Rappler’s Life and Style section runs an advice column by couple Jeremy Baer and clinical psychologist Dr. Margarita Holmes.
Jeremy has a master’s degree in law from Oxford University. A banker of 37 years who worked in three continents, he has been training with Dr. Holmes for the last 10 years as co-lecturer and, occasionally, as co-therapist, especially with clients whose financial concerns intrude into their daily lives
Together, they have written two books: Love Triangles: Understanding the Macho-Mistress Mentality and Imported Love: Filipino-Foreign Liaisons.
Dear Dr. Holmes and Mr. Baer:
The ex-wife of my husband’s older brother (let’s call him Ronnie) cheated on him while they were married. They are now divorced, but Ronnie is still very bitter about what happened. He never used to badmouth women or make sexist jokes about them, but now he does. And he expects my husband to laugh about them! He influences my husband greatly, especially since my husband is the bunso (youngest in the family).
After being married five years, I finally got pregnant. My husband and I were overjoyed, since it took so long and we tried everything (except medical intervention) to have a child.
Everything was okay, until my husband went out with Ronnie to celebrate my pregnancy. Now my husband wants to take a paternity test (Ronnie says he can get one even before the baby is born!) to make sure the baby is his.
I was a virgin when I got married, and my husband knows that. I am so hurt that he now suspects I may have been unfaithful to him. I want to make him choose between his suspicious, paranoid brother and me but I am afraid of who he might choose. Ronnie practically raised him since both their parents were OFWs.
Thank you for your email.
The status quo seems to be that at present your husband (let’s call him Diego) is more willing to believe Ronnie and his insinuations of infidelity than his own wife and the complete lack of any evidence that your pregnancy is the result of infidelity. You then summarize the crux of your problem admirably clearly: “I want to make him choose between his suspicious, paranoid brother and me but I am afraid of who he might choose.”
What is questionable, however, is your conclusion that the choice is his. Indeed, you would be entirely justified to present your husband with a completely different proposition, saying: “Diego, you know that I was a virgin when I married you and you know that you have no cause to believe that I have cheated on you. Yet you choose to question my fidelity merely because Ronnie has issues of his own and is poisoning your mind for his own ends (just as Iago did with Othello in Shakespeare’s eponymous play). Why should I stay married to a man who chooses to believe that his wife is cheating on him without a shred of evidence?”
Ask yourself whether such a man is likely to stop doubting you and stop heeding Ronnie’s poisonous influence, whether he is someone you actually want as a husband, whether he will be a suitable role model for your unborn child, etc. Like Desdemona, you are innocent and yet he has found you guilty without any proof whatsoever. Either he repents or you walk!
All the best,
Thank you very much for your letter. First, a question: if you gave Diego the benefit of the doubt, and thus can calmly ask him what his request for a paternity test is all about, might he then feel brave enough to tell you the real story and might it have nothing to do with his not trusting you?
Frankly, I doubt it, but, because there is so much at stake here, you might feel better if you started with the above.
Like you, I cannot think of any other reason for Diego requesting a paternity test other than his need for reassurance that he is the biological father of the child you are carrying. Like you, I’d have wanted to threaten him with, “It’s either Ronnie or me. You choose”. Praise God we have Mr. Baer’s wise words (and I say this with no trace of irony at all) to remind us of what’s really at stake here.
Because it really isn’t about Ronnie, is it? Neither is it only about wondering if Diego truly is the biological father of the child you are carrying. If Diego can be led so easily by his brother, he can also be led easily by any number of things – another misogynist, inflammatory fake news, etc. If Diego can be so clueless he does not realize his request shows how little he respects your marriage and his wife, he isn’t a person worth fighting for…or shedding more tears than you already have.
Someone who is willing to ask this of you will inevitably behave with even less respect for, and trust in, you in the future. You will now have a child with this man. Many would consider this reason enough to try “saving” your marriage, perhaps by trying to establish some framework of trust and respect. However, I don’t see the point…UNLESS…unless he truly understands the magnitude of his disrespect and truly wants to make amends.
But how will he convince you of this? I am truly stymied and welcome any suggestion from our readers.
All the best,
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