I waited for her to initiate sex – and it ended my marriage

I want to hear your questions, dating issues, martial woes ... as a woman in great eyeliner once sang, "pour your misery down on me."

Send your own letter here. It's going to snow, and I want problems to think about.

Also, the American Repertory Theater (a.k.a the ART) is hosting a Love Letters night for its new production, "The Wife of Willesden," from the great mind of Zadie Smith. (Good for fans of Smith – or Chaucer's "The Canterbury Tales".) If you use the code LOVE20 for tickets to that night's show, you get a good discount on tickets and can come to the talkback after the show, hosted by yours truly.

Dear Meredith,

First of all, thank you for reading my letter. I will try to be brief, but there is a lot to unpack. I've been married six years to a wonderful woman who has let me know she wants a divorce. We come from different backgrounds. My family is very religious. I am less religious than they are but more than she is.

Her grounds for divorce, as stated, are that I have left her feeling unwanted romantically and she felt frozen out. This is because I've never wanted to hurt her or be seen as one of those guys who thinks about intimacy and getting it on all the time. I figured that if she wants it I will wait for her to instigate, and be happy to comply. I didn't know honestly it would have this effect. She told me last week that she doesn't care if our marriage burns to the ground. Two days after this conversation, she had sex with an alcoholic who lives two blocks away and is recently divorced. He has another girlfriend and is in an open relationship with her. I never wanted an open relationship and I don't want a divorce, but what I want clearly doesn't matter at this point.

Should I even bother trying marriage counseling at this point? She says she still cares about me and wants to be friends, but I feel hurt and betrayed because even though she told me our marriage means nothing to her, it kills me that I hurt her and that I'm not enough. How do I make this right? Or if I can't, how do I move on?

– Ostracized in Ogden

I recommend the marriage counseling, not because I'm sure it'll save your marriage but because it's a good place to ask questions. You can figure out why the two of you didn't talk about how to approach sex – and what wasn't working – until the love was gone. You can also discuss what a relationship might be like going forward. You might not want to be friends.

I assume you mentioned religion because your background played into the way you treated sex – like it was something you weren't allowed to ask for. Therapy is also a good place to talk through the difference between initiating sex – letting someone know you want them – and bothering a person or making them feel uncomfortable. You assumed your needs would be a burden for your wife. It'd be good to figure out why.

Please remember that you do not want to be in an open relationship, and it sounds like you are, without your consent. The two of you might try negotiating alternatives so that you don't have to end the marriage. But there is no need to make up for the coldness by sacrificing your own happiness and watching your wife continue to build a relationship with someone down the street. If she's sure she wants sex with other people, let her go.

You can move on, over time, by grieving, getting therapy on your own, and learning some lessons. You already know you want a partner who's good at talking about uncomfortable topics. You need to be able to trust that if there's an issue, this person will communicate. You want to be better about showing love and interest.

You have a lot of important information now to get you to a new, wonderful phase of life. There is no specific fix for the relationship you're in, only conversation and evolution to get to a place where you both can be happy.

– Meredith

Readers? Can/should the marriage be saved? What next?