Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: I’m in serious trouble. Years ago, during a separation from my husband, I had a very brief affair with a man from another province who I met online. He came to see me in Manitoba and during the visit, we had sex and I became pregnant. I told him, and he said he wanted nothing more to do with me, or the child. I hadn’t heard anything from him since — until recently. Now, 20 years later, he wants to make contact with our child! Why now?
Very shortly after my brief affair, my husband and I reconciled and have been happily married ever since. My husband has raised our son as his own. He never knew anything about the affair or that the son he has loved so deeply is not his biological son.
The biological father says he has "rights," and is going to get a lawyer. I’m about to lose my mind! I don’t want to hurt my husband or son, but I know my 20-year-old secret is going to be revealed. Where do I start?
— Scared Sick, Winnipeg
Dear Scared: You have a few choices — none of them easy. You could wait and see if this man from your past is more bluster than real threat. He didn’t pay child support, nor was he any kind of father — totally absent, as he wanted.
Is he nasty enough to want blackmail money? Consult a lawyer, ASAP. If nothing is done now in response to his overture, you’ll be waiting for the day he catches up with your son and introduces himself as his "real" father.
You also need to tell your husband ASAP, before this sperm donor decides to contact him. Your husband will be shocked and upset when he learns the truth, but he will no doubt be a rock for his son. Your 20-year-old may be the most upset in this whole situation.
Now that this old flame is threatening to expose biological paternity, your husband will probably become defensive. He will certainly rear up to fight for first place in his son’s life, as he has been the real father in terms of love and upbringing.
I feel for you, as this exposed secret will no doubt shake your relationships with your husband and son. Tricking your husband by not telling him the truth and letting him assume paternity is not going to go over well. And your son is going to be shocked to the core.
When all this information shakes out, you also have a right to find out about what your husband did when he was apart from you. Did he have another lady or do anything else he didn’t tell you? You should both open up about that period when you were apart.
Dear Miss Lonelyhearts: My husband was majorly depressed over COVID and I think he’s going a bit squirrelly now. He has maps and books out on a card table he never takes down. He tells me he’s planning out a big trip for us where we’d always wanted to go — all though the countries of Scandinavia. He says it’s for summer 2022 — 15 months away.
I think it’s quite likely we’ll be out of the woods by then, COVID-wise, but I don’t want to commit to any trip — both the planning time and expense — and then have it crumble around us.
He says I’m being a spoilsport, and he needs for me to believe in him. That’s not what it’s about. I think this trip would be great. What I’m afraid of, is this: He’s going to start spending our money in advance and there will be people quite happy to take it — even though they can make no guarantees.
The thing I have to admit to myself and to you is this: The planning is getting him out of his depression. Should I pretend to go along with it?
— A Spoilsport? East Kildonan
Dear Spoilsport: You should not be a spoilsport in the sense of dumping negativity on his plans for the summer after this one. Just don’t let him put down big money on tickets, hotels and side-trips this far ahead. Encourage him to plot and research all he wants.
You might even join in on the fun of that now (where you can also keep an eye on him and his credit card).
Explain to him that by next winter you may be able to book everything successfully for the summer of 2022 or 2023. The point is not to make the timing of the trip hard and fast, but assure him the trip sounds great and it will happen not too far in the future, and that you are on board with him.
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