Social Question

BeccaBoo's avatar

Do I tell?

Asked by BeccaBoo (2725points) June 11th, 2011

OMG!!! I was out last night with a couple I have known for over 18 yrs, we have been solid friends and through a lot together.
While we were eating the wife let something slip to me, while the guys were at the bar. She told me that there 16 yr old daughter wasn’t his!!! WTF? Now i love these guys and the husband is not only friends with me, but my older brother too, has been for years. I am feeling like she has passed her burden onto me and leaving it for me to carry. He has another child with this woman (a younger son) makes sense now as the 2 look nothing a like. Anyway, should i say something to him. I feel this is just so wrong on every level. Can’t understand how she could do this to him, lie for all these years not just to her husband but her daughter too. This is going to smash their family apart but its not fair to keep something like this from either of them. The wife was very matter of fact about the whole thing, even after my reaction, she dismissed it as a big deal, when i asked if he knew she just said to me looking at him “had to do something to hang onto him”. I can’t look at her now, even speak. Am dealing with that, but should I say something to the husband, more for the daughter’s sake, she is not a child anymore???? Help??

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98 Answers

WasCy's avatar

In a word, no.

It’s a heavy burden for you, no doubt, and clearly it’s a juicy tidbit that you want to tell to someone, but what purpose would be served by telling him?

Besides, what if he already knows or strongly suspects? The fact that it’s now in the open might compel him to “do something”, and it may be that he would prefer to have his private suspicions… and keep them private.

marinelife's avatar

Let it lie. it is not your secret to tell.

Keep urging the wife to tell (at least her daughter).

BeccaBoo's avatar

I asked her if she would ever say something and she said most definitely not. I am not one to interfere ever, but I’m not thinking of her or the family, more of her daughter! Does she not have the right to know? And her husband definitely does! I can’t believe she’d do this to them, its cruel that he is bringing up a child that is not his, not only that but believe me he has no idea.

JilltheTooth's avatar

No. It’s not your place. If you do, and he didn’t know, what do you think will happen? As far as he is concerned, the child is his, whether he knows or not, and you will only be poking the hornet’s nest. And why is it “cruel that he is bringing up a child that is not his”? If he’s a good father, it’s not at all cruel. Keep it to yourself. The daughter’s rights are the parents’ concerns, if it comes up it’s their place to enlighten her.

ZEPHYRA's avatar

NO! None of your beeswax…...she made her bed, so let her lie in it no matter how things turn out. Let their life go on just as it has been up to now. Sometimes ignorance IS bliss!

marinelife's avatar

@BeccaBoo You sound like you are trying to justify telling. It is not your place to destroy this family with such devastating news. Don’t do it.

chyna's avatar

No, don’t tell. She told you in confidence and at a weak moment. It’s up to her to tell him. Would you want to be the one that ripped this family apart because you couldn’t keep your mouth shut?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Since this is so obviously affecting you, @BeccaBoo , may I suggest that you talk to the friend who told you and tell her that she was way out of line putting that on you?

janbb's avatar

The only thing you can do if you must act is talk to her about telling him. No one will thank the messenger if you interject yourself and tell him.

Hibernate's avatar

It is not your problem so by not telling you keep yourself away from to many bad words.

THOUGH THE situation itself sucks/

The messenger is not shot but the problems caused after will forever be his faults.

Coloma's avatar

I strongly disagree with keeping this to oneself.
Kill the messenger, but expose the truth.
Easy choice for me.

I agree with encouraging the ‘friend’ to come clean to her family, but I do not agree that it is, in any way, the fault of the messenger.

MY integrity and psyche does not want to carry around the sins of another, nor will I.

This person CHOSE to share some very incriminating secrets with another, make NO mistake about it, the fault lies with the deeds of that person and not the messenger.

I cannot believe how many people advocate not getting involved and keeping extreme deception under wraps.

I say too fucking bad…take your lumps foolish fools! Bah!

We should never fear the truth, it WILL set you free, and this man and his daughter have every right to make decisions about their own choices, which now will free them to decide if they can or want to stay with and forgive the deceptions foisted upon them as innocent parties.

Jesus people….grow a backbone!

CaptainHarley's avatar

Do NOT say anything to the husband. This type of thing is a losing proposition for anyone on the outside of the relationship. If she wants him to know, she’ll tell him. If he suspects, he’ll ask. It can only lead to sorrow if you become involved. Forget she ever told you that.

chyna's avatar

Jesus Coloma, how do you get through the door with all that integrity you carry around?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Jesus, @Coloma , learn how to keep out of other people’s business when it’s not yours! It’s not @BeccaBoo“s truth to tell, and why would you advocate the potential destruction of a family? You need to grow your own backbone and learn to keep quiet when it has nothing to do with you!

Coloma's avatar


Because, I have been on the receiving end of deceptions, and know others that have as well, and we all would have chosen the truth over living a lie!

You’re as sick as your secrets, and that’s a FACT!

This is something I am very passionate about, because it is the RIGHT thing to do!

JilltheTooth's avatar

This struck me as pertinent at this moment: “People who are brutally honest get more satisfaction out of the brutality than out of the honesty.”
—Richard J. Needham

Seaofclouds's avatar

I’m with @Coloma on this one. I’d start with urging the woman to tell her family herself, but I wouldn’t keep the secret for long if she didn’t come clean.

My friends all know this about me though. When my husband deployed last year, I told the women I was friends with (whose husband’s also deployed), that if they cheated on their husband’s I would tell. Each of them said, “same here”. That’s the type of person I am and I’m glad they were as well. It didn’t hinder any of my friendships with them.

I wouldn’t want anyone to keep this information from me and I wouldn’t do it to anyone else. If the woman really wanted it to stay a secret, she should’ve kept it to herself.

JilltheTooth's avatar

All of this presupposes that the husband doesn’t know. @WasCy had a good point up there.

janbb's avatar

I question people who always think they know the right thing to do. LOFL

Coloma's avatar


As I said, from personal experience I would have welcomed knowing the truth of my marriage years ago. I wouldn’t have stayed in LaLa land for as long as I did.

I have another friend whose family KNEW for 20 years, that her sister and husband had an affair during the early years of their marriage. It finally came out, and yes, it did rip the family apart, but what REAL substance was there to begin with?

As painful as it was, I wouldn’t change a thing, and neither would she.

I think everyone is missing the point of CHOICE here, do the husband and daughter have a choice in their own destiny?

I think so!

They are the majority that is being controlled by the minority.

No one takes pleasure in informing another of a painful truth, do you think doctors like telling their patients they have 6 weeks to live?
No…but, that patient has a right to know, so they can make informed choices.

I stand by my convictions that innocent people have a right to KNOW what it is they are dealing with in their lives and relationships.

If you have not ever had the experience of being seriously deceived, then you don’t have a leg to stand on!

JilltheTooth's avatar

@janbb : Spitting my coffee, here!

JilltheTooth's avatar

I’d be truly amazed if anyone over the age of 40 here did not have the experience of being “seriously deceived” and again I say it’s not her place to divulge to the husband or the daughter. I did mention that I thought she should talk to the friend about it. It’s 16 years later. It’s up to the family to resolve this. It’s not like it just happened, and full relationships (husband, daughter) hadn’t yet been formed.

WasCy's avatar

I suspect that the woman told her secret out of some desperation on her own part. That would be a heavy burden to carry around for over a decade and a half.

It may be that she wants a safe terminal to discuss the issue with and help guide her in “what should I do?”

To simply tell the husband “this is what your wife told me” would ruin four friendships, one entire family, and very likely spoil @BeccaBoo‘s relationship with her own husband, after he sees what her speaking would have done.

For what?

The man is already raising the child as his own, and to her he is “Dad”.

The information itself isn’t proven to the messenger. It’s just a statement so far.

I agree that @BeccaBoo has the hot potato in her lap now and has the problem of what to do with the information. Share it with the affected parties? Discuss further with the woman who divulged it? Tell others anonymously? Or do nothing and stew in the knowledge? It’s not an insignificant burden, but it’s one that therapists, doctors and lawyers deal with every day. Clerics, too.

Maybe that’s a place to start. Talk to a priest, minister, rabbi or therapist in general terms (no names) and ask for their advice. I’m still guessing that it would be: Don’t interfere.

Coloma's avatar

All I know is that I prefer reality to fantasy, and any truly healthy person would as well.
I think this is very interesting, only 2 out a dozen or more that advocate truth. Kinda sad, if you ask me.

I am not saying confront this man and his daughter tonight, but, if it were me, I’d tell that friend she had about a week to fess up or I would.

So, we agree to disagreee. Done.

JilltheTooth's avatar

@Seaofclouds : I actually agree with you in that situation, but I feel it’s very different, as I don’t think it has the potential to seriously damage a parent child relationship that has been established over 16 years. Very different dynamic. The situation you describe also involves the betrayal of people who are deployed and risking their lives, which takes it to a whole new low.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@JilltheTooth I get the concern about the parent/child relationship, but both the guy and the daughter have a right to know. The daughter has a right to know that she has a different father, if for nothing more than her own family medical history. What about other possibly siblings she may have? She has a whole other side to her family that she doesn’t even know about and I think she should be able to decide if she wants to know them for herself. I also feel the guy has a right to know that he is not the child’s biological father. He has a right to know that the woman he’s been married to has been living a lie for the past 16 years. Sure, things are what they are now, but a lot of what things are now are based on a lie. What if he only stayed to do the “right thing”. Since @BeccaBoo said the woman said she “had to do something to hang onto him”, it sounds like she may have knowingly “trapped” him into things with the pregnancy. That’s really low and while it will have a impact on this family, the people involved should know the truth so they can decide what to do with their futures.

wundayatta's avatar

@Coloma Just because you want to be told doesn’t mean that’s right for everyone. You make this a categorical moral truth, which takes into account nothing of the circumstances. It is not true that everyone wants to know the truth. Was it Nicholson character who said, ” You can’t handle the truth!”

The destruction of a family, even one that has serious secrets, is not something to be done lightly and without serious consideration of the known facts, and an understanding that there is so much not known. You walk into a mine field like that, and you have no idea how many bombs will go off and how much collateral damage there will be. The daughter could have her life wrecked and be in therapy forever. The couple might be so mad that one ends up killing the other. You can’t know if these things won’t happen. Are you going to take on responsibility for all the fallout? You better if you’re going to tell the truth. Either that, or your vaunted integrity is pretty worthless. You can’t just throw out a bomb and walk away and call yourself a decent person.

None of us is a god and none of us knows all the facts and until such a time as we are gods, we should shut the hell up.

janbb's avatar

GA for that @wundy!

marinelife's avatar

@Coloma This is not about whether the father and daughter have a right to know the truth. Of course, they do.

It is about whether a third party should be the one to tell them. That is where we disagree. The third party should butt out.

@BeccaBoo did not observe this with her own eyes. She was told it by the woman at a bar (In possibly a moment of in vino veritas). All she can do is urge the woman to tell herself.

chyna's avatar

Damn @wundayatta I’m in awe! GA.

Coloma's avatar


Sorry, I still disagree.

We GROW through our pain and suffering, and who’s to say that this experience might not end up being the BEST thing that ever happened to these people, in terms of their personal growth in the long run?

I can certainly say that if not for my painful expereinces I would not be the person I am today.

Maintaining the status quo is NOT the objective in relationships or personal growth.

People are strong and resilient, and I have yet to meet anyone, that would prefer living a lie to living in truth, unless they are very emotionally unwell or just plain cowardly.

Nope, there is no excuse for not telling the truth, short of preventing a murder.

Nothing is more unloving and controlling than selfishly allowing others one professes to ‘care’ about live under a veil of deception and secrecy.

I wonder how many here that advocate keeping secrets of this nature, were, or are deceivers themselves?

The ultimate in selfishness is to keep anothers right to truth from them.

The fault of the fallout lies with the deceivers deeds and her stupidity at unloading her foolishness onto yet another innocent victim of her betrayals.

JilltheTooth's avatar

Another GA to you, Wundy!

Edit to add: Also very good point, @marinelife! The question was not “do they have a right know” the question was should @BeccaBoo tell. Really, this whole insistence on “absolutes” is just silly.

marinelife's avatar

@Coloma Nothing is more unloving and controlling than selfishly allowing others one professes to ‘care’ about live under a veil of deception and secrecy.

I feel that you are letting your own experiences color your perceptions of this situation. No one is in disagreement about what the wife should do. She should tell. Should have told long ago.

What we are talking about is what a third party who is completely outside the family structure should do.I think @BeccaBoo has the potential to completely tear this family apart. Is that better or worse than the lie? I don’t profess to know or judge and neither should @BeccaBoo. And neither should you attempt to make decisions for others.

Coloma's avatar


You’re right, as I already mentioned, as well as many others I know that have had similar experiences and would choose truth, again, inspite of the unhappiness it brought.

Many things in life involve contracts, and relationships are no different.

If a real estate agent knows another agent isn’t in full disclosure they have an ethical obligation to inform the buyer about what has been misrepresented.

Same goes for vehicle recalls, and many other contractual agreements.

Who knows, maybe the husband has been wanting out of the marriage for years, but his integrity and sense of obligation over rides his true desires, and this would be the catalyst that sets him free?

Or the daughter has always felt some intangible disconnect that she can’t put her finger on.

I’ll just exit the discussion by saying that whatever happens will be whats meant to happen, as it is, all perfect, indeed.

However, there is no ‘making decisions for others’ involved in this.

Those decisions were already made by the duplicitous party when she chose to deceive her family and then share said deceptions with the friend.

SHE set things up this way.

chyna's avatar

Or maybe the husband has known all these years and just kept it to himself. It’s still the wife’s responsibility, nobody else’s.

Cruiser's avatar

Let it go…she confided in you as true friend will do. This is not your cross to bear but hers. Embrace the good qualities of their marriage and the love that man has for his daughter.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

No. You never know, it might be something he’s suspected and even come to accept if it ever turned out to be true.

Here’s a little story. I had a sister-in-law who became pregnant while single. The man she claimed was the father didn’t want her but paid child support and demanded his rights to be part of his son’s life. The child wasn’t his and she knew it but he never did until the boy was a little past 5–6yrs old and rumors got around. Eventually my SIL told him the child wasn’t his but he insisted to remain as he had always been, the boy’s first father. Even when my SIL married and had a wonderful husband who was a wonderful father, the “first father” was allowed to keep his place and no one told the child of his biological father until he was an adult. That part is another story though.

nikipedia's avatar

I completely agree with @Coloma. I don’t understand the concept of “not your business.” If I were the husband, I would want to know the truth, no matter how painful. His right to know trumps this “no one likes a tattletale” logic.

Exposing a horrible secret isn’t wrong. Doing the thing that had to be hidden was wrong. By telling @BeccaBoo, the wife made her an accessory to her wrongdoing, and you know what they say about two wrongs.

Cruiser's avatar

@nikipedia I still can’t agree with you here even though your points are very strong ones I do agree with. They are dealing with a 16 year old girl whose life will be turned upside down at a very vulnerable time of her life that I don’t think many kids could handle without tremendous emotional trauma. She knows this man as her dad and telling her otherwise won’t change anything at this point. I’d vote to wait till she was at least 18 yrs. old at a time where that information will be processed better by a more mature young lady. To not ever tell her would be very wrong.

wundayatta's avatar

Once I wanted to talk to talk to my best friend about all the things I had been going through since my diagnosis. Included in that were things that my wife knew about in general, but with none of the specifics. I told him I’d like to talk, and he told me that if there was anything he had to keep from my wife, he didn’t want to know it. I haven’t really talked to him since.

In this case, I presume @BeccaBoo‘s friend was pretty drunk. Otherwise she might have been a bit more circumspect about finding out if @BeccaBoo wanted to know. Or was willing to be a sounding board. But it didn’t happen that way.

I agree with the principle that people should have full knowledge so they can make the best decisions about their lives that they can. I admit to being a hypocrite about that, but I don’t have the guts to put my life at risk of great upheaval. I’ll bet that most people who lie, lie to protect themselves. I’ll bet that most liars have a desire to unburden themselves of the lie. Maybe it’s to get absolution. Maybe it’s just because you need to talk about it.

So you receive an unwanted confidence. What do you do? It is possible that your friend told you in hopes that you would tell her husband. It sounds like you know the husband pretty well. How will he react? What about telling your husband? See what he thinks.

I agree with people who say you should urge her to come clean. If she wants to do that, a couple therapist can help guide people through the process.

If @BeccaBoo tells the husband, I think it is very likely that her friendship with the couple will be DOA. I wonder if that matters. It would to me. Time passes and I think that it could heal some of the rifts. I still don’t think it’s @BeccaBoo‘s job to be the informant.

nikipedia's avatar

@Cruiser, I don’t think she should tell the daughter, just the husband. He is totally capable of deciding to stay and raise the daughter as his own, if he chooses to. But as it stands now, the wife has made that choice for him by deceiving him.

Cruiser's avatar

@nikipedia Hmmm…I would concur there but the risk of the dad blowing the lid off this revelation still exists. I guess it would be time to question the mom here and find out what her motives are over this bombshell. I still think this is “her” cross to bear.

Again my thoughts here are directed in preserving the status quo for a kid whose whole life may very well be negatively impacted at a vulnerable time of her life. I also think the status of the real dad should be considered as is he available to now become part of this disclosure and would he be a positive or negative element of this girls life?

marinelife's avatar

@nikipedia I don’t think a total third party should feel the need to tell these people “the truth.” We are not inside their relationship.

We can’t know what’s going on. I think the daughter’s right to a peaceful high school existence trumps everything here.

Jeruba's avatar

I think the wife was extremely unwise to impart this secret to @BeccaBoo, who is obviously uncomfortable with it. That was a very poor call on the wife’s part and suggests that she doesn’t know @BeccaBoo very well or care about the position she puts her in. But it does not give @BeccaBoo license to destroy the family.

If I were in @BeccaBoo‘s place (and assuming I believed the woman—because I might not), I would feel that she had abused our friendship by burdening me with a family secret without even asking if I were willing to take it on. I believe my friendship with her would begin to cool as of that moment, and I would not want to be a party to any family drama, much less trigger it.

john65pennington's avatar

Looks like I am going to be the underdog in my answer.

Yes, he should be told. A thief and a cheater are tops on my “do list” to avoid. Keeping this secret from her husband, for this many years, is unbelievable.

Just think if you were this womans husband. How would you feel knowing this deception was hanging in your wifes shadows?

I say tell him and let the chips fall where they may.

augustlan's avatar

No, no, no. If she had told you immediately after the fact (when she was pregnant or the child was an infant), my answer would likely be different. That’s not the case, though. This 16 year old deserves a happy childhood far more than she deserves the truth. If you absolutely feel you must tell, at least wait until she’s an adult. It’s waited this long, it can certainly wait a few more years.

augustlan's avatar

@john65pennington and others: Just think if you were this woman’s daughter. The truth will not serve her well at this time in her life.

nikipedia's avatar

@augustlan: If I were her daughter, I would want to know what kind of person my mother was, and I would want to learn as much as I could about my biological father. It’s unlikely, but suppose the biological father is a carrier for a genetic disease that he has passed on to the daughter, and she could make lifestyle choices to manage it.

Also, if I were the daughter, I would not want my father (or myself) to be deceived for what is supposed to be my benefit. The truth is terrible, but it is the reality of the situation.

Coloma's avatar

Okay, fine, spare the daughter, maybe, for now, but the husband should know.
The daughter will be traumatized, but I don;t beleive anymore so sooner than later.
16, 18, 45, it matters not when one finds out that someone they thought they knew isn’t the person they beleived them to be.

This mother is 100% accountable for her actions, and I still think it atrocious to think anything otherwise.
My daughter was 15 when I divorced her dad, she managed just fine with love and lots and lots of straight talk about the reasons why.
And I still do not get the illogical reasoning behind how it is the messengers fault if the family disintegrates.

This is simply shifting the blame, and it is not only untrue, it is insane logic.

I THANKED the friend that spied my ex in a questionable situation years ago.

This not getting ‘involved’ attitude is responsible for a lot of pain in this world, unreported abuse, crime, and turning a deaf ear and a blind eye to truth and justice.

My friend who found at at age 50 that her husband had 2 affairs, one with her own sister, well…she would have preferred to know years ago so she might have made some very different choices.

This woman is making a mockery of her family in sharing this with the friend, passing off a serious, life altering situation as a joke by saying she “had to do something to hang on to him.” Good God….amazing!

Plucky's avatar

This is a difficult situation. I believe the father should know. However, I am not sure if you should be the one to tell him. If anyone, it should be your friend that tells him. Since you are friends with both, and seem to know them well, it makes it that much more difficult. Do you think she is telling the truth about what she said? Have they built a good healthy relationship (other than this secret)? If you two are such good friends, maybe that was her way of confiding in you. Yes, quite the secret (and burden). But she obviously trusted you (unless she was intoxicated and this was random) ..and you can’t unknow this.

For me, it would depend on the people involved. Some people do not want to know. As for the daughter, I think it’s the parents’ responsibility to tell her. In my opinion, she is only 16 ..and should not be forced to deal with it at this time. However, not all 16 year olds are alike. Some can handle such news; others may be devastated by it.

Before anything, I would have a deep and honest conversation with this friend. Find out what she really thinks about it ..why she told you. What she expects from you, as a friend. Explain to her how this has affected you. Tell her how torn you are about it. I think, after you talk one on one with her, the picture should be clearer. Perhaps, she is not completely sure whether or not he is the father. If she has kept something like this for so long ..there’s no telling what else she’s kept from him. Your actions may end up relying on how well you know her.

I find it hard to tell you what should be done. I do not know these people. There are positives and negatives to doing either. I agree with both sides here. I agree that it should be told ..yet, I also agree that it may not be your place to do so. It really depends on their relationship with one another ..and you. The most important step you can take, at this moment, is to have a really good talk with your friend.

If I were the husband, I think I’d want to know matter how great the relationship might be.

JilltheTooth's avatar

No one is supporting what the woman did all those years ago, everyone agrees that the truth should be told. Most of us are saying that @BeccaBoo has no right to be the bearer of the news. We don’t know that the husband doesn’t know, and the Q was “Do I tell?” not “Should these people be kept in the dark forever?” I agree with all those that have more concern for the daughter at this stage than those saying that an ugly truth is more important right now than the child who will be affected by it.

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth: If the husband does know, then what harm is there in telling?

JilltheTooth's avatar

@nikipedia : There’s a difference between him knowing, and him knowing that it’s out there, outside the family.

Dr_Lawrence's avatar

The most you should do would be to urge the guilty party to confide the truth to her husband at a time of her choosing. No one has the right to use what they know to throw a grenade that will destroy the innocent parties along with one guilty one.

@Coloma , I often admire your answers. In this case, the pain from your own personal experiences may be distorting your views what what must be done in someone else’s life and situation. None of us here has access to all the facts and none of us has to live with the consequences of what action may be taken.

You have every right to express how you feel about such a situation.
All of us must be cautious what we advise others to do, especially when they are not a part of the family actually involved.

This is not just “mind you own business!”
It is about caring enough about a family to prevent doing more harm than the deception has already done.

marinelife's avatar

@Dr_Lawrence makes a good point. If @BeccaBoo tells, she can then just walk away. The innocent husband and daughter and the wife (who I don’t feel terribly sorry for) will have to live with and struggle with the consequences forever.

Mostly I feel that a third party should not intervene, because a third party looking on from the outside cannot see the reality of the relationships involved and cannot predict what throwing this truth into the mix will do to the family structure.

What if the 16-year-old was an honor student who was thrown by the news that her whole life she has been living a lie into a downward spiral in which her grades dropped, she hot involved with drugs, maybe dropped out of high school or got pregnant.

Whose fault would that be? I think to some extent it would be @BeccaBoo‘s fault. She is the one who changed the status quo without anyone’s permission.

Coloma's avatar


Likewise, I always respect your answers as well. :-)

I am far beyond my pain, and true, my experiences have solidified my views on truth telling, although I am not coming from a present moment place of muddied emotion.

I simply believe that everyone has a right to choose their own fate, so to speak.

I am simply strongly advocating that this friend tighten the screws on the guilty party to confess, with the understanding that if she does not, that she cannot promise she will be able to keep this secret forever.

It is impossible to say what the husbands reaction might be, but, I have yet to meet anyone that would prefer to live in the dark about something so serious as this.


Again, strongly disagree.

The ‘fault’ begins and ends with the wayward mother.

I find it more than a little humorous to ‘fault’ the truth teller rather than the truth truant.

Not buyin’ it!

nikipedia's avatar

I find it so puzzling that, almost universally, people answering this thread (1) would prefer to be told, if they were in the husband’s shoes, but (2) don’t think telling him is the right thing to do. I just don’t understand how to reconcile these two things.

Coloma's avatar



Cake and eat it too maybe? lol

dabbler's avatar

Preposterous for the wife to have said anything about it.
There is no reason to think any good would come of telling the husband, and plenty of reason to think unnecessary pain will be caused to innocent people.

The teller would certainly not be harmless. Certainly I agree with @Coloma that the teller would be blameless of the harm of the wife’s deceit to everyone involved, but no way is the teller blameless of further harm caused by the telling.

What besides feelings of revenge / retribution would compel someone to throw a bomb into a working family?

JilltheTooth's avatar

We don’t think @BeccaBoo telling him is the right thing to do.

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth, if you were in the position of the husband, would you care who you heard it from?

JilltheTooth's avatar

Yes, I would. We don’t know that the husband doesn’t know of the infidelity, maybe they worked that through all those years ago, even if he doesn’t know that he’s not the father. If I was him, I’d really rather hear it from my wife, which is why so many are advocating that @BeccaBoo talk to the wife about revealing the truth.

nikipedia's avatar

@JilltheTooth, I don’t think anyone disputes that the wife telling would be preferable. But, here it seems to be that the options for the husband are either:

(a) hear it from @BeccaBoo or
(b) not hear it from @BeccaBoo.

I think that, almost universally, everyone who has answered here, forced to pick only between (a) and (b), would pick (a), although if anyone feels differently please do comment.

Like I indicated above, if the husband does know of the infidelity, then telling him is a minor issue compared to telling him if he does not know. And, if he does know but doesn’t want it outside of the family, then this is really just another version of the same question: in this version, the wife has violated his trust by sharing a family secret, and @BeccaBoo would be informing him of that. Once again, my answer would be the same—the wrongdoing is entirely on the part of the wife, and @BeccaBoo informing him is doing him a favor.

All this is, I suspect, a moot point. The wife told @BeccaBoo about the infidelity. Wouldn’t she have mentioned, at some point in the conversation, ”...but Husband knows and loves her anyway?” It just slipped her mind to mention that critical point?

Jeruba's avatar

Why does everyone assume that a liar, a cheat, and a deceiver is telling the truth?

Either way, @BeccaBoo has lost this person’s friendship, unless she just quietly goes along.

I think the best thing she can do is remove herself from the situation and mind her own business. It isn’t up to her to be an agent of justice in someone else’s life.

SpatzieLover's avatar

My mother was lied to for a loooong time, so I come from a position of knowing how I’d want a situation like this to go…

I’d want to know. I don’t care who chose to tell me. If my life were not as I thought, I’d want to know the truth. That way I could choose how to move forward.

mazingerz88's avatar

@BeccaBoo Encourage your friend to tell the husband herself. Never do it yourself. You have nothing to gain. If it ends up well, you will be just an instrument of your friend’s cowardice because again, if it ends up well then what difference would it make if you were the one who told? She should do it. It’s her burden not yours.

And if it ends up bad, you will have been an instrument who had initiated that sad event. Three words, NOT YOUR FAMILY.

I’m surprised that some posts here suggested telling it head-on like it’s a moral crusade for truth and justice and liberty for all. And it does not matter if one prefers being told if they are in such situation or even if they went through exactly the same situation. They are NOT these people. Please keep that in mind.

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

Here’s the thing..even if you do tell, who’s to say he will believe you…and who’s to say that he will have any more brains that his wife (who should not have put that burden on you, I’d be very pissed at my friend for putting me into this situation and would let her know) and deal with the situation appropriately…I care more about the 16 year old kid in this situation and I don’t know if you telling the father will result with MORE good for that child even though, of course, she deserves to know…this family is a mess, they’re not actually happy together and there is a lot of trauma to come but it seems to me that since you’re just a friend and not an involved party that you will not alleviate any of that trauma…however, now that you know…if you feel strongly about telling, you should give the friend an ultimatum…either she tells the husband and child or you will when the child is 18 years old.

stardust's avatar

No. It’s not your decision unfortunately. This will unravel in its own time so I’d stand back if I were you.

BarnacleBill's avatar

@BeccaBoo, I have to ask you this: Under what circumstances is it right to be responsible for destroying the life of a sixteen year old girl?

Regardless of why you think the man has “a right to know” what it ultimately comes down to is he is raising his “daughter” as his daughter. He loves her, she loves him. Why should you, a person who only has hearsay information, have the right to destroy that relationship? The only person who has the right to do so is the mother.

If you feel like you can’t keep your mouth shut, stop seeing these people. If you really hate the girl that much, then by all, means, prove that you are not to be trusted with confidences and ruin her life.

nikipedia's avatar

@BarnacleBill: If the dad is going to walk out on the girl just because it turns out she has someone else’s DNA, he doesn’t sound like much of a father to me.

Coloma's avatar

Two points.

One, as @Simone_De_Beauvoir said. That family already has plenty of dysfunction going on. It is IMPOSSIBLE to be in a healthy relationship with a secret like that. Period. I don’t care how well someone thinks they are hiding something, deep down, there is an inchoate undercurrent of dark vibes.

Secondly, WHY does everyone think that truth telling is all about destruction?

It is not.

The destruction is in the darkness not in the light.

This ‘truth’ will only unravel the dysfunction that is already present, it won’t create any, and that’s a FACT!

And, who’s to say that this situation is not meant to be the uncovering of the skeleton in the closet?

If the truth always comes out, and it does, 99.9% of the time, maybe @BeccaBoo is the ONE to reveal it! Or, I should say, force the friend to disclose her own dirty laundry to the family.

Don’t get stuck in one narrow, self protecting, POV.

BeccaBoo's avatar

Oh lordy there are a lot of assumptions going on here guys! Right let me give you an up date.
I haven’t said a word although I saw the daughter today with my son and she is an intelligent and sweet little thing, it makes me feel sick to my stomache that her mother just threw this on me last night. She was sober and very tearful whilst she told me. I did not say a lot to her in return, only asking why was she telling me and why did she do it? I had a phone conversation with her tonight and spoke to her at great length, so lets be clear on something, she said she loves and needs her husband and her family, although she regrets telling me now she felt I would understand! Hmmp!!! I am a little confused to say the least, as many of you have pointed out, I just don’t feel its my place to say a word about this not even to my SO. I have told her she needs to sit down with her husband and talk to him, come clean, he will listen, he may not like the whole situation, but he loves his family and I just don’t see him walking away yet. I have to give her a chance to do the right thing!

Coloma's avatar


Well done. It is HER burden, and she will feel much better about HERSELF if she confesses and is willing to take her lumps, come what may!

Simone_De_Beauvoir's avatar

@BeccaBoo Yeah, she’s a disturbed little person. And a needy bitch at that, to have ‘kept her husband’ by having a kid – people are so delusional, sometimes.

kitkat25's avatar

It sounds like the woman is ready for her husband to know that the daughter is not his but doesn’t want to tell him herself. I don’t think you should be the one to tell him or the daughter. News like that is going to destroy the family and you really don’t need to be in the middle of it. It is the wife’s place to tell her husband. She is the one that made the mess and she needs to be the one to clean it up.

Pied_Pfeffer's avatar

@BeccaBoo Thank you for the additional details and the update. IMO, you are doing the right thing for keeping mum right now and only discussing it with the mother. She will need to come clean with her husband at some point, and since she confided in you, you can help guide her in that direction, no matter how long it takes.

One day, the secret is bound to come out. It is much better to hear it from the spouse, and for the child, by both parents, than to hear it from an outsider or other source. A female cousin bore a child between her two husbands, and the latter adopted him. The boy found out the truth about who is biological father was when he was around 17. It wasn’t from his mother or adoptive father. It was a pretty traumatic experience for him.

BeccaBoo's avatar

Kids at 16 are not emotionally stable anyway. Girls may hide it better than boys but to have something like that revealed to me at that age would have been devastating no matter where it came from. Obviously I would far rather it came from her mother, than anyone else. But let me be clear, not only am I friends with the mother, but her husband has been friends with my older brother since they were at primary school. I will tell him if she doesn’t. He needs to know the truth and so does his daughter, they have the RIGHT to know the truth!

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

Great Caesar’s ghost, things like this has the potential of washing up on shore and stinking up the whole beach like a giant whale carcass. There are things that can’t be glossed over or altered and there are some things that you can mitigate if you want to ignore the absolutes.

The man is not the girl’s biological father; that is an absolute hard fact. Which means she cannot really count on him for a medical donation; not really, his likelihood as a match just went way down.

When it comes to genetic diseases that she might be a carrier too, she might not have info that is real or have false info that don’t even have anything to do with her. Also fact.

The wife has built this family on a foundation of a lie; that is a fact. De factoly the youngest child is a product of that lie. Would the father have stayed if he thought the girl was not his?

If things crumbled after the truth came out she has only herself to blame. Like a pilot with fake papers and uniform pretending to be a pilot when he/she get caught and loses their freedom and any chance of ever being a real pilot they have no one but themselves to blame.

I would probe the woman to see what she planned to do about it, if she was going to tell the girl before the man dies. If I believed, she was planning to perpetrate this lie in perpetuity I would wait about 8 to 10 weeks then anonymously send the girl a short message untraceable back to me addressed to her. I would tell her I was an old friend of her dad’s side of the family, had learned something I wondered if she knew, and tell her that she might want to investigate if she was really his daughter or that of another man. Then the girl would have the choice to let it stay as it was or go find the truth.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

Good for her to take notice that you don’t exactly want to be in the know of this stuff. Better if she now really goes through with talking to her husband.

As I wrote in my first response, he may have suspected all along just enough and this day coming might be a relief to him too, mainly to be able to be on the level with his wife so she is not eaten up with conflict. Hopefully they can find more reason and good in why they are together.

mazingerz88's avatar

@BeccaBoo With all due respect, I can’t fathom how you could start your latest post with kids at 16 are emotionally unstable anyway and that the revelation of a secret would have been devastating. Yet you ended with she has the right to know the truth. So truth trumps happiness for a teenager? So forget about her possible devastation? I understand no one here really knows who these people are but you, and this is the reason why suggestions are mainly split in two extreme scenarios.

I hope I’m wrong with my extreme concern that this family will disintegrate if truth came out and those who bet it should come out hoping for the best are right. Because if I’m right and you are wrong then that will be tragic. But like I said, you know these people best so it’s really your call anyway.

chyna's avatar

But let me be clear, not only am I friends with the mother, but her husband has been friends with my older brother since they were at primary school. I will tell him if she doesn’t. He needs to know the truth and so does his daughter, they have the RIGHT to know the truth! @beccaboo It sounds to me like you already know the action you are going to take, so why the question?

Ladymia69's avatar

Whoosh, nothing like some good ole Fluther drama on a Saturday night! Shouldn’t we all be out dancing, or at the opera or something? Or creating our own dramas? :/ Anywaaaay…

First of all, @BeccaBoo , I think before you take any steps, you need to thouroughly analyze a couple of things.

1) Yes, you have known the couple for a long time, but is your friendship with the wife a mutually fulfilling, mutually respectable one? Is this woman the type who likes a good drama? or who likes to keep people enthralled about things that are happening in her life? I would echo @Jeruba ‘s concern that you should not believe what she is saying just because she is saying it…you have only a small window into this couple’s weird psychodrama, so you aren’t sure whether she may be trying to get him back by embarassing him, etcetera.

2)Think hard about what her motive might be for telling you. I, for one, couldn’t dream of casually bringing up such a thing to any of my firends…it would go no further than me or my spouse knowing. If she is trying to make you a pawn in this psychodrama (maybe by thinking you will run to tell him, and then she can have the satisfaction of blaming the mess on you for telling, plus possibly destroying him emotionally), you need to seriously question her respect for you as a person, and question her respect for anyone close to her. And that means she ain’t worth getting yourself all muddled up in this situation.

3)Think hard about why you are even considering the possibility of telling the husband. It’s not your problem. That child isn’t your child. You may tell yourself on the surface of things that you want to tell because you simply care about the family, but, seeing as it is such an unsavory quandary to be a third party to such devastating information, there must be some deeper reason why you think you should, pardon the expression, butt in to it.

This could be something that could cause the husband to lose it (or he may seem fine), disrupt the kid’s life (even though humans are incredibly resilient), or just be some sort of game the wife is playing that could cause you to look foolish in the end. Whichever way you look at it, why in the hell would you want to involve yourself in such a mess?

Your shock will wear off in a few days, and you will have your own dramas to deal with. I suggest STRONGLY that you simply LEAVE IT BE.

Edit: looks like you took a good step by simply encouraging her to talk to him herself. :)

wundayatta's avatar

If someone else was the father of my kids, I would not want to know. It would destroy my relationship with my children. Every time I saw them, I would feel like I was looking at a lie. I would be so angry, and it would feel like my life was destroyed also. I’d look at you, and I’d probably be more angry with you than I would be with my wife, and I’d make sure everyone in our community knew what kind of person you are: a meddler who lacks a conscience.

People who are so certain that their moral judgments are the correct ones, and that they should run their agenda on everyone else because you think I should know seem to me to be highly arrogant and unfeeling. You justify it by thinking I should know, but I’m sorry. That isn’t your call to make.

Other people might say they want to know, and who knows, maybe 95% of all people want to know. But you don’t know if this guy is in the 5% or not.

There are a lot of things I would prefer not to know. Sometimes I make myself hear them because I need to learn to deal with them. But other times, I have my own psychological health to think of, and the kind of information you have would be devastating to me. Devastating. It would throw me into a depression, for sure. It would kill my sense of self-worth. There would be a pretty big chance I’d try to kill myself. But then, I’m mentally ill, so big whoop. He’s not mentally ill. Right? You sure? I can tell you this: nobody in my family knows about my illness.

There’s too much at stake here for anyone to assign themselves the role of judge, jury, and executioner. It is not the end of the world if people do not find these things out. People make choices without full information all the time. We may have a right to know where the government is concerned, but there is no corollary for people’s private lives.

People who meddle are considered to be busybodies. Everyone gets real quiet when a known busybody hangs around. This may not just destroy your relationship with your friend and her husband, and maybe even your brother. The damage in your life could go a lot further. You have no way of knowing in advance. But go ahead. Take that risk. I’d love to see how it comes out. It would be a great experiment to see how good we all are at predicting the consequences of other people’s actions.

john65pennington's avatar

Second answer:

Our family made the fatal mistake of not telling my wife’s brother that he was adopted, until he was 21. He was disgusted with the family for not telling him at an earlier age. He has left our family and his location is unknown.

I think this has had a psychogical effect on him, knowing that his family had kept this secret for 21 years.

This may happen in this marriage, a soon departure.

I cannot tell you my personal feelings, if this had been me. I would be banned from Fluther.

Hypocrisy_Central's avatar

@john65pennington That whale carcuss really stunk by the time it washed ashore, didn’t it?

SpatzieLover's avatar

@john65pennington Same exact story happened to two cousins of mine. One found out when she was signing papers to enter a new college (far from home)...30 some years later it still holds a devastating effect on their entire family.

Jeruba's avatar

One other thing I am wondering is how many other people she may have told this same tale to. If it really was a “slip,” as implied, why with you, just then, and no one else in 16 years? If she has told others, chances are someone else has “slipped” too.

This story just doesn’t feel right.

perspicacious's avatar

It’s none of your business; leave it alone.

BeccaBoo's avatar

Firstly I have had a few days to think about this and all I keep coming up with is confusion.

1. Why did she tell me? Not some close relative?

All I can think of is maybe she is ready to confess all and deal with it, but she was so emotional telling me and then blatant and matter of fact when I questioned her about why?
I am so yo-yoing about how to deal with this, I do agree with the majority of not telling as its none of my business, but in part she made it my business when she told me. I am not a preist, or a shrink. I am a mother, try to be honest and practice that in my life. I know wrong from right and this is so wrong!!
Like @Jeruba has said, this has destroyed my friendship and trust to this woman. My only contact has been to listen to her and tell her she needs to talk to her husband.

If I walk away and say nothing, he is gonna ask questions. Our kids grew up together, they are gonna want to know whats going on.
I think about telling him and then think, No its not my place, and he’d never believe it anyway, then I think I should tell my son, he could let slip to her? But then thats not fair on the kids. I can’t just forget it, its not in my nature to ignore something thats so wrong. I really do not know how to handle this and feel like I am way in over my head.

lucillelucillelucille's avatar

No.It is not your place to tell.

marinelife's avatar

@BeccaBoo Look, you need to tell someone (other than Fluther). Are you a church goer? I would seek counseling from a minister or equivalent.

I would really hold off on telling your son and letting it slip to the teenage girl. This will just tear the underpinnings out from under her life and at such a critical age. Why not wait two years and see what happens.

It should be told by both her parents and with love so she gets that message reinforced. Not by a third party as a secret.

It may take awhile, but I would keep working on the woman to tell her family herself.

janbb's avatar

Why not ask her why she told you? Ask her directly if she wants you to push her to reveal it? Tell her she has put you in a terrible position and you don’t know if you can be close again.

Seaofclouds's avatar

@BeccaBoo If the husband does question why you aren’t around as much, be honest with him. You don’t necessarily have to tell him the secret if you don’t want to, but tell him that his wife told you something that you are not comfortable with and that you need some time to figure things out. Then, if he wants to know more, he can ask his wife himself and maybe she’ll come clean about it then.

I wouldn’t do anything that leads to telling the daughter at this point. He parents need to decide when to tell her. She should know eventually, but not necessarily right now. When they tell her should really depend on her and what’s going on in her life. Hopefully, her mother will tell her one day and not try to keep it secret forever.

Neizvestnaya's avatar

I’m with @Jeruba‘s last post. Something’s not right with this careless story. Unless you’re prepared to fallout with all of that family then leave it alone.

Coloma's avatar

Well, to cast one last lash upon this dead horse….
Regardless of how true or not true this is, the fact is, and most all literature on overcoming infidelities and deception in relationship backs it up, one of the most hard to overcome issues in matters such as these is the duped persons anger and humiliation at being the last to know.

Adding insult to injury.

Nearly everyone that has ever had this sort of experience would testify to how upsetting it was to find out how others knew, and said nothing.

It is always best to have the confession come from the guilty party in a voluntary manner, but, most would still choose to know, and, everyone I have ever known has said they wished someone would have told them.

BeccaBoo's avatar

Thank you all for your helpful advice. I feel its very difficult to talk to anyone about this, most of our friends know each other, and my SO is friends with the husband now. I know he would definatly say something as thats the guy he is.
This situation is extremly fragile, and after a lot of thought and one last ditched attempt at talking to this woman, she has said she needs to fix her family and needs to do it her way! This is respect and will encourage. I asked her why she told me and the answer I got from her was only that she thought I would understand. I have known her for a long time and she has been there for me through a lot in my life, so I guess this is my time to repay that part of our friendship. Again thank you ALL for your words of wisdom and some kindness.

Jeruba's avatar

Ultimately here I have to call attention to the reversibility principle: if you say nothing, the option still exists for another time; if you tell, you can’t untell it. And you have to live with that.

I commend you for your careful, heartfelt thought about this matter. You seem to be saying that you’ve decided to leave it alone and let the responsibility rest with the person it belongs to. I believe you’re doing the right thing.

Lightlyseared's avatar

No you don’t.

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