Ask Amy: Very long marriage now haunted by DNA

Dear Amy: My wife and I have been married for 57 years. We love each other very much and demonstrate this every day.

We have a daughter and a son in their 50s. Both are very successful. Our son has three adult children, and our daughter is single without children.

I am not my daughter’s biological father.

My wife and I have known each other since childhood and dated after high school. My job took me to another state for about a year. I returned home to a pregnant girlfriend.

I loved her so much that I never asked one question about the affair, and I can honestly say that I never cared or thought about it.

We have had a fantastic marriage. We love our daughter dearly and she and I have a great relationship!

These days there is strong encouragement to do DNA and family research testing by you and others in the media.

Every time I think about it, I get sick to my stomach. I am so afraid that if my daughter found out that I am not her biological dad, it would destroy her. I have actually cried about it.

Once I start thinking about this, I can’t fall asleep at night. All the questions that I never asked keep coming up. Who was the guy, did I know him, was it more than one time, what did he look like, etc.?

I sincerely don’t know what to do. Do I talk to my wife? Do I just keep this to myself like I have for 56 years?

Do I just live out the 10 or 15 years that I have left and hope that I don’t have to face this?

— Old Worrier!

Dear Worrier: To clarify, I do not advocate that everyone should have their DNA tested.

But I know that for some people this testing is necessary; for others it is a gift providing clarity regarding parentage and answers to health concerns.

Other people just want to do it.

I do believe that people have the right to know the truth about their DNA, if they seek it. I see this as a basic human right to vital information about their own bodies.

Your dilemma illustrates how painful the prospect of DNA disclosure can be.

I hope you will choose to talk to your wife right away, to see if you can mutually arrive at a decision regarding your daughter. Your loving relationship should be expansive enough to handle having these conversations.

Your daughter may independently choose to have her DNA tested, and if so — at the very least you and your wife would be prepared to handle this in a way that reflects your positive family values. If you are wondering what is best for her, I sincerely believe that learning this from her parents (versus from a testing company) would be best.

If you continue to struggle with this on your own, a counselor could help to guide this important conversation.

Dear Amy: Before I met my wife, I was with numerous other women.

I knew that I wasn’t a sex addict because sex wasn’t that important. What was important was the illusion, language, and moves of romance.

Then I met my wife and she became the object of my addiction.

Now I am retired and have a lot of time on my hands, while my wife has a busy social schedule.

I only like pretty women.

I should mention this is not an online behavior, but person-to-person contact.

Is it OK to get back into the chase if it doesn’t become sexual?

— Romance Addicted Man

Dear Romance Addict: You claim to be an addict (I believe you).

I define addiction as behavior that interferes with your daily life and relationships.

Let’s reframe this by supposing that your addiction is to gambling, cigarettes, or single malt scotch.

You’ve been in recovery for many years, but are now asking me if it’s OK for you to reclaim your addiction.

Dude, no. No, it’s not.

I am not the person to ask, by the way. Your wife is. Perhaps you could reignite the romance flame with her.

Dear Amy: A letter written by “JN, MD” really resonated with me. Like this man, I too am older, have underlying health problems, and need to wear a mask when I’m in an indoor public space.

I appreciate your support for those of us who continue to wear masks.

— Grateful

Dear Grateful: No one should question anyone for their choice to wear a mask.

(You can email Amy Dickinson at [email protected] or send a letter to Ask Amy, P.O. Box 194, Freeville, NY 13068. You can also follow her on Twitter @askingamy or Facebook.)

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