My Wife Is Pregnant. What If It Isn’t My Child?

My wife and I went through a difficult patch six months ago and split for about a month. However, we did have protected sex twice during this split. Well, it turns out she had unprotected sex with an ex-boyfriend during this time as well. She was upfront about this, and we’ve done a lot to repair our relationship since getting back together. Here’s where the story goes Jerry Springer: She ended up pregnant. The ex-boyfriend died in a car accident two months ago. Neither me nor my wife is sure who the father is, but given that the sex with the ex was unprotected, it stands to reason it’s him. (We plan to find out through testing.) Either way, she is adamant that she wants to have the child, and I don’t want to deny her that. If I’m not the father, though, I guess I’m just not sure how I’ll feel. Do I have a right to insist that any child we have be mine? I never thought this might happen. What am I supposed to feel here? —Dad by Default
Dear Dad by Default,

What a complicated, challenging situation you find yourself in! There is no one way you are supposed to feel. I’d expect you to be more than a bit confused. It sounds as if you and your wife have been able to be open with each other, work things out, and repair your relationship. I definitely recommend calling on the same skills and strategies that have worked for you in the past.

A key question for you to consider: If this child is not biologically yours, will you be able to parent him or her with the unconditional love he or she deserves? I strongly recommend that you dig deep and think about your honest answer to this. It’s tempting to want to be a “good” guy and say sure—but if you don’t think you can do it, you will suffer, your wife will suffer, your relationship will suffer, and this child will suffer.

Regardless of biology, you will be the only father he or she will know. If you are not able to love him or her, if you tolerate this child for the sake of your marriage, it will show in many small ways. Resentments will build, and you may end up losing your relationship down the line. Your wife has been clear that she is having this child. You have to ask yourself if you can get on board or not. This is not an easy question to answer, and I suggest you find someone to talk with to sort through the complicated feelings that come with your situation.

Becoming a parent, even under the best of circumstances, is challenging, and it is a lifetime commitment. It’s not for the faint of heart. It puts stress on relationships. Things will not be the same, ever. It’s incredibly hard. It’s also tremendously rewarding, powerful, and incredibly meaningful. There are many people who choose to parent children who are not biologically theirs, who love them fiercely and devotedly. This is something nobody can decide for you. If you open yourself up to loving this child and commit to being a true father (no matter what the tests say), it will be hard, but it can be amazing. If you don’t think you can do it, you owe it to yourself, to your wife, and to this child to talk about it honestly now.

Best of luck,

Erika Myers, MS, MEd, LPC, NCC is a licensed psychotherapist and former educator specializing in working with families in transition (often due to separation or divorce) as well as individuals seeking support with relationship issues, parenting, depression, anxiety, grief/loss/bereavement, and managing major life changes. Although her theoretical orientation is eclectic, she most frequently uses a person-centered, strengths-based approach and cognitive behavioral therapy in her practice.
  • Leave a Comment
  • Carmen

    February 21st, 2014 at 2:48 PM

    I don’t think that there is any right way or wrong way to actually feel, you feel what you feel, right? I think what’s the most important thing is to sort out how you feel about your wife right now. I know that there must have been some complicated things going on or otherwise the split would not have occured. So hopefully the two of you are working through all of that. I think that you can really show her how much you love her just by sticking with her and being a dad to this baby whether it is your biological child or not. I know that that’s probably a lot to ask of someone but I think that you are at least going to have to give that a try if the two of you are evr going to make this work.

  • carlton

    February 22nd, 2014 at 7:34 AM

    cut your losses dude if this baby ain’t yours- you wanna be supportin that kind of behavior? If you do you are sayin that it’s all right for her to go out and have iunprotected sex anytime you guys fight and I don’t think that’s the precedent that you wanna set unless you wanna keep on gettin hurt by this woman

  • Janet

    February 24th, 2014 at 4:01 AM

    My father was in a similar situation. But he chose to raise me as his own and I am so thankful that he did. I never knew any father than him, but he was the only one I could have ever imagined raising me. He stepped up, he loved us, and we couldn’t have asked for more than that.

  • mari

    February 24th, 2014 at 10:48 AM

    So I think that you need to be straight with her and with yourself. You have to weigh what your alternatives are. Either you accept that this is your child and the two of you reconcile, or you accept that the damage is done and you both agree to part ways amicably. To me those are the choices, so I know that sounds black or white but really those are the only two things that are the best for the child. That baby did not ask to be brought into this world and needs love no matter who the biological parent is. If you are not ready to provide that then I don’t think that it’s a good idea at all to even have to try. That will make everyone involved pretty miserable. Everyone needs to have stability in their lives, and this is going to take a whole lot of work no matter which decision that you make. And one more thing, I don’t even think that if you are going to decide to be the father to this child that you should even have a DNA test, because if you decide that the baby is yours it’s not something that you need a piece of paper to confirm.

  • Cat

    February 26th, 2014 at 3:57 AM

    I completely agree with Erika- if there are any doubts please talk to your wife about them now and not after the child gets here!

  • runninfast

    March 3rd, 2014 at 10:42 AM

    Do you want to rekindle things only because of the child? What about her? Do you think that she is simply looking for a father for her unborn child?

  • Msc Gary S

    April 16th, 2014 at 3:30 AM


    Do not tollerate this behavior, or you are giving permission for it.

    The child is the real fathers responsibility. Leave & never look back.

  • phakiso

    October 23rd, 2015 at 11:38 AM

    I think u must do what u feel,than hart your girl or the child before the baby born,to free ur self,thnks guys

  • Rossko

    February 20th, 2016 at 6:22 AM

    I am exactly in same sort of situation . My grief can not be express 😰😰😰

    Not sure what I am going to do. But I feel rase/suppoet the baby as mine and still devorced from my wife .

  • commodoredawe

    May 5th, 2018 at 5:01 PM

    At university I met Elisabeth and for the next 4 years we became the best of friends. At one stage we even were lovers for while. Then we graduated, promised to stay in touch. She wanted to get married and have babies and I wasn’t ready for that. My jobs took me all over the world and two years later while I was on another continent I heard she had married a Greek guy and had moved to Athens. I congratulated her and after that we lost touch. I also met the woman of my life and got married. 5 years later my contract abroad had ended and my wife and I and our first child we returned to live in my country and my hometown. We soon after that had our 2nd child.
    Through a friend I had learnt that Elisabeth, who within our group always was the one who wanted to have lots of children and because of her character and personality, we alway saw her as the natural mother.
    Out of the blue and just during a period when my wife and our two children had gone to her home country to stay with my wife’s parent for a long time, my wife wanted that her parents really had a good chance to meet their grandchildren and so we agreed that she would be away for 2 months, Elisabeth contacted me and said that she was back home to look after her elderly mother, would be staying for a month and could we meet.
    We did and we had a great time. All our friendly bonds were still there and we started to meet almost every evening after work and she soon spilled out her heart that she had been trying to get pregnant, had IVF and it had really depressed and she did not get pregnant. She said her husband was infertile but would not accept the fact. That night we got drunk and Elisabeth stay with me and we slept together in our bedroom. My wife and I always were honest with each other and neither I expected my wife to go without sex for 2 months nor did she. We did not explicitly spell out but we had this tacit understanding.
    Elisabeth stayed for another 4 weeks and we spent every night as lovers in my apartment and in my wife’s and my marital bed. Then Elisabeth left, my wife came back and my old busy life and my great marital wife resumed. My wife and I were very much in love and still very attracted by each and all over each other all the time.
    About a year later I got an email from Elisabeth announcing the birth and the baptism of their first baby. The card was about 3 months old and I immediately thought that I could be the Dad. I had no problem with it and I just got on with my life and most surprisingly I was totally calm and told myself that I was always a guy who accepted the responsibility for his actions and should this ever blow up into my face then I would just honestly own up and accept the consequences. I also did not feel any guilt towards my wife as my wife confessed to becoming weak one night when her ex took her out one night and romanced her with dinner, dance and a nightly trip to a local beach. I assured her that it was OK and told her that Elisabeth was my guilty secret. My wife knows her and she was OK with it. We never talked about it again.
    Two years later I had a call on my mobile and it was Elisabeth again. She was again in the country and could we meet again. We met and we still had feelings for each other. She told me straigh aways that I was the father of her beautiful baby boy. She said she always wanted my child and that she was here only for one reason, to have another baby from me. She was staying in an apartment with her beautiful baby boy and during the day her mother looked after and doted on her grandson. And so for the next 8 weeks we met at lunchtime and try to make her wish come true. I have to admit I really enjoyed the time with her and my wife enjoyed that for the next two months I was an almost constantly aroused and very attentive lover in the evening. Perhaps I wanted to make up for my cheating.
    Then Eisabeth returned and after about a year I again got an anonymous email with an anouncement of a birth and baptism.
    Two years later we did it again and Elisabeth became pregnant again.
    So to date neither Elisabeth’s husband knows, my wife does not know either. I got my payback in that I am sure that our last child, our fourth baby, a beautiful baby girl is most likely not mine either. I worked out the dates and she could have only be conceived in my wife’s home country and I was 10.000 kilometers away. But I have to admint that I love my daughter almost more than my own sons. Of course, I love them all and am there for all of them. But she is our little darling, there is 12 years between her and her next older brother.
    Elisabeth’s children are adults now. Occasionally I get an email and reply and a couple of times she had called when she was home again and we met. But just for a talk and for a coffee. She wanted me to at least see “our” children briefly. My wife even made me invite them all to spend a Sunday with us. We all had a great time, lost of chats, lots of laughter and my wife said, that she really liked Elisabeth and she always wondered why the two of us never got married. But my wife knew the story as I had told her almost everything about my past and what I had done and what had happened in my life before we met. She did the same. I am also almost sure that my wife instinctively knows but has decided not to know and either had no problem with it or just accepts the fact. After that Sunday my wife only once said that Elisabeth had really great kids and if she did not know better, she would have thought that these children had some of my features. But she could be mistaken and that these were just Elisabeth features. We were in bed at the time and I whispered in my wife’s ear that she knew how our little girl was my secret or not so secret favourite and what a whim of nature it was that our little girl resembled her ex-boyfriend, who is also a great friend of mine and I could have sworn that she had some features, like his forehead and nose and his chin.
    I said, I love you. I really love you to my wife and she cuddled me and embraced me and enjoyed that my strng embrace locked her against my body.
    We have now been married for 30 years and I still feel very much in love. I am not proud of what I did but I also have no second thoughts nor any regrets about my actions.
    Every year I get an unsigned Valentine’s car assuring me that there is a person who feels undying love for me and will eternally be mine, grateful and in deep love.
    We would not have been a great married couple and a marriage would not have worked. But I am glad that I have been able to be there for my loving Valentine’s and that she found what she wanted and she found peace and happiness.
    This might seem and embellished account but the facts are true and have happenend in exactly the way described.
    I don’t judge, I don’t give advice, this just represents my opinion. I don’t want to preach, I don’t expect anybody to accept this as a guide or a moral template. Just accept it as what it is. A true account and one example of how things happened and worked out.

  • Andrew

    November 20th, 2021 at 3:20 AM

    im in the same situation but trying to manage

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