I am 25 and have been living with my partner (26) for just over 4 years. We moved in together after graduating from college.
One afternoon last spring, I got drunk with,kissed,and held hands with an older co-worker. I can make no pretense about the circumstances- they were unfaithful and disrespectful. It was a complete mistake, and as soon as I sobered up I felt horribly guilty and depressed. The following day, I told my partner about the kiss. However, I didn't share all the details, and tried to make the situation seem less hurtful. About two months later, at his request, I came clean and more elaborately described the afternoon, including hand holding, and the number of kisses. That afternoon was the only instance of infidelity that has ever occurred during our six year relationship. I immediately cut off contact with the OM, and had zero interest in pursuing the relationship.
My partner and I had a very challenging several months that followed. He was destroyed, his heart and trust shattered. I felt devastation, shame, and worthlessness. But, we stayed together. We did everything we could to communicate and re-build. We love each other.
The following spring, this April, he proposed marriage. I was completely surprised and flattered. I love him with all my heart and had almost lost all hope of ever regaining our happiness. I had sunken into a horrible depression and could hardly believe he felt happy enough with me to want to take the next step.
When he proposed, I thought it was a sign of forgiveness. I thought that it meant we could move on, and that our new commitment and engagement would be a fresh start.
We are about 8 months out from our wedding. The trouble is that my partner, the BS, still does not feel complete respect towards me and feels that we are unequal in the relationship- with me as the distrustful, less worthy partner. He explains that if I demand an equal foothold, he would acquiesce and still continue our relationship, but that he would feel even more disrespected. I am looking for advice on how to approach life as a post-cheating partner in an on-going relationship. On what do you build your happiness?
I struggle with a lack of self worth and depression. I find it hard to understand how I can make him happy if I am such a disappointment. And, I don't know what is appropriate to expect in terms of our forthcoming marriage on the topics of mutual respect and equality.
I am open to replies from WS and BS. Any advice would be helpful.