Dear Amy: I have been with my husband for 40 years.
I thought we had a great life together, however, I just found out that he has a biological son who is only two months younger than our youngest son!
The child’s mother put him up for adoption, which my husband claims he knew nothing about until months after the adoption was done.
What really hurts is that he cheated on me with this same woman when I was pregnant with our first child.
He says that she meant nothing to him (just sex), and that he always loved me, and that since it happened 30 years ago, I should just move past it.
I found out about all of this a few months ago when his son contacted my daughter through a DNA matching site.
Since then, all I can think about is that our entire life was a lie.
How do I get past this?
– Heartbroken in PA
Dear Heartbroken: Your husband does not get to declare this story over, just because he wants it to be.
In addition to his infidelity, he fathered a child, knew about the child, and seems to have done nothing to help the child or the child’s mother. This is quite a “tell” about your husband’s deeper character, and you have the right to question his character now.
DNA matching has dragged all of us into a new age of discovery, and quite often these DNA disclosures force us to face uncomfortable facts about ourselves and the people we love.
“Move on” is not acceptable. It won’t help you. Your husband should work a lot harder to go through this with you. Then you would have the opportunity to move on together, reclaiming your shared marital history in the process.
A counselor could help you to unpack and process this challenging truth. Your husband should respect your need to handle this in your own way.
Your children will also have questions and concerns, and their father should be brave enough to face these questions honestly. I hope your family will also eventually find a way to be open and inclusive with this newly discovered biological son.
Dear Amy: I was not raised with my birth parents. I recently discovered my birth father’s family thru DNA testing. It has been quite the experience at 53.
It appears that my birth father was the extreme black sheep of the family and after years of drama, he and his son were eventually exiled from the entire family.
He is long since deceased, but most of the rest of the family want nothing to do with me because I’m his child, despite the fact that I never even met him.
Some refuse to even acknowledge me. Despite the fact that I’m family, they have never attempted to contact me.
I value the love I’ve received from the three cousins who have bonded with me.
It hurts so deeply that my own aunts, uncles, and first cousins refuse contact, based only on whose child I am. I don’t speak to my half-brother because of some things he has said to me, which also hurt me deeply.
I’m trying to forgive them all for the pain they’ve brought to me but it’s very hard. I thought over time they might change their minds, but – no.
Am I wrong to be angry and hurt? Should I be the bigger human and forgive them? Am I justified in feeling like I’ve been wronged?
– Hurting in New York
Dear Hurt: Your hurt feelings are entirely justified. However, you must understand that you stepped into a family system that was already entrenched, and which is extremely closed and negative.
Understand in your bones that this dynamic has nothing to do with you. It is not your fault. “Family” is something of a construct, and you can construct your own, populated by people who want to have a relationship with you.
If you want to forgive these people, you should start by simply accepting them as you perceive them: Flawed, possibly hurting, and hurtful.
Dear Amy: You published a person’s “advice” regarding online dating: “Meet in public and tell them you have an event later, so you have an ‘out’ if you need it.”
Great. Start the relationship out with a lie.
Are you sure the person wasn’t giving advice about how NOT to do things?
Dear Disappointed: I take your point, but as someone who has participated in online matching, I cheerfully reject it.
(You can email Amy Dickinson at firstname.lastname@example.org or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)