But that same law has also created a lot of pain for men with refugee children. Their wives or former wives may have left Ukraine with their children, and at the moment, there’s no way for the fathers to travel abroad to see them.
After more than a week of driving all day and all night through 10 countries, Tetiana and the couple’s oldest son finally arrived in Turku, Finland, where their youngest son, a semipro hockey player, lives. It was there she realized that she didn’t want to go back home.
I was so exhausted I spent the first days just sleeping, walking and thinking. Suddenly I had some free time when there was no need to go to my job or take care of my parents. And then one moment I surprisingly realized: I don’t miss home. I don’t want to go back. I mean, it’s not that I don’t love my parents or my husband. I wasn’t thinking about divorce. I just realized that I wanted to be by myself.
Those first few weeks were really hard. After all those years, waking up alone, in a cold bed, with nobody waiting for you? And it wasn’t just the distance. It was this absence of belief in tomorrow. I didn’t know if the Russian troops would come for us or not. I didn’t know if I’d be alive or not. But not a night passed when I didn’t dream about her.
The number of marriages ending in Ukraine this past year was twice or even three times as high as before the war, according to the estimations of Ukrainian mental health professionals, divorce lawyers, dating gurus, court clerks and judges. The experts claim that what’s driving Ukraine’s divorce rate, which has always been high compared with that of other countries, is not so much war-related stress, though there’s plenty of that, but the enormous scale of separation.
Dr. Trofymenko, the psychotherapist, said that when people are disconnected from their communities they start re-evaluating everything.
“People start asking questions,” she said. “Like: Is this person who I spent so many years of my life with still the right person for me if I don’t know who I am anymore?”