A few years ago, I met a woman with four children. Today she has two more that are mine. The truth is that because she was older, I began to be spiteful toward her and I did everything I could to get her out of my life. I almost destroyed her life… so badly that I was having relations with her and with other women at the same time. I completely neglected my role as father and as husband….

What can I do to win at least her respect, since I have completely lost her love and affection, along with my children’s? Please give me a solution to help me gain their trust.

Dear Friend,

We congratulate you for recognizing the damage and destruction you have caused in your family. Many people refuse to accept that their actions are responsible for the pain of their loved ones. We don’t know what caused you to change your attitude and actions, but we encourage you to continue with this new determination to do right by your family.

It is easy to apologize for your actions, and it is easy to say that you will never act that way again. But it is also easy to get angry and frustrated when people don’t seem to believe that you are sincere, or that you will indeed change your ways. You must accept that you have wounded your family in a way that must have time to heal. You stabbed them in their emotions, and then you twisted and turned the knife until the wound was jagged and infected. Now that the knife is out, the wound must be treated carefully and lovingly, and given a significant time to heal.

Treat your wife and children with respect every day. Spend time with them, doing things that they like to do, even if they don’t seem to appreciate it. Always be home when you say you are going to be home, even when your wife seems cold and unaccepting. Tell your family that you love them every day, even if they don’t say it back to you. Hug your children, even if they seem stiff. Listen to your wife when she talks, and ask questions to show that you are interested in what she is saying. Talk to your children about their hobbies and their friends. Take your family to the park or the zoo. Help out around the house, and show appreciation for the work your wife does to make your home more comfortable or attractive. Have calm conversations with your wife about how to discipline the children, and then act without anger to give out consequences for their negative behavior and poor school work. Find three things each day that you can compliment about your wife. And when you forget and act differently than you intended, quickly apologize and acknowledge your failure.

God is the only One who forgives and forgets. When you ask Him to forgive you, it is as if you had never sinned. All your sin is washed away by what Jesus did on the cross for each of us. But people, unlike God, cannot forget so easily. They need significant time and significant proof before they can act as if nothing ever happened.

Your family is worth the effort,

Linda and Charles