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Love stories can end in divorce

By He Na  (China Daily)

08:52, March 27, 2013

Increasing number of couples need guidance to keep spark alive.

Having been selected as a parents' representative at his son's primary school in Shanghai, Wang Huan was invited to make a speech at the opening ceremony for the new semester. As the owner of four companies, Wang, 40, is used to public speaking and handled his duties well. His performance won warm applause from the audience, including his 39-year-old wife and young son.

When he went back to his seat, 9-year-old Wang Xiaotian gave his father a close hug and a big kiss. "I am the happiest child in the world," said the little boy as he piled his parents' hands on top of his own.

Wang and his wife smiled at each other in a touching family scene that was observed with envy by many other parents.

In Xiaotian's eyes, his parents are a wonderful couple. Even after 10 years of marriage, they are always polite to each other and never quarrel, fight, or even raise their voices. However, the little boy has only observed a small part of his parents' relationship and is unaware of the stresses and strains on the relationship caused by an episode that almost led to divorce.

Wang's wife quit her job after giving birth, meaning that her husband had to provide for all the family's financial needs. He has given his family the best life he can afford, but his busy work schedule and the expansion of his businesses have inevitably led to him spending less and less time with the family, leading to an estrangement.

"I even found it hard to find topics that interested us both," said Wang Huan's wife. She applied to study abroad, hoping to rescue the situation by updating her knowledge and expanding her world view.

However, to her surprise, when she returned home full of hope 12 months later, she found a divorce application waiting for her.

Wang confessed that he had fallen in love with another woman, but his wife flatly refused to accept the divorce petition, despite the offer of a large sum of money as compensation.

Fearing that going to court would affect his son and his business, Wang turned to Shu Xin, a director of the online marriage guidance program Weiqing120 and head of the China Marriage and Family Counseling Center.

"Wang's case is very common nowadays," said Shu. "According to our research, more than 60 percent of marriages in China are in seriously 'poor health', a state of affairs indicated by the couples having nothing to say to each other, a lack of passion, extramarital affairs and frequent quarrels about trivial matters. Although people can maintain a troubled relationship, the trials and conflicts can accumulate to a toxic level and easily lead to the marriage collapsing."

Shu had long talks with the two women. He discovered that Wang's wife was a pleasant, elegant and knowledgeable woman, who still loved her husband. She was also deeply concerned about the possible impact on the boy if the divorce went through.

On the other hand, Wang's lover, in her early 30s, had no idea how to handle a small child or live with an extended family.

"I told Wang my thoughts on the two women. My words seemed to remind him of something and he murmured that he would think things over," said Shu. "To further help him make a decision, I asked the women to each write a letter containing the words they most wanted to say to him. Unsurprisingly, Wang was moved to tears after he'd read the letter his wife had written. He told me that they had been forced to overcome great difficulties to get married and had experienced many happy days in the past."

The story has a happy ending; Wang's lover agreed to end the affair, but only after he bought her a property.

"Thanks to Shu's help I made the right decision. Now I get on well with my wife, just like when we were first married. My son really enjoys the time we spend together," said Wang.

Shu said, "It's only when a marriage has descended to a level where there are no words to say and love and sex don't exist anymore, that I will pronounce a death sentence on it. After two decades of research, I realize that most divorces are avoidable, even if the marriage is deeply troubled."

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