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What to do when you discover his secret

Woman consoling her girlfriend

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So one day there you are going about your business living your life and then, this revelation crash lands on you. Usually, it tends to be about a number of other ladies who seem feisty and a little bit too invested in ridding you of your naiveté.

In fact, these “well intentioned” ladies have all trooped in, gleefully, a little too self-satisfied, to tell you that, drum roll...your husband might as well have twins. He has another, the same age as junior, just like you do but with another lady. Who knows? It might even be your own husband who lets it slip.

In the moments that follow, a flood of emotions, and yes, don’t call them anything else, because it’s a flood stabbing at you, like a pain that you may not have had before, or in a long, long while. All at once. You might even later report feeling your ears ringing and the blood rushing to you head and your hand shakes as you serve your “guests” tea.

A part of you just wants to run and maybe hide or just withdraw to compose yourself. Because as the blood rushes to your head, so does the confusion, the questions, and doubts, and hurt and the like, and all you want to do is just let the emotion flow.

But there you are, back in your living room, serving tea and listening to these other ladies talk about your husband’s other child as easily as they eat whatever you have served them.

Of course, you want to question their motives, the nerve of them walking in and dropping in like this to alert you as they say. But as you drift off again, you wonder about what must have been going on with the hubby that this came to pass? Was he trapped? Is he still with the child’s mother? How come no one ever told you?

If his people knew, were they playing you for a fool? Will the hurt of this betrayal hurt? How is the child faring? Does your husband play an active role on the child’s life? What does this bode for your marriage? What other lies are there? How many more stones are yet left to be turned over?

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So you come back into the present, play the hostess, ask the requisite questions what they know, the nature of the various relationships, and their dynamics and so on. At another point, the day does come to a close and you have your life back. For some ladies, there is a shrugging of the shoulders, for others confrontation, for others communication, however strained, for others trauma, and for others shame and humiliation.

As a counsellor, it is important for me to tell you that no matter which direction you take, you must validate how you feel upon the revelation of this secret and in anticipation of what follows. Don’t spend time and energy arguing with yourself about why you feel as you do, and why it is you should feel otherwise.

This goes for the indifferent wife all the way across the board, to the wife who gets bitter, jealous or even traumatised. Doing this gives you a starting place to start unpacking, as it were, this new information.

I have had the experience of meeting the kinds of ladies who get beaten up for bringing this up, those who shrug it off, those who monitor almost to the point of stalking the mother of this child.

Many women would feel that their husband ought to pay for the upkeep of the child, after all, what if it were their own? Mostly though, beyond a certain point, all this points to is not the details, but really about how much sharing and honesty there is in the relationship.

To an extent, at some core level, it would be great if we could go with our natural instincts and revel in the simplicity of openness, honesty and vulnerability. This doesn’t work because as we grow, we realise that we keep secrets of all kinds and on all levels.

Some secrets we even hide from ourselves! Perhaps out of compassion, we learn to extend the same courtesy to others. One day, it will be we who seek that solace and understanding from others.

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