In an autobiography coming out next week, Danuta Walesa talks publicly for the first time about her loneliness and fear for the family's unity as her husband gained worldwide recognition with his political work.
In the candid 550-page book, "Dreams and Secrets," the 62-year-old reveals that she felt neglected as she raised their eight children. She express hurt that she was excluded from her husband's strategic decisions that gave rise to Solidarity and the trade union's ultimate toppling of Poland's authoritarian communist system in 1989.
Some revelations from the book, which is to hit bookshops in Poland on Wednesday, have appeared in the Polish media in recent days, shattering a view of a former president and first lady long seen as happy and deeply united, not least because of their shared Roman Catholic faith.
"There was no formal divorce, but there were two separate worlds in our family," Walesa writes in the book, made available to The Associated Press by publisher Wydawnictwo Literackie.
She says family life was generally peaceful in the early years of their 42-year marriage. But things took a turn for the worse when her husband rose to prominence during historic strikes in August 1980, when workers demanded greater freedoms.
"In August everything was smashed," she writes. "Our nest was torn apart."