A woman who suffered an expat divorce is Helen, who discovered while they were in the process of moving to New Zealand a year ago that her husband was having an affair. “Our marriage broke down as soon as we arrived here. I discovered his infidelity and he left me completely helpless,” she remembers.
Helen and their two children, aged eight and ten, had just come from another post in Asia. “I was a homemaker. I had no job and no qualifications to get one. I looked at myself and knew that I was a good mother and housewife. But I lacked confidence.”
The first year was the toughest and Helen admits she couldn’t have survived without a good friend in another country who was available at all hours on the phone to help.
“I didn’t know anybody in NZ. I feared for my future and how to raise the children on my oven. How do you start your career in your 40s?”
Helen wrote down her goals and a five-year plan. She decided to stay in New Zealand to give her children the best possible education. Then she enrolled in courses on computer skills and management, and now she is finishing her master’s degree. “I wanted my children to think that I was awesome. And now, when I wake up in the morning, I feel that life is good.”
Having hit rock bottom, as she describes her divorce, Helen emphasizes that friends are essential, but that they must also be patient if their advice isn’t followed immediately. “You know what you need to do but you are no lost in your devastation that you can’t move on. It can be very frustrating for friends.” Helen observes that despite living in a community that proclaims itself modern, her children suffered a silent exclusion in social circles and schools. “We wouldn’t get invited to certain gatherings because we were a one-parent family.”