Dear Alison and Tony: I am a 35 year old marketing manager with two children ages 5 and 8. I’ve been married for 10 years to a man who doesn’t seem to care about me or my kids and when it comes to me, there’s just no passion anymore. My husband, “Frank” is always angry, irritated, or preoccupied with something other than our family. We have sex so infrequently, I’ve just about given up trying to interest him. And when we do have sex, it is all about his pleasure, and it’s boring. Although I hadn’t planned it, I developed a crush on a co-worker. At first it was just friendly drinks and an occasional dinner, but one night we both had too much to drink and we ended up having unplanned, unprotected, sex. I was really eager to pursue a relationship, but the next day he told me that he didn’t want to be involved that way with someone who was already married (he is single). Honestly, I was devastated. To make things worse, I discovered two weeks ago that I am pregnant! The father could be my husband (we had sex one time around the same time as my one night stand), but the father could also be my co-worker. My husband doesn’t know about my feelings for the co-worker and certainly doesn’t know I slept with him. But I’m obsessed with the idea that my co-worker could be the father. He doesn’t know about the pregnancy, but I think he deserves to know. And I also think that there is a possibility that he would want a relationship with me and the baby and my other kids, if he knew about the situation. Frankly, I need passion in my life, and my husband isn’t going to provide it, so I’d be ready to bail if the co-worker would want to be with me. What should I do?
Signed, Obsessed Mom
Alison’s Take: I want to be sympathetic, but honestly, having unprotected drunk sex especially when you’re a married mother of two? That’s just moronic! Consider the health issues, if nothing else. And Obsessed Mom, you are still responsible for what you do, drunk or not. You played with fire and you may be seriously burned.
No one wants to be frustrated in a marriage gone stale, and I can sympathize with that. But the way you handled things leaves you with a complicated situation. If you weren’t pregnant, I’d still suggest that you try and make your marriage work, especially because you have two children whose needs you need to consider. Even if you and your husband can’t re-kindle the flame of romance, you can still have a social life, and interests, in common. Those things, plus your children, bind you together in ways no other relationship can do.
Consider too, that your co-worker, though single, made it clear he wasn’t interested in anything serious with you. You didn’t mention that he has ever given you encouragement to leave your husband and be with him, or that he was seeking a serious relationship no matter what your status. You can assume that he will bolt , not bond to you, if you tell him that you might be pregnant with his baby. It is delusional of you to think that if you tell him you are carrying a child that could be his (but there is no positive proof), that he will suddenly find you irresistible, or even do the right thing. Is this worth the risk? You may both end up losing your jobs. You may also lose your co-worker’s affection (such as it is) as well as your husband and children.
But on top of all this, you now have another (and innocent) person-to-be to consider. So here is some tough talk from me:
If you do not go through with this pregnancy and really can’t stand the thought of being in your marriage any longer, without an additional a baby on the way at least you’ won’t be single mom of three. Perhaps the best thing is to do what women have done for generations — appeal to your husband’s ego and let him believe the child is his. I don’t advocate lying in general, but you have limited options. While you may not be happy about this, he may be delighted. It may not be what you want, but it keeps you and your co-worker “safe” and your family, intact. I would also seriously suggest couples counseling. Your husband might be amenable to this after you tell him the “good news.”
As to your co-worker, it is time to stop obsessing and start facing the truth. This man is, for many reasons, off-limits in the love department, from now on. If you go out with him in the future (and I’m guessing you will, even if I suggest you cool the friendship down), DO NOT DRINK! It is dangerous for pregnant women (surely you know this as you have already had two children) and you also already know that alcohol loosens inhibitions and also your tongue. This baby is not something he should ever be made aware of. Trying to suck him into your situation isn’t going to add passion, it’s going to add despair, trouble and misery. Suck it up and realize you made a mistake. Correct it by accepting the consequences.
Tony Take: Alison has said everything. This woman is beyond help. I have no words.