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Table 4.4 - Respondents’ Descriptors for Markers of Attachment Injury* -



Irresolvables states “none”

Change in Belief


About Partner


Pivotal Events

spouse has “no opinion” spouse has “no opinion” “I wanted out” dichotomy/stepchildren “outsider”/coalitions dichotomy/stepgrchldn rejection of partner lying


fights due rejection by stepchildren

spouse unsupportive lying/manipulation L rejects stepchildren/ spouse protects

“outsider”/coalitions rejection of/by partner

spouse lied L’s threat of divorce



reject/protect her son

fight about the fights

reject/protect her dog

“we won’t stay together states “none” if…”

  • *

    descriptors in bold type indicate “directly attributable to stepfamily status”

Each respondent’s interview is summarized in the section below. Following this section, detailed descriptions and interpretations of each respondent’s markers for attachment injury will be discussed.

Case Summaries

This section includes case summaries of each respondent. These focus on the history of the stepfamily formation and events and processes relative to each couple’s problems.

Respondent 1

T, a 30-year-old, and her husband, S, age 39 were married for over 5 years, after cohabiting for over 2 years. This was T’s second marriage. S adopted T’s 10-year-old son, and S had two sons, ages 18 and 13. T’s son was not in contact with his biological father. The older of S’s biological sons lived with his mother out of the area, with monthly, holiday and summer visitation. S’s younger son lived with T and S, visiting his mother, monthly, on holidays and during the summer. T reported that this created some sense of chaos for the stepfamily, as well as emphasizing how different they were from a “traditional” family, where children remained in one home, and minors could not escape the expectations of their parents by leaving town.

T cited custody, visitation, finances, mind games and discipline as those issues that she perceived as a threat to her marital relationship. This stepfamily’s life was arranged around Court orders, challenging their ability to spend time together as a family. T said, “We can’t live a semi-normal life without first consulting a court order.” Her use of the word “normal” marked several of T’s remarks, reflecting her belief that those outside of their stepfamily viewed them as “not normal.” She noted difficulty in gaining


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