husband sent his oldest daughter away, but she returned in two weeks, forcing D to choose between continuing to endure the coalitions or acting on her threat to abandon the marriage. She chose to stay, and continued to struggle emotionally as the unsupported “outsider.”
Respondent 4. L experienced two pivotal events: the first time her husband lied to her and when she threatened divorce due to her stepchildren’s behaviors toward her. The first time L’s husband lied was prior to their marriage, when told her he was going to work and instead visited his ex-wife. L clearly stated that he did this in hopes of reconciliation for the benefit of his children. In fact, this seemed to make sense to L: the pivotal event was the lie itself. Her partner’s lying primed L for future mistrust, and she began to tape record conversations of her partner when he communicated with his ex- wife and his mother.
The second pivotal event occurred when L became overwhelmed by the perceived negativity of her stepchildren’s behaviors toward her. In anger and frustration, she told her stepchildren that “they had won,” and advised all of them that she was leaving the marriage and putting the house on the market. Although this activated her husband to support her “for once,” she remained prepared to exit the marriage if the situation ever returned to its former negative state. She did not trust her husband’s ability to continue offering her support, as she had made future plans to avoid prolonged contact with her stepchildren and declared that if her situation ever returned to the way it was, she would leave.
Respondent 5. B reported no pivotal events. In summary, with one exception, all the respondents described the threat of divorce or separation in their current marriage. In each case that this occurred, it was pivotal in that it changed the tenor of the respondents’ marriages in a significant way, so that there was noticeable impact from the event following the threat of divorce or separation.