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Ask E. Jean For DearSugar: Do I Tell My Husband the Truth About Our Son?

Dear E. Jean,

I’m close to losing my mind. This week I received the results of a paternity test. It confirms that my husband is not the father of our 10-year-old son, our oldest child. The news will absolutely destroy my husband and devastate our four happy children.

How did this happen? Three days before I married my husband, a guy I dated in college came over to my house, took me out to dinner, and begged me not to get married. Afterwards he drove me to the beach, we went for a walk — well, you can guess the rest. The wedding took place, my husband and I went on the honeymoon, and when we came home, I knew I was pregnant. Both our families were ecstatic. “A honeymoon baby!” they called it. But I was suspicious at the time that it could be either man’s.

However, I put it out of my head, gave birth to an awesome boy, 10 years passed, everything was fine. Then I heard the other man was getting a divorce and there was a big fight with his wife over money. His picture appeared in the paper. I looked it up. The resemblance to my son was unmistakable. But the worst part is the wife was accusing him of abusing their children.

That was when I decided I had to know for certain. And the results of the DNA samples (samples I took from my husband and son while they were both sleeping) confirmed what I feared: My husband is — I’m quoting — "excluded as a biological parent" of my son.

I'm a total wreck. It's like a bad Maury show. The truth will demolish my son’s trust, my husband’s love, my other three children’s stability. What can I do? How can I find the words? What do I say? I don’t know how I’m going to live through this. — Devastated.

To see E. Jean's answer,


My Dearest Devastated,

I realize that most people will disagree, but I advise you to keep your secret. For now.

See an attorney. Draw up a letter containing the facts to be given to your son in case of your early death — and stipulate the letter is to be opened when he’s grown.

And, of course, if your son ever develops health problems that could be hereditary, you’ll disclose the facts surrounding his birth to your pediatrician and to the biological father if you need to obtain his health records.

But other than these two circumstances, I see absolutely no reason to explode this bomb at this particular time. When your son is an adult, you can tell him. For now, let the family grow up and prosper.

Because the truth is never pure and rarely simple, as Nabokov said, nor is Truth with a capitol “T” always a good thing. It can also bring evil. Just ask Oedipus.

To see more advice from E. Jean, visit Elle Magazine and

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