degrees of success since. Nonetheless, L remained cautious and detached, evidenced by her plans for self-protection against repeats of last summer’s brawl with her stepchildren. Her plans actively arrange non-involvement with her stepchildren. Her detachment and subsequent defensive posture are natural responses to repeated, unremitting rejection.
L’s husband had a history of being non-supportive, and in doing so, repeatedly chose to favor his children over his spouse, acts of perceived rejection that promoted detachment. Furthermore, L’s husband had a long history of lying to her. L’s most severe feelings of detachment, expressed in her threat of divorce, were more readily accessible due to earlier assaults on her relational bond from her spouse’s lies.
L believed her husband initially lied to her due to an attempt to save his first marriage for the sake of his children. This involved excluding her, in favor of both his ex-wife and his children. Furthermore, her threat of divorce was directly related to her husband’s not offering her emotional support with her stepchildren. Her detachment is directly related to stepfamily factors.
Respondent 5. Perceived threat/rating: The children: tolerance, fairness, priority / 7.5.
Although there were no overt threats of separation or divorce in B’s story, there were harbingers of detachment in her descriptors. She believed that if they could not resolve the perceived threats to their marriage – tolerance, fairness, and priority – then, “we will not stay together.” She noted that her husband’s perception that she rejected his daughter “…affects the way he interacts with me on a daily basis…We parents have an unconditional love for our children…we don’t for one another.” She also observed that her “…husband has a hard time tolerating my son and my dog. If I were to go as far as to decide I’ll get rid of my dog (and I won’t, by the way)…I don’t think I can love someone who puts his needs to not have my dog around above my love for my dog.” B could envision ceasing to love her husband, and assessed marital love as conditional. These doubts she experienced signaled early signs of detachment.
B described detachment due to protection toward her adolescent son, who was treated “caustically” by his stepfather: “I don’t want to raise my son with what I see as unfairness [in treatment by his stepfather]. I doubt that I can continue to love someone like that.” B’s attachment bond to her husband was threatened by perceiving him as unsafe for her child. There was a sense that her husband’s way of discipline was not merely different than hers, but emotionally harmful, arousing her strong sense of protectiveness and moving her away from her spouse emotionally. She further discussed the pronounced differences between her husband’s treatment of his daughter, her son and herself: “My husband is more interested in the quality of [his daughter’s] daily interactions at the expense of everyone else. It is unfair. I cannot live like that…During periods of time when [my stepdaughter] is with us, my son and I are just along for the ride…We won’t stay together as a couple if we don’t resolve [these issues]…sooner rather than later.”
The overall perception B created in her interview was of thoughtful hopefulness about preventing detachment. “We have not yet said ‘that’s it’…but we have agreed that we cannot spend our lives fighting about these same things without making headway…” and she noted they had gone to counseling to prevent divorce. She believed that all of her