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J noted severe current financial stressors that were also attributable to the auto accident, including her long-term disabilities and bankruptcy, which affected her husband’s ability to pay child support to his ex-wife, as well as causing stress for her dependent children. These seemingly irresolvable financial problems overwhelmed this stepfamily, and as they were connected to the auto accident, were construed to be attributable to stepfamily problems in their genesis.

J and her husband separated after one year of marriage, which was related to a chronic and pervasive lack of communication and financial difficulties. It was unclear, though, whether or not the first separation was related to stepfamily formation. J cited multiple stressors contributing to the first separation, including financial, at least partly due to her being unemployed for several months.

J’s husband reportedly perceived disrespect from his stepchildren, and this caused stress in their marital relationship. He disapproved of them or grew angry with one or more of them, which in turn aroused in her a sense of protectiveness toward her children.

Respondent 3 (“D”)

Three problem topics Divided loyalties* Stepgrandparent status* Husband’s ex-spouse*

Irresolvables States there are none

D reported no irresolvable problems, believing that this was due to their “…years of being married and the educational materials and [religious-based] counseling…” Her assessment was contrary to her description of events that she described as continuing and problematic. Her status in the family as a stepgrandparent, as well as her differing roles as biological and stepgrandmother were referred to as continuing, and are discussed in more detail below. She had found a way to do what she felt was best for herself and her grandchildren, which involved withholding information from her husband. This suggested an irresolvable problem.

D’s three problem topics all related to the challenges of stepfamily formation and maintenance. There was a long history of the oldest stepdaughter’s “interference”, who vied for the mother role in the stepfamily. This caused problems in D’s marital relationship. She believed that her stepchildren were aligned against her at the behest of both their biological mother and the oldest stepdaughter.

D also believed that this alignment had been transmitted to the next generation, so that she perceived painfully changeable relationships with her stepgrandchildren, all of whom were born after she had married her husband. For example, D poignantly noted that, “I would feel better if everyone just called me D [all the time] and not grandma some days and D other times.” Throughout the interview, D commented on her husband’s lack of support about this, for example noting, “My husband refrained from giving his opinion.” D’s stepfamily relationships frequently placed her in the outsider role. Her husband historically offered support or protection to his biological children, at

his spouse’s expense. Respondent

Three problem topics


4 (“L”)

in-law’s lack of respect for her/children* stepchildren’s lack of respect for L* financial strains*

holidays alone*


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