Today's Boomer Magazine Jan./Feb./March 2022 Vol.10 No.1

Page 26

Old Enough for Sex : Dear Therapist: My Husband Secretly Donated Sperm. Now There’s a Kid. I feel betrayed and angry that he kept this from me for so many years.

Dear Therapist,

our own sense of reality. There are many forms of betrayal, including infidelity, secrets, and lies, but regardless of what form it takes, when trust in a relationship is broken, gone too is the feeling of safety that was built upon that trust.

Without telling me, my husband donated sperm back in the ’90s, when we were newly married. We were both students, and we had one child and another on the way. We had talked about ways we could earn money, and we both agreed sperm and egg donation were not a good option. He told me that he understood my concerns and agreed not to do this.

As a result, a person who has been betrayed might experience depression, anxiety, anger, hypervigilance, shame, intrusive thoughts, self-doubt, insomnia, numbness, or panic attacks. But many betrayed people themselves also feel confused, and have difficulty identifying, expressing, and managing all of these emotions.

Years passed, and in 2017 he received a notification from a DNA website saying that he had a new match: a biological child conceived from one of his donations. He began to communicate with this child—sharing pictures, stories, and a lot of personal information—but never told me about her. He did, however, inform our adult children, as this person would show up as a sibling match if they did genetic testing. I found out by accident just a few months ago when I overheard my daughter asking him if he had told me yet.

What makes processing feelings after a betrayal so challenging is that you’re left wondering not only whether you can trust your partner, but whether you can trust your own perceptions.

By Lori Gottlieb, The Atlantic

I remember a patient whose husband had been leading a double life. He had been having an affair for years; he’d gotten his lover pregnant, and she was about to have his baby. When his wife discovered all of this, she no longer knew what to make of her life with him. Were her memories real? For example, that romantic vacation—was I feel very betrayed and angry that he kept this secret from her version of the trip accurate or was it some fiction, me for so many years and asked our children to harbor given that he had been having his affair at that time? She this secret too. It also bothers me that he has engaged in a felt robbed of both her marriage and her memories. secret relationship with the daughter conceived from his Your husband, too, has been leading a double life for the donation. It feels like the family we had together, the only past 20 years—and quite actively for the past five. You say family I thought we each had, isn’t enough. It has also that you want to forgive him and trust him again, caused some hurt for me with my children. I want to but forgiveness and trust are two different things. forgive him and learn to trust him again, but there are just Forgiveness comes from a shift inside of you, and trust so many confusing feelings. comes from a shift from him. You may never forgive him, Anonymous but you don’t need to forgive him in order to move Santa Fe, N.M. forward together. Instead, you might come to a place of understanding and trust, depending on how he handles Dear Anonymous, things now. I can see why you’re feeling confused. Betrayal, especially by someone close to us such as a parent or partner, causes A person who wants to establish trust going forward will acknowledge the full extent of his actions, understand why us to question not just the person who betrayed us, but

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