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responsibility for any of our problems.” She perceived that her husband had emotionally abandoned their relationship, including any meaningful attempts on his part to regenerate their marital bond.

J could describe and analyze her husband’s withdrawal, yet used very few emotional words to describe her own pain. “He won’t talk about anything…just a moment ago…when I asked if we were going to put all this behind us and start building a life…[he said] ‘I don’t know what I want.’ While he tries to figure out what he does want…I just keep going each day doing what I need to do and waiting for him to want to like again.” This statement suggests that perhaps even her “waiting” may be viewed as pursuit. Her evident sadness was a palpable marker for abandonment.

There was a hopeless sense of this couple slowly running out of the fuel that might propel the repair of a broken marital bond. Each of them had been traumatized by the accident, although J minimized the effects on her husband in the interview, and focused on describing the accident’s extensive and life-altering repercussions for her. Their attachment bond was severely breached and they seemingly have no momentum to re-engage and attend to the emotional injuries. The challenges to their attachment bond could be attributed to stepcouple issues and yet there also were likely unrelated factors that contributed to the ubiquitous theme of abandonment in this marriage.

Respondent 3. D’s unsupported status in her stepfamily caused her pain and suggested feelings related to abandonment. Her adult stepchildren and stepgrandchildren changed her title from “Mom” and “Grandmom” to “D” when her stepchildren’s mother was present. D’s hurt seemed related to experiencing and anticipating rejection from her “steps.” Abandonment became a salient factor for her marriage when her husband deliberately made no input or showed support for her. She felt alone and “outside” her husband’s family, and his silence left her outside. D described her husband as having “no opinion” about her changeable status, as “Grandma” versus “D”, to her grandchildren, reframing it in her husband’s view that his adult children “…will probably never get over the divorce.” Lack of emotional support by her husband, and the resulting feelings abandonment, was a keynote of D’s interview.

D sought her husband’s support in other situations regarding stepparenting, but typically “My husband made no comment.” Her spouse, a “man of few words,” did not want to be “caught in the middle” and therefore offered her little emotional support through the years as she attempted to parent her stepchildren.

Near the beginning of their marriage, D threatened to leave, citing a problematic relationship with her oldest stepchild, a 13-year-old girl. She noted that this prompted her husband to send this child away to live with friends, as someone had to leave. “That lasted two weeks and she was back home. I remember one afternoon when he sat her down and talked with her. I was not in the room during their conversation. My oldest stepdaughter was also my husband’s favorite child.” Now that the stepdaughter was home, D was forced to make a choice to leave, and did not; however, her outsider status and her sense of loneliness and pain were evident as she described the events around this favored child’s seemingly premature return. D painted a compelling picture of her probable sense of abandonment, as she waited outside the room, while her husband and teenage stepdaughter attempted to work out a solution that affected D’s life. This


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