty five years. I am a successful well-educated professional. I am married to an equally successful woman that I love very much. She is a few years younger than me but it's not a problem, we are well suited. We had been trying to have children for many years and had not been successful until five years ago when we were blessed with a beautiful daughter. We were so happy and felt blessed. I had a medical condition diagnosed two years ago which was challenging but we managed to get it under control. During the process of treatment it was discovered that I had a problem and it meant I won't be able to father children. I was devastated but worse than that my daughter's paternity was called into question. I did not say anything to my wife. I just prayed on it and asked God to help me contain my feelings for the sake of my daughter. I love my daughter and I decided I would be the only father she will know. Obviously my wife will not want the truth to come out for her child's sake.

We have lived happily over the years but my wife recently became pregnant again and delivered a son. At first I was shocked then I thought there is nothing impossible with God and maybe I was healed. I went back to the doctor who said I still had the problem, saying that there was no way I could be the father. I was devastated. I love the baby and I feel like his father. Again I am the only father the boy knows. I have not said anything to my wife but I look at her differently. I don't trust her. I am mature and if she had discussed it with me and we both agreed for her to do it, so that we could have children, then I would understand. However knowing she has an idea I cannot father children and pretending the children are mine is very hard to take.

She is enjoying a good life with me and I know she won't want to give it up. I am not a young man and my marriage has been good. I am wondering if I should just let it go and enjoy my children. I feel very differently about things this second time and it has been affecting my feelings for her. Though I love the child because I love children, but I do not feel peaceful and she has even made some comments about my behaviour since the birth of the child.

I would like your advice on what to do. I feel I should confront her about the deceit, but still let her know that I accept the children. I am worried if I send her away she could threaten to take the children along, since they are not my biological children. I was thinking it might be better for me to try to have another relationship that is honest. It is so hard because she is a nice wife, I don't have any complaints other than the children. I am thinking she might have done it to protect my reputation since she knows how much I want children.

Please I need your support because I am feeling desperate. I am happy to come and see you for counselling but please don't expose me to the world.

Name and some details changed for confidentiality

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