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My husband left me for a country.

It's a blameless breakup, in many ways. No one had an affair, no one became a Republican, no one had a tragic and disfiguring accident. No one lied, cheated or stole. But when things needed attention, China got in the way.

My ex and I were together from high school. We were married when I was 22. About four years into our marriage, he started working in China. At first, he was gone a week or so at a time. Then a few weeks at a time. Then a month. After a few years, he was gone two months at a stretch, at least three times a year.

Every year he'd say, "Next year will be different."

Every year he'd say, "I know we're not working right now, but I can't focus on that yet. Next year will be different."

Finally he said, "This isn't going to change." And he flew back, this time to an apartment, this time to stay.

Now I'm in my thirties, and single for the first time since I was in high school. There is much that is terrifying about this. Suddenly, I'm afloat, untethered, without that anchor to the world I've counted on for the last fifteen years. That sometimes makes me have to lean against a wall and try to breathe.

As divorces go, I've got it easy. We don't have kids. We don't have a house. No one's interested in screwing over anyone else.

As divorces go, I have it hard. I've never been single. There's nowhere to channel my anger at this situation. I'm doubting everything about myself — if there's no one else, how am I so easy to give up?

As divorces go, I'm just working on learning how to breathe.

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2 comments

  • Comment Link Guest Tuesday, 05 April 2011 01:34 posted by Guest

    a day or hour at a time: There are similarities with me as well. My ex was the only person I ever dated and he had been together for fifteen years, with two children. We seemed happy until one day I started finding love letters. Then everything came out and apparently he has wanted out for two years. I keep wondering how I didn't know, what signs I missed...since then he keeps trying to talk about getting back together and it infuriates me. I can't even look at him anymore. Some days are better that others. Sometimes some hours are better than others. I feel like he bailed and I'm left with the pieces and the questions. It feels like learning how to breathe again.

  • Comment Link Guest Monday, 28 March 2011 15:44 posted by Guest

    Same boat: I can so relate here, though the country is different and there has been infedility on his part. No children, no home and feeling completely un-anchored and rudderless on this unfamiliar sea after 35 years as "his wife". I keep trying to breath deep, but very little air getting through. It does get better...doesn't it?