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by Abigail Van Buren

Earthshaking Revelation Creates Sudden New Reality for Family

DEAR ABBY: I was happily married with three daughters until I found out I had fathered a son two years before I married my wife. The news was a shock to us all. That information was kept from me for 13 years, and my wife is having a hard time dealing with the situation. We were dating at the time it happened.

I have been trying to do the right thing and involve my son in my life. My wife was all for it, but every now and then something triggers her emotions and she goes off. She throws the word "divorce" at me when she's upset. I don't want to have to go through this every couple of months. I love my wife and my family dearly and want to reiterate this did not happen during our marriage. My son is 13, and this is not his fault. The mother said she didn't tell me at the time because she was afraid, since I was involved with someone else. Later on, when he started asking questions, she told him she had no idea how to get in touch with me.

No one knows what is going on right now except my wife. I haven't even told my daughters or the rest of my family (siblings, mother, etc.) yet. Any advice would be a blessing. We are a Christian family. -- COPING IN THE EAST

DEAR COPING: Instead of keeping this a deep, dark, shameful secret, you and your wife should now sit down with your family (parents, siblings, etc.) and tell them what you have learned. When you do, make clear that you intend to treat the boy as a full-fledged family member and expect them to follow suit. Your daughters should be told beforehand about the existence of their half-brother. Your wife should try to make every effort to welcome the boy into the fold during visitation. If she is having trouble handling her emotions, a licensed marriage and family therapist rather than a divorce lawyer may be able to help her.

Read more in: Family & Parenting | Marriage & Divorce