Dear Dr. Bill: My husband and I have been married for seven years now and in the beginning, we were madly in love with one another. But one problem keeps interfering with our relationship. You see, we were engaged about eight months after we met and then I became pregnant three months before the wedding. We really meant to abstain from sex during that time, but we gave in to one night of passion and that's all it took.
Ever since then we've been dealing with the guilt of this mistake. We've never told anyone, but it's always been an uncomfortable area in relationship, especially when we think of our first child's birthday or our anniversary. My husband and I both want our marriage and family to succeed — Do you have any advice for us?
In today's world, many so-called "experts" deny that there are moral or spiritual ramifications to premarital sex. But it's obvious from your e-mail that those "experts" have it all wrong.
God's created intent for human sexuality is very clear. It is a wonderful gift which brings men and women together emotionally and spiritually. But He designed that gift to be expressed in a life-long marital commitment. When we ignore His design, we often reap a harvest of pain and suffering.
That being said, it's just as important to remember that God offers us the wonderful gift of grace through the death of His Son Jesus Christ. When we confess our sins and express remorse to Him and to those we have wronged, God offers us complete and total forgiveness.
If you've truly repented of this sin to God and to each other, your continued struggle with guilt is misplaced. You may still feel remorse for your actions, something the bible refers to as "Godly sorrow." But if you continue to wallow in guilt, it means that you don't truly believe that God can forgive you for your faults.
Also, the fact that these feelings of guilt are interfering with your marriage leads me to believe that one or both of you may still be harboring resentment over what occurred. That resentment will continue to eat away at your relationship until you work through it. It may also have negative consequences for your children.
I suggest you and your husband make an appointment with your pastor or a Christian counselor and discuss this issue. Our counseling department can refer you to a licensed Christian therapist in your area.
I'd also like to recommend a book that you may find helpful. It's titled When You Can't Say I Forgive You by Grace Ketterman and David Hazard.
Dear Dr. Bill: When we were dating, I thought my fiancé and I had saved our virginity for each other. But after we got married, I learned my husband was sexually involved with another woman before he met me. Now my husband has apologized to me and God about this relationship — but I can't let it go. I'm angry, disappointed and feel like I can't possibly be the true love of my husband's life. Are these feelings normal?
Amalia, it's clear that you feel very hurt and angry about your husband's past relationship. Your situation clearly demonstrates that bringing sexual "baggage" into a marriage can destroy the trust and intimacy between a husband and wife. That's why God's design for human sexuality is for men and women to pursue sexual purity before marriage, and then to remain faithful and monogamous to their spouse.
That being said, there are a few things you need to consider about your particular situation. First of all, although you said that you "thought" your fiancé was a virgin before you got married, did you actually discuss this issue with him while you were dating? If you simply assumed he was a virgin without specifically asking him about it, it's unfair to accuse him of deceiving you. It's likely that he felt ashamed and embarrassed about his past behavior – which is why he never brought it up while you were dating.
Also, you mention that your husband has "apologized to you and God." From your description, it appears that he has repented of his past sin and feels a deep sense of remorse about his behavior.
Assuming that his repentance is genuine – and it sounds like it is – I would encourage you to put aside your resentment and jealousy and extend grace to him, just as God extends grace to you for your own sin.
You may need time to work through your shock and disappointment, and your husband should grant you that time. However, if you are unable to let go of your anger, I would suggest that the two of you see a Christian therapist or pastoral counselor. Our counseling department at Focus on the Family can provide you with a referral in your local area.