Dear Dr. Bill,
Several years ago, my marriage was struggling and as a result, I became involved with another woman. That affair cost me five years of my marriage and five years of watching my children grow. Thankfully, my wife has chosen to forgive me, and we are back together. How can I rebuild the relationship with my wife and with my children to what it was like before?
I appreciate your vulnerability and willingness to share this very difficult issue. First of all, I want to commend your wife for the strength and courage she has demonstrated in forgiving you.
From your e-mail, it sounds like you are truly repentant and have renewed your commitment to your wife. You’ve already taken the first step toward healing.
It’s important for to understand that when a violation like this has occurred, it often takes a long time for trust to be rebuilt, both for the spouse and for the children.
You can take specific actions to help re-build trust, such as joining a men’s accountability group at your church. Find a group of men who will be willing to hold you accountable to your commitment to your wife and kids.
You also need to understand that your family may still harbor feelings of anger toward you for what you did. The fact is that you messed up and you need to be willing to accept the emotional consequences.
Most importantly, your entire family should commit to counseling. You and your wife need to work through those things in your marriage that caused the conflict in the first place. If you don’t, unresolved issues in your relationship will surface again.
After you’ve dealt with the marital issues, it’s critical that your kids join you in the counseling process. Thanks for writing, Paul.
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