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to ask if having a secret second family is that common?!

(168 Posts)
trob22 Wed 12-Dec-18 13:04:37

I've seen a couple of posts in the last few days about men who not only have a long-term OW in their lives but also have kids with the OW - and somehow manage to keep this a secret from their wife (and kids from that marriage) for YEARS while still seeing the OW and other child fairly regularly?

Is this really that common? How on earth do they keep the secret? How does it work with the man paying child maintenance etc?

I've only heard of one person in my life who had a secret second family but judging by MN it seems fairly run of the mill!!

AveAtqueVale Wed 12-Dec-18 13:11:44

It definitely happens - probably more than you’d think. My best friend in late primary/ early secondary discovered when he was 17 that his dad had a whole second family, and he had a nine-year-old sister. His mum knew his dad wasn’t faithful (and wasn’t that bothered, by all accounts, wanted to stay together til he was through school) but had no idea it was a single, very-serious long-term affair. They had separate bank accounts and we lived abroad in a country with a very low cost of living so the financial side probably wasn’t noticeable.

And one of my mum’s cousins is married to a lady who was a child of a second family. As small children they just thought their dad worked away a lot, but she twigged in her mid-teens. I think it messed her up quite a lot as she felt both her parents had lied to her.

RatRolyPoly Wed 12-Dec-18 13:12:48

I think it's more common than you'd think. I was just wracking my brain to think if I'd ever met anyone who had a secret family, and then I remembered that my own dad does! His father had an affair and a child with that partner when my dad was little, and it only came out when his parents passed away in their eighties. So yeah, it's not the stuff of far-fetched novels after all.

PinkHeart5914 Wed 12-Dec-18 13:13:25

I don’t know if it’s common but I do know a family it hapended too. My younger brother had a friend at school, his dad worked away half the week well so they thought but actually he had a long term secret partner of 9 years and a son not much younger than my brothers friends. He had been lying to both partners but the “ow” let him move in when it all come out, like why? I never understood that

How the stress of keeping it secret doesn’t kill you I don’t know

Babyroobs Wed 12-Dec-18 13:16:07

I worked with a colleaugue many years ago who came into work distressed one day and found out her husband ( who was a long distance lorry drive) had another long term partner and eight year old child in another city. She had a teenage son with him and they were married ( until she found that out ! ). I have another colleague more recently who grew up in real poverty and she said that she always though her dad had and was supporting another wife and kids elsewhere, she was a muslim lady , I think it may be more common in
their culture maybe ?

Pythone Wed 12-Dec-18 13:16:38

Someone in my family had one! (They were the non-relation.) They now live with the second family, my relative broke up with them when it all came out. They were able to do it because of having a job involving working away a lot.

53rdWay Wed 12-Dec-18 13:17:10

Someone in my family did this, but it was 80 years ago and the two families were on different continents so I suppose that made it easier.

Jackshouse Wed 12-Dec-18 13:17:15

I certainly know of families like this. I wonder how they afford it.

RatRolyPoly Wed 12-Dec-18 13:19:14

I guess for almost every affair a man has there's the risk his partner will fall pregnant each time they sleep together, and if the woman involved chooses to have the baby then a secret family is what results. Unless the man either comes clean or walks away from the child, that is.

Stopwoofing Wed 12-Dec-18 13:20:57

I knew someone this happened to, as well, I think it was probably easier in days gone by, phone/facebook etc wise now, it'd be much harder to hide. 100 years ago, with paper records, much easier to disappear/forge papers

onemouseplace Wed 12-Dec-18 13:23:12

My SIL's flatmate was in a long term relationship and had a planned baby with someone who was married with another family and only found out after she's had her baby.

I was chatting to a friend about this very same thing recently and I suspect it happens more than people think.

Want2bSupermum Wed 12-Dec-18 13:23:18

Someone in my family has a second family. My father supported the second family because he didn't want the child to go without. It's not talked about and I was told because my fathers health isn't good and he wanted to make sure I knew to continue with payments until they are established adults.

A girl I went to school with was the products of an Arab man having a mistress in the UK. No one twigged what the set up was but it was incredibly obvious when I bumped into her mother who was with the man in London. When leaving the next week he was on the same flight as me from Dubai to the Far East with his wife and DC. I was about 15 or so at the time so this shocked me. Now I wouldn't bat an eyelid.

OutPinked Wed 12-Dec-18 13:26:54

It happened to a family my Mum knew growing up so it’s definitely something that happens and has done for a fair amount of time. In that case it sounded as though the wife knew something wasn’t right but buried her head in the sand to try and save face for the sake of her kids. He ‘worked away’ a lot...

jessstan2 Wed 12-Dec-18 13:30:02

I don't know about it being that common but did know someone who had another woman and a child, the children he had with his wife had no idea until they were all grown up. His wife knew, he broke up with the OW and then she told him she was pregnant, he supported the child but then got back with her and they had an affair for years while he was still living with wife and bringing up the children from his marriage.

Eventually everyone got to meet eachother, the children became friends and he ended up with no wife (divorce) and no OW!

He wasn't a bad bloke really, it was just something that happened. He dug a hole for himself. I often wonder what his parents thought about it - if they knew.

RatRolyPoly Wed 12-Dec-18 13:37:56

I wonder if the reverse situation is also more common than anyone would like to think, where a man is unknowingly raising a child/children who are not biologically his.

CleanBee Wed 12-Dec-18 13:40:00

I have a friend (now an adult) who was the 'secret' child of a long-standing affair.

I believe that her father's wife was more or less aware of her but she was never mentioned. The children of the marriage were unaware.

I don't want to say anything identifiable as it's not my story, but since her father's death one (adult) child of the marriage has reached out to her.

I suspect it happens rather more than we know as it's not something you go around telling everyone you meet.

jessstan2 Wed 12-Dec-18 13:40:24

Oh yes, I'm sure that happens a lot.

GrabEmByThePatriarchy Wed 12-Dec-18 13:41:52

You'd think it would get harder as social media shrinks the world. I suspect it was probably more common than one might suspect, not so long ago.

TheTurnOfTheScrew Wed 12-Dec-18 13:42:42

I was aware of this happening in a friend's family growing up in the 80s. His father was a doctor, working long hours at hospitals far from home. Sadly, my friend's father died. At the funeral, it transpired that for a decade he'd been in a relationship with another woman who had two children with him.

Dimsumlosesum Wed 12-Dec-18 13:43:38

My bastard grandand, may he not rest in peace, did this very successfully to my poor nan. He worked a long commute away as it was and it financially worked out better to stay overnight a few nights at the place he managed. But this turned into a week, most weekends etc, over the years. We only found out the fucker had a secret other life when he was on his death bed. It was plausible because of the nature of his job, and workable because my nan trusted him implicity. He was also one of those types of men who are extremely good and being the good guy - everyone like him, he was well respected in the local community - you just would never have thought it of him.

CleanBee Wed 12-Dec-18 13:44:17

I just realised that I have another friend whose father had a wife and children back in his home country and then moved here and had more children (including my friend) with a woman here! The woman here was unaware.

At a certain point it came out when he was back in his home country, and my friend's mother wrote to him telling him never to come back (pre-email days). He never did.

user1457017537 Wed 12-Dec-18 13:45:54

Happened in my family. My grandfather had another family, although in fairness I think my DG was the “other woman”. He was wealthy for the 1920s though.

arranbubonicplague Wed 12-Dec-18 13:46:59

I know a surprising number of people in the US who are accidentally discovering relatives through sharing their genetic data after testing and some of those are via unknown second families.

It's proved quite traumatic for some people. And in one case, it was thought that one particular relative was the by-blow of an affair but it transpired that that child was the only one of both the parents (it was even more complicated than it might seem).

EtVoilaBrexit Wed 12-Dec-18 13:47:48

Quite common and often very visible when people are in hospital terminally ill and both families are coming to visit.....
I’ve heard stories of nurses trying to ensure said families dint meet up to avoid conflict at the worst time ever.
Or issues with wills or one person wanting to leave stuff to the OW wo his wife knowing or been able to contest it etc....

IrmaFayLear Wed 12-Dec-18 13:47:53

I'm not convinced that the first wife is totally clueless. In both instances I've heard of, the first wife just turned a blind eye, as in "don't ask if you don't think you'll like the answer".

This relative of mine, her dh would disappear for tracts of time, and she never asked where he was . She liked her life and didn't want to rock the boat by challenging him on where he was every Sunday or vague trips for unspecified lengths of time. To me, it would be absolutely weird not to say to dh, "Where are you off to?" but I guess some people feel the status quo is ok for them.

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