Dear Virginia, I've been happily married for six years with a son of three. The problem is, I remember my wife becoming friendly with another man around about the time my son was conceived, and I'm becoming convinced it's his child. I can even persuade myself that the boy looks like him. Can I ask my wife for a DNA test? I fear it might upset her too much. But how can I get these thoughts out of my mind? Yours sincerely, Derrick

Virginia writes:

I wonder what triggered this. When did the doubt first arise? When your son was born, did you immediately suspect that he wasn't yours - or did you welcome him with shouts of "Hello son! I'm your dad!" It might be worth examining what exactly made you wobble when it came to your relationship with him.

One problem of having a child who is the same sex as you is that you can expect them to be clones of yourself. When it turns out that they have different interests, eyes and gestures, it can be easy to suspect, in the long hours of the night, that you've given birth to an alien. (Whereas if your child is the opposite sex, you expect them to be aliens from the start.)

Perhaps he's suddenly become a bit "mummyish" - which boys can do at this age. It doesn't mean that he doesn't love you. Your time will come - and it'll be your wife who feels rejected as he insists on doing everything "like daddy."

Or are you becoming suspicious because of something really tangible - for instance, his hair is bright red, just like your wife's friend's? After all, just because you're paranoid, as they say, doesn't mean they're not out to get you. Who knows - your suspicions could be correct.

It's worth imagining the outcome of any action you take. Let's say that you did a DNA test and found that he was yours, no question. Would that really allay your fears? Or would you go on worrying, imagining that the laboratory had got the wrong sample or made an error in the testing? Are you the victim of an obsessive disorder of which this fear is just a symptom, rather than a cause?

Or what if it was shown that your son wasn't biologically yours? How would that make you feel, and what would you do? Would you pack your suitcase, leave your wife and never see this little boy again - or would you stay at home, trying to make the best of things? Is it this little boy's identity that's worrying you, or is it jealousy of your wife perhaps having an affair with another man? In other words: is this a "you and your son" problem or a "you and your wife" problem? It's worth getting everything totally clear in your head about where you're coming from before you start taking any drastic steps. It might help to talk with a counsellor, simply to clarify your real fears and motives.

If you do decide to take a DNA test, you needn't necessarily let your wife know. It would be easy enough to get a sample of your son's DNA and your own - and that should be enough to give you a result. Your wife need never know - and, indeed, I wouldn't tell her, because she might be devastated by your lack of trust. But long before you send off the samples, you should have prepared yourself for your reaction to every outcome. And once you've done that, ask yourself: if it turns out that the boy is not yours and your decision is to continue to behave as though he is, what is the point of getting the test done in the first place?

Readers say:

Happily married? I think not

You describe yourself as a "happily married" man. Surely, if you are having thoughts that your son is not your own because your wife was friendly with another man, then you cannot be truly happy. Some men become unsettled and feel rejected when their partners become pregnant. You could be projecting your insecurities on to this obsession with your son's parentage.

You and your wife need to talk - not to accuse her, of course, but perhaps to let her know how you feel. Hopefully this will allay any insecurities you might have.

Joanne Bell


Co Down

Why rock the boat?

Just take a look at this child who loves you and trusts you and calls you Daddy. Could you bear to shatter his world by accusing your wife of being unfaithful three years ago? You have been happily married for six years, so why rock the boat now? You wife would be devastated and the trust between you would be gone. Enjoy your life as a family and put these thoughts out of your head.

Mrs Linda Hine



Anyone can be a father; you're a dad

Women are allowed to be friends with men, and there are many platonic relationships that can last for years, or just a couple of months. There may have been an attraction, but this does not mean that your wife had an affair.

Unless you have strong evidence - probabilities rather than possibilities - and you plan to divorce your wife, leave well alone. If your wife did not have an affair, the accusation might destroy your marriage anyway. If it does not, there will be a lifetime of resentment. Your happy marriage will soon disintegrate.

If you had the idea that your child was conceived by another man, you are bound to see similarities. Be positive, and start looking for your own features. You will find them soon enough.

Anyone can be a father; it takes someone special to be a dad. Even if you are not his biological father, you are still this lad's daddy. If you pursue a DNA test, you might lose everything, whatever the result.

Paul Emmerson


North Yorkshire

Count your blessings

If you had been married for three years with regular intercourse but no children, perhaps your wife thought that she could avoid embarrassment and difficult medical procedures by trying to conceive by another partner without telling you.

You needn't ask your wife for a test - you could use saliva or hair from your son and not say anything about the results, even if they showed you were not the father. However, you have a lovely family, so count your blessings and enjoy life instead of bothering about what may or may not have gone on in the past.

Mary Symonds


Stop doubting your wife

I am shocked that in this day and age people still find it hard to believe that people of the opposite sex can just be friends.

If you have been happily married for six years why are you now doubting the commitment of your wife. As for getting the thoughts out of your head - I suggest you book yourself in for a frontal lobotomy. Your wife may do it for you if you ask her for a DNA test.

Karen Sylvester


Next Week's Dilemma

Dear Virginia,

My son is four and due, next week, to go to "big school". He is absolutely terrified and cries a lot although I try to play it down, I feel very nervous on his behalf. Only two of his friends from nursery are going. He stays up all night begging me not to make him go. My heart is breaking for him. What can I do?

Yours sincerely, Valerie