I have a lot of guilt pent up inside me, and I need God’s forgiveness. I married a beautiful woman who already had a daughter. When she turned thirteen, she told me about her romance with her boyfriend, and we ended up touching each other inappropriately. That went on for two or three months. I couldn’t stand it any longer and I confessed to my wife. We never had sex, but now my wife doesn’t trust me. I never betrayed her before and I never will.

I should have counseled the girl; that was my role. What should I do? The girl no longer lives with us…. How can I fix all of this?

Dear Friend,

Some things are so broken that they can never be repaired. You cannot fix the damage that you did. No matter how much you think that the girl participated, a thirteen-year-old is a child and is not responsible for what a grown man does to her. The girl will have to live with the consequences of what you did for the rest of her life. It would not be surprising if she becomes sexually promiscuous as a result of the sexual confusion that you caused during her difficult early adolescence. And to make matters even worse, if her mother sent her away to protect her from you, even so she may have felt like that in itself was a punishment.

You want your wife to trust you again. What you don’t seem to understand is that, for whatever reason, she chose to stay with you, and her daughter has been sent away. The girl may legitimately feel that her mother chose you instead of her. As a result, the girl may feel betrayed, not only by you, but also by her mother.

Furthermore, your wife did not report you to the authorities for sexually abusing her daughter. Your wife decided to stay with you as if nothing had happened, but of course she has lost all trust in you. She would be a fool to trust you now. You betrayed her in the worst way.

This cannot be repaired. You have completely destroyed your family, and now you must rebuild. But rebuilding trust takes years. Every time you feel sorry for yourself, remember that you could be in jail. You could be the one who was sent from the house. You deserved all that and more, and yet the only consequence that you received was that she doesn’t trust you. You got off very easy!

If you are sincerely sorry, then God will forgive you. The eternal penalty for your sin and mine was paid when Jesus Christ died on the cross. He wants to help you change your life and your future. But even though Jesus took your eternal punishment for you, your natural consequences here on earth cannot be avoided. Do not expect your wife to trust you, but act in a trustworthy manner whether she does or not. And if you ever have even the smallest temptation or attraction toward a child or adolescent, then you must get professional help immediately to avoid this kind of incident in the future.

We wish you well,