Hi Aunty Lisa,

A little after my wife of five years and I reconciled from our separation, we discovered she was pregnant. Although we were having marital problems, we were going through marriage therapy and I genuinely wanted to give it another try. I was, of course, over the moon about becoming a father. Things were starting to look up, until I discovered an ultrasound scan report which showed my wife was further along in the pregnancy than she told me. After a bitter, heated argument she confessed she conceived the baby with someone else while we were separated. She said she thought she was acting for the best because she knew I would be happy about the pregnancy. (One of the many reasons why we initially separated was because I wanted to start a family and she didn’t.)

To cut the long story short, I decided to get a divorce. Since I moved out, my wife has been spreading malicious rumours that I abandoned her and “our baby.” She’s been hospitalized due to complications in her pregnancy and I got a lot of hate mails/calls from her family and friends for not showing up. I don’t want to get caught up in a dirty fight so I have been ignoring these. But I’m getting increasingly angry that she is smearing my reputation through lies. Should I clear my name, even if it means airing our dirty laundry in public?

Dear Friend,

It’s one thing to be the bigger person, it’s another to let a compulsive liar ruin your reputation. The story she’s telling is that upon discovering she is carrying your child, you decided to divorce her. This makes you look like a heartless cad now, and you will be even more despicable when the child is born and you want nothing to do with it. I think you need to get in touch with your soon-to-be ex and tell her you know she is under physical and emotional duress, but you hope she can see that spreading what will be provably false stories about you will only hurt all of you, including her child, in the long run. Explain that even if she is not in a continuing relationship with the father of her child, she needs to establish paternity so that the baby can at least get financial support. Tell her you’ve said nothing to date, but because you are not the cruel person she is portraying as, you are going to begin to tell people the truth.

Then you can tell people simply that the baby was conceived with another man while you were separated, a situation that lead to your decision to end the marriage. You don’t have to add the damning filigree that she tried to mislead you about the child. Since she sounds possibly pathological she will probably have a whole counterfactual account to challenge yours. But your simple assertion, and refusal to engage in character assassination, will at least put serious doubt in people’s minds. If she continues to hold you out as the father after the birth, check into your legal rights to demand a paternity test to show that you are not responsible for the child. Oh, that poor child, to be born of such a manipulative mother.

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