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cited financial control connected to feelings of rejection as an ongoing issue in their marriage, stating that her husband’s “…only concern [was] for the fact that he had to spend his money where he didn’t think he should have to.”

Recall that this couple was involved in an auto accident. J’s husband felt “…that the accident affected him and his kids worse than anyone, but his kids’ lives never changed because of any of this [relative to the auto accident].” Through the contrasts of her extreme language, J conveys disbelief about and scorn for her husband. The auto accident had many repercussions for this stepfamily, an event steeped in strong blame, anger, polarity and protection of their respective biological children. Their related financial difficulties were extremely challenging. J received state monies to visit her youngest son in residential treatment approximately 100 miles from home, noting, “I am on disability [due to the auto accident] and it is hard to afford to feed everyone [during visits to her son]. My husband won’t pay for anything. He says it is not his problem, [as her son] is my kid.” J used extreme language to describe her helplessness at his stark refusal to help, an irresolvable problem directly attributable to their stepfamily status.

D (Respondent #3) experienced continual challenges by her oldest stepchild, whose strong rebellion was abetted by the child’s biological mother. D noticed her husband’s consistent lack of emotional support. In D’s words, “The adjustment was very difficult, my oldest stepdaughter assumed the role of mother before I came and she resented me taking over. That period of my life was miserable. There were no known resources [for stepmothers]…the ex-spouse would tell the children that they were never to listen to me, the only person who had the right to tell them what to do was their dad…a man of few words.” D’s extreme descriptions convey her misery and isolation, as she had no support from her spouse, no allies and no outside resources.

L (Respondent #4) categorically stated, “I hate being a stepmom and a second wife.” This woebegone assessment left no room for misinterpretation. L had strong feelings about the difficulties of stepfamily life in her roles as spouse and stepmother. Her expression of “hate” reflected her extremely negative perceptions of an unsupportive husband as they attempted to co-parent his children.

L (Respondent #4) expressed feelings of blame, hostility and guilt about the events that finally led to her insistence that her stepchildren leave her home. L felt unable to compel her stepchildren behave in ways acceptable to her and this was worsened by her husband’s lack of support, and defense of his children. L concluded, I’m not stepmother material.” Here L used extreme language to express her sense of inadequacy and anger about her unsatisfying interactions with her stepchildren. L also blamed her stepmothering challenges on her mother-in-law, “…as long as his mother won’t and doesn’t accept me or my children as part of their family, there is no way [my stepchildren] can accept us either. I totally blame his mother for everything.” Though this did not overtly direct blame at her husband, and in fact helped her direct her hostility away from him, the lack of support from her spouse sorely affected their marital bond.

L used extreme language to predict a stark future, declaring, “I see no end to this.” In the context of the interview, this was an expression of hopelessness that her husband would ever support her in a stand against his parents, a stand she believed necessary as she continued to co-parent her stepchildren. This suggested a bleak prognosis for their


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