Romance novels were my companions as I grew up. Whenever I read stories about male and female protagonists swearing to uphold their love and going through untold hardships before finally achieving their desires, I was always moved to tears. From that time on, such ideas as “till death do us part” and “love is supreme” became deeply rooted in my heart, and I began to yearn for the kind of sincere love that I found in these novels, to look forward to having a happy and blissful marriage, and to long to be able to find a life-long partner in the future.
I Devote All My Heart Just to Having a Happy Marriage
As I grew older, my longing to find a life-long partner grew apace. Later on, the appearance of my husband allowed me to see a trace of the love I had seen in those novels, and I came to firmly believe that this man was the knight on the white horse I had waited for for so long. I therefore paid no heed to my parents’ objections but loved him and married him without hesitation. We both worked as citizen-managed teachers (teachers who work in state-run schools who do not receive a normal salary from the government) in the same school and we started and finished work together every day. In our free time, we would tell jokes and play Chinese checkers, and sometimes my husband would play the erhu while I would sing. We were completely reliant on each other and I followed him in everything, and though we lived a plain life, we were always happy. Two years later, our son was born, which brought unbounded joy to our family. As I watched my considerate husband and adorable son, I felt like I was the happiest woman on earth.
1977 arrived in the blink of an eye, and the college entry exam system that had been abandoned 10 years before was reintroduced. My husband took the exam and got into a teacher training college and I wept tears of joy, I was so proud of him. But amidst all my happiness, I began to worry: “Money is tight right now, and we don’t even own our dilapidated house. My monthly allowance is only 5 yuan, and I only earn around 50 to 60 yuan per year which isn’t enough to buy grain rations, much less put my husband through college. But my husband has struggled so hard to get this chance to study and I don’t want to ask him to give it up. For the sake of my husband’s future, I’ll put him through college no matter how hard it is.” I therefore went around borrowing as much money as I could, and finally I’d scraped together enough to pay for my husband’s first semester at college. In order to pay off my debts and to pay for my husband’s second semester, I borrowed some more money and began to raise pigs, and I also began to grow crops on a piece of land. But we were so poor, and I didn’t have any food for the pigs. My only option was to get up early every day and go foraging in the mountains for weeds to feed the pigs or walk over 50 kilometers to my mother’s house to fetch a sack of grain leftovers to feed them. The land I had sown was far away too and was situated on a slope. When pests began to feed on my millet, I had no way to get water to spray any pesticides, so all I could do was stand every day in the midday sun, picking the bugs off the millet stalk by stalk, so that I would be able to reap a bigger harvest and scrape the money together for my husband’s tuition fees. After the autumn harvest, when I gave my husband the money for his tuition, he was visibly moved and said, “You’ve worked so hard to earn this money for me, I really am in your debt….” I said to him, “Don’t think about it too much. Just study hard. I’m willing to undergo any hardship for your sake!” Hearing me say this, my husband choked with sobs and promised he’d treat me so well in the future and that he would never let me down…. We were so close back then. Although I was exhausted every day, I still felt very happy.
Two years later, my husband graduated, and he was given a teaching job at the teacher training college. I’d also paid off all our debts by then and relocated to the city where my husband was working. My husband’s health was poor and he would have to be admitted to hospital once or twice every year as well as take medicine all year round. In order to take care of him, I would cook him different dishes that he liked every day. Afraid that he would forget to take his medicine, I wrote a note and stuck it to our bed headboard to remind him, and I even brought him water to wash his feet in. And so continued our lives that were plain and yet full of warmth, and I willingly gave everything I had for my husband …
My Husband Strays and My Heart Is Wrung With Pain
In 1985, with the tide of reforms and opening up to the outside world sweeping across mainland China, my husband quit his job at the college, went into business publishing books and he opened a bookstore. After a few years, my husband’s ship had come in, and he became known both far and wide. I felt so incredibly happy to see this …
Just as I was feeling overjoyed and getting ready to welcome a better, happier life, my husband suddenly told me he wanted a divorce. Hearing these words come out of his mouth, I felt like I’d been struck by lightning. In that moment, all I could feel was the blood in my body rushing to my head—it was such an inexpressible sensation. I couldn’t stop thinking: “Where did my husband, who was always so courteous and understanding, go to? How could his feelings toward me change in such a short span of years? I’ve given so much for him and for this family. How could he betray our marriage and betray our family so hardheartedly?” I just couldn’t accept what had happened, and I couldn’t stop my tears from falling. As my heart was rent with pain, I recalled every tiny thing I’d ever done for my husband: In the beginning, I paid no heed to my family’s opposition and I married him without hesitation; I willingly worked myself to the bone to earn the money to send him to college; when he was ill, I paid meticulous care to his diet and daily requirements, even bringing him water to wash his feet in … For so many years, I had given him all I had and withheld nothing for myself, and yet now he wanted to divorce me. The more I thought about it, the more upset I felt, and I felt uncontrollable pain. I felt like I was suffocating, but I just couldn’t understand it—why did my husband want to hurt me so cruelly?
Later, I finally found out that my husband had another woman. I was so furious that I cursed him for being so shameless and without conscience, and yet he said to me as bold as brass, “This is how things are in modern society. ‘Without a woman on the side, a man has no zest for life,’ and ‘Pursuing beautiful women is a worthy way to live.’ In this age where poverty is mocked but prostitution isn’t, no one talks about conscience anymore. What is conscience worth?” At that moment, I felt like my heart had been torn from my chest, flung to the ground and wantonly trampled on. My pain and feelings of having been wronged turned instantly to hate. I hated that my husband was devoid of conscience, hated him for being unfaithful, and I hated that brazen other woman even more. If she hadn’t seduced my husband, then none of this would have happened. All this pain I was feeling was because of her. The more I thought about her, the more I hated her, and I wished I could take up a knife and kill that woman who had destroyed my happy family. I knew I couldn’t do this, however, so all I could do was weep tears in secret. Faced with my husband pressing me for divorce again and again, I completely lost the courage to go on living and, in a fit of anger, I took sleeping pills, hoping to reawaken my husband’s conscience by means of my own death. Unexpectedly, however, from the moment my life was saved until I left the hospital, my husband didn’t come to see me even once. Confronted by my husband’s apathy toward me, I became very downhearted and I cried every day. I’d always thought that my husband valued everything I did for him and that he took it all to heart, and that he would never betray me. I’d thought that we would always be married and would grow old together. Never had I imagined that, after a few years of happiness, he would stray into another woman’s arms and become so heartless and ungrateful, and totally devoid of conscience. I grieved terribly at that time and my spirit nearly crumbled. I was in such despair … Six months later, still being pressed for divorce by my husband, I had no choice but to sign the divorce papers.
After we divorced, I set out to begin my long, single-parent life with my four-year-old son. Because I’d just divorced and had no one to support me, the school principal where I worked began to bully me. When I applied to transfer to another school, the director of the Education Bureau took advantage of the situation to molest me. This series of events made me feel even more sad and wretched. My husband’s betrayal, the indifference of the world, the hardships of life and the oppression I felt in my spirit made me feel like I was done for. I was depressed every day and the shadow left behind by my failed marriage was a brand on my heart I would carry for a long time.
God’s Salvation Comes to Me and I Find Warmth and Support
Just as I was feeling totally hopeless about life, a parent of one of my students preached God’s gospel of the last days to me. I read God’s words, “Humanity, having left behind the Almighty’s provision of life, does not know the purpose of existence, but fears death nonetheless. With nothing to depend on and no source of help, yet still reluctant to close their eyes, they brace themselves to drag out an ignoble existence in this world in bodies unanimated by sentient souls. … When you are weary and when you begin to feel something of the bleak desolation of this world, do not be lost, do not cry., the Watcher, will embrace your arrival at any time” (“The Sighing of the Almighty”).
I was wracked with sobs as I felt God soothing me like a mother. God knew how much I was suffering, how much pain I was in and how lonely I felt just then, and He was using His words of comfort to thaw my frozen, deathly still heart. I wasn’t alone or lonely after all, for the Creator was always watching over me, always with me, always waiting for me to come before Him. I was like a lost lamb that had gotten hurt and then finally found its way back home; I had found a support and I had found the courage to go on living. Although my marriage was in ruins and my family broken, I wasn’t alone, for God was my support, and with God beside me, my heart felt peaceful and at ease.