Redditor hesthefather is a mother who works full time at home due to the pandemic.
Her husband, however, lost his job at the start of the global health crisis and was spending more time with their son than ever before.
Out of the blue, the husband began expressing doubts that their son was actually his―and demanded that his wife take a paternity test to ease his mind.
She was flabbergasted and resisted taking the test but later came up with a proposition that added more stress to the situation.
The Original Poster (OP) went to the "Am I the A**hole" (AITA) subReddit for some "neutral perspective" and asked strangers on the internet:
"AITA for not agreeing to a paternity test unless my husband goes to therapy?"
"I (28 F[emale]) and my husband (32 M[ale]) have a three year old son together. There has never been any doubt that my husband is the father. I've never given him any cause for concern that I cheated on him; he acknowledges all of this."
"Last week, he came to me and said that for the last few months, he has been 'plagued' (his word) with this anxiety that our son is not his. They don't look identical, granted, but they definitely share similar features and I see my husband whenever I look at my son."
"I was obviously blindsighted by this. I had no idea he was having these thoughts. I asked him to explain why he thought that he wasn't his and he couldn't really provide any answer other than 'a gut feeling.' He asked me if I would be okay if he got a paternity test done so it could ease his mind."
"I initially said absolutely not, no way in hell; I was very very offended. He told me that he could just do it without my permission and I said if he did that, I would never forgive him."
"My husband does not have a history of anxiety but he did lose his job back at the start of the pandemic so he's been with our son most of the time while I work my full time job from home."
"I know this hasn't been easy on him. I'm not a psychiatrist or anything but maybe he is starting to resent our son or something from just having to be around him constantly."
"After our heated first conversation, I spoke with some friends about it, and they said that he was probably having psychiatric problems due to the stress of not having a job."
"I came back to my husband and said that if he went to therapy and maybe started taking some anti-anxiety meds, that I would consider getting the test."
"He was very upset at this and said that once he got the results of the test back, he wouldn't be anxious anymore and that I wasn't being fair by making him go through a whole 'rigmarole' (again, his word) just to get 'peace of mind,' which was a phrase he used a lot during this."
"He again threatened to just get the test without my 'permission' and I said this would effectively end our relationship."
"I think there's something more serious going on here and I thought that my solution here is as fair as I'm willing to be. My friends are divided, some think I should just take the test and others are saying he's being insane and that if I cave to this, there's just going to be something else."
"I need some neutral perspective here. AITA?"
Anonymous strangers on the internet were asked if and where guilt belongs by declaring:
- NTA - Not The A**hole
- YTA - You're The A**hole
- ESH - Everyone Sucks Here
- NAH - No A**holes Here
Assuming the husband is suffering from anxiety, Redditors familiar with the condition weighed in with their thoughts.
"If it is a big enough deal that he was willing to risk losing his marriage and potentially permanently damaging his relationship with his child....then his anxiety is a big enough problem that it needs to be address in therapy."
"Giving in and getting the test will only address this one anxiety. More will pop up. That's the nature of the beast. You can't placate someone with anxiety. It never goes away until the root of the problem is addressed. And even then, it's a life long struggle."
"Your husband has an anxiety problem and it is only going to get worse. And he needs help."
"Stand firm. NTA." – Ron_Fuckin_Swanson
"It could be an anxiety problem, or it could be that the husband, feeling 'emasculated' by his unemployment (I do not personally think it is emasculating, but have heard that some men can feel that way when unemployed), has turned to some of the darker corners of the internet where men talk about how many men get 'trapped' into raising children that aren't theirs. This is also an anxiety issue, but one that has a different root."
"OP, you're NTA, but getting to the root of this obsession has very different implications for your marriage. If it's simply an irrational anxiety, he can get treatment for that. If he's been 'redpilled,' that's a whole other issue that he won't see as requiring treatment and is a much tougher battle." – Flower-of-Telperion
"NTA. Even in the best case scenario where this is all due to anxiety brought on by the pandemic don't believe that after the test he'll be better. Soon it'll be 2 tests. Then 3 because he'll be afraid of false positives."
"This type of anxiety gets worse until it moves on to something else, I've had the same obsessive anxiety for years and it didn't get better until after therapy and medication. I still struggle. Stand your ground OP."
"Edit: I want to be clear - I am not trying to diagnose anyone. I am speaking from experience how obsessive thinking and anxiety can manifest. I am not anti-test either. I am pro-therapy, both individual and couples, because therapy could provide insight and a diagnosis if it's needed. I was merely trying to get my point across that if it IS anxiety a test would treat the symptoms but not necessarily cure the anxiety as a whole. Again, IF this is anxiety."
"My wording for best case scenario is simple, personally, if my husband did this I'd prefer it be anxiety-based and resolved in therapy vs some of the alternatives people have suggested (that husband is cheating and deflecting or that he's been obsessing over what he genuinely, rationally thinks is a massive and ongoing betrayal of trust)."
"I can't see the ramifications of him saying 'Oh, I had this invasive thought that our kid isn't my kid' just...going away with a test. As another poster said this is an accusation that holds a LOT of weight, it's essentially an accusation that for 3-4 years, all through pregnancy and the child's life, that OP has purposefully and maliciously deceived her husband into raising a child that might not be his." – thisyearasaghost
"This is the exact problem. I have Generalized Anxiety Disorder. The thing about anxiety is that is cares very little about things 'truth' or 'reality' or 'proof.' Just knowing intellectually that you're being ridiculous has never stopped an intrusive thought from coming back."
"If she got the test, OP's husband might feel better for a day or a week or two, but after that his brain will either go back to the same worry, test results be damned, or find a new one to latch onto."
"OP, right now your refusal is probably feeding his anxiety ("she has something to HIDE!"), so I'm not going to recommend that you hold firm to him getting treatment first."
"But I would hold out until he makes a concrete step towards getting treated, such as making a doctor's appointment, and if he cancels afterwards ('because I'm fine now!') then draw the line there and definitely refuse the next ridiculous anxiety request. Because it will be coming." – RishaBree
After reading through some of the comments in the thread, the OP expressed indignation towards presumptuous strangers who were diagnosing her husband
"Edit: I haven't read all the comments here because the amount of responses has been overwhelming. However, I want to say that I really do not appreciate strangers attempting to diagnose my husband over the internet; it is disgustingly presumptuous. I'm his wife and I don't feel qualified to do that, which is exactly why I want him to go to a LICENSED therapist.
"Another thing i'm seeing pop up is that i'm somehow demanding that he take medication. I said 'maybe' medication, meaning that I only think he should be on medication if a LICENSED therapist prescribes them to him. I don't want to shove pills down his throat, which seems to be what some people think I want to do."
"As for the numerous suggestions of marriage counseling as opposed to individual therapy, I think this is a great idea (I didn't initially consider it because I was so focused on it being HIS problem but we are ultimately a team) and I'll suggest that to him today."
"Hopefully, it goes better. Thanks everyone for your input."
Overall, Redditors declared the OP as NTA and also said that taking a paternity test to placate her husband won't solve the underlying issue.