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The decision-making process involved in divorce : a critical incident study Proulx, Ginette M 1991

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THE DECISION—MAKING PROCESS INVOLVED IN DIVORCE: A CRITICAL INCIDENT STUDY by GINETTE M. PROULX Honours B.A., York Univ e r s i t y , 1978 B.S.W., The Unive r s i t y of B r i t i s h Columbia, 1979 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS i n THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES (Department of Counselling Psychology) We accept t h i s t h e s i s as conforming to the required standard THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA March, 1991 ©@GINETTE M. PROULX, 1991 In presenting this thesis in partial fulfilment of the requirements for an advanced degree at the University of British Columbia, I agree that the Library shall make it freely available for reference and study. I further agree that permission for extensive copying of this thesis for scholarly purposes may be granted by the head of my department or by his or her representatives. It is understood that copying or publication of this thesis for financial gain shall not be allowed without my written permission. Department The University of British Columbia Vancouver, Canada DE-6 (2/88) ABSTRACT The present research explores the process of coming to terms with the decision to divorce. The research was conducted with 2 0 women of North-American culture, divorced or separated a minimum of s i x months with no thought of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . The methodology employed retrospective accounts. A semi-structured interview using the c r i t i c a l incident technique pioneered by Flanagan (1954) was used to gather data. The subjects were asked to describe s p e c i f i c incidents which prompted them to reassess t h e i r marriage and eventually decide to separate or divorce. They were also asked to describe incidents which made i t more d i f f i c u l t to come to that decision. A t o t a l of 175 incidents were c o l l e c t e d i l l u s t r a t i n g a range of experiences which either p r e c i p i t a t e d or hindered the decision to separate or divorce. Using an inductive method of analysis, the data was organized i n a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n schema consisting of three superordinate categories - feelings, cognitions, behaviours - and 3 3 subcategories. In addition, a summary of the marital problems highlighted i n the c r i t i c a l incidents i s provided, with examples of the marital dynamics involved. i i F i n a l l y , a four-stage model o u t l i n i n g the process of coming to terms with the decision to divorce was derived from the category system. The model focuses on the intrapsychic dynamics of the subjects i n the decision-making process. The labels given to these stages are disillusionment, ambivalence, cognitive restructuring, and resolution. The findings of the present research are compared and contrasted to those of s o c i a l exchange t h e o r i s t s (Albrecht & Kunz, 1980; Levinger, 1965), stage t h e o r i s t s (Duck, 1982; Kaslow, 1981; Ponzetti & Cate, 1988; Vaughan, 1979), and g r i e f t h e o r i s t s (Crosby, Gage & Raymond, 1983, 1986; Wiseman, 1975). The issues raised i n the present research are discussed from a gender r o l e perspective, i n l i g h t of the theories of Attanucci (1988), Eichenbaum and Orbach (1983), G i l l i g a n (1982), Goodrich, Rampage, Ellman and Halstead (1988), Herman (1977), Lerner (1977), M i l l e r (1976; 1983; 1984; 1986) and Rubin (1983). In conclusion, the category system and model delineated i n the present research o f f e r a comprehensive set of experiences of what f a c i l i t a t e s and hinders the decision to divorce. i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS ABSTRACT i i LIST OF TABLES v i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS v i i CHAPTER 1. INTRODUCTION 1 Research Question 5 CHAPTER 2. LITERATURE REVIEW 7 Overview 7 Soci a l Exchange Theories 9 Stage Theories 19 Other Studies 35 Concluding Remarks 42 CHAPTER 3. METHODOLOGY 45 Rationale for the Choice of Methodology 45 The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique 46 R e l i a b i l i t y and V a l i d i t y of the Technique 47 Description of Research Design 50 Sample 50 Demographic information... 52 Procedure 54 The interview 56 Data Analysis 59 I n i t i a l category construction 59 Refinement of the category system 62 R e l i a b i l i t y 64 Content v a l i d i t y 66 i v CHAPTER 4. RESULTS 68 Q u e s t i o n #1 68 Q u e s t i o n #2 82 Q u e s t i o n #3 87 CHAPTER 5. DISCUSSION 93 Summary o f R e s u l t s 93 S i g n i f i c a n c e o f t h e S t u d y 94 T h e o r e t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e 94 A g e n d e r r o l e p e s p e c t i v e 106 P r a c t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e 122 L i m i t a t i o n s o f t h e s t u d y 12 3 R e c o m m e n d a t i o n s f o r f u t u r e r e s e a r c h 124 C o n c l u d i n g r e m a r k s 128 REFERENCES 13 0 APPENDIX A: TAXONOMY OF C R I T I C A L INCIDENTS 138 I - F e e l i n g s 139 A. F a c i l i t a t i n g I n c i d e n t s 139 B. H i n d e r i n g I n c i d e n t s 148 I I - C o g n i t i o n s 155 A. F a c i l i t a t i n g I n c i d e n t s 155 I I I - B e h a v i o u r s 179 A. F a c i l i t a t i n g I n c i d e n t s 179 B. H i n d e r i n g I n c i d e n t s 185 APPENDIX B: RECRUITMENT NOTICE 188 APPENDIX C: LETTER OF INTRODUCTION 189 APPENDIX D: INTERVIEW QUESTIONS 190 APPENDIX E: SUBJECT CONSENT FORM 192 V L I S T OF TABLES Table 3.1 - D i s t r i b u t i o n of sample according to years of marriage p r i o r to separation 53 Table 4.1 - M a r i t a l problems related to the decision to dissolve the marriage 70 Table 4.2 - Reasons for staying 80 Table 4.3 - Subcategories under Category I - Feelings 83 Table 4.4 - Subcategories under Category II - Cognitions.... 84 Table 4.5 - Subcategories under Category III - Behaviours... 85 v i ACKNOWLEDGEMENTS I am g r a t e f u l t o s e v e r a l p e o p l e who h a v e c o n t r i b u t e d i n one way o r a n o t h e r t o t h e c o m p l e t i o n o f t h i s t h e s i s . My mo s t s i n c e r e t h a n k s t o t h e c o m m i t t e e members, D r . J o h n F r i e s e n , f o r h i s u n r e s e r v e d s u p p o r t a n d e n c o u r a g e m e n t , a n d t o D r . W a l t e r B o l d t . I a l s o f e e l e n d e b t e d t o a l l t h e women who p a r t i c i p a t e d i n t h i s s t u d y a n d s h a r e d t h e i r l i f e s t o r i e s s o o p e n l y w i t h me. My h u s b a n d , M a r c Roy, d e s e r v e s s p e c i a l m e n t i o n f o r h i s e m o t i o n a l a n d p r a c t i c a l s u p p o r t t h r o u g h t h e e x t e n d e d p e r i o d o f b r i n g i n g t h i s p r o j e c t t o t e r m . My t h a n k s a l s o t o s e v e r a l f r i e n d s who h a v e shown a c t i v e i n t e r e s t a n d , i n p a r t i c u l a r , t o D r . C h r i s t i n e L i o t t a a n d S h e o l l a g h F i t z g e r a l d who h a v e e d i t e d t h i s m a n u s c r i p t . I w o u l d be r e m i s s i f I d i d n o t m e n t i o n , m y m e n t o r , M r s . M a r i o n D e m i s c h , who h a s b e e n a m a j o r s o u r c e o f i n s p i r a t i o n o v e r t h e y e a r s a n d o u r s o n , M a t h i e u , who h a s t a u g h t me w h a t i s m o s t p r e c i o u s i n l i f e . v i i 1 CHAPTER 1 Introduction The body of l i t e r a t u r e on the breakdown of rela t i o n s h i p s i s extensive. Researchers have noted a multitude of factors'associated with the phenomenon. There i s much confusion, however, as to what i s a c t u a l l y meant by marriage breakdown. Defi n i t i o n s vary widely from one researcher to another. Terms such as marital i n s t a b i l i t y , disruption, d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n and f a i l u r e have a l l been used to connote marital breakdown and yet these terms do not necessarily r e l a t e to the same concept. This creates problems i n t r y i n g to understand and compare various studies and theories. Newcomb and Bentler (1981) use the term "marital breakdown" i n a general way to r e f e r to the existence of problems i n a marriage. At t h i s junction, what i s important to note i s that marital breakdown does not follow a simple cause and e f f e c t formula, but i s a complex, i n t e r a c t i v e process involving the two marriage partners (Duck, 1982; Kressel, Jaffee, Tuchman, Watson, & Deutsch, 1980; Newcomb & Bentler, 1981; Rasmussen & Ferraro, 1979). Researchers have been studying r e l a t i o n s h i p problems for many decades. The e a r l i e s t studies of marital breakdown were b a s i c a l l y a t h e o r e t i c a l . They related variables such as demographic factors, the spouses' 2 background, personality t r a i t s and s o c i a l antecedents to marital d i s s o l u t i o n . A more recent example of t h i s l i n e of inquiry i s T i i t (1981). The 1960's saw an attempt to formulate theories and operationalize variables i n order to provide a conceptual framework within which to make sense of the various empirical findings. Research i n the seventies and up to the present has expanded the areas considered relevant to a complete theory of marital d i s s o l u t i o n to include post-divorce adjustment (Bloom & Caldwell, 1981; Davis and Aron, 1988; Gerstel, Riessman & Rosenfield, 1985; Kitson & Sussman, 1982; Spanier & Casto, 1979). For a detailed review of these studies and the methodological issues that have arisen from them, the reader i s refered to Kitson, Babri and Roach (1985), Laws (1971), Newcomb and Bentler (1981), White and Mika (1983). Divorce i s both the end r e s u l t and an indicator of l/ severe marital breakdown. One explanation for the high incidence of divorce __in our era . _is._. the.rapid c u l t u r a l transformation^ which followed the Second^World_War_(Norton & Glick, 1979). Among the changes that resulted, i n d u s t r i a l i z a t i o n and increased affluence have contributed to changing people's d e f i n i t i o n of s a t i s f a c t i o n i n marriage (Hunt & Hunt, 1977; Nye & Berardo, 1973). With women acquiring greater economic independence, the t r a d i t i o n a l 3 p a t r i a r c h a l value system has been challenged and a gradual s h i f t i n the balance of power between the sexes has taken place (Scanzoni, 1979). The women's movement, i n p a r t i c u l a r , has contributed to the higher incidence of divorce by changing women's expectations of themselves and of t h e i r way of l i f e . The trend towards egalitarianism and the d i f f i c u l t y of partners i n adjusting to changing roles has caused severe s t r a i n on marriages, often r e s u l t i n g i n divorce (Newcomb & Bentler, 1981). Another alleged factor for the soaring rate of divorce i s increasing l i f e expectancy which means that marriage partners have to go through many more l i f e t r a n s i t i o n s with each other nowadays than i n the past, when the natural l i f e s p a n of a marriage was shorter due to bereavement (Divorce: Law and the Family i n Canada, 1983). Other influences on divorce patterns are outlined i n Bohmer and Lebow (1978). Beside modernization, they include the kind of kinship system prevalent i n the society i n question, the status of women, values concerning ownership of property, r e l i g i o n and i t s influence on the s o c i o - p o l i t i c a l system, the r o l e of the state i n governing personal r e l a t i o n s h i p s and the p r e v a i l i n g meaning of marriage. This c l a r i f i e s how outside factors impinge upon the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p and have a determining influence on i t s duration and/or termination. A t t i t u d i n a l changes along with lower economic, s o c i a l and l e g a l b a r r i e r s have 4 influenced the way we think of divorce i n Western s o c i e t i e s . Divorce i s now considered an acceptable a l t e r n a t i v e to an unhappy marriage. I t i s c l e a r that s o c i a l mores and customs have changed s i g n i f i c a n t l y . Many couples have discarded l e g a l f o r m a l i t i e s and l i v e i n common-law unions. Newcomb and Bentler (1981) report an e i g h t - f o l d increase i n cohabitation i n the seventies. Considering that the s o c i a l climate i n general i s more tolerant and accepting of t h i s type of arrangement, i t can be i n f e r r e d that couples who decide to marry are highly committed to the concepts t r a d i t i o n a l l y associated with marriage such as permanence and the desire to have a family. Unlike marriage, divorce has been c a l l e d a c u l t u r a l l y unscheduled event (Hagestad & Smyer, 1982). I t i s a time of t r a n s i t i o n which i s t o t a l l y unstructured. There are no vows, no celebrations or s i m i l a r r i t e s of passage to make i t easier for the marriage partners who are disengaging from one another (Hancock, 1980). There i s wide agreement that . the divorce process i s a very s t r e s s f u l psychological experience (Chiriboga & Cutler, 1977; Charlton, 1980; Dasteel, 1982; Gerstel, Riessman & Rosenfield, 1985; Herman, 1977; Kitson & Sussman, 1982; Kraus, 1979). The losses to the spouses and children i n terms of personal meaning and s o c i a l d e f i n i t i o n have been outlined (Hancock, 5 1980). Research on the g r i e f that accompanies divorce has also been done (Crosby, Gage & Raymond, 1983; Crosby, Lybarger & Mason, 1986; Herman, 1974; 1977). Gender differences i n adjustment to separation or divorce have been investigated (Bloom & Caldwell, 1981; Gerstel et a l . , 1985). I t has also been suggested that divorce, a l b e i t a p a i n f u l experience, i s a c r i s i s that provides unique opportunities for personal growth (Kraus, 1979; Wiseman, 1975). The need to conceptualize divorce as a process i n the l i f e c y c l e of the family rather than a single event has been noted (Ahrons, 1980; Duck, 1982; Kaslow, 1984). However, despite the vast amount of l i t e r a t u r e on the topic, there i s s t i l l a paucity of research focusing on the divorce process as such and even less focusing on the divorce decision from the perspective of the i n d i v i d u a l s involved (Kitson et a l . , 1985; Turner, 1985). Research Question The present study explores the psychological experience of divorce and i t s concomitant f e e l i n g s , cognitions and behaviours from the perspective of women who decided to dissolve t h e i r marriage. The phrase "emotional divorce", coined by Bohannan (1973), i s used throughout t h i s paper to d i s t i n g u i s h t h i s aspect of the t o t a l experience from i t s counterparts, for example the l e g a l and economic aspects of 6 divorce. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , the research question i s three-fold: 1. What c r i t i c a l events, i f any, played a s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e i n the women's decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage? 2. What were the feelings, cognitions and behaviours of the subjects i n connection with these events? 3. Are there i d e n t i f i a b l e common themes that i l l u s t r a t e the process that the subjects went through i n coming to terms with the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage? A fundamental assumption underlying the present research i s that the process of emotional divorce, characterized by the withholding of emotional energy from the marriage, begins well before the actual decision to separate or to divorce. For years, an i n d i v i d u a l might stay i n an unsatisfying marriage u n t i l he or she decides to take some action. This study w i l l explore what triggered the decision to leave the marriage. 7 CHAPTER 2 L i t e r a t u r e review Overview Marriage i s the intimate union of a man and a woman. It i s also a l e g a l , s o c i a l , and economic i n s t i t u t i o n . Hence, the d i s s o l u t i o n of a marriage has wide ramifications for those involved and f o r society at large. The investment that the spouses have with each other i n terms of emotional energy and time, combined with other factors such as j o i n t assets, children, and the sheer habit of l i v i n g together for a number of years create a powerful bond. In fact, the marital bond has been found to be strong even i n unhappy marriages where disrespect, mistrust and disdain are prevalent. This i s a t t r i b u t e d to the emotional experiences that a couple have shared over time (Weiss, 1979). As noted e a r l i e r , the period preceding the actual decision to divorce has been found to be a very s t r e s s f u l time for the spouses, e s p e c i a l l y for the person considering divorce. I t i s generally characterized by a l o t of ambivalence (Bohannon, 1973; Duck, 1982; Ponzetti & Cate, 1988; Vaughan, 1979). Kressel and Deutsch (1977) have refered to i t as a time of "marital f l i p - f l o p " where each spouse alternates i n pushing for and opposing the idea of divorce. This i s noteworthy because i t avoids the 8 c o n c e p t s o f v i c t i m a n d v i c t i m i z e r o f t e n a s s o c i a t e d w i t h d i v o r c e a n d r e i n f o r c e d b y t h e l e g a l s y s t e m a n d i t s a d v e r s a r i a l p r o c e s s i n t h e s e t t l e m e n t o f d i v o r c e . The r e a l i t i e s o f e m o t i o n a l d i v o r c e , a s c o n c e p t u a l i z e d by B o h a n n a n (1973) a n d V a u g h a n ( 1 9 7 9 ) , a r e o f t e n o b s c u r e d when t h e l e g a l m a c h i n e r y i s s e t i n m o t i o n . The d i s s o l u t i o n p r o c e s s o f r o m a n t i c r e l a t i o n s h i p s , i n g e n e r a l , h a s b e e n t h e f o c u s o f s e v e r a l s t u d i e s ( e g . , B a x t e r , 1984; L e e , 1984; L l o y d & C a t e , 1 9 8 5 ; L y n c h & B l i n d e r , 1 9 8 3 ) . R e g a r d i n g t h e m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p a n d i t s d e m i s e , t h e m a j o r f o c u s i n t h e l i t e r a t u r e h a s b e e n on d e t e r m i n a n t s / a n d o r p r e d i c t o r s o f d i v o r c e . An e x a m p l e i s L a n e r (1978) who u s e d a n i n d u c t i v e m e t h o d o f t h e o r y b u i l d i n g t o d e v e l o p a m o d e l t h a t p r e d i c t s m a r i t a l d i s s o l u t i o n b y i n t e g r a t i n g c u l t u r a l , s o c i e t a l , d y a d i c a n d i n d i v i d u a l l e v e l f a c t o r s . The r e l a t i o n s h i p b e t w e e n m a r i t a l q u a l i t y a n d m a r i t a l s t a b i l i t y h a s a l s o r e c e i v e d a l o t o f a t t e n t i o n ( L e w i s & S p a n i e r , 19 7 9 ; 1 9 8 1 ; Thomas & K l e b e r , 1 9 8 1 ; Schumm & B u g a i g h i s , 1 9 8 5 ; U t n e , H a t f i e l d , T r a upmann & G r e e n b e r g e r , 1 9 8 4 ) . F a c t o r s t h a t e i t h e r f a c i l i t a t e o r a c t a s r e s t r a i n t s a g a i n s t m a r r i a g e d i s s o l u t i o n h a v e b e e n i n v e s t i g a t e d ( L e v i n g e r , 1 9 6 5 ; 1979) a s w e l l a s t h e i m p a c t o f a l t e r n a t i v e s a t t r a c t i o n s a n d e x t e r n a l p r e s s u r e s on m a r i t a l s t a b i l i t y ( G r e e n & S p o r a k o w s k i , 1 9 8 3 ; Thompson & S p a n i e r , 1 9 8 3 ; U d r y , 1 9 8 1 ; 1 9 8 3 ) . 9 The divorce process has been conceptualized i n many ways. However, two major approaches are di s c e r n i b l e , s o c i a l exchange theory and stage theory. The following l i t e r a t u r e review i s primarily organized around these two th e o r e t i c a l frameworks. S o c i a l Exchange Theories An element common to many of the theories of marital d i s s o l u t i o n i s that the reader i s presented with a r a t i o n a l choice model i n which the i n d i v i d u a l assesses the d e s i r a b i l i t y of maintaining the marriage by comparing costs and benefits. For example, Levinger's (1965) work on marital cohesiveness and d i s s o l u t i o n provides a basic framework from which to consider the factors underlying marriage d u r a b i l i t y and divorce. Marit a l cohesiveness i s viewed as the net sum of bar r i e r s against d i s s o l u t i o n of the rel a t i o n s h i p and p o s i t i v e bonds or att r a c t i o n s for the spouse. Restraining forces operating to keep the re l a t i o n s h i p i n t a c t include feelings of ob l i g a t i o n towards the spouse and/or dependent children; moral prescriptions stemming from r e l i g i o u s convictions; external pressures such as those exerted through primary group a f f i l i a t i o n s , community stigma and l e g a l and economic r e s t r a i n t s . In a more p o s i t i v e sense, attractions tending to maintain the union are a f f e c t i o n a l rewards such as esteem f o r the 10 spouse, companionship and sexual enjoyment; socio-economic rewards rel a t e d to the husband's income, education and occupation as well as home ownership; s i m i l a r i t y i n s o c i a l status on the basis of r e l i g i o n , education and age. Levinger's model (1965; 1979) attempts to predict the l i k e l i h o o d of marital d i s s o l u t i o n by assessing simultaneously the attractions i n the marriage, the ba r r i e r s to di s s o l v i n g the union and alt e r n a t i v e a t t r a c t i o n s outside the marriage. A major shortcoming of t h i s type of approach to the decision to divorce i s that i t assumes that human beings are always r a t i o n a l , weighing the advantages and disadvantages of the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p i n a cool and l o g i c a l manner. Af f e c t i s t o t a l l y ignored. Another l i m i t a t i o n pointed out by Newcomb and Bentler (1981) i s that the model overlooks the r o l e of c o n f l i c t and negotiation to redress perceived i n e q u i t i e s i n the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . Nevertheless, Levinger's work (1965) was the s t a r t i n g point for several other t h e o r i s t s . For example, Albrecht and Kunz (1980) draw from h i s framework to explain the decision to divorce. As mentioned e a r l i e r , s o c i a l exchange theory provides a r a t i o n a l choice perspective which views a l l s o c i a l r e l a t i o n s h i p s including marriage i n terms of costs and 11 rewards. A postulate i s that marital s a t i s f a c t i o n does not automatically r e s u l t i n marital s t a b i l i t y , nor does d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n necessarily r e s u l t i n marital d i s s o l u t i o n . The concepts of comparison l e v e l (CL) and comparison l e v e l f o r alternatives (CL ALT), o r i g i n a l l y developed by Thibaut and Kelley (1959), are used to explain why unhappy marriages may be stable for lack of a better a l t e r n a t i v e and happy marriages unstable because the person has other alt e r n a t i v e s which are more a t t r a c t i v e than the present s i t u a t i o n . A key assumption i s that an i n d i v i d u a l ' s happiness or s a t i s f a c t i o n i n marriage i s not based on some fix e d standard. Rather, i t depends upon the i n d i v i d u a l ' s ongoing assessment of what the r e l a t i o n s h i p has to o f f e r compared to the costs entailed i n maintaining i t . CL i s what the person believes he or she deserves i n terms of outcomes or rewards from the r e l a t i o n s h i p . When rewards from a given r e l a t i o n s h i p exceed the comparison l e v e l , the l i k e l i h o o d of d i s s o l u t i o n i s n i l . On the other hand, CL ALT represents the outcome l e v e l that a person thinks he or she can obtain from various a l t e r n a t i v e s . There i s a r e c i p r o c a l r e l a t i o n between CL and CL ALT. When the person's CL ALT increases, h i s a t t r a c t i o n to h i s marriage may decrease accordingly and vice versa. Hence, marital s a t i s f a c t i o n i s r e l a t i v e . I t can change over time and can be influenced by many external 12 fa c t o r s . Levinger (1979) and Albrecht and Kunz (1980) agree that the decision to leave a marriage w i l l take place "only a f t e r d r a s t i c s h i f t s have occurred i n reward-cost outcomes" (Albrecht & Kunz, 1980, p. 322). The findings of Albrecht and Kunz (1980), based on s e l f - r e p o r t data, indicate that the most frequent reason or cost c i t e d for marital breakdown i s i n f i d e l i t y . Other reasons are loss of love for each other, f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s , emotional problems and physical abuse. Albrecht and Kunz (1980) focused on reasons f o r divorce and used a questionnaire to c o l l e c t data. In contrast, the current study explores the subject's experience i n making the decision to divorce. In-depth interviews are used to generate comprehensive data about the subject's emotions, thinking and behaviours i n that process. Exchange t h e o r i s t s borrowed two other major concepts from sociology to predict marital s t a b i l i t y : The "concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e " and "role competence". The former was introduced by Levinger (1965) when he refered to the p o t e n t i a l l y disruptive e f f e c t on marital cohesiveness of alternate sources of a f f e c t i o n a l and economic rewards. Others (Edwards & Saunders, 1981; Kalb, 1983) also consider i t important i n t h e i r t h e o r e t i c a l formulations of the decision to divorce. Kalb (1983) elaborates on the concept of the 13 a l t e r n a t i v e and postulates that i t i s the chief factor influencing the decision to divorce. He r e f e r s to the decision-making process involved as one of mental weighing of "what the marriage has to o f f e r as compared to the perceived a l t e r n a t i v e " (p. 348). The evaluation that a person makes of his or her marriage i s based on factors inherent i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p such as f e e l i n g s towards the spouse, personality c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , i n t e r a c t i o n a l and intrapsychic needs met and unmet within the marriage. However, i t i s also based on factors that are l a r g e l y independent of the r e l a t i o n s h i p , which he claims form a person's conception of the a l t e r n a t i v e . These include the occupational i d e n t i t y and f i n a n c i a l security of the spouse contemplating divorce, his/her educational background, the presence of children and t h e i r ages, the age of the spouses when married and the number of years married, t h e i r current age, the perception of one's own physical attractiveness, f e e l i n g s and attitudes about divorce i n general, divorce history, nature and type of pre-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s and the presence or absence of a t h i r d party. Kalb^s (1983) model seems v a l i d . However, i t has not been tested empirically. Role competence (Nye & Berardo, 1973; Nye & McLaughlin, 1976) i s considered to be another important predictor of marital s a t i s f a c t i o n and s t a b i l i t y . Conversely, one can 14 assume that r o l e incompetence would be a strong determinant of marital d i s s o l u t i o n . Nye and McLaughlin (1976) propose a model derived from group theory which outlines s i x basic propositions. Propositions f i v e and s i x are quoted because they are d i r e c t l y relevant to the current study: 5. Individuals (and couples) who receive good reward-cost outcomes from each other are l i k e l y to be s a t i s f i e d with t h e i r marriages. 6. Individuals (and couples) s a t i s f i e d with t h e i r marriages are less l i k e l y to dissolve them through divorce or separation (p. 193). Their findings provide support for the research hypothesis, that the competence of the partner i n various family r o l e s i s d i r e c t l y to the marital s a t i s f a c t i o n of the spouse. This was e s p e c i a l l y the case for wives, whose husband's competence " i n a l l the family r o l e s contributes to the p r e d i c t i o n of the s a t i s f a c t i o n of the wife" (Nye & McLaughlin, p. 200). Of the s i x r o l e s tested to predict marital s a t i s f a c t i o n for wives - provider, c h i l d care, c h i l d s o c i a l i z a t i o n , recreational, therapeutic and sexual -competence i n the therapeutic and r e c r e a t i o n a l r o l e s ranked as the most important. Thus, i t was i n f e r r e d that the r o l e s which involve companionship are the most valued by the wife. Next i n importance were the r o l e s which are t r a d i t i o n a l l y l e f t to the wife, such as c h i l d care and 15 c h i l d s o c i a l i z a t i o n . The husband's competence i n these rol e s was also a good indice of marital s a t i s f a c t i o n for the wife. I t i s suggested that wives may take f o r granted the provider and sexual roles of men, since they were less important i n predicting marital s a t i s f a c t i o n for wives. The major l i m i t a t i o n of the research reviewed so f a r i s that i t does not investigate the process involved i n making the decision to divorce. As pointed out by Edwards and Saunders (1981), not enough attention has been given to the d i s s o l u t i o n process as such. Edwards' and Saunders' (1981) model i s comprehensive and integrates many of the major constructs already discussed. E s s e n t i a l l y , the model outlines a sequential process leading to marriage d i s s o l u t i o n . I t s components are presented i n the form of seven b i v a r i a t e propositions which are linked causally. The spouses' s o c i a l backgrounds, t h e i r adjustment i n the premarital period, the congruity of the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p , the permeability of b a r r i e r s and saliency of a l t e r n a t i v e s , the comparison l e v e l of a l t e r n a t i v e s and goodness of outcome deriving from the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p , and the degree of commitment to the marriage are a l l elements which are i n t e r r e l a t e d and predict the l i k e l i h o o d of marital d i s s o l u t i o n . In terms of the research question posed e a r l i e r , namely, what process did the subjects go through i n coming 16 to terms with the decision to end t h e i r marriage, Edwards' and Saunders' (1981) model i s not very u s e f u l . The sequential process outlined above i s not one of decision-making. Moreover, the findings are presented i n the form of b i v a r i a t e propositions although few i f any psychological phenomena can be so described. The authors are the f i r s t to acknowledge the shortcomings of t h e i r model. They point out that the various components of the model are given as though they had equal v a l i d i t y despite the f a c t that some are better substantiated by evidence than others. They also recognize that a multivariate analysis of the data would most l i k e l y cause r e v i s i o n s i n t h e i r findings. While the researchers claim to investigate the "underlying processual nature of d i s s o l u t i o n " (p. 380), the model examines correlates of marital breakdown. An important work which incorporates exchange theory and a t t r i b u t i o n theory i s presented by Kelley (1979). Although Kelley's model was developed with respect to intimate interpersonal relationships i n general, Newcomb and Bentler (1981) adapted i t to marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The three basic components of t h i s model are the following: (1) "Outcome interdependence" re l a t e s to the capacity of each partner to influence the behaviour of the other. (2) "Transformation of motivation" r e l a t e s to the a b i l i t y and q u a l i t y of responding to the other which, i n turn, 17 transforms the i n t e r a c t i o n a l pattern and structure of the re l a t i o n s h i p . (3) F i n a l l y , " d i s p o s i t i o n a l a t t r i b u t i o n s " are made by the partners on the basis of the i n t e r a c t i o n a l s h i f t s that have resulted "from mutual responding to interdependency patterns" (Newcomb & Bentler, 1981, p. 90) . C o n f l i c t negotiation and resolution i s an e s s e n t i a l part of any intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p . As such i t must be part of the equation when considering marital d i s s o l u t i o n . Kelley's model (1979) describes how negative a t t r i b u t i o n s can r e s u l t i n escalating c o n f l i c t and eventual marital d i s s o l u t i o n . For example, when the needs of one of the spouses are not met i n the re l a t i o n s h i p herein refered to as the "interdependency structure" and the other partner i s either unable or unwilling to respond i n a way to r e l i e v e the d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , a negative d i s p o s i t i o n might be attr i b u t e d to the partner, for example "He does not care for me...love me...care about t h i s marriage". Repeated disappointments w i l l r e s u l t i n an accumulation of negative d i s p o s i t i o n s attributed to the partner. This, i n turn, w i l l lead to an escalation of c o n f l i c t and eventual marital breakdown. The content issues may vary from general r e l a t i o n s h i p concerns to s p e c i f i c behaviours, r o l e performance, discordant values or marital expectations. Nevertheless, what i s key, at the process l e v e l , i s that 18 the issues are not resolved s a t i s f a c t o r i l y between the couple, r e s u l t i n g i n a series of u n f u l f i l l i n g transformations and negative a t t r i b u t i o n s eventually leading to marriage d i s s o l u t i o n . Newcomb and Bentler (1981) have demonstrated how general concepts of c o n f l i c t negotiation can be applied to the marital dyad and further our understanding of marital breakdown. A c r i t i c i s m of s o c i a l exchange models i s that they f a i l to explore the re l a t i o n s h i p dynamics of the couple as i t moves towards divorce. Another shortcoming of exchange models, pointed out by Wright (1988), i s that they focus mainly on s t r u c t u r a l and demographic variables and t h e i r influence on marital outcomes. Also, tangible resources such as education, income, home ownership are given a disproportionate weight i n the balance, while intangible resources such as self-esteem, autonomy and prestige that partners e i t h e r gain or lose i n t h e i r interactions with one another are e n t i r e l y overlooked. Wright (1988) proposes a model which borrows from s o c i a l exchange theory and cognitive consistency theory. He questions the assumption made by s o c i a l exchange t h e o r i s t s , that i n d i v i d u a l s i n a r e l a t i o n s h i p always perceive accurately t h e i r outcomes and a l t e r n a t i v e s . He emphasizes that perceptions change with new information acquired through experience and argues that a model of the 19 divorce process should take into account "the r e c i p r o c a l e f f e c t s between perceptions of outcomes, comparison l e v e l s , and a l t e r n a t i v e s " (Wright, 1988, p. 6). A premise of cognitive consistency theory, that i n d i v i d u a l s s t r i v e for i n t e r n a l consistency, i s the cornerstone of h i s model. The decision-making involved i n divorce i s discussed as i t r e l a t e s to three decisions points i n the process: 1. The decision to separate or not; 2. to f i l e for divorce vs. to re c o n c i l e ; 3. to obtain a f i n a l decree vs. to reconcile. The action taken at each of these junctures i s based on (a) the e f f e c t s of former decisions, (b) the assessment of current outcomes and comparison l e v e l s , (c) the "degree of power i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p , and (d) resources possessed" (Wright, 1988, p. 7). This model i s more comprehensive than the previous ones reviewed. I t hig h l i g h t s some of the intrapsychic and interpersonal aspects of making the decision to divorce and, therefore, i s a valuable addition to the l i t e r a t u r e . Stage Theories Several stage models of the divorce process e x i s t . (Bohannan, 1973; Crosby et a l . , 1983; 1986; Duck, 1982; Ponzetti & Cate, 1988; Kaslow, 1981; Kessler, 1975; Shapiro, 1984; Vaughan, 1979; Wiseman, 1975). Stage theories postulate a predictable sequence of stages that an i n d i v i d u a l or a couple undergoes i n the process of 20 divorce. Only those models which attempt to describe i n some depth the experience of divorce - from the psychological standpoint - w i l l be reviewed. Bohannan's (1973) model r e f l e c t s the complexity of the divorce experience and takes into account the personal and dyadic as well as the f i l i a l and s o c i a l dimensions. There are s i x overlapping "stations" to t h i s model: Emotional divorce, l e g a l divorce, economic divorce, co-parental divorce, community divorce and psychic divorce. The model does not assume that the experience of divorce i s l i n e a r . As a matter of fact, the author stresses that the complexity of divorce i s due to the f a c t that a person may experience a l l of the above at once. Bohannan (1973) distinguishes between emotional and psychic divorce. The f i r s t r e f e r s to the deteriorating r e l a t i o n s h i p , while the l a t t e r r e f e r s to the i n d i v i d u a l ' s search f o r autonomy and wholeness i n the recovery phase. Only the f i r s t stage of hi s model i s presented since i t deals with the process taking place before physical separation and, as such, has d i r e c t relevance to t h i s study. The root of emotional divorce, according to Bohannan (1973), i s the i n a b i l i t y to t o l e r a t e change i n the partner. Emotional divorce i s characterized by a withholding of one's emotional energy from the r e l a t i o n s h i p . The i n i t i a l hopes and expectations have been 21 replaced by disappointment (Kessler's disillusionment stage, 1975). I t i s a time when ambivalence towards the spouse and the marriage p r e v a i l s . The spouse are growing apart, often investing most of t h e i r emotional energy elsewhere, be i t i n t h e i r careers, i n community involvement, or i n t h e i r parenting r o l e s . Displacement of c o n f l i c t i s another hallmark of t h i s stage. Instead of dealing with the underlying issues at the core of t h e i r marital d i f f i c u l t i e s , couples w i l l often argue over sex and money, areas which are alleged to be commonly accepted ones to disagree about i n our culture. This r e s u l t s i n an increasing b l u r r i n g of the r e a l problem areas and subsequent i n a b i l i t y to resolve them s a t i s f a c t o r i l y . Bohannan (1973) provides a broad overview of the entir e process of marriage d i s s o l u t i o n , including the l e g a l , s o c i a l and economic dimensions. His formulation of the ind i v i d u a l ' s inner experience i n dealing with divorce, although not very detailed, i s nevertheless relevant to the present research. The present research intends to focus on "emotional divorce" as Bohannan c a l l s i t . More s p e c i f i c a l l y , i t w i l l explore the experience of women as they are struggling with the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. Kessler's (1975) seven-stage model describes the emotional experience of divorce, p r i m a r i l y from a dyadic 22 perspective. The "disillusionment stage" marks the onset of the divorce process. I t i s characterized by a greater awareness of major differences, more time spent dwelling on the negative, and disappointment. I f the differences are not discussed and resolved, the couple moves on to the "erosion stage". Vague feelings of discontent are common i n the erosion stage. The spouses may not know exactly what the source(s) of t h e i r d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n are. Nevertheless, the problems are surfacing i n the form of negative communication, sexual d i f f i c u l t i e s and a desire to look outside the r e l a t i o n s h i p to f u l f i l l unmet needs. At t h i s stage, the couple i s s t i l l open to working things out and many who seek counselling may f i n d that i t provides them with the opportunity, support, and communication s k i l l s needed to explore problem areas and a i r grievances. This may lead to a renegotiation of the i m p l i c i t marital contract. F a i l i n g that, d e t e r i o r a t i o n of the marriage continues and eventually detachment sets i n . Typical of the "detachment stage" i s not caring enough to f i g h t any longer. Since the important underlying issues have not been dealt with successfully, communication becomes s u p e r f i c i a l l e s t c o n f l i c t s be f u e l l e d anew. Intimacy and shared experiences decrease markedly. Thoughts of separation and/or divorce become more frequent, 23 at l e a s t f or the spouse who f e e l s caught i n an unsatisfactory arrangement. The model takes into account the f a c t that the process described above may not be mutual. Consequently, for the spouse who i s s t i l l committed to the marriage, anger and bargaining are common. As a couple moves towards separation, events and decisions concerning the v i a b i l i t y of the marriage gain momentum. At t h i s stage, reversing the process i s very d i f f i c u l t because one or both spouses are usually too emotionally disengaged to invest time and e f f o r t i n the marriage. "Physical separation", the most c l e a r l y delineated stage, i s fraught with confusion, uncertainty, and disorganization. Many l i f e s t y l e adjustments have to be made as l e g a l , f i n a n c i a l , and custody matters are resolved. I t i s a highly s t r e s s f u l time, one when a multitude of feelings are experienced and must be worked through. To name a few, there i s sadness, anger, loneliness, anxiety, a sense of f a i l u r e , f e e l i n g s of g u i l t and sometimes r e l i e f . Low self-esteem i s common because the i n d i v i d u a l has to cope with so many new demands that his/her usual coping mechanisms and s k i l l s are strained beyond capacity. The f i f t h stage i s "mourning". The major task involved i s twofold: Grieving for the loss of the marriage 24 and a l l that i t entailed and moving closer to accepting the new r e a l i t y . In other words, coming to terms with the los s . I t should be noted that t h i s task w i l l be e s p e c i a l l y d i f f i c u l t for the spouse who did not i n i t i a t e the separation or divorce, since feelings of abandonment are accentuated by the r e j e c t i o n (Kelly, 1982). I t i s generally acknowledged that i t i s easier for the s i g n i f i c a n t other to deal with the loss as a r e s u l t of bereavement rather than i f the loss i s due to a divorce. The f i n a l i t y of death hastens acceptance (Crosby et a l . , 1983; Vaughan, 1979). In divorce, however, ambivalence toward the spouse combined with on-going contact concerning j o i n t assets or parenting issues serve to t r i g g e r the pain of the loss anew. This often r e s u l t s i n fantasies about the past which prevent the i n d i v i d u a l from d i r e c t i n g a l l his/her energies to dealing with the present. "Second Adolescence" and "Hard Work" are the l a s t stages of the process of emotional divorce. They correspond to Bohannan's (1973) psychic divorce. In second adolescence, the major task i s to become autonomous i n a l l areas of l i f e . I t i s a time of exploration, value c l a r i f i c a t i o n , and e s p e c i a l l y for i n d i v i d u a l s who married young, i t i s a time where i d e n t i t y issues are very prominent. Sexual experimentation i s often part of t h i s process. I f the i n d i v i d u a l progresses through t h i s stage 25 s a t i s f a c t o r i l y , then self-esteem w i l l increase and the person w i l l generally f e e l more p o s i t i v e about l i f e . Hard work re f e r s to the process of integration which must take place. The i n d i v i d u a l assesses the events that led up to the divorce, recognizes his/her part i n bringing t h i s about and assumes r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r r e d i r e c t i n g his/her l i f e . Kessler's model (1975) i s more det a i l e d than Bohannan's (1973) i n describing the emotional aspects of divorce. I t also outlines several tasks that the couple must face at each of the stages. The model i s limited, however, i n that i t assumes a l i n e a r progression from one stage to another. Vaughan (1979) notes that indeed, the uncoupling process i s not straightforward. Rather i t i s characterized by mutual uncertainty with the r e l a t i o n s h i p moving "back and f o r t h between active t r y i n g (at disengagement) and passive acceptance of the status quo..." (Vaughan, 1979, p. 427). Unlike the foregoing, the present research s p e c i f i c a l l y addresses the experience of one of the spouses, namely the woman who was making the decision to dissolve the marriage. In addition, i t w i l l focus only on the time preceding the physical separation i n an attempt to delineate and capture more f u l l y the various aspects of the experience at the f e e l i n g , cognitive and behavioural l e v e l s . 26 Kaslow's (1981) " d i a c l e c t i c a l " model i s a synthesis of the t h e o r e t i c a l formulations reviewed above. Her model consists of three stages and for each of the stages, she has outlined the corresponding emotions and tasks to be accomplished. For example, the feelings and tasks which accompany the f i r s t stage, refered to as the "pre-divorce-deliberation period" are: Feelings Requisite Actions and Tasks Disillusionment Confronting Partner Quarreling Seeking Therapy Denial D i s s a t i s f a c t i o n A l i e n a t i o n Withdrawal (physical & emotional) Pretending a l l i s okay Attempting to win back a f f e c t i o n Dread Anguish Ambivalence Shock Emptiness Chaos Inadequacy Low self-esteem (Kaslow, 1981, p. 676). The second and t h i r d stages are t i t l e d "During divorce: l i t i g a t i o n period" and "Post-divorce: Re-equilibration". They w i l l not be reviewed as i t i s not d i r e c t l y relevant to the present research. The major l i m i t a t i o n of her work i s 27 that i t i s not grounded i n empirical research. Another synthesis of research concerning r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n i s presented by Duck (1982) who conceptualizes marital breakdown as evolving through four phases: Intrapsychic; dyadic; s o c i a l and grave dressing. The crux of the intrapsychic phase i s the evaluation of one's partner. The spouse contemplating divorce must c l a r i f y s p e c i f i c reasons for deciding that a withdrawal i s warranted. He or she must be able to come up with a personal j u s t i f i c a t i o n i n order to use i t l a t e r to confront the partner. This phase i s characterized by private deliberations and consists of i n d i v i d u a l thoughts, feelings and concerns. In essence, there i s a marked v i g i l a n c e towards the partner's behaviour and an attempt to assess the i n t e r n a l dynamics of the r e l a t i o n s h i p . Energy i s expanded both i n coping with the partner and i n attempting to modify the partner's behaviour. At t h i s point, the partner may become alerted to h i s spouse's d i s a f f e c t i o n through non-verbal cues. One might expect h o s t i l i t y to surface and that the spouse contemplating divorce w i l l be confiding i n others. There might also be noticeable changes i n attitudes to s e l f and l i f e i n general. These are observable behaviours to the spouse and measurable ones to the researcher. In the f i r s t stage, the person i s not necessarily 28 convinced that the r e l a t i o n s h i p i s over. Ambivalence i s often a hallmark of t h i s period, along with hopes for improvement. I t i s not u n t i l the spouse concludes that the r e l a t i o n s h i p i s irredeemably d i s s a t i s f a c t o r y that the person moves into the dyadic phase. In the dyadic phase, the two partners become involved i n the task of reassessing the r e l a t i o n s h i p and deciding whether i t can be repaired or should be dissolved. This changes the dynamic of the s i t u a t i o n from private deliberations to having to consider the partner's point of view. For example, the person may be presented with a l t e r n a t i v e explanations of events which he or she had, hitherto, regarded as c r u c i a l i n the decision to confront the partner or not. Open discussion may bring an awareness of the actual costs and implications of a disengagement. At t h i s juncture, resolve may be shaken. Frequently, t h i s period i s one of o s c i l l a t i o n between r e c o n c i l i a t i o n and withdrawal. The partners need to answer questions such as whether or not i t i s r e a l i s t i c to expect the r e l a t i o n s h i p to work. I f the answer i s negative, the f i n a l steps of t h i s stage involve preparations for the post-dissolution stage. In essence, t h i s requires them to create a "public story" to explain the breakdown of the r e l a t i o n s h i p . In the s o c i a l phase, the s o c i a l network becomes the background for the d i s s o l v i n g marriage. The partners must 29 account fo r the disengagement to themselves and to others. A major issue of that stage i s the change of status from being a couple to being single. In a society where couplehood i s valued, an i n d i v i d u a l must not only face personal feelings of bereavement and f a i l u r e but must also deal with awkward po s i t i o n of being s i n g l e . The s o c i a l network i t s e l f must also adjust to the loss of a previously acknowledged couple. The l a s t stage, l a b e l l e d grave dressing, r e l a t e s to recovery. I t i s e s s e n t i a l l y a t i d y i n g up of accounts. The former spouses undergo a retrospective analysis of the r e l a t i o n s h i p and of i t s breakdown. The process i s c r u c i a l to coming to terms with r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . Duck's (1982) model highlights both the psychological and s o c i a l aspects of marital d i s s o l u t i o n . However, i t i s yet another t h e o r e t i c a l formulation which i s not grounded i n empirical research. Duck (1982) c a l l s for a systems approach to understanding r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . He stresses that disengagement i s not a s i n g l e event but rather a process composed of constituent elements, a l l of which must be understood and c l e a r l y r e l a t e d to other elements. Building on the work of other g r i e f t h e o r i s t s (e.g., Froiland & Hozman, 1977; Wiseman, 1975), Crosby et a l . (1983) generated considerable information on the divorce 30 process using a q u a l i t a t i v e approach. Their study examined the process of divorce from retrospective accounts of i n d i v i d u a l s . The objective was to determine i f , i n the g r i e f work which accompanies divorce, there i s a sequence of stages s i m i l a r to that postulated i n Kubler-Ross's (1969) model of bereavement. They examined g r i e f resolution i n terms of the sequencing of a f f e c t , cognition and behaviour. They asked t h e i r subjects to write an essay describing t h e i r f e e l i n g s , behaviours and cognitions as they related to t h e i r divorce. The subjects were given questions as guidelines to f a c i l i t a t e t h e i r task. The accounts were analyzed by two independent raters using a simple frequency count. Clusters were made of the various feelings, cognitive and/or awareness statements, and behavioural factors. These were subsequently divided on the basis of who was the more active or the more passive agent i n the divorce. Crosby et a l . (1983) present a model based on three chronological stages: F i r s t serious thought to separation and/or f i l i n g , separation and/or f i l i n g to f i n a l decree, f i n a l decree to penultimate closure. Of p a r t i c u l a r s i g n i f i c a n c e to the current study are the conclusions reached by the researchers about the process of divorce. F i r s t , they discovered a wide variance amongst 31 t h e i r subjects about the manner i n which the l a t t e r reached the decision to divorce and resolved i t f o r themselves. Secondly, the process i t s e l f i s generally not a l i n e a r one. Rather, i t i s marked by c i r c u l a r i t y with "the a f f e c t i v e , cognitive, and behavioral r e a l i t i e s occur, change, convert, and reoccur i n a c y c l i c a l manner" (p. 17). F i n a l l y , they found a d i s c e r n i b l e time lag between the active and the passive agent i n the r e s o l u t i o n of the divorce process, "with the passive agent lagging behind the active agent" (Crosby et a l . 1983, p. 17). However, the difference between the active and passive agent was not confirmed i n t h e i r follow-up study (Crosby et a l . , 1986). As mentioned e a r l i e r , t h e i r major i n t e r e s t was to f i n d out i n what ways the g r i e f r e solution process, as a r e s u l t of divorce, d i f f e r e d from that r e s u l t i n g from the loss of the spouse through death. They concluded that, i n divorce, there i s a general sequence of stages which progresses from denial to bargaining to acceptance. However, the di s t i n g u i s h i n g c h a r a c t e r i s t i c between loss of a spouse through death or divorce i s the element of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . In divorce, there i s decision-making whereas i n death there i s not. I t i s the decision-making involved that the present study explores. A valuable typology of the process of marital d i s s o l u t i o n i s offered by Ponzetti and Cate (1988). They 32 conducted two-hour interviews with 107 divorced men and women. Using a graph, they i d e n t i f i e d three d i s t i n c t periods i n the divorce process: (1) I n i t i a l recognition of s i g n i f i c a n t marital d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n ; (2) discussion of the p o s s i b i l i t y that the marriage might end with others; and (3) when action was taken by either party to obtain a le g a l divorce. Following that, the pa r t i c i p a n t s were asked to complete various questionnaires designed to assess several aspects of t h e i r marital r e l a t i o n s h i p as i t progressed toward d i s s o l u t i o n . Levels of c o n f l i c t , ambivalence, maintenance behaviours, love, t r u s t , and perception of alt e r n a t i v e s to t h e i r current s i t u a t i o n were measured and correlated to each time period i d e n t i f i e d previously. Following that, Ponzetti and Cate (1988) c l a s s i f i e d the marital d i s s o l u t i o n processes according to t h e i r t r a j e c t o r y . This was done on the basis of s i x broad c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s : "The t o t a l length of the d i s s o l u t i o n process, the number of c r i t i c a l events, the number of downturns, the index of c r i t i c a l events, the index of turbulence, and the index of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n " (p. 7). Of p a r t i c u l a r relevance to the present research i s t h e i r d e f i n i t i o n of c r i t i c a l events, namely "the number of times i n the d i s s o l u t i o n process that the pa r t i c i p a n t s perceived a change i n the p r o b a b i l i t y of divorce" (pp. 7-8). Also, a categorization of the reasons given for the 33 c r i t i c a l events was done using an adaptation of Lloyd and Cate's work (1985) on a t t r i b u t i o n . Five descriptors were used: Individual a t t r i b u t i o n s ; dyadic a t t r i b u t i o n s ; circumstantial a t t r i b u t i o n s ; network-nonromantic a t t r i b u t i o n s and network-romantic a t t r i b u t i o n s . F i n a l l y , s t a t i s t i c a l analyses were performed i n four steps. F i r s t , a c l u s t e r analysis was used to construct a typology of marital d i s s o l u t i o n . Next, the c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of each were compared with those of the other types. Third, the r e l a t i o n s h i p dimensions were studied with a view to discerning differences among d i s s o l u t i o n types. Last, the a t t r i b u t i o n s associated with the c r i t i c a l events were analyzed. Three types of d i s s o l u t i o n were found, based on the duration of the process, from i n i t i a l recognition of problems to securing a divorce decree. They were l a b e l l e d rapid, gradual and extended. C h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of these types are discussed and compared with reference to the indices mentioned e a r l i e r , namely the index of c r i t i c a l events, the index of turbulence and the index of r e c o n c i l i a t i o n . Their findings concerning r e l a t i o n s h i p dimensions are i n t e r e s t i n g . No s i g n i f i c a n t differences were found between d i s s o l u t i o n types on the r e l a t i o n s h i p dimensions of c o n f l i c t , love, maintenance, t r u s t , ambivalence, and 34 m a r i t a l s a t i s f a c t i o n . However, a s i g n i f i c a n t gender e f f e c t was noted i n t h a t "women r e p o r t e d l e s s t r u s t f o r t h e i r former p a r t n e r s " ( P o n z e t t i & Cate, 1988, p. 13). A l s o t o be expected i s t h a t those who i n i t i a t e d the m a r i t a l d i s s o l u t i o n r e p o r t e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y l e s s s a t i s f a c t i o n and l o v e than n o n i n i t i a t o r s and those whose d e c i s i o n was mutual. The measures of l o v e , maintenance, t r u s t , and comparison l e v e l f o r a l t e r n a t i v e s v a r i e d s i g n i f i c a n t l y over the t h r e e time p e r i o d s . For i n s t a n c e , both l o v e and t r u s t decreased s i g n i f i c a n t l y over each phase. On the o t h e r hand, maintenance behaviours such as the amount of time spent d i s c u s s i n g the r e l a t i o n s h i p and t r y i n g t o s o l v e problems were s i g n i f i c a n t l y h i g h e r d u r i n g the r e c o g n i t i o n and d i s c u s s i o n phases and l e s s e n e d d u r i n g the a c t i o n phase. Regarding p e r c e i v e d a l t e r n a t i v e s t o the m a r i t a l r e l a t i o n s h i p , t h e r e was a marked i n c r e a s e i n r e p o r t e d a l t e r n a t i v e s i n the a c t i o n phase. Although t h i s tends t o c o n f i r m a p r e c e p t of s o c i a l exchange theory, namely t h a t m a r i t a l s t a b i l i t y i s j e o p a r d i z e d as a l t e r n a t i v e a t t r a c t i o n s i n c r e a s e , P o n z e t t i and Cate (1988) i n d i c a t e t h a t i t was not p o s s i b l e t o determine what came f i r s t , the p e r c e p t i o n of a l t e r n a t i v e s which l e d i n t o the a c t i o n phase or the a c t i o n phase which opened up a range of a l t e r n a t i v e s . 35 Other Studies The following research does not f i t neatly into either of the two t h e o r e t i c a l frameworks presented so f a r . Nevertheless, these studies are noteworthy for the following reasons: Federico (1979) introduces new concepts such as the "psychological point of no return" and marital termination strategies. Rasmussen and Ferraro (1979) i s one of the few research studies of divorce based on the retrospective accounts of both spouses. Kressel et a l . (1980) o f f e r a typology of divorcing couples which underscores the fac t that divorce i s a complex and d i f f e r e n t i a t e d process, oversimplified by the unidimensional perspective of stage theories. F i n a l l y , Turner (1985) uses social-psychological theory and seminal research on decision-making to explicate the dynamics of that process as i t r e l a t e s to separation and/or divorce. Federico (1979) discusses the marital dynamics t y p i c a l of the period immediately preceding the decision to divorce based on h i s c l i n i c a l experience with couples. Intrapsychic and interpersonal dynamics are reviewed i n d e t a i l . The pre-separation period i s considered a very s t r e s s f u l time. The author points out that, often, when a couple seeks marital counselling, one of the spouses has already made a u n i l a t e r a l decision regarding the 36 n o n - v i a b i l i t y o f t h e m a r r i a g e . Many o f t h e c o n c e p t s d i s c u s s e d e a r l i e r a r e a d d r e s s e d i n h i s work. F o r example, F e d e r i c o uses t h e term " c l i c k o f f " t o r e f e r t o t h e w i t h d r a w a l o f one's e m o t i o n a l energy from t h e m a r r i a g e . He compares t h e m e n t a l p r o c e s s e s i n v o l v e d i n coming t o t h e d e c i s i o n o f e n d i n g t h e m a r r i a g e t o o t h e r t y p e s o f p r o b l e m - s o l v i n g . The d e c i s i o n , he w r i t e s , "may be r e a c h e d s i l e n t l y and a f t e r a p e r i o d o f 'back b u r n e r ' m e n t a l a c t i v i t y " ( F e d e r i c o , 1979, p. 9 4 ) . T h i s i s s i m i l a r t o t h e c o n c e p t o f p r i v a t e d e l i b e r a t i o n s c h a r a c t e r i s t i c o f t h e i n t r a p s y c h i c phase o u t l i n e d i n Duck (1982). I n t h e l i t e r a t u r e on c r e a t i v i t y , t h i s i s g e n e r a l l y c a l l e d t h e i n c u b a t i o n p e r i o d , a t i m e where d e l i b e r a t i o n i s t a k i n g p l a c e below t h e p e r s o n ' s l e v e l o f awareness. When, o c c a s i o n a l l y , t h e d e c i s i o n s u r f a c e s i n c o n s c i o u s t h o u g h t , i t i s q u i c k l y s u p p r e s s e d s i n c e i t s i m p l i c a t i o n s may be f a r t o o t h r e a t h e n i n g t o e n t e r t a i n . D e n i a l i s a t work t o p r e s e r v e t h e m a r r i a g e i n t a c t , a t l e a s t o u t w a r d l y . T h i s may be so even a f t e r one o f t h e spouses has p a s s e d t h e " p s y c h o l o g i c a l p o i n t o f no r e t u r n " h e r e a f t e r c a l l e d N/R ( F e d e r i c o , 1979, p. 9 5 ) . N/R i s an h y p o t h e t i c a l c o n s t r u c t t h e a u t h o r d e r i v e d from a c c o u n t s o f d i v o r c e d p e r s o n s . I t means t h a t one o f t h e m a r i t a l p a r t n e r s has r e a c h e d a p o i n t where he o r she cannot r e t u r n t o a p r e v i o u s e m o t i o n a l i n v e s t m e n t i n t h e marriage. Often, the i n d i v i d u a l who has passed N/R behaves as though he or she does not care much about the rel a t i o n s h i p , acting out h i s or her decreased investment while, perhaps, verbally professing the desire to see the marriage continue. This r e s u l t s i n much confusion and marital c o n f l i c t . Federico (1979) also discusses the l i m i t a t i o n s of s o c i a l exchange theory i n explaining marital d i s s o l u t i o n . The major one i s that i t does not address the issue of how the psychological dynamics of one spouse, f o r example d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with s e l f or l i f e i n general, can influence the person's ent i r e outlook on the marriage. While he recognizes that the marriage may be unhealthy and dysfunctional i n many ways and that both partners may be d i s s a t i s f i e d , the movement past N/R he argues "may r e f l e c t factors that are more primary than the basic i n t e r a c t i o n a l dynamics between the spouses" (Federico, 1979, p. 97). Federico (1979) describes two marital termination strategies often used by a spouse who wants out of a marriage but may be reluctant to admit i t . The f i r s t , provocation, involves a succession of r e l a t i o n s h i p damaging acts, each a l i t t l e more serious than the preceding one, aimed at gradually bringing about greater distance. In t h i s scenario, the provoker's objective, which may be more or less conscious, i s to get the spouse to request a 38 divorce, thereby avoiding r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the decision. The other strategy i s sabotage. I t d i f f e r s from the above i n that the partner being provoked does not adopt an accommodating stance. Instead, he or she responds i n kind which then provides a j u s t i f i c a t i o n f or the other to request a divorce. An example of t h i s i s someone who has an a f f a i r . When the spouse learns of i t , he or she i s angry and r e t a l i a t e s by having an a f f a i r also. This becomes ground for the provoker to demand a divorce. In conclusion, Federico (1979) stresses that the di s s o l u t i o n of a marriage i s the r e s u l t of a long process of interactions i n the re l a t i o n s h i p of a couple. Rasmussen and Ferraro (1979) conducted a study based on retrospective accounts of 32 divorced men and women of middle-class background. Except for f i v e of the couples, they interviewed both husband and wife. Their findings suggest that although respondents often c i t e d adultery, excessive drinking and f i n a n c i a l problems as reasons f o r divorcing t h e i r partner, a causal approach to divorce i s much too limi t e d . The researchers reached t h i s conclusion on the basis of the fac t that the majority of the respondents reported that these problem behaviours were present from the beginning of the r e l a t i o n s h i p . The question which t h i s r a i s e s i s how or why did the behaviour i n question become defined as a problem i n the 39 marital dyad? Rasmussen and Ferraro (1979) believe that the problem behaviours are used i n the process of marital d i s s o l u t i o n to create and escalate a c r i s i s . Once t h i s i s done, the s i t u a t i o n becomes unlivable for the couple. This, i n turn, f a c i l i t a t e s the severing of the deep emotional bonds uniti n g the couple. The notion that the partner who wants to dissolve the marriage needs to f i n d j u s t i f i c a t i o n i s echoed i n Duck (1982). More s p e c i f i c a l l y , i t corresponds to the tendency i n the intrapsychic phase to focus on the negative aspects of the partner*s personality or behaviour. What was previously either overlooked or accepted must now be redefined as problematic. Based on t h e i r research with couples i n instance of divorce, Kressel et a l . (1980) were able to i d e n t i f y four d i f f e r e n t patterns of decision-making. The couples were l a b e l l e d a u t i s t i c , enmeshed, disengaged or d i r e c t on the basis of t h e i r s t y l e of r e l a t i n g to one another throughout the mediation process. The c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of each type are discussed i n d e t a i l with regards to several key dimensions, namely degree of ambivalence, l e v e l of c o n f l i c t and openness of communication. The enmeshed and a u t i s t i c types were found most d i f f i c u l t to work with and t h e i r post-divorce adjustment the poorest of a l l . In contrast, mediation with 40 the d i r e c t and disengaged types was more successful and post-divorce adjustment r e l a t i v e l y easier. Regarding the reasons why these marriages ended, for the most part the answers were t y p i c a l l i k e lack of love, communication problems, or growing apart. Sexual and f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s were also mentioned by a few p a r t i c i p a n t s . However, one clear pattern which emerged from the study i s that i n h a l f of the cases there was some evidence that the wives were d i s s a t i s f i e d with the l e v e l of intimacy i n t h e i r marriage. Kressel et a l . ' s (1980) work i s important. I t challenges the notion that i n d i v i d u a l s or couples dissolve t h e i r marriage i n a predictable and uniform manner. Instead, the divorce process i s considered to be multidimensional and highly d i f f e r e n t i a t e d . Their typology of divorcing couples suggests that the manner i n which a divorce decision i s reached i s , to some extent, an extension of the way partners r e l a t e d to one another while married. However, due to the small s i z e of the sample and i t s s p e c i a l c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s , namely couples who chose mediation to deal with issues r e l a t i n g to t h e i r divorce, i t i s impossible to draw d e f i n i t i v e conclusions regarding the r e l i a b i l i t y of the descriptions outlined i n t h i s research. Furthermore, since at least one of the spouses had already decided to i n i t i a t e divorce proceedings, these categories 41 may not be t o t a l l y applicable to the unfolding of the divorce decision from the onset. Turner's (1985) contribution i s that he applies research and theory on decision-making to the divorce decision. Five stages of divorce decision therapy are outlined to help the c l i e n t make a sound decision. These stages are summarized as follows: In stage one, the in d i v i d u a l must come to terms with the decision to serious l y consider the p o s s i b i l i t y of separation or divorce. Stage two involves surveying a l t e r n a t i v e s i n l i g h t of one's personal values and objectives. In stage three, a conscious e f f o r t i s made to weigh the pros and the cons of the decision. In stage four, the i n d i v i d u a l s t a r t s considering how to implement the decision made i n the previous stage and how to go about informing others of the decision. In stage f i v e , the decision i s announced and the in d i v i d u a l may experience r e l i e f , even euphoria. However, t h i s may be sh o r t l i v e d i f countered with unexpected resistance by the spouse or s i g n i f i c a n t others. Depending on h i s or her a b i l i t y to deal with negative feedback, the decision-maker may revert to an e a r l i e r stage of the process, remain stuck i n d e f i n i t e l y i n stage f i v e , or proceed with implementing the decision. The psychological process involved i n making a major l i f e decision such as divorce i s generally not as 42 straightforward as the above implies. A decision of t h i s magnitude usually generates powerful c o n f l i c t within the i n d i v i d u a l . Turner (1985, p. 32) outlines f i v e coping patterns i n dealing with de c i s i o n a l c o n f l i c t : "Unconflicted adherence"; "unconflicted change to a new course of action"; "defensive avoidance"; "hypervigilance" and "vi g i l a n c e " . I t i s noteworthy that only the l a s t one, namely v i g i l a n c e , i s constructive and can lead to a balanced decision. Various problems are associated with the other coping patterns such as excessive delay, a r r i v i n g at a decision prematurely i n order to get a sense of closure, information overload r e s u l t i n g i n di s t o r t e d thinking and ove r s i m p l i f i c a t i o n , emotional overload and high l e v e l s of stress, misinformation, stereotyping, "fear of the unknown leading to excessive worry and preoccupation" (p. 34). Turner (1985) proposes and describes three types of c l i n i c a l intervention to f a c i l i t a t e the c l i e n t ' s process i n addressing the question to separate or divorce: Stress inoculation; r o l e playing; and balance sheet. F i n a l l y , Turner (1985) also acknowledges the need for more research i n t h i s key area of decision-making as i t pertains to major l i f e decisions, namely to marry, separate or divorce. Concluding Remarks In an attempt to make sense of the l i t e r a t u r e on 43 marital d i s s o l u t i o n , the foregoing review was organized primarily around s o c i a l exchange theories and stage theories. Some of the theories presented i s o l a t e and explain small parts of the disturbed marital r e l a t i o n s h i p while others provide a more global perspective. Newcomb and Bentler (1981) discuss the l i m i t a t i o n s of the ex i s t i n g studies because most focus only on i s o l a t e d components of marital breakdown and not on how the elements r e l a t e to a l l other factors. A case i n point i s Spanier and Margolis (1983) study of extramarital sex and i t s r e l a t i o n s h i p to marital separation. Newcomb and Bentler (1981) propose that the next step i n theory development would be to combine a broad overview of the process of marital breakdown and also account for the various factors involved and t h e i r i n t e r a c t i o n . The theories of J a f f e and Kanter (1979) and Laner (1978) provide a broad perspective of the multi-facetted process of marital breakdown. Hence, Newcomb and Bentler (1981) suggest that they might serve as a "super-structure theory" which could incorporate other theories that are mostly concerned with the micro-level dimensions of marital d i s s o l u t i o n . Whatever approach i s taken, the need for theory development i n t h i s area i s widely recognized. One area that appears to have been overlooked i n terms of research a c t i v i t y are studies focusing on the 44 e x p e r i e n t i a l aspects of the divorce process. The need for research focusing on the decision i t s e l f and how i t was arrived at has been noted (Kelly, 1982; Turner, 1985). Research on stress related to the divorce experience, for instance, has f a i l e d to take into account the r o l e of each spouse i n the decision to end the marriage. Moreover, as pointed out by Graziano and Musser (1982), the emphasis i n most of the l i t e r a t u r e on r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n has been on "cold cognitions" at the expense of the r o l e of a f f e c t . The work of Zajonc (1980) challenges the importance given to cognitions, compared to feelings, as determinants of behaviour. In view of the aforementioned lack of theory development i n the area of divorce decision-making, the present research does not attempt to t e s t any hypotheses but i s exploratory. I t i s a c r i t i c a l incident study of the marital d i s s o l u t i o n process, from the perspective of women who made the decision to end t h e i r marriage. Using retrospective accounts, the study investigates what the subjects were experiencing at the f e e l i n g , cognitive and behavioural l e v e l s as they were struggling with the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. 45 CHAPTER 3 Methodology Rationale f o r the Choice of Methodology I t i s clear from the preceding l i t e r a t u r e review that very l i t t l e research has been conducted to understand marital d i s s o l u t i o n from the perspective of those who l i v e d through that experience. Consequently, the present research on the process of marital d i s s o l u t i o n i s exploratory and, at t h i s stage, aims at generating data which can l a t e r be used i n theory building. The c r i t i c a l incident technique pioneered by Flanagan (1954) i n the f i f t i e s was selected as the most appropriate method for conducting t h i s research. The major reason for t h i s choice i s that the c r i t i c a l incident technique i s designed to generate descriptive and q u a l i t a t i v e data of a domain that i s s t i l l mostly uncharted, namely the decision-making process leading to marriage d i s s o l u t i o n . One of the underlying assumptions of t h i s research i s that there are major turning points or markers i n the process r e s u l t i n g i n the decision to divorce. The c r i t i c a l incident technique i s i d e a l f o r exploring these turning points because t h i s method requires the subjects to i d e n t i f y and describe them. 46 Another important reason for se l e c t i n g t h i s methodology i s that i t i s phenomenological. Unlike experimental methodologies, the phenomenological approach seeks to understand a given phenomenon as people experience i t . Thus, the subjective experience of in d i v i d u a l s i s seen as an area worth investigating ( C o l a i z z i , 1978). Since decision-making i s a psychological phenomenon, a methodology which endeavours to d e s c r i p t i v e l y i d e n t i f y that phenomenon i s c l e a r l y ' needed at t h i s early stage of research. The C r i t i c a l Incident Technique The c r i t i c a l incident technique consists of c o l l e c t i n g a number of s p e c i f i c incidents i n the form of observed behaviours or events that either f a c i l i t a t e d or hindered the attainment of the objective under study. The d e f i n i t i o n of a c r i t i c a l incident given by Flanagan (1954) i s that i t i s : ...any observable human a c t i v i t y that i s s u f f i c i e n t l y complete i n i t s e l f to permit inferences and predictions to be made about the person performing the act. To be c r i t i c a l , an incident must occur i n a s i t u a t i o n where the purpose or intent of the act seems f a i r l y c l e a r to the observer and where i t s consequences are s u f f i c i e n t l y d e f i n i t e to leave l i t t l e doubt concerning i t s e f f e c t s (p. 327). 47 A primary objective i n using the c r i t i c a l incident technique i s to access s p e c i f i c events and to e l i c i t f u l l descriptions of the incidents as opposed to the person's opinions and generalizations about them. B a s i c a l l y , the researcher must be able to assert with some degree of confidence that a l l incidents recorded had a d e f i n i t e impact on the s i t u a t i o n . Therefore, i n the process of data analysis, vague reports are discarded because they might contain some inaccuracy. Another important guideline i n using t h i s methodology i s that the incidents should be c o l l e c t e d from "those i n the best p o s i t i o n to make the necessary observations and evaluations" (Flanagan, 1954, p. 355). In t h i s study, the woman who made the decision to dissolve her marriage becomes the observer since she i s the most competent to report on what was c r i t i c a l for her i n a r r i v i n g at that decision. R e l i a b i l i t y and V a l i d i t y of the Technique A study of the r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y of the c r i t i c a l incident technique was conducted by Andersson and Nilsson (1964). Their research aimed at determining the c r i t i c a l requirements for the t r a i n i n g of store managers. Over 1800 c r i t i c a l incidents r e l a t i n g to the behaviour of store managers were reported from four d i f f e r e n t groups of people considered i n a good p o s i t i o n to make such observations, 48 namely, supervisors, store managers, assistants and customers. C l a s s i f i c a t i o n of the incidents yielded 17 categories and 8 6 subcategories which were grouped under three superordinate headings. The data was subjected to several checks to insure i t s r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y . The question of saturation and comprehensiveness was the f i r s t to be addressed. The researchers found that the majority of the categories were formed i n the early phase of c l a s s i f i c a t i o n . More s p e c i f i c a l l y , 95% of the subcategories had emerged before two-thirds of the incidents had been c l a s s i f i e d . Thus, they concluded that a s u f f i c i e n t number of incidents had been c o l l e c t e d and that the data was comprehensive enough "to include a l l types of behavioral units that the method may be expected to cover" (Andersson & Nilsson, 1964, p. 399) . Next, the r e l i a b i l i t y of the c o l l e c t i n g procedure was investigated. Because data were c o l l e c t e d through interviews and questionnaires and several interviewers were involved i n the study, there was some concern about the d i f f e r e n t number of incidents reported with each method and from one interviewer to another as well as to the structure of the materials obtained by the d i f f e r e n t interviewers. The data was subjected to several tests and the researchers were s a t i s f i e d that the factors outlined above did not 49 account for any s i g n i f i c a n t difference i n the number and structure of the incidents reported. The researchers tested the r e l i a b i l i t y of t h e i r categorization system by asking several independent raters to c l a s s i f y random samples of incidents into the e x i s t i n g categories and subcategories. The r e s u l t s confirmed that the category system already established was sound and objective because independent raters r e c l a s s i f i e d the incidents with good l e v e l s of agreement among themselves and also i n r e l a t i o n to the o r i g i n a l sort. The next important question to be addressed pertained to the v a l i d i t y of the c r i t i c a l incident technique. To t h i s end, the researchers conducted a content analysis of the l i t e r a t u r e used i n the t r a i n i n g of store managers. The object was to v e r i f y that a l l important aspects of the task had been covered i n the category system. For the most part, the contents of the l i t e r a t u r e corresponded to the aspects of the job already i d e n t i f i e d i n the category system. Therefore, they concluded that the method i s v a l i d . S t i l l pertaining to the v a l i d i t y of the study, another question was raised: Whether or not the incidents c o l l e c t e d were representative of behaviours that would be considered important or c r i t i c a l to the work of a store manager by a large number of evaluators? 50 In the past, the c r i t i c a l incident technique was c r i t i c i z e d on the grounds that the evidence i t generated was of no p r a c t i c a l value because the incidents represented extreme cases rather than what was t y p i c a l of the a c t i v i t y under study. In addressing t h i s key issue, the researchers designed a six-point scale and asked 44 supervisors, 122 store managers, 45 assistants, and 89 psychology students to rate the 86 subcategories derived from the incidents c o l l e c t e d i n t h e i r study. They found that only f i v e subcategories were rated as unimportant by the four groups of r a t e r s . Another i n t e r e s t i n g finding was that subcategories with few recorded incidents were nevertheless rated as important by a l l four groups. Hence, we can conclude that frequency does not constitute, i n and of i t s e l f , an adequate measure of the s i g n i f i c a n c e of a p a r t i c u l a r behaviour unit. In summary, Andersson and Nilsson (1964) applied a v a r i e t y of methodological checks i n order to t e s t the c r i t i c a l incident technique. Their findings indicate that the method i s both r e l i a b l e and v a l i d . Description of Research Design Sample. The present research was conducted with a group of indiv i d u a l s who were separated from t h e i r spouse and had made the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. The following s e l e c t i o n c r i t e r i a were used i n order to maximize 51 the homogeneity of the sample: 1. Women only were selected since there i s ample reason to believe that there are gender differences associated with marriage and, by extension, with the divorce process (Bernard, 1972; Bloom & Caldwell, 1981; Chiriboga & Cutler, 1977; Gerstel et a l . , 1985; Herman, 1977; Kitson & Sussman, 1982). 2. I t had to be the f i r s t divorce experience for a l l subjects. More than one divorce experience could have resulted i n a d i f f e r e n t set of emotional responses for the person. 3. A l l subjects had to be separated from t h e i r spouse a minimum of s i x months. This was to ensure that s u f f i c i e n t time had elapsed for them to have gained some perspective on the process they had undergone. 4. The separation had to be permanent. Potential p a r t i c i p a n t s were asked i f they considered t h e i r separation f i n a l . An affirmative response to t h i s question and the length of time already separated were primary factors i n s e l e c t i n g the p a r t i c i p a n t s for the study. The majority of the subjects were separated between 24 and 36 months at the time of interviewing. I t did not seem f e a s i b l e to use either the c r i t e r i a of l e g a l separation or divorce since either event may have been so temporally distant from the physical separation as to s i g n i f i c a n t l y impede or bias 52 r e c a l l . 5. The subjects were to have been married and cohabitating with t h e i r spouse for a minimum of three years p r i o r to the separation. The r a t i o n a l e was that i t implied a greater commitment to the r e l a t i o n s h i p and a willingness to working things out. This c r i t e r i o n was not s t r i c t l y adhered to i n a few cases where the subject had cohabitated with t h e i r spouse for three years p r i o r to separation, although they had not been l e g a l l y married f o r the e n t i r e period. Thus, i n reporting demographic data on the duration of the marriage p r i o r to separation, the date of the l e g a l marriage was used as the basis for the c a l c u l a t i o n . While t h i s i s f a r from i d e a l because i t does not give an accurate reading of the actual time invested i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p , i t i s an a r b i t r a r y decision which s i m p l i f i e s a complex issue, namely, when does commitment to a partner and/or a r e l a t i o n s h i p begin? For example, i n t h i s study, seven marriages were preceded by a period of l i v i n g together or common-law r e l a t i o n s h i p l a s t i n g from 10 months to 8 years. 6. The subjects had to be Caucasians, from the mainstream North American culture. Demographic information. 1. The age of subjects ranged from 29 to 45 years old. The majority were i n t h e i r t h i r t i e s at the time of interviewing. 53 2. The subjects were residents of a large urban center i n Western Canada, were born and raised i n Canada, with the exception of three who had emigrated to Canada i n the past 10 years - two from the United States and one from England. 3. Eight subjects were divorced, one had a leg a l separation agreement, one had started divorce proceedings and one was widowed shortly a f t e r the separation. 4. The table below shows the d i s t r i b u t i o n of subjects and the duration of marriage up to the time of separation. Table 3.1 Years of marriage p r i o r to separation Years married # Subjects % I- 5 yrs: 9 45 6-10 yrs: 7 35 I I - 15 yrs: 1 5 16-20 yrs: 1 5 21-25 yrs: 2 10 Total: 20 100% 5. 15 of the 20 subjects had some post-secondary education. At the time of separation, four subjects had secondary education, four had some vocational t r a i n i n g , seven had a bachelor degree, three held a masters degree and one, a doctorate. At the time of interviewing, f i v e 54 subjects were pursuing advanced studies. 6. 10 of the 20 subjects had f u l l - t i m e employment throughout t h e i r married l i f e . Only four subjects were f u l l - t i m e homemakers and the re s t either worked part-time, inte r m i t t e n t l y or pursued studies on a f u l l - t i m e or part-time basis. 7. Eight subjects had children from t h e i r marrriage. Two of the women were single mothers with one c h i l d at the time of t h e i r marriage. Another subject was expecting a c h i l d . Their spouse was not the c h i l d ' s natural father. As w i l l be discussed i n Chapter 4, the presence of children was very s i g n i f i c a n t i n keeping the women from making the decision to divorce e a r l i e r . S i m i l a r l y , f o r the three women who had a c h i l d from a former r e l a t i o n s h i p or were expecting one, the wish to have a father figure for the c h i l d and the need to be taken care of were factors which had an important bearing on t h e i r decision to marry. However, i t i s not within the scope of t h i s study to investigate the reasons which led the subjects to marry and whether or not they made a suitable choice of partner. Procedure. Volunteers for the study were rec r u i t e d i n several ways. F i r s t , notices (Appendix B) were posted at a number of key locations throughout the un i v e r s i t y campus, f o r example at the Women's Students O f f i c e , at the School of So c i a l Work, at the Department of Counselling 55 Psychology and i n the lobby of a student family housing complex. Secondly, an attempt was made to broaden the spectrum of the sample and notices were posted on the b u l l e t i n boards of several community centres, the Women's Resources Centre located downtown and some colleges i n the outlying areas of the c i t y . Furthermore, several family service agencies and counsellors i n private p r a c t i c e were informed of the research and asked to r e f e r p o t e n t i a l volunteers. Thirdly, the researcher made a couple of presentations to groups i n an e f f o r t to r e c r u i t more volunteers. One was to a class of fellow students i n Counselling Psychology; the other was to a group for separated indiv i d u a l s offered through a l o c a l family service agency. Those who contacted the researcher were screened i n a short telephone interview. The object of the screening was to determine whether or not the interested party met the s i x main c r i t e r i a outlined above. At that time, volunteers were also given a general statement about the nature of the research. When the person met the sampling c r i t e r i a , a mutually convenient time and place were determined to hold the interview. F i n a l l y , a l e t t e r b r i e f l y o u t l i n i n g the study and se t t i n g out the interview questions was sent to the prospective pa r t i c i p a n t , approximately one week p r i o r to 56 the interview (Appendix C). This was done to allow the person time to r e f l e c t on the questions i n preparation for the interview, as a way of encouraging the co-researchers to be more active i n the research process. Moreover, given the complex nature of the topic, the expectation was that i t would make the interview more focused and data gathering easier. A consent form (Appendix D) was also included i n the package. The interview. An interview l a s t i n g from one hour and a h a l f to two hours was conducted with a l l 20 subjects. The interviews were done at the subject's home or at an o f f i c e made available at the un i v e r s i t y . Each interview was audio-recorded. The interview was standardized. I t consisted of open-ended questions prepared beforehand and asked i n the same order of a l l the subjects. This format allowed the counsellor to respond with empathy to the subject's sharing and to e l i c i t further material as needed, through the judicious use of probes and active l i s t e n i n g . Used i n t h i s way, the "standardized open-ended interview" (Patton, 1980) i s by f a r superior to questionnaires or survey methods i n that i t brings out the uniqueness and richness of each person's experience, while also allowing for s i m i l a r i t i e s to emerge. A l l interviews were prefaced by re s t a t i n g the general 57 aim of the study as follows: I am studying divorce from the perspective of women who made the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , I would l i k e to know how you came to that decision and what were the c r i t i c a l events which played an important r o l e i n your decision to leave the marriage. I also want to know what s i g n i f i c a n t factors, i f any, made i t more d i f f i c u l t to come to that decision. Once the main objective of the study was stated, the interviewer inquired i f there were any questions and c l a r i f i e d anything that was confusing to the subject. Furthermore, a d e f i n i t i o n of a c r i t i c a l incident was provided to the subjects i n the following terms: "Something that happened that had a major impact i n bringing you closer to making the decision to end the marriage or, a l t e r n a t i v e l y , an event which stands out because i t kept you i n the marriage longer". Following t h i s introduction, the subject was asked to respond to the following questions: 1. I would l i k e you to focus on a time i n your marriage when you began to have serious reservations or doubts about your r e l a t i o n s h i p with your husband. When was that? 2. Can you remember a s p e c i f i c incident or several small incidents when something s i g n i f i c a n t happened, either 58 between you and your spouse or outside the re l a t i o n s h i p , which made you question your marriage and consider separation or divorce? Please take a few minutes to r e c a l l the incident i n d e t a i l and when you are ready to describe i t , l e t me know. 3. Can you describe exactly what happened? 4. What led up to i t ? 5. How was that p a r t i c u l a r incident important and meaningful to you? 6. What changed for you through t h i s incident? 7. Did that make a permanent and l a s t i n g change i n your attitude towards your marriage? 8. How did you f e e l about the incident at the time? 9. How did you respond? What actions did you take, i f any? This format was followed to e l i c i t as many clea r descriptions of incidents as possible from the subjects. Sometimes, a subject made general statements about her marriage or her spouse i n response to the questions. When t h i s happened, the interviewer responded with empathy to the underlying feelings expressed but also r e i t e r a t e d the purpose of the study and asked the subject to describe as concretely as possible the events and experiences which made her decide to end her marriage. Questions 6 and 7 were designed as extra measures to 59 check the v a l i d i t y of the incident considered c r i t i c a l i n the subject's decision-making process. A s i m i l a r set of questions was asked to bring f o r t h descriptions of c r i t i c a l incidents which checked the person's movement towards separation or divorce. The assumption underlying the terminology used i s not that the person necessarily had a d e f i n i t e and conscious goal to leave her spouse, was set on an i r r e v e r s i b l e course to achieve t h i s and ran into some obstacles i n that process. Nevertheless i n several cases, once the women had come to that decision, the task of finding ways of implementing the decision s t i l l lay ahead. Data was c o l l e c t e d u n t i l redundancy seemed obvious: 20 subjects provided a s u f f i c i e n t number of incidents for that c r i t e r i o n to be met. Although i t i s f a r from i d e a l , the d i f f i c u l t y i n finding more volunteers and time constraints were also factors which influenced the present researcher*s decision to discontinue data c o l l e c t i o n . Data Analysis I n i t i a l category construction. The audio-taped interviews were li s t e n e d to with the intent of i d e n t i f y i n g the c r i t i c a l incidents reported by the respondents. Each incident was coded and transcribed verbatim onto index cards. A f t e r having transcribed the incidents, a reading of a l l the incidents from the same interview was undertaken 60 and the incidents were placed i n chronological order, i f they had not already been given i n that sequence. Notes taken during the interview with regard to the time frame involved were c a l l e d upon to f i l l the gap and i n several cases where t h i s was fe a s i b l e , the researcher contacted the subject to ascertain the accuracy of the sequence. Although subjects were asked to describe incidents from when they f i r s t began to experience severe doubts about t h e i r marriage and so on u n t i l they made the actual decision to end the marriage, some respondents were too caught up i n the t e l l i n g and found i t d i f f i c u l t to r e c a l l incidents i n chronological order. Incidents which were not f u l l and precise were discarded because, using the c r i t i c a l incident technique, vague reports might indicate that the data was incorrect (Flanagan, 1954). Once c r i t i c a l incidents were transcribed, another major task lay ahead. Since the majority of incidents were described at great length, they were summarized into one paragraph. Great caution was exercised to extract with accuracy the es s e n t i a l features of the incident. Each summary was written to convey an understanding of the context, f e e l i n g s , thoughts and behaviours of the subject whenever these were e x p l i c i t . To ensure that the meaning of the incident was not altered i n the process of 61 summarizing, verbatim extracts were used as often as possible. Once t h i s task was completed, the categorizing process began. Several readings of the incidents and complete interview protocols were required for the researcher to become f a m i l i a r with the data. Using the t h e o r e t i c a l framework of Crosby et a l . (1983) as a guide, the incidents were sorted into f i v e major categories as follows: (1) Topic of the incident (2) Feelings (3) Cognitive Processes (4) Behaviours (5) Turning point. This categorization scheme also flowed automatically from the research questions i n i t i a l l y posed: namely, what were the feelings, thoughts and behaviours of the subjects i n coming to terms with the decision to end t h e i r marriage. Each superordinate category with the exception of the "turning point" comprised several subordinate categories. There were 21 subcategories under topic, 23 under feelings, 17 under cognitive processes and 15 under behaviours. Each incident was rated on a l l the above dimensions and a . frequency count was done for each subordinate category. However, with an average of 8.8 incidents per subject and 20 interviews, i t soon became apparent that t h i s approach was too cumbersome. While i t yielded very d e t a i l e d and r i c h information about each p a r t i c u l a r incident, there was much overlap between the subcategories. They lacked 62 d i s t i n c t i v e n e s s and i t was d i f f i c u l t to grasp patterns because of the sheer volume of data involved. Refinement of the category system. The next attempt at categorizing the data followed the approach outlined by Flanagan (1954). The incidents c o l l e c t e d were subjected to an inductive categorization process. As well as being "more subjective than objective", t h i s process has been described as "requiring insight, experience, and judgement" on the part of the researcher (Flanagan, 1954, p. 344). I t i s a laborious task which requires the researcher to struggle with the data u n t i l common themes emerge. While keeping with the actual data at hand, without adding or taking away from i t , the researcher must go beyond the s p e c i f i c content of each incident and discover what l i n k s t h i s p a r t i c u l a r incident to the others. In other words, the researcher i s looking for the underlying pattern(s) which give(s) meaning to the p a r t i c u l a r incident i n r e l a t i o n to the frame of reference selected. In the present study, the frame of reference was what f a c i l i t a t e d or hindered the woman's decision to leave her marriage. B a s i c a l l y , the procedure consists of the following steps: F i r s t , a small sample of incidents i s sorted on the basis of t h e i r s i m i l a r i t y . These groupings become the framework f o r the evolving category system. Next, the 63 tentative categories are given short t i t l e s which convey meaning without d e t a i l e d explanation. As recommended by Flanagan (1954), caution was taken that the headings r e f l e c t the same l e v e l of s p e c i f i c i t y - g e n e r a l i t y . At t h i s stage, b r i e f d e f i n i t i o n s of the categories are usually written out. As new incidents are c l a s s i f i e d , categories are added or reformulated as needed. This process continues u n t i l a l l incidents have been sorted. Throughout the whole process, the researcher was c a r e f u l not to impose her own t h e o r e t i c a l assumptions on the data but to l e t the categories emerge from the incidents themselves. This i s what i s meant by an inductive approach to categorization. Patton's (1980) description of t h i s type of research design i s p a r t i c u l a r l y enlightening because i t c l e a r l y shows the contrast with deductive approaches used i n experimental designs: A q u a l i t a t i v e research strategy i s inductive i n that the researcher attempts to make sense of the s i t u a t i o n without imposing preexisting expectations on the research s e t t i n g . Q u a l i t a t i v e designs begin with s p e c i f i c observations and b u i l d toward general patterns. Categories or dimensions of analysis emerge from open-ended observations as the researcher comes to understand organizing patterns that e x i s t i n the empirical world under 64 study. This contrasts with the hypothetico-deductive approach of experimental designs which require the s p e c i f i c a t i o n of main variables and the statement of s p e c i f i c research hypotheses before data c o l l e c t i o n . . . The strategy i n q u a l i t a t i v e designs i s to allow the important dimensions to emerge from analysis of cases under study without pre-supposing i n advance what those important dimensions w i l l be. The q u a l i t a t i v e methodologist attempts to understand the multiple i n t e r r e l a t i o n s h i p s among dimensions which emerge from the data without making p r i o r assumptions about the l i n e a r or c o r r e l a t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s among narrowly defined, operationalized variables (Patton, 1980, pp. 40-41). R e l i a b i l i t y . With the c r i t i c a l incident technique, the accepted method to t e s t the r e l i a b i l i t y of the category system i s to ask one or more independent raters to sort the incidents i n the categories provided. Andersson and Nilsson (1964) recommend that an acceptable l e v e l of agreement between raters i s 75 to 85% for categories and 60 to 70% f o r subcategories. A fellow student i n Counselling Psychology was asked to sort the incidents. Good agreement was found between her sort and the o r i g i n a l sort. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , the percentages were 96% for categories and 87% f o r sub-categories. 65 Subsequently, the incidents were submitted to another independent ra t e r . The r e s u l t s of the second sort did not indicate good agreement with the o r i g i n a l sort or the f i r s t r ater's sort. Several reasons can account for t h i s . F i r s t , the second rate r who was not a Counselling Psychology student was not f a m i l i a r with the type of content analysis used i n analyzing t r a n s c r i p t s of counselling sessions, a task which i s s i m i l a r to that required of the ra t e r s . Secondly, the two raters worked under d i f f e r e n t conditions. Although t h i s was of t h e i r own choosing, the f i r s t r a t e r sorted the incidents of a couple of interviews at a time and the average time spent at t h i s task was generally one and a hal f hour per s i t t i n g . In contrast, the second rater sorted incidents from a random sample of 14 interviews i n one s i t t i n g of some f i v e to s i x hours duration. Fatigue and time pressure may be factors that i n t e r f e r e d with doing an optimal job. Moreover, the f i r s t raters were only given verbal instructions and the category labels without the benefit of having operational d e f i n i t i o n s which would a s s i s t them i n making some of the d i f f i c u l t decisions required i n c l a s s i f y i n g the incidents. Nevertheless, the fa c t that the two independent raters obtained d i f f e r i n g r e s u l t s was interpreted to mean that there were some problems either with the category system i t s e l f or with the 66 manner i n which the sorting task was introduced and c a r r i e d out. Consequently, operational d e f i n i t i o n s were written out f o r a l l the subcategories. In addition, an i n s t r u c t i o n sheet o u t l i n i n g the various steps involved i n the sorting task was prepared for future r a t e r s . Subsequently, a t h i r d rater (a graduate from the Counselling Psychology program) was hired to sort a l l the incidents. She was asked to proceed one interview at a time as the previous raters had been asked. Given the complexity of the material, t h i s was f e l t to be the best approach. As with the f i r s t rater, she worked at her own pace over several days. As was the case with the two previous raters, the researcher was on hand to answer questions that arose during the sorting process. In reviewing her work, good agreement was found between her sort and that of the f i r s t r a t e r . The exact percentages of agreement between the two raters were 96% for superordinate categories and 86% f o r subcategories. This indicates that the category system i s both v a l i d and r e l i a b l e . Content v a l i d i t y . With respect to content v a l i d i t y , the completed category system was submitted to a group of marital therapists for t h e i r impressions regarding i t s comprehensiveness and accuracy. One of them, responding i n 67 writing, stated unequivocally that the category system had captured the essence of the process of coming to terms with the decision to divorce as he knew i t , from h i s personal experience and 15 years of c l i n i c a l work (Dr. Richard E. Campbell, personal communication, A p r i l , 1987). This constitutes additional evidence regarding the v a l i d i t y of the categories and subcategories developed from the research data and indicates that the category system i s a f a i r representation of the experience of coming to terms with the decision to divorce. 68 CHAPTER 4 Results In the following sections, the r e s u l t s are presented next to the i n i t i a l research questions. 1. What c r i t i c a l events, i f any, played a s i g n i f i c a n t  r o l e i n the subjects' decision to disso l v e t h e i r  marriage? The subjects described a t o t a l of 154 f a c i l i t a t i n g and 21 hindering incidents which were c r i t i c a l i n t h e i r decision to leave t h e i r marriage. This i s an average of eight per person. The f a c i l i t a t i n g incidents cover a broad range of topics and most of them r e f l e c t severe and on-going marital problems. Hence, i t can be said with confidence that for the majority of the subjects, the events were c r i t i c a l p r e c i s e l y because of the r e p e t i t i v e and chronic nature of the marital dysfunction i t i l l u s t r a t e d . Some women were very e x p l i c i t on that point, saying that t h e i r decision was not the r e s u l t of any one single incident. Instead, they att r i b u t e d i t to the accumulation of unresolved problems i n the marriage and to t h e i r reaching a point where they were no longer hopeful that constructive change would take place. This led to an unwillingness on t h e i r part to continue investing themselves i n working on the marriage 69 and ultimately to t h e i r decision to divorce. Table 4.1 w i l l give the reader an overview of the type of marital problems which were d i r e c t l y r e l a t e d to the subjects' decision to end t h e i r marriage. They are organized i n order of frequency reported. Problems which are usually symptomatic of a dysfunctional marriage such as poor communication, det e r i o r a t i o n of the sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p , and so f o r t h were not included unless the subject described i t i n terms of a s p e c i f i c incident which was s i g n i f i c a n t i n her decision to leave. Furthermore, subjects often reported more than one problem contributing to t h e i r decision to leave. While i t i s important to note that the marital problems l i s t e d i n table 4.1 d i d not happen i n i s o l a t i o n from one another, i t i s not within the scope of t h i s study to analyze t h e i r interrelatedness. 70 T a b l e 4.1 M a T - i t a l p r oblems r e l a t e d t o t h e d e c i s i o n t o d i s s o l v e t h e m a r r i a g e M a r i t a l problems Frequency __%— 1. Communication problems . 10 22 2. Extra-marital relationships 8 18 3. Physical and verbal abuse 5 11 % i | f if 4. Alcohol and/or drug abuse 4 9 5. Role incompetence 4 9 6. I n f l e x i b i l i t y of spouse re wife*s desire for a more e g a l i t a r i a n marriage 4 9 7. Lack of support for wife^s career goals.... 3 7 8. Workaholism 3 7 9. Sexual i n c o m p a t i b i l i t y 3 7 10. C o n f l i c t with in-laws 1 2_ Total; 45 100% a= Percentage of the t o t a l number of incidents i l l u s t r a t i n g marital problems. 1. Communication problems were described by 10 subjects although such d i f f i c u l t i e s were i m p l i c i t i n a l l the accounts. This i s e s p e c i a l l y so i f one adopts the view that any behaviour between marital partners i s a communicative act and an attempt to define the \ 71 r e l a t i o n s h i p . The m u l t i c i p l i c i t y of communication l e v e l s present i n any i n t e r a c t i o n i s also an important consideration when looking at communication i n a couple r e l a t i o n s h i p . The following examples from t h i s study i l l u s t r a t e the above p r i n c i p l e s : A f t e r 15 years of marriage, husband abruptly leaves with a mistress. One year l a t e r , he implores h i s wife to l e t him come back and s t a r t afresh. She accepts since they have three children together and she s t i l l loves him. Six months a f t e r t h e i r r e c o n c i l i a t i o n , she learns that he i s having an a f f a i r with one of h i s patients. While he v e r b a l l y professed wanting the marriage to work, hi s actions conveyed another message. She interprets t h i s as "him not t r y i n g to make a go of i t with [her]" and she loses the t r u s t she had placed i n him. In another case, the question of s t a r t i n g a family has become the focus of a power struggle with the wife i n s i s t i n g that they attend marriage counselling and resolve t h e i r d i f f i c u l t i e s before she w i l l consider having a c h i l d and the husband refusing to do so. When he makes a u n i l a t e r a l decision to stop using contraceptives, the wife decides to take a separate extended holiday abroad because she does not want to r i s k getting pregnant. However, she i s not honest about her motivations, pretending instead that she i s only using the same prerogatives he has on 72 previous occasions, namely taking a separate holiday. This angers husband who r e t a l i a t e s . An i r r e v e r s i b l e and t o t a l communication breakdown ensues. Communication problems were also described as "not connecting" on an emotional l e v e l with the spouse, "not sharing what's important", "not sharing the same r e a l i t y " and were construed as lack of empathy on the husband's part i n a number of cases. In a l l cases, the women i d e n t i f i e d issues which they f e l t should be dealt with by discussing them with t h e i r spouse. However, a f t e r several attempts to communicate, they retreated because of t h e i r spouse's defensiveness or unwillingness to look at the issues. In one example, subject has been t e l l i n g her husband that they need to t a l k about a given s i t u a t i o n . He agrees i n p r i n c i p l e but avoids dealing with i t every time she brings i t up. Subsequently, she hears that he i s looking for a new family home. She believes i t i s her husband's way of making her happy but r e a l i z e s that they "were r e a l l y not communicating". One woman f e l t that her husband's reply to her emotionally charged l e t t e r , namely "that i t would be challenging" to work towards resolving t h e i r marital problems, was t y p i c a l l y too detached. She interpreted t h i s as indifference and unwillingness to "get down to the n i t t y g r i t t y of emotional contact" and resolved to leave shortly thereafter. 73 2. Extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s were reported i n 8 out of the 20 marriages. In three cases, i t was the husband who had extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Two of the subjects whose husbands had a f f a i r s knew about them and accepted t h i s s i t u a t i o n . These women did not report t h e i r husband's i n f i d e l i t y as p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t i n t h e i r decision to leave other than to use i t as an opportunity to ask for a separation or a divorce. The fac t that t h e i r husbands were involved with other women made i t easier for them to come out and express t h e i r desire to dissolve the marriage because they f e l t that he would be more receptive to the idea. There were f i v e women who reported having a f f a i r s themselves and t h i s was s i g n i f i c a n t i n t h e i r decision to leave i n the following ways: (a) For four of the subjects, the extra-marital relationships were a c a t a l y s t . However, with the exception of one woman who has since married her lover, a l l the a f f a i r s were short-term, l a s t i n g from a couple of weeks to a couple of months. Nevertheless, i t provided the impetus needed to get out of an unsatisfactory marriage; (b) the a f f a i r s confirmed the subjects' feelings of attractiveness and, i n two cases, there was a n t i c i p a t i o n of the re l a t i o n s h i p continuing once the women l e f t her marriage. These findings lend support to Kalb's (1983) 74 proposition that the decision-making process involved i s , to some extent, one of mental weighing of "what the marriage has to o f f e r as compared to the perceived a l t e r n a t i v e " (p. 348). Of the f i v e subjects who engaged i n extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s , only one did so for an extended period of time. In t h i s case, the subject had lovers f o r years. She reports that t h i s , i s how she coped with her unhappiness. In retrospect, she recognizes that t h i s i s when the marriage started f a l l i n g apart. I t resulted i n unfavourable comparisons of her husband to her lovers and in withdrawal of emotional energy that might have otherwise been used to work on the marital problems. 3. Physical and verbal abuse was a major problem i n f i v e of the marriages. I t happened i n conjunction with alcohol abuse i n three cases. In one case, there was verbal abuse only, with threats of physical violence. In half of the marriages where there was physical abuse, the subjects were motivated to leave when the abuse was no longer directed s o l e l y at them, but was extended to the children. A l l of these women stated that an important factor i n t h e i r decision to leave was wanting a better family environment for the children. In one case, family violence was extreme with husband threatening to k i l l h i s wife and on occasion pointing a 75 loaded gun to her head. When he c a l l e d the c r i s i s centre and made threaths of k i l l i n g h i s whole family, subject started to believe that he was a c t u a l l y capable of i t and t h i s prompted her to leave. 4. Alcohol and/or drug abuse led to physical abuse, except i n one case. Subjects were caught i n the vicious cycle of drinking, physical abuse, repentance. One of the dynamics which was t y p i c a l i n these marriages was that the wife rescued the husband by taking care of everything, thereby allowing him to continue acting l i k e an irresponsible c h i l d . In family therapy, t h i s i s known as the overfunctioning wife. I t i s when these women gained some awareness of how they contributed to the problem and stopped playing the r o l e of rescuer that the marriages f e l l apart. 5. Role incompetence i s a concept t h i s researcher adapted from Nye and McLaughlin (1976). I t i s the opposite of r o l e competence. I t i s a factor i n the cost/reward equation which, according to s o c i a l exchange theory, influences marital s t a b i l i t y . Marriages where costs are low and rewards are high are deemed less l i k e l y to dissolve than those where the reverse i s true. Role competence i s posited as a predictor of marital s a t i s f a c t i o n and s t a b i l i t y . The t r a d i t i o n a l d e f i n i t i o n f o r male r o l e competence i n our society i s that the man be a good 76 p r o v i d e r . On t h e b a s i s o f t h i s d e f i n i t i o n , t h e f i n d i n g s o f t h i s s t u d y w o u l d s u p p o r t N y e ' s p r o p o s i t i o n . I n t h r e e o f f i v e c a s e s , t h e h u s b a n d ' s i n a b i l i t y t o h o l d s t a b l e e m p l o y m e n t a n d be a g o o d p r o v i d e r was a d e t e r m i n i n g f a c t o r i n t h e s u b j e c t ' s d e c i s i o n t o d i s s o l v e h e r m a r r i a g e . I n two o f t h o s e m a r r i a g e s , r o l e i n c o m p e t e n c e was r e l a t e d t o a l c o h o l a n d / o r d r u g a b u s e . A n o t h e r d e f i n i t i o n o f r o l e c o m p e t e n c e e m e r g e s f r o m t h e d a t a . I n t w o m a r r i a g e s , t h e h u s b a n d ' s i n a b i l i t y t o be n u r t u r i n g when s u b j e c t s w e r e i l l was s i g n i f i c a n t i n t h e i r d e c i s i o n t o d i s s o l v e t h e m a r r i a g e . 6. I n f l e x i b i l i t y of the spouse regarding h i s wife's desire f o r a more e g a l i t a r i a n marriage. I n a l l f o u r c a s e s , t h e s u b j e c t s f e l t s h o r t - c h a n g e d i n t h e t r a d i t i o n a l m a r r i a g e t h e y h a d o n c e c o n s e n t e d t o . T h e y h a d come t o s e e t h e i r m a r r i a g e a s a n u n f a i r a r r a n g e m e n t b y w h i c h t h e y g a v e more t h a n t h e y r e c e i v e d . T h e i r d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n s c e n t e r e d a r o u n d i s s u e s o f d i v i s i o n o f l a b o u r i n t h e home, b e i n g c o n s i d e r e d a n e q u a l p a r t n e r i n d e c i s i o n - m a k i n g , a n d g e n e r a l l y w a n t i n g t o be t a k e n s e r i o u s l y . One woman, i n p a r t i c u l a r , r e s e n t e d t h e c o n d e s c e n d i n g a n d u n s u p p o r t i v e a t t i t u d e o f h e r s p o u s e when i t came t o h e r i n t e r e s t s . She f e l t c h e a t e d t h a t , h a v i n g b e e n s u p p o r t i v e o f h i m f o r y e a r s , h e d i d n o t r e c i p r o c a t e . 77 7. Lack of support: f o r the wife's career goals. This issue was c r i t i c a l i n the decision of three subjects. The main theme i s the same but each case highlights a d i f f e r e n t aspect of the problem. In one case, the subject wanted to pursue career goals but her husband was pressuring her to s t a r t having children. In another, the subject wanted to make a career change which involved returning to u n i v e r s i t y . Her husband was not supportive of the idea. In the l a s t case, the subject wanted to move to a metropolitan area where her career opportunities would be enhanced but her spouse was t o t a l l y opposed to i t . 8. Workaholism. In a l l three cases, the subjects were d i s i l l u s i o n e d because t h e i r expectations of intimacy were not f u l f i l l e d i n the marriage. Their husband devoted most of t h e i r energy to t h e i r work or hobbies. In one case, the husband was a partner i n a small business and he spent 60 to 70 hours a week at work. In his l e i s u r e time, he usually had renovating projects to occupy himself. The subject deplored the lack of shared a c t i v i t i e s . The s i t u a t i o n became c r i t i c a l when she had to deal with a series of c r i s e s on her own because of his u n a v a i l a b i l i t y and lack of support. Another subject r e c a l l e d having to argue for one year for her husband to agree to come home for dinner. An academic, he usually stayed at the u n i v e r s i t y u n t i l 78 midnight every day of the week. The incident which pr e c i p i t a t e d the break-up occurred when he did not inquire about the r e s u l t s of her pregnancy t e s t . She interpreted t h i s to mean that he was more concerned about h i s work than about her. In the l a s t case, the couple had shared outdoor and s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s before marrying. However, the husband gradually began to withdraw from these and occupied a l l of his l e i s u r e time f i x i n g cars which was his hobby. The s i t u a t i o n remained unchanged despite the subject's attempts to i n t e r e s t him i n doing things together. 9. Sexual incompatibility manifested i n lack of i n t e r e s t on the part of t h e i r spouses was a major concern f o r two of the subjects. They ended up i n i t i a t i n g sexual contact most of the time and, i n one case i n p a r t i c u l a r , the woman was very upset that her husband c a l l e d her a nymphomaniac when she did. In another case, an extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p which was p h y s i c a l l y s a t i s f y i n g meant to the subject that her "marriage was lacking i n that and every other area as well" and that she could be sexually responsive although she was not with her husband. 10. C o n f l i c t with in-laws was s i g n i f i c a n t i n the break-up of one marriage, although the problem was compounded by communication d i f f i c u l t i e s and sexual incompatibility. The 79 subject never f e l t accepted by her in-laws who were of a d i f f e r e n t race and she resented the fac t that her husband did not stand up to his family to support her when they were c r i t i c a l of her. The subjects described only 21 hindering incidents which i l l u s t r a t e t h e i r reasons for remaining i n an unsatisfactory marriage as long as they did. The reader w i l l f i n d them l i s t e d i n Appendix A, along with the f a c i l i t a t i n g c r i t i c a l incidents. While they were not able to r e c a l l many s p e c i f i c incidents depicting what made i t d i f f i c u l t f or them to come to the decision to leave the marriage, the subjects nevertheless mentioned several reasons or factors which prevented them from leaving the marriage sooner. Table 4.2 outlines the reasons given by 16 of the 20 respondents. Four subjects did not report any reason. 80 Table 4.2 Reasons f o r staying 1. T r a d i t i o n a l values 7 16 2. Feelings of inadequacy 7 16 3. Hope that marriage w i l l improve 5 12 4. Importance of the house 4 10 5. Religious background and/or b e l i e f s 4 10 6. Marriage counselling 3 7 7. Fear of spouse 3 7 8. Feeling responsible for the spouse 2 5 9. Economics 2 5 10. Lack of energy 1 2 11. Lack of information .....1 2 12. P o s i t i v e q u a l i t i e s of the spouse 1 2 13. Common int e r e s t s 1 2 14. Shared h i s t o r y 1 2 15. Respect for spouse's parenting a b i l i t i e s 1 5 Tot a l : 43 100% a= Percentage of incidents i l l u s t r a t i n g reasons for staying. 81 In summary, the women's decision to leave t h e i r marriages was not triggered by one s i n g l e incident. The majority of subjects a t t r i b u t e the marital break-up to several i n t e r r e l a t e d factors which made them think that the marriage was unworkable. One subject describes the process she went through p r i o r to separation i n the following way: The way I v i s u a l i z e the process i s just l i k e walking up a series of s t a i r s ; there's t h i s progression and suddenly you r e a l i z e well, okay, I'm on the landing now, I'd better s t a r t walking. I t wasn't so much the one s p e c i f i c thing, i t was the accumulation. Apart from the marital problems discussed above, personal growth was a key factor for a l l the subjects i n coming to terms with the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. (^Personal growth resulted from the struggle to reconcile the c o n f l i c t between what t h e i r marriage had to o f f e r and t h e i r expectations^ Nine of the 20 subjects p a r t i c i p a t e d i n groups, namely personal growth, consciousness-raising and s e l f - h e l p groups, or had some in d i v i d u a l counselling. This gave them the support they needed to explore the problems and come to a decision. Through groups and personal counselling, the women learned to t r u s t t h e i r feelings and perceptions. (As a r e s u l t , they experienced a major change i n self-concept .j) As one woman put i t , "I began to see myself as someone who had to take 82 r e s p o n s i b i l i t y " . Personal transformation for her came about from reading feminist l i t e r a t u r e . She describes the process as a "conversion experience, a genuine revelation and an inner experience" which resulted i n her adopting a d i f f e r e n t attitude towards the marriage and her husband. The process was described i n s i m i l a r terms by several other subjects. 2. What were the fee l i n g s , cognitions and behaviours of  the subjects i n connection with the c r i t i c a l  incidents? The category system developed from the descriptions of c r i t i c a l incidents c o l l e c t e d from the subjects focuses primarily on the woman's inner experience and i s organized s p e c i f i c a l l y around what were her feelings, cognitions and behaviours i n connection with these events. In t h i s way, the reader w i l l acquire an o v e r a l l understanding of the process the women underwent i n coming to terms with the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriages. Thus, the three superordinate categories which emerge natu r a l l y from the data are: III Behaviours In the following pages, the subcategories i n each major grouping w i l l be presented. I Feelings II Cognitions 83 In category I, "feelings", 12 subcategories were developed. The f i r s t s i x i l l u s t r a t e what f a c i l i t a t e d the women's decision to leave t h e i r marriages. The l a s t s i x r e l a t e to what made i t more d i f f i c u l t to come to that decision. Table 4.3 Subcategories under category I - f e e l i n g s Frequency % a 1. Disillusionment 13 18 2. Feeling abandoned 13 18 3. Resignation 4 5 4. Losing t r u s t 8 11 5. Gaining emotional distance 6 8 6. Increased self-confidence 9 12 7. Depression 7 10 8. Hope 6 8 9. Fear 4 5 10. Feelings of inadequacy 2 3 11. Loyalty 1 1 12. Concern for welfare of children 1 _1 Total: 74 100% - Percentage of t o t a l incidents reported i n the f e e l i n g category. In category I I , "cognitions", 13 subcategories were developed to map the cognitive process of the subjects i n 84 coming to the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. A l l of them i l l u s t r a t e what f a c i l i t a t e d the process, as opposed to what hindered i t . Table 4.4 Subcategories under category I I - Cognitions Frequency % a 1. Heightened awareness of dysfunctional marital dynamics 13 12 2. Awareness of value differences 6 5 3. Altered perception of spouse 11 10 4. Acknowledging d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n to s e l f . . . 4 4 5. Comparing marriage to that of others.... 6 5 6. Acquiring a new perspective to analyze the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p 5 5 7. Integrating the feedback of others 5 5 8. Experiencing v a l i d a t i o n of s e l f outside the marriage 14 13 9. Acquiring concept of a l t e r n a t i v e 6 5 10. Heightened awareness that dysfunctional marital dynamics have deleterious e f f e c t s on the children 8 7 11. Accepting that marriage i s unworkable... 11 10 12. S h i f t i n g focus from marriage to s e l f . . . . 5 4 13 . Making the decision to separate 18 16 , T o t a l : 112 100% a= Percentage of t o t a l incidents reported i n the cognitive category. 85 In category I I I , "behaviours", eight subcategories were developed. The f i r s t s i x i l l u s t r a t e what f a c i l i t a t e d the process; the l a s t two i l l u s t r a t e what hindered i t . Table 4.5 Subcategories under category I I I ~ Behaviours Frequency % a 1. Confiding i n others 6 14 2. Testing new behaviours 11 25 3. Becoming s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t 2 5 4. Engaging i n extra-marital relationships 5 12 5. Receiving counselling 3 7 6. Implementing the decision 10 23 7. Advice of professionals 2 5 8 . Physical abuse 4 9 T o t a l : 43 100% a = Percentage of t o t a l incidents reported i n the behaviour category. At t h i s point, a b r i e f overview of the subcategories most often reported w i l l give the reader some understanding of the process as a whole. In category I - feelings, the subcategories most frequently reported were disillusionment and f e e l i n g abandoned, with a count of 13 each. This was followed by 86 lo s i n g t r u s t and depression, with a count of eight and seven respectively. Increased self-confidence, which i s associated with the end of the process, r e f l e c t s the subjects' f e e l i n g of having rediscovered t h e i r core selves. I t was reported nine times. In category II - cognitions, the subcategories most frequently reported were heightened awareness of dysfunctional marital dynamics and experiencing v a l i d a t i o n of s e l f outside marriage, with a count of 13 and 14 respectively. Next came altered perception of spouse and accepting that the marriage i s unworkable, with 11 each. Making the actual decision to separate was described by 18 of the 20 subjects. In category III - behaviours, the subcategories most frequently reported were t e s t i n g new behaviours and implementing the decision to separate, with 11 and 10 respectively. A taxonomy of the three superordinate categories and 33 subcategories grouped under each of these can be found i n Appendix A. D e f i n i t i o n s of the subcategories as well as frequency reported and p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate are provided along with examples of each subcategory. The p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate i s the number of p a r t i c i p a n t s who described the experience captured i n the subcategory heading and the corresponding percentage out of 20. 87 An incident may be described i n such a way as to i l l u s t r a t e a l l three dimensions of the category system. However, the majority of incidents were c l a s s i f i e d i n one of the three major categories, namely, feelings, cognitions or behaviours, on the basis of what was predominant i n the subject's description. I t i s i n t e r e s t i n g to note that the largest number of incidents are c l a s s i f i e d under cognitions. This may be due to the nature of decision-making, which i s by and large a cognitive process even though i t has concomitants feelings and behaviours. 3. Are there i d e n t i f i a b l e common themes that i l l u s t r a t e the process that the subjects vent through i n coming to terms with the decision to divorce? In answering t h i s f i n a l research question, a model was developed. Although each woman's story i s unique, the model r e f l e c t s the commonalities found i n the accounts. The process of decision-making associated with divorce, although i t i s i n f i n i t e l y complex, can be summarized as follows: The f i r s t stage, disillusionment, i s characterized by intense discontent, whatever the s p e c i f i c reasons. The subjects report f e e l i n g hurt, unsupported, uncared for, and very much alone i n the marriage. Their attempts to discuss t h e i r feelings with t h e i r spouses and get some resolution on the issues they i d e n t i f y as problematic are 88 unsuccessful. This leads to an increased awareness that there are major problems i n the marriage. Whatever the incident that prompted the new awareness, t h i s i s the beginning of an i r r e v e r s i b l e process. This i s e s p e c i a l l y true when the incident i n question shatters the subject's perception of her husband and, at the same time, t r i g g e r s the f e e l i n g that the spouse has severe personality problems. In category I - feelings, the following subcategories i l l u s t r a t e that experience: Disillusionment and f e e l i n g abandoned. In category II - cognitions, the incidents which i l l u s t r a t e t h i s are grouped i n the following subcategories: Heightened awareness of dysfunctional marital dynamics; awareness of basic value differences; acknowledging d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n to oneself and altered perception of spouse. The second stage, ambivalence, i s characterized by approach/avoidance. On the one hand, unhappiness i s pushing the woman to leave. But, on the other hand, there are other factors which make i t d i f f i c u l t to leave. The subjects mentally acknowledge t h e i r d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with the marriage but there i s s t i l l high emotional investment i n i t . This r e s u l t s i n a moral dilemma. The subjects are unhappy but the moral standards they have i n t e r n a l i z e d preclude considerations of divorce as an option. For some 89 of the subjects, the discontent i s accentuated when they compare t h e i r marriage generally to other r e l a t i o n s h i p s where they f e e l better understood, namely with friends or more s p e c i f i c a l l y to other marriages which seem to portray what they are looking f o r . Internalized moral prescriptions had a large impact on the decision-making of the subjects i n the present research. These messages were consistent with the idea that marriage and the family are the center of a woman's l i f e and that without i t , she i s nothing. Consequently, the majority of subjects invested themselves t o t a l l y i n t r y i n g to save t h e i r marriage. Other factors keeping the subjects from coming to t h e i r decision e a r l i e r were depression, hope of changing the spouse, feelings of inadequacy, fear, force of habit and the l o g i s t i c s of the s i t u a t i o n . The f i r s t four were described as hindering incidents and, therefore, are included i n the category system. For many years, these women struggled to f i n d solutions to t h e i r marital d i f f i c u l t i e s , v a s c i l l a t i n g between t h e i r intense d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n and t h e i r hope that the marriage would improve. Some sought marital counselling which provided some symptomatic r e l i e f i n the short-term but which was not successful i n keeping the marriage i n t a c t . One couple, i n p a r t i c u l a r , engaged i n marriage counselling several months of the year for many successive years. 90 Feelings of powerlessness are t y p i c a l of t h i s stage. In category I - feelings, the subcategories of resignation and depression i l l u s t r a t e t h i s . Indeed, 50% of the subjects reported incidents which were c l a s s i f i e d i n these two subcategories. At the behavioural l e v e l , t h i s was translated by accommodation and "going through the motions". An example of t h i s i s the woman who reported not having any emotional energy l e f t to consider the question of divorce because she was too caught up i n the d a i l y problems and c r i s e s of her l i f e . Depression can be understood as the outward expression of the inner c o n f l i c t the subjects l i v e d with. The subjects had reached an impasse which was to l a s t from one to several years, depending on the temperament and predicament of the in d i v i d u a l woman. The t h i r d stage, cognitive restructuring, i s characterized by the subjects' distancing themselves emotionally and ph y s i c a l l y from t h e i r spouse. In category I - fee l i n g s , the subcategory which captures t h i s i s gaining emotional distance. For many, t h i s came about as a r e s u l t of an incident which caused them to lose t r u s t i n and respect for t h e i r spouse. The movement from ambivalence to the restructuring stage was generally accomplished through events/factors external to the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . A l l the subjects 91 were t r y i n g i n one way or another to resolve the moral dilemma they found themselves struggling with, namely that they were committed to t h e i r marriage and yet were deeply unhappy with i t . The unhappiness and inner c o n f l i c t they experienced led them to look for support outside the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . Some joined s e l f - h e l p groups l i k e Alanon or other types of personal growth groups. Others began i n d i v i d u a l counselling. Others invested themselves i n volunteer work or found employment outside the home. For others s t i l l , extra-marital r e l a t i o n s were another important source of v a l i d a t i o n . Several subjects reported that reading feminist l i t e r a t u r e resulted i n a change of perspective which was l i b e r a t i n g . Through these p o s i t i v e r e l a t i o n s h i p s and experiences, the woman's self-worth was affirmed and the idea planted that she could f i n d or create something better than what her marriage had to o f f e r . In the short-term, the new perspective and emerging sense of s e l f resulted i n her adopting a d i f f e r e n t a t t i t u d e towards the marriage. She became more detached and acted accordingly. In category II - cognitions, the subcategories which i l l u s t r a t e t h i s process are: Acquiring a new perspective to analyze the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p , integrating the feedback of others, experiencing v a l i d a t i o n of s e l f outside the marriage and acquiring a concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e . 92 In category III - behaviours, there are f i v e subcategories which correspond to the above: Testing new behaviours; becoming s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t ; engaging i n extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s and receiving counselling to a s s i s t with decision-making. The fourth and f i n a l stage, resolution, i s characterized by increased self-confidence as well as r e l i e f . Once the subjects acknowledged and accepted that the marriage and/or t h e i r spouse was u n l i k e l y to change, they were able to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for what they wanted out of l i f e . A s h i f t of focus followed. Having previously being centered on the marriage as i f i t were the very core of t h e i r existence, they now redirected t h e i r emotional energies i n the pursuit of est a b l i s h i n g t h e i r autonomy i n other areas of t h e i r l i v e s . In category I - feelings, the subcategory which captures t h i s experience i s increased self-confidence. In category II - cognitions, i t i s accepting that the marriage i s unworkable, s h i f t i n g focus from marriage to s e l f and making the actual decision to divorce. In category III -behaviours, the above translates into implementing the decision to divorce. 93 CHAPTER 5 Discusssion Snnima-ry of Results The present research has outlined the psychological process involved i n making the decision to divorce. Unlike the majority of studies of divorce, t h i s research was s p e c i f i c a l l y designed to explore the subjects' feelings, cognitions and behaviours i n coming to terms with that decision. I t i s a study of decision-making and a study of the divorce process, and as such i t i s unique i n the f i e l d . The c r i t i c a l incidents described by the subjects are the core of t h i s research. Taken as a whole, they form the r a t i o n a l e for each woman's i n d i v i d u a l decision to leave her marriage. A t o t a l of 175 incidents were reported and described at length to the interviewer. Of these, 154 were descriptions of f a c i l i t a t i n g incidents and 21 were descriptions of hindering incidents. These data were subsequently organized i n a c l a s s i f i c a t i o n which consists of three superdrdinate categories - feelings, cognitions, behaviours - and 3 3 subcategories. Each subcategory i s defined and i l l u s t r a t e d with a minimum of two examples. Frequency count and p a r t i c i p a t i o n rate are also provided fo r each subcategory. In addition, a summary of the marital problems 94 highlighted i n the c r i t i c a l incidents i s provided, along with examples of the marital dynamics involved. F i n a l l y , a four-stage model o u t l i n i n g the process of coming to terms with the decision to divorce was derived from the category system. The stages are disillusionment, ambivalence, cognitive restructuring and resolution. The model assumes an orderly progression from one stage to another. However, i t i s mostly for the sake of c l a r i t y since i t i s d i f f i c u l t to translate any psychological phenomenon as complex as t h i s one into a neat l i n e a r model. I t might be more accurate to think of i t as a d i a l e c t i c a l model i n that the subjects experienced c o n f l i c t i n g feelings and thoughts over and over again, with increasing i n t e n s i t y , u n t i l they were able to a r r i v e at a re s o l u t i o n of these c o n f l i c t i n g feelings and thoughts and reach a decision. Crosby et a l . (1983) describe the process as one where the various a f f e c t i v e , cognitive and behavioural dimensions a l l recur i n a c y c l i c a l manner. Kaslow (1981) likens i t to the highs and lows of a r o l l e r coaster r i d e , with the partners being drawn back p e r i o d i c a l l y into the r e l a t i o n s h i p to "give i t one more t r y " (p. 675). The findings of the present research corroborate that. Significance of the Study Theoretical s i g n i f i c a n c e . S o c i a l . exchange theory 95 views marriage i n terms of a cost/reward equation. The present research supports the proposition of Albrecht and Kunz (1980) and Levinger (1965; 1979) that major s h i f t s i n reward-costs outcomes must take place before a decision i s made to end the marriage. Albrecht and Kunz (1980) also report that the most frequent reasons associated with marital breakdown are i n f i d e l i t y , loss of love, f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s , emotional problems and physical abuse. The present research did not s p e c i f i c a l l y investigate the reasons for the marital breakdown. With the exception of "loss of love", a l l of the above were described by the subjects i n the form of c r i t i c a l incidents which prompted them to make the decision to divorce. The present research outlines several a d d i t i o n a l reasons related to the marital breakdown. They are communication problems, alcohol and/or drug abuse, r o l e incompetence defined as the spouse's i n a b i l i t y to be a good provider and to be nurturing, i n f l e x i b i l i t y of the spouse regarding the subjects' attempts to negotiate a more e g a l i t a r i a n marriage, lack of support for the subjects' career goals, workaholism, sexual incompatibility and c o n f l i c t s with in-laws. With the exception of boredom and husband's desire for independence, the above correspond to the perceived causes of divorce outlined by other researchers, i n p a r t i c u l a r , Granvold et a l . (1979) and 96 D a v i s a n d A r o n ( 1 9 8 8 ) . I n t h e p r e s e n t r e s e a r c h , t h r e e d i s t i n c t f a c t o r s r e l a t e d t o g e n d e r r o l e c o n f l i c t a r e i d e n t i f i e d , n a m e l y , r o l e i n c o m p e t e n c e i n t e r m s o f t h e h u s b a n d ' s i n a b i l i t y t o be n u r t u r i n g , i n f l e x i b i l i t y o f t h e h u s b a n d r e g a r d i n g h i s w i f e ' s d e s i r e f o r a more e g a l i t a r i a n m a r r i a g e a n d l a c k o f s u p p o r t f o r t h e s u b j e c t ' s c a r e e r g o a l s . C o n f l i c t o v e r g e n d e r r o l e s , b o t h j o i n t a n d i n t e r n a l , h a v e a l s o b e e n f o u n d t o be s i g n i f i c a n t f o r men a n d women i n K i t s o n ' s a n d S ussman's (1982) s t u d y o f m a r i t a l c o m p l a i n t s . R e g a r d i n g t h e t y p e o f m a r i t a l c o m p l a i n t s a s s o c i a t e d w i t h d i v o r c e , K i t s o n a n d Sussman (1982) c o n c l u d e t h a t , n o w a d a y s , c o u p l e s a r e d e a l i n g w i t h i s s u e s w h i c h w e r e n o t p r e d o m i n a n t f o r t h e p r e v i o u s g e n e r a t i o n , n a m e l y t h e d e s i r e t o p u r s u e p e r s o n a l g r o w t h , h a v i n g a l i f e o f o n e ' s own, a n d r o l e a l l o c a t i o n w i t h i n t h e f a m i l y . L e v i n g e r ( 1 9 6 5 ; 1979) a p p l i e s a c o s t a n d b e n e f i t a n a l y s i s t o m a r i t a l d i s s o l u t i o n . M o s t o f t h e f a c t o r s he i d e n t i f i e s a s b a r r i e r s t o m a r i t a l d i s s o l u t i o n w e r e v a l i d a t e d . The p r e s e n t r e s e a r c h d i s c r i m i n a t e s w i t h g r e a t e r a c c u r a c y , h o w e v e r , t h e r e a s o n s w h i c h k e p t t h e s u b j e c t s i n t h e m a r r i a g e . As o u t l i n e d i n T a b l e 4.2, f e e l i n g s o f o b l i g a t i o n t o w a r d s t h e s p o u s e r a n k e d 7, w h i l e k e e p i n g t h e f a m i l y i n t a c t f o r t h e s a k e o f t h e c h i l d r e n r a n k e d f i r s t . C h i l d r e n a r e i m p o r t a n t i n k e e p i n g a m a r r i a g e t o g e t h e r . 97 Also, fear of not getting custody of the chi l d r e n was invoked by two subjects as s i g n i f i c a n t i n remaining married longer. For some of the subjects who were i n abusive re l a t i o n s h i p s , t h e i r resolve to keep the family together changed when the abusive spouse started h i t t i n g the children as well. Moral prescriptions stemming from r e l i g i o u s b e l i e f s were mentioned i n four cases. Economics were given as reasons for staying i n two cases only. There i s no clear evidence, however, regarding the importance of external pressures from primary group a f f i l i a t i o n s i n keeping the subjects married, namely, the extended family and community stigma. With regard to attr a c t i o n s operating to maintain the marriages i n t a c t , home ownership was mentioned by four subjects. Two other factors of a t t r a c t i o n i d e n t i f i e d by Levinger (1979), such as esteem for the spouse on the one hand, and desire for companionship and sexual enjoyment on the other hand, were found to be important. Several incidents r e l a t i n g s p e c i f i c a l l y to either lack of esteem for the spouse, desire for companionship or det e r i o r a t i o n of the sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p were described as s i g n i f i c a n t i n the subjects' decision to end t h e i r marriages. Additional evidence for these findings i s provided by Kressel et a l . (1980). In ha l f of the couples they studied, Kressel et a l . (1980) found that "the wives wanted a more intimate, 98 emotionally closer r e l a t i o n s h i p than t h e i r husbands were w i l l i n g or able to supply" (p. 107). Levinger (1979) postulates that socio-economic rewards re l a t e d to the husband's income, education and occupation also serve to maintain marriage cohesiveness. The findings of the present research suggest a p o s i t i v e c o r r e l a t i o n between the husband's i n a b i l i t y to hold stable employment and be a good provider with the subjects' eventual decision to end the marriages. However, whether or not unemployment i t s e l f was the key factor i n t h e i r decision cannot be ascertained because these marriages were also a f f l i c t e d with other major problems such as substance and physical abuse. The concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e i s a construct that s o c i a l exchange t h e o r i s t s (Albrecht & Kunz, 1980; Edwards & Saunders, 1981; Kalb, 1983; Thibaut & Ke l l y , 1959) use i n predicting marital s t a b i l i t y . I t i s proposed that unhappy marriages may endure because of the lack of perceived a l t e r n a t i v e s and that happy marriages may be unstable because other alt e r n a t i v e s which are more a t t r a c t i v e to the i n d i v i d u a l present themselves. The present research was not designed to t e s t the above hypothesis and therefore cannot be conclusive i n t h i s regard. Nevertheless, a l l the subjects were empowered to make the decision to leave t h e i r marriage once they 99 acquired a sense that they could have a s a t i s f y i n g and meaningful l i f e outside the marriage. Stage 3 of the model c l e a r l y suggests that getting p o s i t i v e feedback and recognition from others as capable, worthy and a t t r a c t i v e was s i g n i f i c a n t i n f a c i l i t a t i n g the decision to divorce. I t had a p o s i t i v e impact on the subjects' self-esteem and enabled them to envisage the p o s s i b i l i t y of d i s s o l v i n g t h e i r unhappy marriages. Consequently, the present research broadens the d e f i n i t i o n of the concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e proposed by Kalb (1983) to include the concept of personal v a l i d a t i o n as equally s i g n i f i c a n t i n the decision to leave an unsatisfactory marriage. Personal v a l i d a t i o n and the concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e are incorporated i n the category system under cognitions. Another assumption of s o c i a l exchange theory, that marital cohesiveness i s jeopardized once a lover enters the picture, i s only t a n g e n t i a l l y supported by the findings of the present research. Upon close examination of the incidents described i n t h i s subcategory, i t i s found that only f i v e subjects engaged i n extramarital r e l a t i o n s h i p s at some point during t h e i r married l i f e . Of these, only two reported that the prospect of continuing the r e l a t i o n s h i p with the t h i r d party a f t e r separating from t h e i r spouse influenced t h e i r decision to end the marriage. On the whole, extramarital r e l a t i o n s h i p s were a c a t a l y s t for 100 leaving an unsatisfactory marriage but not the cause of marital breakdown. Nevertheless, the f i v e subjects reported f e e l i n g encouraged at the thought of f e e l i n g a t t r a c t i v e and being responsive with another partner. This i s additional evidence f o r the v a l i d i t y of the construct of personal v a l i d a t i o n delineated i n the present research. Generally, the findings of the present research corroborate those of stage t h e o r i s t s (e.g., Bohannan, 1973; Crosby et a l . , 1983; 1986; Duck, 1982; Kaslow, 1981; Kessler, 1975; Vaughan, 1979) i n that there seems to be a sequence involved i n the process of divorce. Although each t h e o r i s t uses s l i g h t l y d i f f e r e n t terminology, the f i r s t two stages of the model outlined i n the Results chapter correspond to the general sequence suggested. For example, most t h e o r i s t s agree that the divorce process begins with one spouse xs d i s a f f e c t i o n with the other partner (Bohannan, 1973; Kaslow, 1981; Kessler, 1975). This disenchantment, named disillusionment i n the present model, i s followed by a period where ambivalence towards the spouse i s manifested i n the form of negative communication and c o n f l i c t over s u p e r f i c i a l issues (Bohannan, 1973; Duck, 1982; Kaslow, 1981; Kressel & Deutsch, 1977; Vaughan, 1979). I f the underlying problems are not aired and resolved, the couple moves on to the erosion and detachment stages which are 101 c h a r a c t e r i z e d b y a n a v o i d a n c e o f t o x i c i s s u e s w h i c h h a v e n o t b e e n s u c c e s s f u l l y r e s o l v e d i n t h e p a s t ( B r a d f o r d , 1 9 8 0 ; K a s l o w , 1 9 8 1 ; K e s s l e r , 1 9 7 5 ; V a u g h a n , 1 9 7 9 ) . The m a j o r i t y o f s u b j e c t s d e s c r i b e d a c l e a r t u r n i n g p o i n t i n c o m i n g t o t e r m s w i t h t h e d e c i s i o n t o d i v o r c e . F e d e r i c o (1979) a l s o i d e n t i f i e d t h i s c o n s t r u c t f r o m a s t u d y o f a c c o u n t s o f d i v o r c e d p e r s o n s i n v o l v e d i n d i v o r c e a d j u s t m e n t g r o u p s . He l a b e l l e d i t t h e " P o i n t o f No R e t u r n ( N / R ) " ( F e d e r i c o , 1979, p. 95) a n d s t a t e d t h a t a p e r s o n h a v i n g p a s s e d t h a t p o i n t c o u l d n o t r e t u r n t o h i s / h e r f o r m e r e m o t i o n a l i n v e s t m e n t i n t h e m a r r i a g e . The f i n d i n g s o f t h i s r e s e a r c h c o r r o b o r a t e F e d e r i c o ' s (1979) i n t h i s r e g a r d . F e d e r i c o (1979) a l s o s u r m i s e d t h a t p a s s i n g N/R was n o t s o m e t h i n g t h a t t h e p e r s o n was n e c e s s a r i l y a w a r e o f . The f i n d i n g s o f t h e p r e s e n t r e s e a r c h s u g g e s t o t h e r w i s e . T h e r e a r e s e v e r a l i n c i d e n t s w h i c h c a n be f o u n d i n t h e t a x o n o m y w h i c h c l e a r l y i n d i c a t e t h a t t h e s u b j e c t s r e c a l l e d t h i s e x p e r i e n c e v e r y v i v i d l y . I t was d e f i n i t e l y a n " Aha!" e x p e r i e n c e f o r t h e m, a n d a l t h o u g h n o t a l l o f t h e m a c t e d on t h i s i n s i g h t i m m e d i a t e l y , i t r e s u l t e d i n a s i g n i f i c a n t d e c r e a s e o f t h e i r e m o t i o n a l e n e r g y i n t h e m a r r i a g e . T h i s c o r r e s p o n d s t o L l o y d ' s a n d C a t e ' s (1985) f i n d i n g s . T h e i r s u b j e c t s a l s o h a d c l e a r r e c o l l e c t i o n o f s i g n i f i c a n t t u r n i n g p o i n t s i n t h e d i s s o l u t i o n o f t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . 102 I t i s d i f f i c u l t to make extensive comparisons between the present research and the aforementioned theories because each investigates the process of marital d i s s o l u t i o n from a d i f f e r e n t perspective and with varying depth and scope. Since Kaslow (1981) and Duck (1982) o f f e r the most comprehensive models of the pre-divorce period, they w i l l be reviewed i n l i g h t of the findings of the present research. In r e f e r r i n g to the pre-divorce period, Kaslow (1981) i d e n t i f i e d several of the feelings and corresponding tasks c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of t h i s stage. Although the c l a s s i f i c a t i o n s d i f f e r on some of the key descriptors used, the f e e l i n g subcategories developed from the present research correspond c l o s e l y to Kaslow's (1981) . For example, her model sets out disillusionment and d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n as separate e n t i t i e s . In the present research, these two are combined under the f i r s t heading, disillusionment. Another descriptor used by Kaslow (1981) i s a l i e n a t i o n which i s shorter but conveys the same experience as f e e l i n g abandoned. Kaslow*s reference to dread i s replaced by fear i n the present research. The other fe e l i n g s i d e n t i f i e d by Kaslow (1981), namely, anguish, ambivalence, shock, emptiness, chaos, inadequacy, low self-esteem also correspond to the experiences described by the subjects i n the present research. Unlike the present research, Kaslow 103 (1981) did not provide any d e f i n i t i o n s or examples for her descriptors, which makes further comparisons impossible. A survey of Kaslow's (1981) categorization and that of the present research reveals two other important differences: On the one hand, Kaslow's model completely overlooks the cognitive aspects of the experience. Her model i s general compared to the present research which s p e c i f i c a l l y investigated how the subjects reached the decision to divorce. Hence, i n addition to the 12 f e e l i n g subcategories, the present research has i d e n t i f i e d and described 13 cognitive subcategories. Kaslow (1981) i s more e x p l i c i t , however, with regard to actions which accompany the feelings i n the beginning of the pre-divorce period. Her model sets out the following tasks: "Confronting partner; q u a r r e l l i n g ; seeking therapy; denial; withdrawal (physical & emotional); pretending a l l i s okay; attempting to win back a f f e c t i o n " (p. 676). Although a l l of these were described by the interviewees i n the present research, the category system does not r e f l e c t t h i s . The s i x behavioural subcategories developed from the c r i t i c a l incidents correspond to the l a t e r stages of the decision-making process, not the beginning. This can be explained by the fa c t that raters were instructed to categorize incidents on the basis of what was predominant i n the subjects' descriptions. Although an incident may 104 have contained elements of each major categories fe e l i n g s , cognitions, behaviours - i t would have been c l a s s i f i e d under the one which best captured the whole experience. Duck's theory (1982) i s relevant to the present research because he emphasizes "the expression and conduct of d i s s o l u t i o n rather than i t s inherent causes" (p. 12). His model addresses the private concerns that a person must resolve i n dealing with the decision to dissolve a marriage and the implementation of t h i s decision. Duck (1982) focuses on the cognitive aspects of the process. The f i r s t stage i s a t h e o r e t i c a l formulation of the intrapsychic dynamics that come into play as the in d i v i d u a l becomes increasingly d i s s a t i s f i e d with the marriage. A major assumption i s that the person must come up with a j u s t i f i c a t i o n f or deciding to withdraw from the re l a t i o n s h i p . What happens outside the i n t e r a c t i o n a l f i e l d of the marital dyad, that i s , at the i n d i v i d u a l s l e v e l of consciousness, i s attributed a s i g n i f i c a n t r o l e i n explaining the i n i t i a l stages of r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . For instance, disappointment with the partner w i l l t r i g g e r mental a c t i v i t y such as fantasizing, r e c a p i t u l a t i n g , planning, evaluating the partner and the r e l a t i o n s h i p . A l l t h i s i s not immediately conveyed to the partner, except perhaps through non-verbal cues. Duck (1982) claims that 105 brooding i s a powerful cause of estrangement within a r e l a t i o n s h i p . Several dimensions of the experience of coming to terms with the decision to divorce proposed i n the present research correspond to the private thoughts and concerns c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the intrapsychic stage proposed by Duck (1982). For example, the f i r s t f i v e subcategories under cognitions expand on Duck's intrapsychic stage. These f i v e subcategories are: Heightened awareness of dysfunctional marital dynamics, awareness of basic value differences, a l t e r e d perception of spouse, acknowledgement to oneself of d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n , and comparison of the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p to other r e l a t i o n s h i p s . A l l of these r e l a t e to the goals of the intrapsychic stage outlined by Duck (1982), namely that the i n d i v i d u a l i s preoccupied with i d e n t i f y i n g the problems i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p and assessing the partner's behaviour i n r e l a t i o n to these problems. In summary, the category system and the model derived from the present research outline the intrapsychic process leading to marriage d i s s o l u t i o n from the perspective of the person contemplating divorce. I t builds on the work of Kaslow (1981) and Duck (1982) by integrating the f e e l i n g , thinking and behavioural dimensions of the experience into a coherent model of the decision to divorce. Furthermore, unlike much of the l i t e r a t u r e i n t h i s area which i s based 106 on c l i n i c a l work, the present research i s grounded i n empirical data. As such, i t adds a s i g n i f i c a n t contribution to the l i t e r a t u r e . A gender r o l e perspective. The findings of the present research bring into focus the issue of decision-making from a woman's perspective. I t also hig h l i g h t s several other questions such as the nature of rela t i o n s h i p s between men and women, anger and depression i n women, i d e n t i t y formation, to name a few. Since these topics are conspicuously absent from the divorce l i t e r a t u r e , i t i s necessary to consider the present findings from the t h e o r e t i c a l framework provided by G i l l i g a n (1982) and that of others i n woman*s studies (Attanucci, 1988; Eichenbaum & Orbach, 1983; Goodrich, Rampage, Elman, Halstead, 1988; Lerner, 1977; M i l l e r , 1976, 1982, 1984, 1986; Rubin, 1983). The model delineated i n the present research constitutes the basic framework of analysis. The f i r s t stage of the model, disillusionment, marked the onset of the process of emotional divorce f o r a l l the subjects i n the present study. Somehow, marriage d i d not f u l f i l l t h e i r expectations. They did not f i n d the intimacy or emotional connectedness with t h e i r spouse that they had been led to anticipate. As M i l l e r (1976) expounds, t h i s i s not ju s t a private 107 concern. The so c i o - c u l t u r a l context which impinges on marriage i s a key factor i n determining the nature of rela t i o n s h i p s between men and women. Gender r o l e d i f f e r e n t i a t i o n i s i d e n t i f i e d as c r u c i a l because of i t s emphasis for women on attending to the needs of men and children at the expense of t h e i r own. As a r e s u l t , women look to men, to f u l f i l l t h e i r innermost aspirations and needs, when they often are not clea r themselves on what those are. This can often lead to b i t t e r disappointment. Emotional relatedness and nurturing have t r a d i t i o n a l l y been relegated to women i n our society (Goodrich, Rampage, Ellman, & Halstead, 1988; Herman, 1977; M i l l e r , 1976). Women have become " c a r r i e r s " of these aspects of the t o t a l human experience because feelings are not highly valued by men. I t i s argued that, h i s t o r i c a l l y , men had to control t h e i r emotions to master the environment and as a r e s u l t have become less adept than women at i d e n t i f y i n g t h e i r f e e l i n g s . Men are often a f r a i d of feel i n g s , t h e i r own and those of the women i n t h e i r l i v e s . I t i s t y p i c a l for them to deny t h e i r own feelings and to discount, i f not t o t a l l y disparage, those of women (Mi l l e r , 1976). From t h i s perspective, i t i s not su r p r i s i n g that the majority of subjects i n the present research reported having d i f f i c u l t y connecting with t h e i r spouse on an 108 emotional l e v e l . M i l l e r ' s (1976) analysis explains the intense d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n the subjects experienced when they r e a l i z e d that t h e i r spouse was incapable of the kind of intimacy they longed f o r . . Other research has i d e n t i f i e d women's desire for greater intimacy and companionship as a major factor i n marital d i s s o l u t i o n (Burns, 1984; Kressel et a l . , 1980). Drawing from object r e l a t i o n theory, Rubin (1983) claims that the "deep-seated i n t e r n a l differences" (p. 12) between men and women with regard to intimacy stem from gender-specific psychic structures which evolve i n r e l a t i o n to the f i r s t love object, the mother. She proposes that each gender responds d i f f e r e n t l y to two major developmental tasks involved i n the process of individuation, the one being gender i d e n t i t y formation, the other, the building and maintenance of ego boundaries. For example, est a b l i s h i n g one's gender i d e n t i t y i s more complex and d i f f i c u l t f o r boys than for g i r l s because: . . . i n order to i d e n t i f y with h i s maleness, [the boy] must renounce t h i s connection with the f i r s t person outside s e l f to be in t e r n a l i z e d into h i s inner psychic world - the one who has been so deeply embedded i n h i s psychic l i f e as to seem a part of himself - and seek instead a deeper attachment and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with father. But t h i s father with whom he i s expected to 109 i d e n t i f y has, u n t i l t h i s time, been a secondary character i n his i n t e r n a l l i f e , often l i t t l e more than a sometimes pleasurable, sometimes troublesome shadow on the consciousness of the developing c h i l d (Rubin, 1983, pp. 55-56). Thus, the boy's personality development w i l l be profoundly influenced because, although attachment and i d e n t i f i c a t i o n are two separate psychological processes, they are so c l o s e l y related "that the c h i l d can't give up one without assault on the other. With the repression of the i d e n t i f i c a t i o n with mother, therefore, the attachment to her becomes ambivalent" (Rubin, 1983, p. 56). In order to guard himself against the pain involved i n t h i s major s h i f t i n h i s inner l i f e , the boy develops ego boundaries which are more r i g i d than those of the g i r l . Rubin (1983) proposes that the r i g i d boundaries of the boy "circumscribe not only h i s relationships with others but h i s connection to h i s inner emotional l i f e as wel l " (p. 54). She also ascribes the d i s t r u s t , contempt and aggressiveness that men often ex h i b i t towards women to t h i s early deprivation and to the feelings of betrayal, abandonment and rage that were engendered by the experience. Hence, the defenses erected at t h i s early stage of development would l a t e r become a handicap to the man i n his intimate r e l a t i o n s with women. The next stage of the model, ambivalence, can also be 110 understood more c l e a r l y from a s o c i o - c u l t u r a l perspective. Why would women who were so d i s i l l u s i o n e d with t h e i r marriage v a s c i l l a t e for years before making the decision to leave? Several issues have bearing on t h i s question. F i r s t , the prohibitions against female anger i n our culture must be addressed. Lerner (1977) has examined the taboos that women face i n expressing anger and concluded "that women frequently turn t h e i r anger into s e l f - d e s t r u c t i v e symptoms" (p. 331). This was the case f o r at lea s t 30% of the subjects i n t h i s study. They reported f e e l i n g depressed, anxious, powerless, numb, hopeless, trapped and confused. M i l l e r (1983) has also addressed the issue of anger i n women. She s p e l l s out three b e l i e f s that women usually have about themselves which generally influence t h e i r way of being i n the world, and s p e c i f i c a l l y t h e i r r e l a t i o n to anger. These are: "1) I am weak...2) I am unworthy...[and] 3) I have no r i g h t and no cause to be angry" ( M i l l e r , 1983, p. 3). Hence, she concludes, women have come to think of themselves as people "who should be almost t o t a l l y without anger and without the need for anger... anger f e e l s l i k e a threat to women's cen t r a l sense of i d e n t i t y . . . c a l l e d feminity" ( M i l l e r , 1983, p. 3). The tendency for women to blame themselves for the marital d i f f i c u l t i e s and the b e l i e f that marriage i s t h e i r prime "raison d'etre" resulted i n plummeting self-esteem I l l f o r the majority of subjects. While the costs of staying married were high, namely, anxiety, depression, f e e l i n g unsupported, discounted, taken for granted and even being mentally or p h y s i c a l l y abused, the costs of leaving seemed greater. As Table 4.2 indicates, t r a d i t i o n a l values regarding the woman's primary r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f or keeping the family unit i n t a c t ranked highly i n the subjects' reasons for staying i n an unsatisfactory marriage as long as they did. Also noteworthy i s that personal feelings of inadequacy ranked just as highly. Wright (1988) points out that a lowered self-esteem i s l i k e l y when "one i s experiencing d i s p a r i t y between expectations and outcomes" (p. 10). Self-esteem i s one of those intangible resources which must be addressed when considering the balance of power i n the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . For instance, there i s evidence that i t i s usually the partner with the most power in the re l a t i o n s h i p who i n i t i a t e s separation (Hagestad & Smyer, 1982). I t i s proposed (J. A. Newman, personal communication, February 6, 1990) that battered women or spouses of alc o h o l i c s hesitate to leave t h e i r dysfunctional marriages because t h i s would be an admission of f a i l u r e on t h e i r part. Other t h e o r i s t s have incorporated f e e l i n g s of personal f a i l u r e and bereavement i n t h e i r t h e o r e t i c a l formulations of the divorce process (Crosby et. a l , 1983; 112 1986; Duck, 1982; Froiland & Hozman, 1977; Wiseman, 1975). The premise informed by Chodorow's work (1974), that the "feminine personality seems to define i t s e l f i n r e l a t i o n and connection to other people more than the masculine personality does" (cited i n Attanucci, 1988, p. 204), could perhaps explain the keen sense of f a i l u r e experienced by the subjects and, consequently, t h e i r compulsion to keep working at the marriage against a l l odds. With regard to ambivalence, Goodrich et a l . (1988) challenge the notion that personal happiness i n marriage i s of primary importance to women. In attempting to explain why some women w i l l stay i n abusive rel a t i o n s h i p s , they suggest that the values of l o y a l t y , patience and perseverance that women are taught i n the s o c i a l i z a t i o n process operate to keep the i n d i v i d u a l woman working at her marriage. The present research has i d e n t i f i e d several reasons which made i t more d i f f i c u l t for the subjects to leave t h e i r marriage. Among those are the dimensions i d e n t i f i e d by Goodrick et a l . (1988), more s p e c i f i c a l l y , those of perseverance and l o y a l t y , which are also included i n the taxonomy i n the f e e l i n g category, although perseverance i s l a b e l l e d "hope". Regarding depression, Attanucci (1988) found that the women who described themselves s o l e l y i n terms of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p to t h e i r husband and childr e n appeared most 113 depressed. The se l f - d e s c r i p t i o n s of the depressed women were c h a r a c t e r i s t i c of the " t r a d i t i o n a l feminine r o l e of s e l f subordinated to other..." (p. 205). The inherent r i s k i n defining oneself i n the s i g n i f i c a n t others' terms rather than one's own terms i s that of "los i n g sight of the s e l f " (p. 215). G i l l i g a n ' s (1982) theory of moral development o f f e r s yet another perspective on the subjects' ambivalence. According to G i l l i g a n (1982), "the essence of [a] moral decision i s the exercise of choice and the willingness to accept r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for that choice" (p. 67). G i l l i g a n (1982) proposes that the central moral problem that women face l i e s i n the c o n f l i c t between s e l f and other. She claims that i t s resolution "requires a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n between feminity and adulthood" (p. 71), i n that women must transcend the dichotomous view of s e l f manifest i n the s p l i t of the good and the bad woman. G i l l i g a n (1982) frames a woman's moral dilemma i n terms of the struggle "between compassion and autonomy, between v i r t u e and power" (p. 71). At an early stage of moral development, the woman fe e l s highly c o n f l i c t e d over the issue of hurting, e s p e c i a l l y when there i s no al t e r n a t i v e "that can be construed i n the best i n t e r e s t of everybody" (p. 80). Furthermore, G i l l i g a n (1982) claims that when a woman i s uncertain about her own worth, she i s prevented from 114 claiming equality i n the re l a t i o n s h i p . Thus, " s e l f -assertion f a l l s prey to the old c r i t i c i s m of sel f i s h n e s s . Then the morality that condones s e l f - d e s t r u c t i o n i n the name of responsible care i s not repudiated as inadequate..." (p. 87). Decision-making theory provides another explanation of the subjects' ambivalence. Turner (1985) has outlined four coping patterns and seven problems inherent to d e f i c i e n t decision-making. One pattern which seems to correspond to the decision-making s t y l e of the subjects i n the present study i s that of defensive avoidance. This i s characterized by procrastination and r a t i o n a l i z a t i o n as a way of protecting the in d i v i d u a l from p a i n f u l intrapsychic c o n f l i c t . Excessive delay and fear of the unknown r e s u l t i n g i n an inordinate amount of worrying were also common. F i n a l l y , Herman (1977) argues that women have d i f f i c u l t y r e l i n q u i s h i n g t r a d i t i o n a l roles because of inadequate r o l e development i n other areas, making i t d i f f i c u l t f or them to integrate themselves f u l l y i n the economic, p o l i t i c a l , l e g a l and s o c i a l structures of society. Herman's (1977) research was conducted with an older group of women. Nevertheless, depending on the in d i v i d u a l woman's circumstances, t h i s may p a r t i a l l y account for her reluctance to leave her marriage, despite i t s obvious shortcomings. 115 The t h i r d stage of the model, cognitive restructuring, focuses on the thought processes and behaviours which f a c i l i t a t e the person's movement from ambivalence to resolution of her dilemma. Once a d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n threshold i s crossed, l a b e l l e d the turning point i n the present research, the person looks outside the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p for s e l f - v a l i d a t i o n . The woman begins confiding i n outsiders with regards to her marital d i f f i c u l t i e s . There i s a break i n the s o c i a l facade. Duck (1982) r e f e r s to t h i s process as that of creating the public story f or the eventual demise of the re l a t i o n s h i p . This sounds too c a l c u l a t i n g and does not correspond to the findings of the present research. What i s evident i s that the woman i s f i n a l l y dealing openly with the pain stemming from her marriage not l i v i n g up to her expectations and that she i s e n l i s t i n g moral support i n doing so. Vaughan (1979) discusses the i n i t i a t o r ' s need to f i n d other sources of s e l f - r e a l i z a t i o n than what the marriage o f f e r s . A major task of the uncoupling process i s to redefine oneself as separate from the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . Consequently, the in d i v i d u a l contemplating divorce w i l l often undertake various endeavors which validate his/her s i n g u l a r i t y rather , than the coupled i d e n t i t y . In so doing, the i n i t i a t o r i s seeking i d e o l o g i c a l support " for a b e l i e f i n the s e l f as the f i r s t p r i o r i t y " (Vaughan, 1979, p. 425). The 116 supporting ideology may be provided by a peer group, the women's movement, a new s i g n i f i c a n t other. I t may develop through i n t e r a c t i o n with others or i n d i r e c t l y , through l i t e r a t u r e . Vaughan's (1979) description of t h i s stage of the uncoupling process corroborates the findings of the present research. Cognitive restructuring focuses on the process of change which the subjects underwent. I t was described as "conversion experience" and equated with "growing up" as well as "learning to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y " . This suggests that the subjects experienced a major s h i f t i n self-concept s i m i l a r to that reported by G i l l i g a n (1982). The divorce decision, l i k e the abortion decision, was c r u c i a l to the women's sense of i d e n t i t y . I t would appear that the subjects moved from a conventional morality defined by others, whereby they f e l t wrong and s e l f i s h f o r wanting t h e i r needs recognized i n t h e i r marriage, to a " r e f l e c t i v e mode which e n t a i l s taking r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r s e l f " ( G i l l i g a n , 1982, p. 123). When they began to question the idea that v i r t u e means s e l f - s a c r i f i c e , they were enabled to consider the issues of choice and r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . The following excerpt from the present research i l l u s t r a t e s the t r a n s i t i o n from goodness to tru t h proposed by G i l l i g a n (1982): 117 I was r e a l l y attached because I had to make myself love him...I had to prove that I was a good wife. Whereas, in the l a s t couple of years, I knew I had given him as much as I could give him...I s t i l l loved him but I wasn't going to allow him to r u i n my l i f e , because that's what he was doing, that's what I was allowing...I f e l t free i n myself to leave. I had gotten to the point where I knew I could not change him, but I could change my l i f e and I was enthusiastic about the change...I had dropped the sense of g u i l t , the f e e l i n g that I had not provided enough...(16.9) I n i t i a l l y f or t h i s subject, good was equated with taking care of others, i n p a r t i c u l a r her husband, at the expense of s e l f . However, as pointed out by G i l l i g a n (1982), "when only others are legitimized as the re c i p i e n t s of the woman's care, the exclusion of herself gives r i s e to problems i n rel a t i o n s h i p s , creating a disequilibrium that i n i t i a t e s the second t r a n s i t i o n " (p. 74). According to G i l l i g a n (1982), t h i s t r a n s i t i o n i s a time when the woman must make a deliberate e f f o r t to discover her needs. In that process, the woman experiences changes i n self-concept which are also related to a transformed moral understanding. This sets the stage for a reo r i e n t a t i o n which "centers on a new awareness of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y " (p. 94), a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y that includes both s e l f and others. 118 The exercise of such r e s p o n s i b i l i t y requires a new kind of judgement, whose f i r s t demand i s for honesty. To be responsible for oneself, i t i s f i r s t necessary to acknowledge what one i s doing. The c r i t e r i o n for judgement thus s h i f t s from goodness to t r u t h when the morality of action i s assessed not on the basis of i t s appearance i n the eyes of others, but i n terms of the r e a l i t i e s of i t s intention and consequence ( G i l l i g a n , 1982, p. 83). Another excerpt from the subjects' protocols i l l u s t r a t e s t h i s point, i n p a r t i c u l a r the s h i f t i n judgment that occurred as a r e s u l t of the subject taking an honest look at her l i f e . I t also underscores the change regarding r e s p o n s i b i l i t y mentioned e a r l i e r . Something happened inside me. I t was d e f i n i t e l y a moment of reckoning when I was t o l d that my own daughters could not see me as a person who could stand on her own two feet. Because, up u n t i l that point, I r e a l l y was outwardly i n many ways a person who stood on her own two feet: I kept on with my job, I kept on going to school [ u n i v e r s i t y ] , I was gaining more r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s i n my job. Outwardly, I was a pretty together person. Inwardly, I was so t i e d i n to t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p whereupon I had expectations which were one thing and the r e a l i t y was another thing and 119 I wasn't growing as an i n d i v i d u a l . I began to see myself i n a d i f f e r e n t l i g h t , as somebody who had to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . (14.5) In comparing G i l l i g a n ' s (1982) study of the abortion decision with the present research on the divorce decision, another p a r a l l e l can be drawn. G i l l i g a n (1982) writes that the decision heralded "a time of disorganization, mourning, c r i s i s and g r i e f - and yet also...a time of change (p. -121)". This also corresponds to the experience of the subjects i n the present research. Further evidence of the re l a t i o n s h i p between leaving a r e l a t i o n s h i p that i s detrimental to the i n d i v i d u a l and personal growth i s offered by Harris (1984). In her study of s e l f - a c t u a l i z i n g women, Harris (1984) concludes that " s e l f - a c t u a l i z i n g women seem able to recognize and leave hindering r e l a t i o n s h i p s , so that they d i d not p e r s i s t i n impeding t h e i r s e l f - a c t u a l i z a t i o n " (p. 116) . Although her study focused on women's career development, i t i s noteworthy that the type of same-sex relationships c l a s s i f i e d by Harris (1984) as hindering have several c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s i n common with the unsatisfactory marital relationships described by the subjects i n the present research. In p a r t i c u l a r , the subjects described t h e i r experience of hindering r e l a t i o n s h i p s i n the following terms: They f e l t d i s i l l u s i o n n e d , rejected, unsupported, c r i t i c i z e d , 120 c o n t r o l l e d or powerless and unsure of themselves. The s i m i l a r i t y of these descriptors to the f e e l i n g subcategories developed i n the present research provides addi t i o n a l evidence of the v a l i d i t y of the dimensions i d e n t i f i e d herein. With respect to the l a s t stage of the model, resolution, i t i s important to emphasize that, i n contrast with other models (Crosby et a l . , 1983; 1986), t h i s term r e f e r s to physical separation. I t does not imply that everything i s resolved at the psychological l e v e l . The main c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s of t h i s stage, as outlined i n Chapter 4, are hope, r e l i e f , increased self-confidence and power at the f e e l i n g l e v e l , acceptance and s h i f t i n g focus from the marriage to issues of personal i d e n t i t y at the cognitive l e v e l and, implementation of the decision to separate or divorce at the behavioural l e v e l . These correspond to the findings of other researchers. For example, Crosby et a l . , (1983; 1986) propose c l u s t e r s of a f f e c t , cognition and behaviour experienced by the active agent and passive agent i n the divorce process which are very d e t a i l e d and include the subcategories noted above. This stage has also been c a l l e d one of "reorientation of l i f e - s t y l e and i d e n t i t y " (Wiseman, 1975, p. 209), with p r e v a i l i n g tasks being concerned with r e d e f i n i t i o n , r e o r i e n t a t i o n and reconstruction (Crosby et a l . , 1983). 121 The present research has been conducted to investigate the process of decision-making i n divorce from the f i r s t serious doubts about the v i a b i l i t y of the marriage to the implementation of the decision to separate or divorce. Crosby et a l . (1983; 1986) focused on the g r i e f resolution process. Hence, i n addressing the issue of recovery, t h e i r model encompasses the nature of events a f t e r separation and obtaining the f i n a l decree. The t r a n s i t i o n experienced by the subjects, from disillusionment and ambivalence to res o l u t i o n of t h e i r dilemma, was mediated through cognitive restructuring. As long as the women accepted the conventional view of the feminine and masculine, namely the woman being weak and dependent, the man being the strong one on which she could r e l y , they were bound by t h i s view of s e l f and other. When the subjects questioned t h i s and began to see themselves as capable and worthwhile i n t h e i r own r i g h t instead of lar g e l y i n terms of t h e i r instrumental value to others, they were empowered to leave t h e i r dysfunctional marriage. G i l l i g a n , c i t e d i n Attanucci (1988), claims that the . . . c r i t i c a l t r a n s i t i o n f o r adult women i s the tra n -s i t i o n from a conventional feminine r o l e i n which 'goodness' i s s e l f - s a c r i f i c e , toward a t r u t h f u l acknow-ledgement of oneself as deserving of the consideration one grants others. This t r a n s i t i o n emerges from a 122 growing awareness of the deception inherent i n the feminine r o l e of selflessness and the destruction to s e l f and other which that deception breeds. Women, having achieved t h i s t r a n s i t i o n from goodness to truth, i n f a c t , do not become i n d i f f e r e n t i n d i v i d u a l s . . . rather, they acknowledge t h e i r interdependence as caring i n d i v i d u a l s , including themselves i n the c i r c l e of those for whom they care (Attanucci, 1988, p. 207). The subjects of the present research seem to have made a s i m i l a r t r a n s i t i o n . P r a c t i c a l s i g n i f i c a n c e . The category system and the model derived from the present research could a s s i s t counsellors who are working with i n d i v i d u a l women or with couples. Knowledge of the s p e c i f i c f e e l i n g s , cognitions and behaviours that are involved i n a r r i v i n g at the decision to divorce would be useful i n assessing the degree of commitment of the spouses to the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . I t can also be used to normalize the experience of the couple i n marriage or divorce therapy. The present research was by nature exploratory. I t aimed at providing an overview of the decision-making process involved i n divorce, from the perspective of the in d i v i d u a l woman struggling with that decision. I t was successful i n mapping t h i s domain of inquiry and resulted i n a large quantity of valuable data which could be used to bu i l d on i n future research. 123 Limitations of the study. I t i s d i f f i c u l t to generalize from the findings of the present research because of several factors related to the composition of the sample: (1) The sample was made up e n t i r e l y of women. Considering the differences i n s o c i a l i z a t i o n for each gender, i t i s highly u n l i k e l y that the process that the subjects underwent i n coming to terms with the decision to divorce would be s i m i l a r to that of men. Therefore, the category system and model derived from i t may not be generalizable to the male population. (2) The s e l e c t i o n c r i t e r i a for the study were f a i r l y r e s t r i c t i v e , thus l i m i t i n g further the g e n e r a l i z a b i l i t y of the findings. For example, the subjects had to be 30 years or older, Caucasians, l e g a l l y married and cohabitating with t h e i r spouse for a minimum of three years, and separated f o r at l e a s t s i x months. (3) The research was conducted with 20 subjects, which i s a r e l a t i v e l y small number of p a r t i c i p a n t s . I t was d i f f i c u l t to f i n d respondents who met a l l the c r i t e r i a outlined above. Although the data c o l l e c t e d i s extensive and very detailed, i t may not be representative of the general population. (4) Every e f f o r t was made to r e c r u i t a wide range of p a r t i c i p a n t s . Nevertheless, the demographic information reveals that, o v e r a l l , the subjects were better educated that average. 75% of the sample had some post-secondary education, with a 124 high proportion having at least one u n i v e r s i t y degree. F i n a l l y , there i s the issue of s e l f - s e l e c t i o n versus that of random s e l e c t i o n . The subjects volunteered f o r the study. Self-report data i s necessarily subjective and has been c r i t i c i z e d as lacking s t a t i s t i c a l v a l i d i t y and r e l i a b i l i t y , on the grounds that "those who seek the researcher may have more concerns and issues or more of a story to t e l l than those selected i n other ways" (Kitson et a l . , 1985, p. 284). Moreover, as pointed out by Young and Friesen (1986), the task of i d e n t i f y i n g c r i t i c a l incidents and of developing the category system implies some s u b j e c t i v i t y on the part of the researcher. Although the category system was validated by two independent raters and a c l i n i c a l expert, further t e s t i n g would be required to ensure i t s r e l i a b i l i t y and v a l i d i t y . Another l i m i t a t i o n of the present research i s that the interviewer was not able to e l i c i t a s i g n i f i c a n t number of hindering incidents from the subjects. I t seems to have been easier for the subjects to describe incidents which prompted them to reassess t h e i r commitment to the marriage rather than the opposite. Consequently, the r e s u l t s are somewhat unbalanced. Recommendations f o r future research. The study of r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n from retrospective accounts i s 125 becoming more accepted as a way of gaining access to psychological processes otherwise unavailable to the researcher (Harvey, Weber, Galvin, Huszti & Garnick, 1978). A t t r i b u t i o n s i n the termination of intimate r e l a t i o n s h i p s have been investigated i n several studies (Harvey et a l . , 1978; Kelley, 1979; Kitson & Sussman, 1982; Lloyd & Cate, 1985; Newcomb & Bentler, 1981; Ponzetti & Cate, 1988). The present research did not s p e c i f i c a l l y explore a t t r i b u t i o n s . Nevertheless, the use of retrospective accounts has brought into focus the process of a t t r i b u t i o n . The c r i t i c a l incidents described and c l a s s i f i e d i n the taxonomy are s i g n i f i c a n t p r e c i s e l y because they underscore the kinds of a t t r i b u t i o n s , usually negative, that the subjects made about t h e i r spouse and how that influenced the decision-making process. This i s an area which would deserve further study. The work of Kelley (1979), adapted to the marital d i s s o l u t i o n process by Newcomb and Bentler (1981), and that of Ponzetti and Cate (1988) could provide the t h e o r e t i c a l framework fo r such a study. The s c a r c i t y of research exploring the divorce decision from the j o i n t perspective of husband and wife has been noted (Kitson et a l . , 1985). I t i s not possible, however, to duplicate the present research with couples because i t investigated the process of the person making the decision 126 to divorce. Nevertheless, a s i m i l a r study could be undertaken with a male sample to determine whether or not there are important differences i n how men and women make important l i f e decisions. I t has been suggested that the ro l e of the in d i v i d u a l i n the divorce decision, namely i n i t i a t o r or no n - i n i t i a t o r , may have considerably more importance than gender differences i n determining how the process of emotional divorce i s experienced (Crosby et a l . , 1983; Ke l l y , 1982). Attanucci (1988) found that "the women who expressed the greatest personal s a t i s f a c t i o n and contentment i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s described a perspective on themselves and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s beyond r o l e expectations... These women seem to be informed by r o l e expectations but not dominated by them" (p. 207). She also found that the women who were successful i n moving beyond t r a d i t i o n a l feminine r o l e s did not accomplish t h i s t o t a l l y on t h e i r own. She points out that t h i s i s not an in d i v i d u a l developmental achievement on the part of the woman, but rather "the product of the actual r e l a t i o n s h i p between the woman and her husband" (p. 214). Attanucci (1988) acknowledges the contribution of the spouse to the t r a n s i t i o n achieved by his partner i n the following terms: " I t i s u n l i k e l y that a woman could maintain t h i s perspective without a s i m i l a r s h i f t i n her husband's understanding of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p " (p. 214). 127 This r a i s e s another i n t e r e s t i n g question f o r future research. Several subjects i n the present study f e l t r e s t r i c t e d by r o l e expectations. They f e l t unable to be t h e i r own person within the marriage. They perceived t h e i r spouse as unsupportive of t h e i r goals and aspirations, when these went beyond the t r a d i t i o n a l spheres assigned to women. Considering the t h e o r e t i c a l framework provided by Attanucci (1988), the question arises as to'whose terms had the subjects i n i t i a l l y accepted when marrying? Several reported that they had t r i e d to renegotiate the i m p l i c i t contract which governed t h e i r marriage to accommodate changing needs and expectations. They wanted to have t h e i r own terms recognized, to no a v a i l . Thus, breaking up t h e i r marriage may have been the only way to remain true to s e l f . Whatever else, the question of personal i n t e g r i t y was very much at the center of the subjects' struggle with making the decision to divorce. This theme i s also reported i n the decision-making of the subjects i n the abortion study ( G i l l i g a n , 1982). F i n a l l y , the divorce decision was a major moral dilemma for the subjects. I t pr e c i p i t a t e d a c r i s i s which was instrumental to the process of personal growth. G i l l i g a n ' s (1982) subjects reported that t h e i r decision marked a new beginning, a chance "to take control of [their] l i f e " (p. 95). This was also the case for the majority of subjects 128 i n the present study. However, the r e l a t i o n s h i p between personal growth and moral development i s unclear. A study which would aim at answering t h i s question would seem worthwhile. Concluding remarks. I t i s to be hoped that the present research has made a contribution to the e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e by elaborating on the decision-making process involved i n divorce. As outlined i n the present chapter, several of the findings of the present research overlap with those of other t h e o r i s t s . Nevertheless, these findings are presented from a unique perspective, namely that of the i n d i v i d u a l woman making the decision to divorce. The q u a l i t a t i v e methodology used i n the present research yielded very d e t a i l e d and r i c h data. For example, the taxonomy of incidents which p r e c i p i t a t e d or hindered the decision to divorce charts a domain which had hitherto been overlooked. These incidents encapsulate what was happening at the intraspychic l e v e l f o r the subject. They also h i g h l i g h t some of the dysfunctional marital dynamics underlying the marital breakdown and, consequently, address the causes of marital disruption, a l b e i t i n d i r e c t l y and from a unidimensional perspective. The model, i n p a r t i c u l a r stage 3, makes a s p e c i a l contribution to the e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e . I t challenges the 129 notion that the i n d i v i d u a l ' s search f o r autonomy and wholeness i s confined to the recovery phase. The majority of subjects wanted greater independence and autonomy i n t h e i r l i v e s . They were breaking away from t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e s and wanted a d i f f e r e n t q u a l i t y of r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r spouses. This resulted i n c o n f l i c t and dissension as t h e i r spouses r e s i s t e d the change. In t h i s respect, Bohannan's (1973) contention that the root of marital breakdown i s one partner's i n a b i l i t y to t o l e r a t e change i n the other seems v a l i d . I t has also been proposed that "breaking up her marriage may be the only way for a woman to succeed f u l l y i n f e e l i n g and being a complete person" (Newcomb and Bentler, 1981, p. 2). 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New York: Basic Books. Wiseman, R. S. (1975). C r i s i s theory and the process of divorce. Social Casework, 56, 205-212. Woolsey, L. K. (1985). The c r i t i c a l incident technique: An  innovative q u a l i t a t i v e research method. Vancouver: University of B r i t i s h Columbia, Department of Counselling Psychology. Wright, D. (1988). R e v i t a l i z i n g exchange models of divorce. Journal of Divorce. 12.(1), 1-19. Zajonc, R. B. (1980). Feeling and thinking: Preferences need no inferences. American Psychologist. 35(2), 151-175. APPENDIX A : TAXONOMY OF CRITICAL INCIDENTS 139 I - FEELINGS F a c i l i t a t i n g Incidents 1.1 Disillusionment. Subject experiences a major disappointment regarding how her spouse r e l a t e s to her or to a s i t u a t i o n which i s central to t h e i r marriage. The incident makes her question the assumptions she has made about the marriage. (Frequency [freq] = 13. P a r t i c i p a t i o n rate [PR] = 11/20 or 55%) Examples: Subject i s very disappointed and hurt on her wedding night because her husband stays up l a t e to drink with a f r i e n d . This does not l i v e up to the romantic notion she has about being newly wed. To her, t h i s means that he prefers h i s friend's company to hers. However, she does not discuss her feelings about t h i s incident with her husband though she nags him at the time and makes a l l u s i o n to i t afterwards. From the beginning, she has doubts that getting married with t h i s person was the r i g h t thing to do. (8.1) *********** One year a f t e r they married, husband quits h i s job "and decides to f i n d himself". Subject i s working f u l l - t i m e as a secretary, a job she does not enjoy. Husband i s home, s i t t i n g around a l l day. For the next three years, he i s i n 140 and out of work. Subject i s disappointed and r e s e n t f u l that she has to support him. This means that she cannot s t a r t having children or buy a home l i k e a l l her other friends. In her words: "He kept q u i t t i n g jobs. I t drove me crazy." (10.1) 1.2 Fee1inq abandoned. Subject looks to her spouse for emotional support i n d i f f i c u l t times. However, she i s l e f t f e e l i n g very much alone and uncared for because of his unwillingness and/or i n a b i l i t y to respond with empathy and to nurture her. (Freq = 13; PR = 11/20 or 55%) Examples: Subject i s extremely depressed following an abortion because she sees no way out. She remembers not washing her long thick hair for as long as s i x weeks at the time and going out for long walks i n the middle of the night. She i s at home with three young children. Husband i s planning an extended business t r i p overseas. She pleads with him to postpone the t r i p , t e l l i n g him that she needs him to be there. But he decides to go anyway. Subject f e e l s "betrayed, cheated, angry, unsupported and uncared f o r " . Once more, she r e a l i z e s that he i s not there for her when she needs him. She interprets h i s action to mean that he does not care and that she cannot count on him. (1.3) ************* 141 S u b j e c t h a s a home b i r t h f o r h e r s e c o n d c h i l d . T h i s i s s o m e t h i n g b o t h , s h e a n d h e r h u s b a n d , w a n t e d v e r y much. U n l i k e t h e d e l i v e r y o f h e r f i r s t c h i l d , t h i s one i s e x t r e m e l y l o n g a n d d i f f i c u l t . L a b o u r l a s t e d 30 h o u r s . A f t e r w a r d s , s h e i s t o t a l l y e x h a u s t e d , u n a b l e t o t h i n k , s p e a k o r e v e n r a i s e h e r arms. When p l a n n i n g t h i s home b i r t h , s h e as s u m e d t h a t h e r h u s b a n d u n d e r s t o o d t h a t s h e w o u l d r e q u i r e some c a r e i n i t i a l l y a n d t h a t s h e c o u l d c o u n t on h i m t o l o o k a f t e r t h e n e w b o r n a n d t h e o l d e r c h i l d . He r e a d a l l t h e a p p r o p r i a t e b o o k s a n d t a l k e d w i t h many p e o p l e a h e a d o f t i m e . H o w e v e r , he i s o b l i v i o u s t o h e r n e e d s . The d a y a f t e r t h e b i r t h , he d o e s n o t g i v e h e r a n y f o o d n o r d o e s h e e v e n make a c u p o f t e a . The s e c o n d d a y , he l e a v e s t o do some g r o c e r y s h o p p i n g b u t d o e s n o t r e t u r n home a s e x p e c t e d . He s u b s e q u e n t l y e x p l a i n s t h a t he met f r i e n d s o n t h e way a n d d e c i d e d t o accompany them t o t h e b e a c h i n s t e a d . S u b j e c t r e c a l l s s e v e r a l o t h e r e x a m p l e s o f how h e r h u s b a n d d o e s n o t p r o v i d e a n y s u p p o r t a t t h a t t i m e : He d i d n ' t wash t h e s h e e t s t h a t w e r e s t a i n e d w i t h b l o o d . A f e w d a y s l a t e r , I was h a n g i n g t h e m up t o d r y o n t h e l i n e . He d i d n ' t f e e d me, he d i d n ' t t a k e c a r e o f t h e h o u s e , he d i d n ' t t a k e c a r e o f o u r o t h e r c h i l d , my h o u s e p l a n t s w e r e a l l w i l t i n g a s w e l l a s t h e v e g e t a b l e a n d f l o w e r g a r d e n s . W i t h me o u t o f c o m m i s s i o n , h e d i d n ' t 142 step i n and do anything...He had a son l i k e he wanted, and I had i t at home, a be a u t i f u l c h i l d and then i t ' s l i k e nothing happened. He wasn't there for me, for the baby or the other c h i l d (15.1). Because of physical exhaustion, subject i s not able to be assertive and demand h i s help. Her husband accepts a job i n the evening, a time which i s very d i f f i c u l t because the baby c r i e s continuously. He i s n ' t around much, spending time at friends. Subject f e e l s very b i t t e r about the s i t u a t i o n but resigns herself. The above incident i s the turning point for her. She f e e l s devastated because everything seems exactly what he wanted and yet he i s not responding as expected. 1.3 Resignation. Subject i s unhappy about what i s going on i n the marriage but since her attempts at working i t out with her husband have f a i l e d , she f e e l s that she has no choice but to accept things the way they are. Feelings of powerlessness are dominant. (Freq = 4; PR = 4/20 or 20%) Examples: Subject i s planning a tubal l i g a t i o n . Her husband i s aware of that. Nevertheless, subject i s stunned when he refuses to sign a consent form required before the procedure can take place. In subsequent discussions, they are unable to resolve the issue to the subject's s a t i s f a c t i o n . She f e e l s angry and powerless and l e t s him 143 know that. In the end, she f e e l s she has no choice but to accept h i s decision, as without her husband's consent, her doctor w i l l not proceed with the tubal l i g a t i o n . (1.1) ************ A f t e r months of arguing back and forth, subject gives i n to her husband about buying some recre a t i o n a l property. Her hope was that eventually they could buy a house with t h e i r savings. She gives i n because there seems to be no other way of keeping peace. (10.5) 1.4 Losing t r u s t . Confidence i n spouse i s damaged as a r e s u l t of a single event or a number of unresolved past incidents. This coincides with a r a d i c a l change i n the perception of the spouse's personality. (Freq = 8; PR = 7/20 or 35%) Examples: Six months a f t e r t h e i r r e c o n c i l i a t i o n , husband who i s a psychotherapist, becomes sexually involved with one of h i s patients. Subject learns about i t . This t r i g g e r s the sense that her husband i s unable to grasp r e a l i t y c o r r e c t l y , that he has severe problems. She confronts her husband who explains that he thought h i s sexual involvement with the young woman would help her. She discusses her feelings of hurt and the incongruency involved with regards to the f a c t that they have just gotten back together and are t r y i n g to make a fresh s t a r t and he i s having an 144 a f f a i r . As a r e s u l t , subject becomes more emotionally distanced from her husband. She r e a l i z e s that h i s actions contradict h i s spoken intentions of " t r y i n g to make a go of i t with [her]". In retrospect, she says that t h i s was the beginning of the end for her, that i t was a breach of t r u s t , and that i t also made her question whether her husband could d i s t i n g u i s h between fact and f i c t i o n . She remembered having been t o l d by a p s y c h i a t r i s t before that her husband was a sociopath, something she had dismissed at the time. However, t h i s incident makes her wonder i f that i s not the case. (14.1) ************* Subject i s very i l l with a breast i n f e c t i o n . Her fever i s so high that she i s h a l l u c i n a t i n g . A week l a t e r , she runs into a f r i e n d who informs her that her husband spent the night at t h e i r place on that day. He t o l d them that "he t r i e d t a l k i n g to her and that she didn't make sense, so [he] figured he might as well get out". Subject i s shocked to f i n d out that he has l e f t her alone i n the house with a newborn and another young c h i l d when she was obviously not able to attend to the care of the children. She thinks i t i s i n c r e d i b l y irresponsible on h i s part and t r i e s to understand how he could do something l i k e that. A growing suspicion that he i s mentally i l l i s the only way she can 145 explain h i s behaviour. She reports that she never believed or trusted him a f t e r t h i s incident, and that i t made a l a s t i n g change i n her attitude towards her husband. She says that "she became very suspicious and l i k e a detective", that she would l i s t e n to what he would say but wait to see how he acted. (15.2) 1.5 Gaining emotional distance. Subject i s f e e l i n g emotionally detached. Part of her i s watching what i s happening rather than being t o t a l l y involved i n the i n t e r a c t i o n with her spouse. The experience i s described as " p u l l i n g back" and "being the observer". For some, i t i s tantamount to deciding to no longer share t h e i r inner s e l f with t h e i r spouse. (Freq = 6; PR = 5/20 or 25%) Examples: Subject has received i n d i v i d u a l counselling for a couple of years. Through t h i s process, she i s becoming more accepting of her own needs, values and f e e l i n g s . She i s s t a r t i n g to t r u s t her perceptions and judgments more. She i s also becoming increasingly aware of the marital dynamics i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . One thing she learns i n counselling that i s p a r t i c u l a r l y s i g n i f i c a n t i s the idea that i f "you didn't l i k e the way you're behaving, that means that that behaviour i s not you. Dr. X taught that the s e l f who didn't l i k e the behaviour was the r e a l s e l f " . 146 Whereas before the counselling, she got t o t a l l y involved i n t h e i r f i g h t s , now part of herself stands outside and watches. As the observer, she f e e l s stronger, more i n control of what i s happening to her. Instead of f e e l i n g that she i s l o s i n g control by responding i n hysterics to whatever i s happening between them, she learns to detach he r s e l f to some extent. She recognizes e a r l i e r than before the type of interactions which are l i k e l y to turn into a f i g h t and f e e l she has the option not to respond as she has i n the past. (2.1) ************* Subject convinces her spouse to begin marriage counselling. The couple attend eight sessions together. She reports that throughout counselling, she was detached to a c e r t a i n extent. Part of herself was invested i n the process and f e e l i n g encouraged that they were working at improving the marriage, but the other part was making mental notes about her husband's shortcomings. In her words; "That's when I r e a l i z e d what a long way he had to go to get i n touch with himself. So i n that sense, I pulled back" (6.3). 1 . 6 Increased self-confidence. As a r e s u l t of acting independently and doing something which enhances her self-esteem, subject f e e l s more confident about herself and her a b i l i t i e s . This can have two d i f f e r e n t e f f e c t s : (a) 147 She becomes more assertive with her spouse and puts renewed energy into t r y i n g to change things to increase her l e v e l of s a t i s f a c t i o n i n the marriage, or (b) having regained some self-esteem, she i s i n a stronger p o s i t i o n from which to contemplate the alternatives to her marriage. (Freq = 9; PR = 6/20 or 30%) Examples; Not having her husband's support to resign from her job, subject decides to separate t h e i r finances. This enables her to make other decisions without obtaining h i s approval f i r s t . Subsequently, she takes a battery of vocational t e s t s , which he finds too expensive, resigns from her job and returns to u n i v e r s i t y f o r a graduate degree. Having gained confidence from making these decisions, she begins a r t i c u l a t i n g her point of view more c l e a r l y and frequently i n t h e i r discussions. As a r e s u l t , the balance of power i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p changes. Mostly, she s a y s , " i t deflated a myth they both had about [her] a b i l i t i e s " . Subject has hitherto f e l t inadequate about expressing herself i n t h e i r discussions because she was not as widely read i n s o c i a l sciences and the humanities as her husband. This influenced her self-image negatively and her spouse's perception of her. Subject reports that she was becoming increasingly confident about asking for what she wanted from the r e l a t i o n s h i p . (6.2) ********** 148 Subject begins to teach f i t n e s s . This gives her a l o t of confidence. She reports having " t h i s r e a l sense of power a l l of a sudden". This i s the turning point i n her decision to leave. She i s getting v a l i d a t i o n of h e r s e l f as someone worthwhile instead of the verbal and physical abuse she has been getting at home. She r e a l i z e s that she had marketable s k i l l s which she wants to develop further. She reports f e e l i n g "powerful, confident, happy and excited" about future prospects. (16.7) Hindering Incidents 1.7 Depression. Depression i s not used i n the c l i n i c a l sense. Rather, i t includes a range of emotions mentioned by the subjects such as f e e l i n g numb, withdrawn, hopeless, trapped, confused and self-blaming. I t coincides with denial and thoughts of separation or divorce are quickly suppressed as soon as they surface. (Freq =7; PR = 6/20 or 30%) Examples: Subject has a growing awareness of stress involved i n home environment. She f e e l s happy when at work, yet her job i s very demanding. She dreads coming home. She f e e l s h e r s e l f becoming more withdrawn, sinking towards a depression. She reports not being able to see her way out of her predicament and f e e l i n g powerless. That summer, she s p e c i f i c a l l y r e c a l l s t e l l i n g her brother that "the only way 149 [she] could get out of the re l a t i o n s h i p was i f [she] died of cancer and that [she] f e l t that [she] was promoting something l i k e t h i s i n [her] body through [her] mental atti t u d e s " (5.2). ************ Subject becomes depressed. The depression begins approximately one year p r i o r to separation and becomes more intense i n the l a s t s i x months of t h e i r married l i f e . Except for going to work, subject spends a l o t of time l y i n g i n bed unless absolutely forced to do something. She describes t h i s period i n the following words: "I f e l t l i k e I was at the bottom of a big black p i t " . She reports never having f e l t so hopeless as she did during that time. She blames herself for the marriage not working out. She says that there were times when the thought of leaving surfaced, but i t was quickly suppressed. (8.5) ************ Subject s t a r t s to gain weight. She f e e l s powerless i n the marriage because she cannot make the simplest decisions without her husband checking on her. At the same time, she cannot see herself admitting to f a i l u r e and returning to l i v e with her parents. She cannot envisage any other a l t e r n a t i v e to her predicament other than dying. She r e c a l l s praying that a car would run over her and that she would die. (10.3) 150 1.8 Hope. As a r e s u l t of t h i s incident, subject regains confidence that the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p can improve and the marriage saved. (Freq = 6; PR = 4/20 or 20%) Examples: When subject introduces the topic of separation, husband agrees that perhaps i t i s necessary. However, the next day, he returns from work in tears saying that he does not want them to s p l i t up and that he i s w i l l i n g to make some changes. Subject f e e l s encouraged by his response. It i s the f i r s t time i n 10 years of marriage that he shows his vulnerable side. This abates the inner fears she had about h i s not having much of an emotional investment i n the marriage. She interprets t h i s as confirmation of his love and caring and i s p a r t i c u l a r l y touched by h i s desire to "t r y and change for [her]". Following t h i s incident, the couple begins to t a l k more about issues of concerns and subject f e e l s closer to her husband. She "puts on hold the idea of s p l i t t i n g up". (6.1b) *********** Spouse completes a r e s i d e n t i a l treatment program for his alcohol problem and he remains sober for s i x months afterwards. Subject f e e l s very hopeful that they have " l i c k e d " the problem. (16.4b) 151 1.9 Fear. Subject experiences a strong and unpleasant emotion which i s triggered by a n t i c i p a t i o n or awareness of danger. The incident prevents her from following through with plans of separation or divorce. In several cases, t h i s i s related to the threat of physical abuse. (Freq = 4; PR = 3/20 or 15%) Examples: Subject returns home one evening a f t e r a meeting. Husband i s already i n bed. She joins him and snuggles up to him. He pushes her out of bed with his feet. She leaves the bedroom and goes to the l i v i n g room where she c r i e s f or a couple of hours. She i s f e e l i n g bereft and thinks how bad the marriage i s . Her husband eventually gets up and asks what the problem i s . She t e l l s him what he did but he explains i t away saying that he must have been dreaming. She i n i t i a t e s a discussion about the marriage, asking him i f he i s unhappy with i t . This i s prompted by the above and also by the fac t that t h e i r sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p has deteriorated. I t has been a couple of months since the l a s t time they made love. He responds that he i s neither happy nor unhappy. She t e l l s him of her fear that he w i l l leave; he r e p l i e s that he would never leave because of the children. Subjects reports that her overriding f e e l i n g at the time was "absolute fear". She was t e r r i f i e d that her husband was going to leave and that 152 s h e w o u l d l o s e e v e r y t h i n g . A s a r e s u l t , s h e w o r k e d e v e n h a r d e r a t k e e p i n g t h e m a r r i a g e g o i n g . (9.1b) *********** A f t e r a 13-month s e p a r a t i o n , w h e r e h u s b a n d v i s i t e d o c c a s i o n a l l y , he r e t u r n s one d a y , w a l k s i n t o t h e h o u s e a n d a n n o u n c e s t h a t he i s c o m i n g b a c k t o l i v e w i t h t h e f a m i l y . S u b j e c t o b j e c t s a n d h u s b a n d l e a v e s a n g r i l y . He r e t u r n s l a t e r a n d i s p h y s i c a l l y a b u s i v e . S u b j e c t c o n t a c t s h e r s o c i a l w o r k e r a n d t h e RCMP i n o r d e r t o g e t a r e s t r a i n i n g o r d e r . H owever, s h e i s d i s c o u r a g e d f r o m i n i t i a t i n g p r o c e e d i n g s b y t h e RCMP. T h e y m e n t i o n o t h e r c a s e s w h e r e t h i s t y p e o f a c t i o n h a s f u e l l e d t h e h u s b a n d ' s a n g e r s o much t h a t a n a t t e m p t e d m u r d e r e n s u e d i n one c a s e , a n d s u i c i d e i n a n o t h e r . The RCMP a l s o i n d i c a t e s t h a t t h e y c o u l d n o t p r o t e c t h e r a d e q u a t e l y , s h o u l d h e r h u s b a n d d e c i d e t o t r e s p a s s . S u b j e c t r e p o r t s t h a t t h i s was t h e b e g i n n i n g o f t h e "most h o r r i b l e y e a r o f g u t w r e n c h i n g f e a r " f o r h e r . Though he d i d n o t s t a y a t t h e h o u s e , s h e saw h i m o n many o c c a s i o n s s t a n d i n g a t t h e p e r i m e t e r o f t h e p r o p e r t y . T o w n s p e o p l e w o u l d c a l l t o i n q u i r e a b o u t w h a t was g o i n g o n b e c a u s e h e was s e e n a r o u n d t o w n , e x h i b i t i n g v e r y s t r a n g e b e h a v i o u r s . ( 15.1b) I.10 Feelings o f inadequacy. S u b j e c t q u e s t i o n s h e r a b i l i t y t o manage f i n a n c i a l l y i f s h e w e r e t o f o l l o w t h r o u g h 153 with plans of separation. In one case, the subject*s self-esteem i s so low that the feelings of inadequacy do not have a clear focus, but are experienced as general fe e l i n g s of unworthiness and ineptitude which prevent her from thinking about separation as an al t e r n a t i v e to her s i t u a t i o n . (Freq =2; PR = 2/20 or 10%) Examples: Subject has not worked i n her f i e l d , nursing, for many years. A refresher course would be necessary and yet that course i s not relevant to what she wants to do now nor does i t r e l a t e to her former experience i n public health and psychiatry. In her words: I was af r a i d , you know, I didn't f e e l I had any s k i l l s l e f t , as an employee, and I was r e a l l y a f r a i d of that. I r e a l l y f e l t I was a nothing. Even though, I was fe e l i n g firmer about myself i n some ways, s t i l l bottom l i n e I f e l t l i k e I r e a l l y had nothing to of f e r anybody... There i s n ' t a clear incident. I t was more a global, constant f e e l i n g (1.2b). ie*********** Subject i s a f r a i d that she w i l l not get custody of the children. Her husband i s constantly threatening her that i f she leaves him, he w i l l take the ch i l d r e n away to a foreign country. He even obtained passports for himself and the children. Her concern about not getting custody 154 can be attributed to feelings of inadequacy, powerlessness, and lack of information. In her words: There wasn't one s p e c i f i c incident. He ju s t said that to me over and over again. Constant put-downs, l i k e you're a lousy mother and a lousy wife. I t ' s l i k e a brainwashing process u n t i l you get to the point where you lose your power, you lose your sense of who you are. And the leg a l aspects were a t o t a l l y foreign area to me, so anyone could have convinced me of anything (15.5b). 1.11 Loyalty. Subject f e e l s a r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to her spouse when i s experiencing d i f f i c u l t i e s . She does not want to add to h i s d i s t r e s s by leaving the marriage at that time. (Freq = 1; PR = 1/20 or 5%) Example: Husband's mother passes away. Since h i s only brother died one year e a r l i e r and that he has no other family, subject thinks that her husband w i l l turn to her for support and that they can make a fresh s t a r t . She f e e l s overwhelmed at the thought that he has no one else i n the world and decides that she cannot leave him. She renews her e f f o r t s to " t r y and get t h i s marriage back on track" (9.6b). 1.12 Concern f o r welfare of chi l d r e n . Subject i s worried that the children w i l l be neglected i f she leaves them with t h e i r father. (Freq = 1; PR = 1/20 or 5%) 155 Example: Subject has been sleeping on the couch for some time. In t h i s incident, her youngest c h i l d gets up to go to the bathroom i n the middle of the night and finds her there. She takes the time to t a l k and cuddle him before tucking him i n his bed again. She s p e c i f i c a l l y remembers wondering how she could possibly leave. At the time, she v i s u a l i z e s her husband's way of handling a s i m i l a r s i t u a t i o n which she describes as being more authoritarian and not taking the time to attend to the ch i l d ' s f e e l i n g s . She i s very upset at the thought of not being there for the children. (1.1b) II - COGNITIONS F a c i l i t a t i n g Incidents I I . 1 Heightened awareness of dysfunctional mar i t a 1 dynamics. Subject i s struck with a p a r t i c u l a r problem i n her marriage. This i s not a new problem but one that has persisted over time. At that moment, however, she finds i t p a r t i c u l a r l y unhealthy and unacceptable. In some cases, subject t r i e s to t a l k to her spouse about i t but i s unable to get through to him. (Freq = 13; PR = 11/20 or 55%) Examples: Fini s h i n g o f f the house i s a symbolic issue i n t h i s marriage. Husband i n s i s t s on doing the work himself but renovations are not progressing very quickly. Subject 156 repeatedly suggests that he h i r e extra help with the money from h i s inheritance i n order to get the house f i n i s h e d and the mortgage paid o f f . Instead, he buys recreational property and a mobile home i n the United States. I t i s the Christmas holiday and husband i s gone to the U.S. with the children. Subject could not get time o f f work, so she did not accompany them. They have been l i v i n g i n very primitive conditions for over two and a half years at that point, "without a proper kitchen, no ins u l a t i o n , no cupboards, just wood floors...The only f i n i s h e d rooms i n the house were the children's bedrooms and the l i v i n g room; the r e s t was l i k e camping". Suddenly, she has an insight that h i s not f i n i s h i n g the house i s hi s way of exerting control over the s i t u a t i o n and over her. In her words: This was my punishment for not being what he wanted, because I had changed, because I had wanted to become a partner i n the marriage. I had grown up and I had said: "Either we have a marriage and go for marriage counselling or we separate but we don't go back to the way i t was seven years ago". I t r e a l l y h i t home to me then, that he did not want me to p a r t i c i p a t e i n the marriage (9.7). ************ Husband i s e p i l e p t i c and depends on medication taken at regular i n t e r v a l s each day to prevent grand mal seizures. 157 Subject reports that he began "to display disturbing behaviours" such as repeatedly forgetting to take h i s medication or taking chances with his personal safety, "informing [her] nonchalantly a f t e r each incident". For example, he rode his bi c y c l e home for 20 blocks through t r a f f i c a f t e r sensing that a grand mal seizure was imminent and, subsequently, had the seizure at home. Subject i s convinced that she and her husband are becoming increasingly embroiled i n the i n t e r a c t i o n a l roles of rescuer and victim. She i s unable to communicate t h i s i n s ight to him and equally c e r t a i n that staying i n the marriage perpetrates the "game". Given h i s lack of support for her career objectives and h i s expectations that she assume f u l l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for housework, she finds i t almost impossible to become f u l l y independent of him economically. With respect to t h i s l a s t issue, she sees her s e l f i n the victim's r o l e . (12.8) II.2 Awareness of value differences. Subject r e a l i z e s that she and her husband have major differences with regards to fundamental values such as work ethic, money management, c h i l d rearing, r e l i g i o n . (Freq =6; PR 6/20 or 30%) Examples: The couple's sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p has deteriorated to the point where they r a r e l y have intercourse. In t h i s 158 incident, subject r e c a l l s that husband approaches her but she refuses, i n i t i a l l y by making excuses and then, when he i n s i s t s , by t e l l i n g him d i r e c t l y that she does not want to make love. Her husband masturbates i n the room before her. She f e e l s angry because she thinks that he i s t r y i n g to make her f e e l g u i l t y for having turned him down. This incident c r y s t a l l i z e s for her that there i s nothing l e f t i n the marriage. She believes that marriage should be a meeting of two individuals on many l e v e l s , the s p i r i t u a l , the mental and the physical. In terms of t h i s hierarchy, the physical aspect i s the l a s t rung on the ladder and the f a c t that they no longer have any sexual l i f e together means to her that they "are r i g h t down at the bottom of the road" (3.4). ************* Subject returns from a v i s i t with her parents. Husband greets her with the news that he has l o s t h i s job. Instead of being upset about i t , he seems genuinely pleased. He explains that i t w i l l give him more time to practice music. The incident makes her r e a l i z e that they do not share the same basic values and that, f o r years, she has wrongly assumed that they did. Her assumptions were that as a father and husband he would want to provide for the family, that he would be proud of i t . (15.5) 159 I I . 3 Altered perception of spouse. Subject's perception of her husband's personality changes suddenly. She gains a new view of him as he deals with d i f f e r e n t s i t u a t i o n s such as loss of employment, c o n f l i c t , and so for t h . In some cases, she questions whether or not he i s mentally f i t . (Freq = 11; PR = 9/20 or 45%) Examples: Subject traces the downfall of the marriage to something which happened almost two years p r i o r to the separation. At that time, her husband's application to a tenure p o s i t i o n at the un i v e r s i t y was not supported by h i s colleagues. As a r e s u l t , he l o s t h i s academic p o s i t i o n as well as the s o c i a l network they had been involved with. Her husband was very b i t t e r and blamed everyone i n his department for "being against him and stabbing him i n the back". Two years l a t e r , when he encounters s i m i l a r d i f f i c u l t i e s at work, subject notes the s i m i l a r i t y of both s i t u a t i o n s and begins wondering i f her husband i s paranoid. Although she i s supportive out of l o y a l t y , she subsequently finds herself questioning h i s judgment and attitudes about a l o t of things. This i s when she begins to ask hers e l f whether or not she wants a family with t h i s man. She s t i l l values him for h i s i n t e l l i g e n c e and h i s sense of humour but she does not respect h i s lack of 160 self-awareness. In her words: I could recognize that he was causing c e r t a i n things to happen i n his job but he couldn't recognize it...and he demanded absolute l o y a l t y . Although he never verbalized i t , I got the message when, for example, I suggested that he change h i s behaviour at work. He would just never even consider i t . And then he would s t a r t to look at me as someone who was taking the other side of things. I t was always black or white for him. His whole l i f e was l i k e that and the r e l a t i o n s h i p (2.2). ************ Subject has been looking forward to t h i s t r i p to v i s i t her s i s t e r . There are tensions because her spouse and her s i s t e r don't get along. A confrontation takes place between them which, i n turn, s t i r s up a heated argument between the subject and her spouse. Following the incident, her spouse refuses to t a l k to her for 24 hours, despite several attempts on her part to discuss what has happened. Furthermore, he decides to return home e a r l i e r than planned. When they f i n a l l y t a l k about i t , he blames her f o r everything. Subject's perception of her spouse i s d r a s t i c a l l y a l t e r e d a f t e r that. She says: I had seen other sides of him, parts of him that I 161 hadn't seen before. And I couldn't close the door on that anymore... Yea, i t was a r e a l turning point for me as f a r as putting everything i n concrete form for me to see. Up to that point, I had j u s t had a l o t of doubts and worries. But a f t e r that point, i t was just obvious to me that things couldn't continue, that I would have to leave him, that i t was escalating, things were not getting better, they were getting worse. From that time on, subject reports "seeing more c l e a r l y and becoming more objective". She explains that she was less w i l l i n g to overlook things as she had done i n the past. She also mentions having l o s t respect for him through that incident and no longer being able to see him as an adult. (5.1) ************ Husband i s unemployed and h i s unemployment insurance benefits are held up. Nevertheless he buys a guitar on c r e d i t as well as an assortment of equipment such as mikes and amplifiers. Meanwhile, there i s no food i n the fridge and there are two children to feed. He i s getting heavily into drugs. This indicates to the subject that her husband i s not thinking s t r a i g h t : "He was t o t a l l y oblivious and remained obsessed with t h i s idea of becoming a rock and r o l l s t a r " (15.4). 162 II.4 Acknowledging d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n to h e r s e l f . Subject i s one step beyond vague discontent with the marriage. She i s act u a l l y t e l l i n g herself that her marital r e l a t i o n s h i p does not f u l f i l l her needs and expectations. (Freq =4; PR = 4/20 or 20%) Examples: Subject p a r t i c i p a t e s i n a women's consciousness-raising group a few years before the break-up of her marriage. She i d e n t i f i e s strongly with some of the issues raised by other group members, i n p a r t i c u l a r that of the d i v i s i o n of labour. The women want to pursue careers and f e e l that t h e i r husbands are not supportive of t h e i r e f f o r t s to make the s h i f t from a t r a d i t i o n a l to a more e g a l i t a r i a n marriage. This i s when the subject begins acknowledging her d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n with her marriage. She f e e l s discouraged, hurt and angry about the fac t that she and her spouse have t r i e d to resolve t h i s c o n f l i c t f o r years but have been unable to do so to her s a t i s f a c t i o n . (12.1) *********** A f t e r the b i r t h of t h e i r second c h i l d , husband i s drunk when he v i s i t s subject i n h o s p i t a l . She i s very upset about that, e s p e c i a l l y because b i r t h i s such an intense emotional experience, a time when she f e e l s very vulnerable. She f e e l s betrayed because her husband knows 163 how upsetting h is drinking i s to her even i n ordinary circumstances. She also f e e l s helpless because the t r a d i t i o n a l value system that she espouses does not view divorce as an option. Yet, at that time, she remembers thinking v i v i d l y "This i s not a man I want to be with" (16.1) . II. 5 Comparing marriage to that of others. As a r e s u l t of having an extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p or by observing interactions i n other couples, subject becomes acutely aware of the problems i n her own marriage. (Freq =6; PR = 5/20 or 25%) Examples: Subject notices the p a r a l l e l between her marriage and that of her husband's parents. She fears that she w i l l become l i k e her mother-in-law whom she describes as a submissive, whining, manipulative woman who i s very angry underneath. The following incident i s c r i t i c a l i n the subject's decision to leave her marriage. On Christmas day, they are having dinner at her in-laws. There i s much tension i n the a i r . Her s i s t e r - i n law makes an off-hand comment to her mother. The l a t t e r has j u s t been humiliated by her husband i n front of everyone. She overreacts to her daughter's comment and st a r t s h i t t i n g her. Subject remembers thinking " t h i s i s a crazy family". She remembers her own family and the fac t 164 that she has not been brought up that way. She i s very upset about the whole scene, something which her husband i s unable to comprehend since t h i s i s normal i n h i s family. Subject i s also aware of her own unexpressed anger towards her husband and she decides that she does not want to turn into a shrew l i k e her mother-in-law. She does not act on t h i s insight for lack of self-confidence. Nevertheless, the incident c r y s t a l l i z e s for her that she has to get out of the marriage. (10.6) ************ Subject v i s i t s her family to see what support they might be able to provide i f she were to leave her husband. During her v i s i t she observes an incident i n which her parents "enacted one of t h e i r ongoing interpersonal c o n f l i c t s and i n e f f e c t u a l method of resolving the disagreement". Subject recognizes t h i s pattern because i t i s s i m i l a r to the way she and her husband resolve d i f f i c u l t i e s . She believes that the only way the v i c i o u s cycle can be broken i s for her husband to "demonstrate willingness to give i n on some issues". However, given t h e i r h i s t o r y of constant power struggle, she i s c e r t a i n that t h i s i s not going to happen. (12.10) ************** Subject does not f e e l appreciated or valued by her husband. She compares her experience with him to her 165 re l a t i o n s h i p s with other men who make her f e e l good about h e r s e l f . For example, he does not give her any feedback when they make love. She describes him as "the c l a s s i c case of a stereotype macho guy who doesn't cry and doesn't show f e e l i n g s . . . " (18.4). I I . 6 Acquiring a new perspective to analyze the marit a l r e l a t i o n s h i p . Subject gains a new perspective of her marriage through reading or attending s e l f - h e l p groups. This r e s u l t s i n a r a d i c a l change i n her perception of herself i n r e l a t i o n to the marriage and her behaviours towards her spouse. (Freq = 5; PR = 4/20 or 20%) Examples: Subject begins to read feminist l i t e r a t u r e . This r e s u l t s i n a "transformation of perspectives", a r a d i c a l change i n how she sees herself i n r e l a t i o n to her marriage. She discovers a commonality of experience with other women which i s va l i d a t i n g , l i b e r a t i n g . She coins i t "a psychological boost, a pep p i l l " . This reassures her that - the marital d i f f i c u l t i e s are not due to her own inadequacies. She begins f e e l i n g more p o s i t i v e about he r s e l f , questioning what she wants for herself more and being more assertive about i t . Her focus changes from the need to mold herself around her husband to he r s e l f . She says: Suddenly, i t struck me that I couldn't be a black hole 166 or an empty vacuum which molded i t s e l f around h i s desires or what I thought h i s desires might be, because he never t o l d me anyway, so i t was a l i t t l e d i f f i c u l t to know (7.3). ************ Subject begins reading feminist l i t e r a t u r e . She describes i t as a "conversion experience". I t gives her a framework to organize her thinking around questions of personal r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . She r e a l i z e s that she has been looking to her husband to f u l f i l l her emotionally and i n every other way and decides that t h i s i s no longer acceptable to her. She says that i t was "a genuine rev e l a t i o n and an inner experience" which resulted i n her becoming more assertive. She stops rescuing him. This i s interpreted as non-caring by her spouse and tensions between them increase. Subject i s f e e l i n g increasingly estranged from husband. She i s fin d i n g i t very d i f f i c u l t to respond to him emotionally and sexually. She states: He had r e a l l y become very i s o l a t e d and I had gained a sense of personal power and I thought, there i s no going back. I knew there was no going back...into that t r a d i t i o n a l r o l e of c a j o l i n g him into good health, of pleading, of manipulating.... I had t h i s inner conviction that there i s no way I am going to manipulate t h i s person into being a healthy person or 167 even into staying into t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p . He's got to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y . And I just backed r i g h t o f f (14.6). II.7 Integrating the feedback of others. Subject receives feedback about the marriage from others, namely friends, family or helping professionals. This prompts her to reevaluate the marriage and p a r t i c u l a r l y her r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for the way things are. (Freq = 5; PR = 4/20 or 25%) Examples: Subject i s confronted by her daughter's therapist. She i s t o l d that one of her daugther's problems i s that she does not stand up for herself. As a r e s u l t , she becomes more aware of her own behaviour. She takes another look at her way of smoothing over situations and making excuses for her husband. Subject f e e l s hurt and offended at the time but, a f t e r giving i t some thought, she r e a l i z e s that her daughters are r i g h t . She begins to see herself d i f f e r e n t l y , as somebody who "had to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y " . Something happened inside me. I t was d e f i n i t e l y a moment of reckoning when I was t o l d that my own daughters could not see me as a person who could stand . on her own two feet. Because, up u n t i l that point, I r e a l l y was outwardly i n many ways a person who stood on her own two feet. I kept on with my job, I kept on 168 going to school, I was gaining more r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s i n my job. Outwardly, I was a pretty together person. Inwardly, I was so t i e d i n to t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p whereupon I had expectations which were one thing and the r e a l i t y was another thing and I wasn't growing as an i n d i v i d u a l (14.5). ************ Subject has v i s i t e d her physician several times for stress r e l a t e d symptoms. During one of those v i s i t s , he asks her what she i s going to do about her s i t u a t i o n , i n reference to her marriage. At that moment, i t s t r i k e s her that no one can " b a i l [her] out", something she expected would happen somehow. She ponders h i s question f o r awhile and decides that she has to assume f u l l r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for changing her l i f e and that she i s no longer w i l l i n g to s e t t l e for what t h i s marriage has to o f f e r . (17.5) II.8 Experiencing v a l i d a t i o n of s e l f outside marriage. Subject gets confirmation of herself as someone who i s either capable, a t t r a c t i v e or worth l i s t e n i n g to. She fe e l s understood and supported, something which i s missing in the marriage. This p o s i t i v e feedback comes from various sources such as co-workers, friends, casual acquaintances or lovers. The experience enhances her self-esteem. (Freq = 14; PR = 11/20 or 55%) 169 Examples: Subject s t a r t s doing community work, teaching parenting classes, doing things that she enjoys. She grows more confident i n her own a b i l i t i e s . In contrast with the home climate, she i s getting p o s i t i v e feedback from people she works with. Subject begins to believe i n herself again. She i s f e e l i n g more opt i m i s t i c about the future. (1.6) ************ Attending Alanon i n the l a s t three years of her marriage i s s i g n i f i c a n t i n coming to terms with the decision to leave the marriage i n the following ways: It i s an opportunity to explore her feeli n g s i n a supportive environment instead of suppressing them as she has done i n the past. She i s encouraged to take stock of her l i f e and l i v e to her f u l l p o t e n t i a l . She becomes more aware and accepting of her fee l i n g s . Furthermore, the idea of h e r s e l f as a "divorced woman" becomes acceptable to her. She f e e l s inspired by the other group members who are s t r i v i n g to accomplish the goals they set for themselves i n spite of the confusion and turmoil i n t h e i r l i v e s . These rel a t i o n s h i p s are important because she can see how these other women are working on improving themselves, how they are taking r i s k s . "[They were] showing the way i n a non-aggressive kind of way" through sharing t h e i r own struggles and e f f o r t s . Their support was c r i t i c a l at a time where her self-worth was at a very low ebb. (16.4) 170 II. 9 Acquiring a concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e . Subject s t a r t s considering the alternatives to her marriage. For some, t h i s comes about as a r e s u l t of having an extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . The a f f a i r i n s t i l l s hope that she w i l l be able to form f u l f i l l i n g r e l a t i o n s h i p s with others even though her marriage i s unsatisfactory. For others, the concept of the a l t e r n a t i v e stems from reassessing l i f e goals and i d e n t i f y i n g other objectives worth pursuing outside of marriage. (Freq = 6; PR = 5/20) Examples: A valued and respected family f r i e n d l e t s subject know that he wants a romantic involvement with her. This comes as a surprise to her. She f e e l s both intrigued and f l a t t e r e d at h i s disclosure. In h i s l e t t e r to her, the f r i e n d writes that everything her husband complains about as f a u l t s of hers, he views as v i r t u e s . In the subject's own words, " t h i s was refreshing and almost i r r e s i s t i b l e " e s p e c i a l l y since i t was i n sharp contrast to the negative messages she was getting from her spouse. This incident means to her that, even though her husband does not respect or value her, someone else w i l l . (2.5) ************* Subject has been teaching f i t n e s s . She r e a l i z e s that she has marketable s k i l l s and decides to invest her time and energy pursuing a career i n t h i s f i e l d . She thinks of 171 t h i s as a means of becoming s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t and a stepping-stone i n leaving her marriage. (16.7. Cross-reference [X-ref.]: Increased self-confidence) 11.10 Heightened awareness that dysfunctional m a r i t a l dynamics have deleterious e f f e c t s on the c h i l d r e n . Subject i s worried about the children's immediate welfare and/or the possible long-term negative e f f e c t s of the dysfunctional marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . In some cases, the c h i l d ' s symptomatic behaviours such as frequent nightmares, rebelliousness or promiscuity a l e r t her and make her question the value of remaining i n the marriage. In other cases, extension of physical abuse to the childr e n prompts her to leave. (Freq =8; PR = 7/20 or 35%) Examples: Subject notes that her three-year old son i s having nightmares with increasing frequency. She r e a l i z e s that he i s the barometer for what i s going on i n the marriage. Her husband's ways of dealing with the boy has been an on-going source of f r i c t i o n between them. She has been "running interference" to protect the boy from h i s step-father's e r r a t i c and harsh d i s c i p l i n e . When the c h i l d gets embroiled i n one of t h e i r f i g h t s , subject decides that she no longer wants t h i s man as a r o l e model fo r her son. She becomes acutely aware that t h e i r marital problems are taking a t o l l on the c h i l d as evidenced by nightmares and 172 tantrums. This i s an important factor i n her decision to leave the marriage. (5.5) ************ Drinking i s a^ major problem i n the marriage. Husband often goes out drinking a l l night. When he returns, he i s p h y s i c a l l y abusive towards subject and the children. Subject s t a r t s thinking that she might as well be on her own. She reports that i t was not one incident i n p a r t i c u l a r , but the accumulation of s i m i l a r incidents which made her decide to leave eventually. In t h i s incident, he chokes her. She i s frightened about h i s l o s i n g control altogether. She i s also concerned about how t h i s kind of family atmosphere i s going to influence the children. This i s s i g n i f i c a n t i n her decision to leave. She does not want them to grow up i n a home where father i s always drunk. (16.3) 11.11 Accepting that marriage i s unworkable. Subject has a c l e a r and d i s t i n c t awareness that the p r o b a b i l i t y of s i g n i f i c a n t improvement i n the marriage i s minimal or non-existent. This coincides with the r e p e t i t i o n of a f a m i l i a r pattern, something that has been going on f o r so long that she loses a l l hope that i t w i l l ever be d i f f e r e n t . With t h i s r e a l i z a t i o n , she moves a step closer to making the decision to separate or divorce. (Freq = 11; PR = 10/20 or 50%) 173 Examples: Subject i s alone steam cleaning the carpets before the end of the school holiday. She i s having a l o t of re c o l l e c t i o n s about the marriage. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , she remembers the numerous times that she suggested marital counselling throughout the years and how her husband would i n i t i a l l y agree but withdraw a f t e r a few sessions. She r e a l i z e s that she has been investing a l o t more emotional energy than he i n t r y i n g to make things work. Suddenly, she f e e l s that a great weight has l i f t e d from her and that i t i s a l r i g h t i f the marriage does not continue. She resolves to t a l k to him and suggest that they separate unless he i s w i l l i n g to invest more of himself i n the re l a t i o n s h i p . She describes t h i s moment of insight i n the following way: These things were a l l coming back together. I t ' s l i k e the l i g h t s when you're s a i l i n g and you are waiting to get back into the harbour. The l i g h t s have to l i n e up for you to f i n d the r i g h t course. The l i g h t s were l i n i n g up and the penny was about to drop that I didn't have to l i v e t h i s way any longer...I r e a l i z e d that I have to stop manipulating him to stay i n t h i s marriage. Because every time I am c o n c i l i a t o r y and t e l l him, "Come along, we can make i t " , he kind of grudgingly gives i n and then nothing happens...! had 174 been struggling for 23 years t r y i n g to keep t h i s a l l going and now, f i n a l l y , I am saying to myself i t i s okay for i t not to work out... Because what I r e a l i z e d i s that I had l i v e d a l l these months and years knowing that we were not going anywhere and hoping that we would and f i n a l l y I'm saying to myself, i t ' s okay i f i t doesn't work. I can ac t u a l l y l i v e without t h i s r e l a t i o n s h i p . I t ' s l i k e a weight had l i f t e d . A l l the excuses that I had, a l l f e l l by the wayside. The most important thing for me was to stand up and be counted (14.9) . ************ Subject makes the necessary arrangements to move including obtaining a transfer for her job and finding accommodation for herself and the children i n another c i t y . Once everything i s f i n a l i z e d she t e l l s her husband that she i s moving. She also indicates that he can j o i n them i f he wants. He joins the r e s t of the family but i s unable to f i n d work i n the area. Shorthly thereafter, he resumes drinking heavily and physical abuse escalates to weekly episodes. Over the years he has suffered from manic-depressive episodes and, as he gets older, subject notes that the depressed states are more frequent and severe. When he was i n his manic phase and things were going better f o r him, subject f e l t hopeful about the 175 marriage. She thought that he would overcome h i s problems. But a f t e r several disappointments, she i s f i n a l l y accepting that the s i t u a t i o n w i l l not improve. In her words: It took me a l o t of years to r e a l i z e that t h i s i s what i t was going to be l i k e , up and down, up and down, that i t was never going to s t a b i l i z e . Because every time he would climb up and be a reasonably okay human being with acceptable s o c i a l behaviour, I figured i t would stay that way. But i t didn't. I had to accept that, face i t and then make a decision as to whether or not I wanted to be part of i t (17.3). 11.12 S h i f t i n g focus from marriage t o s e l f . Subject decides to invest her emotional energies into developing her own aspirations rather than to continue focusing on the marriage as the most important part of her l i f e . (Freq = 5; PR = 5/20 or 25%) Examples: Subject attends a women's consciousness-raising group. In t h i s group, she has an experience of l a s t i n g s i g n i f i c a n c e . The women are requested to do a l i f e - g o a l exercise. In so doing, subject r e a l i z e s that she has never considered her l i f e i n "such an organized and thorough fashion". Her objectives are vague, abstract and consequently, she r e a l i z e s that she has put her aspirations on the "back burner" and going along with her husband's 176 career plans which are more concrete. The exercise helps her focus on her own career development. She r e a l i z e s how important i t i s to her and resolves to f i n d ways of pursuing her goals. (12.2) *************** Subject becomes a Bahai. Her r e l i g i o u s conversion has important consequences for her marriage, e s p e c i a l l y since her husband does not follow s u i t . She reports having transfered her need for an authority figure from her spouse to God and having learned to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y f o r hers e l f instead of r e l y i n g on her husband. She also makes major l i f e s t y l e changes such as no longer drinking or using s o f t drugs. This widens the gap between her s e l f and her husband. (3.6) 11.13 Making the decision to separate. The decision i s triggered by a f e e l i n g of hopelessness. Once more, the subject i s confronted with an issue that has not been resolved s a t i s f a c t o r i l y . This i s something of a " l a s t straw'? phenomenon. The incident reinforces the b e l i e f that the subject has had for some time about the marriage, namely that i t i s unworkable. I t i s the culmination of a long process of questioning and soul searching. For the majority of subjects, making the decision was re l a t e d to having some idea that they would be able to implement i t i n the near future. Hence, making the decision and 177 implementing i t were usually simultaneous and often contingent upon on another. (Freq = 17; PR = 18/20 or 90%) Examples: Subject i s cleaning a box of old d i a r i e s and i n the process comes upon something she wrote when she and her husband were i n the f i r s t stages of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . I t i s an eye-opener because she r e a l i z e s that the d i f f i c u l t i e s she complained about i n those days are the same as now, 15 years l a t e r . She f e e l s she has done a l l she can to be a good wife, showing her support by helping him i n h i s business and being supermom. However, i t does not seem to make any difference. This incident i s a turning point and subject resolves to leave the marriage. She goes up to a neighbour and informs her of her decision. Subject f e e l s r e l i e f at having made the decision to leave. She describes that moment i n the following terms: I t was a r e l i e f , l i k e i t was so cl e a r . A l l these fe e l i n g s and messiness and the fog and the fuzziness and the depression. This was l i k e a beacon that I could hold onto. I t was a r e a l d e c i s i o n . . . I t was l i k e so r a t i o n a l , i t was l i k e saying 1 + 1 = 2 , you know, l i k e i t was that c l e a r . . . I t was an irrevocable decision from the moment I walked up the stre e t to see [neighbour] (1.6). ************* 178 Subject goes out with friends and does not inform her husband of her whereabouts or the time she plans to get back. When she returns l a t e into the night, husband i s waiting up and he i s very angry. The next day, she t r i e s to explain the circumstances but he refuses to tal k to her. Husband maintains t h i s silence f o r a couple of days a f t e r the incident. This prompts subject to reassess the marriage, making a balance sheet of the p o s i t i v e and negative. She reaches the conclusion that there are major problems which have not been resolved and decides to separate. When husband returns home from work, she informs him of her decision. (6.10) ************* Subjects reports getting up one day and just knowing that she was going to leave. She says that t h i s time d i f f e r e d from previous occasions where she had l e f t i n that i t was not out of desperation nor s e l f - p i t y . She ju s t knew that she wanted to be alone. In her words: "I wanted to have . my children and to have the opportunity to l i v e my l i f e without t h i s pain and torment". She reports f e e l i n g calm, no longer ambivalent or confused. (16.9) 179 I I I - BEHAVIOURS F a c i l i t a t i n g Incidents I I I . l Confiding i n others. For some subjects, confiding t h e i r marital problems to a t h i r d party was an important step i n reaching a decision. (Freq =6; PR = 5/20 or 25%) Examples: Subject i s t a l k i n g to a lawyer f r i e n d at a party. She has been f e e l i n g very unhappy for a long time and suddenly i t a l l comes pouring out. They are i n the kitchen at the time and the f r i e n d p u l l s her chair around to s h i e l d her from the look of other people. This i s the f i r s t time she ever confides i n anyone. The f r i e n d i s sympathetic. She gives her the telephone number of a good marriage counsellor whom she recommends. Subject wipes o f f her tears and joins the res t of the party. Two months l a t e r , she decides to throw the telephone number away because she fe e l s that she has made a l l the accommodations that she i s w i l l i n g to make to save her marriage. (1.4) ********** The summer preceding the separation, subject begins opening up and discussing her unhappiness about her marriage with a co-worker. At that time, she and her husband are having a l o t of arguments. She fe e l s understood by her co-worker. He urges her to leave before 180 she gets t i e d down with children. She begins to give i t serious consideration. (8.6) II I . 2 T/estinq new behaviours. Subject behaves i n ways which are a t y p i c a l for her v i s - a - v i s her husband. This i s the key element i n that i t denotes a s h i f t i n the balance of power i n the marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . Subject i s becoming more assertive and acts independently of her spouse. (Freq = 11; PR = 9/20 or 45%) Examples: After much negotiating with her spouse, over a four-month period, subject gets h i s support to take a t r i p alone to v i s i t friends i n another province for a week. She views taking t h i s t r i p on her own as a t e s t s i t u a t i o n . Doing so accomplishes two things: (a) She proves to h e r s e l f that she can do something independently of him and (b) that she can stand up for something that she considers important.(5.3) ************* Subject i s disappointed that her husband i s not getting ready to go out with her at the agreed upon time. Instead, he has l e f t her a note saying that he i s playing b a l l at the park and that on h i s return he has to do a series of exercises p r i o r to going out. This has happened several times i n the past and she would usually wait and nag him to get ready. Although she has r e a l l y been looking forward to 181 t h e i r evening out, subject decides to go out on her own, much to her husband's dismay. She goes out to dinner and to a movie by herself. (6.7) 111.3 Becoming s e l f - s u f f i c i e n t . Subject goes back to work or acquires t r a i n i n g which w i l l enable her to look a f t e r h e r s e l f and the children. (Freq =2; PR = 2/20 or 10%) Examples: Subject takes nurse t r a i n i n g . This r e s u l t s i n a growing f e e l i n g that she can look a f t e r herself and the children. I t i s an important factor i n her leaving her marriage. (3.7) **************** Subject has not worked outside the home except on a volunteer basis for almost 12 years. She decides to get a job and i s successful i n doing so. The experience i s po s i t i v e and enhancing for her. In addition, i t means that she can take care of herself and the children i n the event of a separation. (9.4) 111.4 Engaging i n extra-marital r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Extra-marital relationships had a p o s i t i v e impact on the subjects' self-esteem. For several of the women, the a f f a i r s were also a ca t a l y s t i n making the decision to seek a separation or a divorce. (Freq = 5; PR = 5/20 or 25%) 182 Examples: Subject meets another man for whom she develops "a r e a l i n f atuation". She fe e l s understood by him i n a way that she does not f e e l with her husband. I t makes her r e a l i z e that she "can have a t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t r e l a t i o n s h i p with a man..." She fe e l s more at ease with him than with her husband whom she thinks of as "being so uptight". Knowing he i s there gives her the strength to carry through with her decision to leave. She considers the p o s s i b i l i t y of of continuing the rel a t i o n s h i p with him i n the future. (6.9) ************* At work, subject meets a man with whom she has a b r i e f a f f a i r . The a f f a i r i s not emotionally s a t i s f y i n g . I t i s s t r i c t l y a sexual a t t r a c t i o n . However, i t i s s i g n i f i c a n t i n the following ways: (a) Subject learns that she can be very responsive sexually given the " r i g h t partner"; (b) i t also means to her that "the marriage [ i s ] lacking i n that and every other area as well". The a f f a i r confirms her inner f e e l i n g that the marriage i s dead. Subsequently, she brings up the topic of a separation with her husband but re a d i l y accepts h is answer that they cannot possibly separate at that time for p r a c t i c a l reasons. (9.5) 183 111.5 R e c e i v i n g c o u n s e l l i n g t o a s s i s t w i t h d e c i s i o n -making. Subject sees a counsellor to work through her feelings surrounding the decision to leave the marriage or to discuss the l o g i s t i c s involved. (Freq = 3; PR = 3/20 or 15%) Examples: Subject contacts a counsellor that she has met at a conference. She sees him on a weekly basis to work through her decision, p a r t i c u l a r l y with regards to how i t re l a t e s to the children. (1.9) ************* A f t e r many sessions with a psychologist to whom she was referred for symptoms of depression, subject i s f i n a l l y able to accept and implement the decision to separate. At one point, he confronts her about the fac t that she seems to be asking f o r h i s permission to leave the marriage. He ins t r u c t s her not to return f o r counselling u n t i l she has gone through with i t . She r e a l i z e s that she cannot continue t a l k i n g about i t and that i t i s time to act. She informs her husband of her decision to seek a divorce. (10.8) 111.6 Implementing t h e d e c i s i o n t o s e p a r a t e o r d i v o r c e . Subject has made the decision to end the marriage and takes i t a step further. She either informs her husband or makes preparation f o r leaving without informing him l e s t he 184 becomes abusive. As mentioned e a r l i e r , f or some of the women, implementing the decision was dependent upon having outside support to a s s i s t them i n that t r a n s i t i o n . (Freq = 10; PR = 10/20 or 50%) Examples: Subject seeks le g a l advice to obtain a separation agreement, custody of the children and a r e s t r a i n i n g order because her husband i s not respecting t h e i r informal agreement and has been p h y s i c a l l y abusive to her. She i s informed that t h i s i s going to be almost impossible unless she s t a r t s divorce action. Subject i s emotionally upset at the idea of divorce and cannot understand her own reaction. However, when a fr i e n d from out of town comes i n to attend h i s own divorce hearing, the whole thing i s demystified. He explains the process to her and the fac t that she has no money i s no longer an obstacle because she has been refered to Legal Aid. Subject decides to proceed with the divorce action. (15.7) ************* A c r i t i c a l factor i n subject's decision to leave the marriage i s that a woman's shelter has opened i n her area. I t i s r e a l l y important to her to have some place to go where she w i l l not f e e l that she and her three childr e n are a burden to anybody. In the past, she l e f t once and went back to her parents with the children, but her husband had 185 come to take them back home a few days l a t e r . The shelter makes i t f e a s i b l e for her to leave without involving anyone else i n her decision. (16.8) *************** I t i s Christmas day and subject*s family i s v i s i t i n g . Husband s t a r t s h i t t i n g her. One of her brothers throws him out of the house and off e r s to stay around f o r a couple of weeks to protect her from harassment. She accepts his help and thereby implements her decision to separate from her spouse. (17.7) Hindering Incidents II I . 7 Advice of professionals. Subject i s given advice from experts which hinder her e f f o r t s to separate permanently from her spouse. (Freq =2; PR = 1/20 or 5%) Examples: Subject and her spouse have been separated f o r over a year. One day, he returns and informs subject that he i s coming back home to l i v e . When she objects, he becomes ph y s i c a l l y abusive. Subject contacts RCMP to inquire about obtaining a r e s t r a i n i n g order but i s discouraged from taking such action, l e s t her husband become more desperate and v i o l e n t . The RCMP inform her that they cannot protect her adequately (she l i v e s out of town) i f her husband trespasses. They mention other cases where the husband was so angry that i t resulted i n an attempted murder and a suicide. (15.1b. X-ref: Fear) 186 Although the couple was separated and the husband was l i v i n g i n another town, he returned every second weekend to v i s i t the children. He had found work and an apartment, had started some courses and h i s l i f e seemed to be going better. Subject reports that he "was a t o t a l l y d i f f e r e n t person". Husband started putting pressure on her to move to the same area because he found the distance and d r i v i n g too burdensome. Subject consulted the p s y c h i a t r i s t who had previously seen her husband for an assessment. He recommended that she move to the c i t y where her husband l i v e d , l e s t a l l the gains he had made were l o s t . Moreover, he suggested that there would be more resources available to her i n the c i t y , should she need them. He helped the couple draw an informal separation agreement which s p e c i f i e d how far apart they would l i v e , v i s i t i n g p r i v i l e g e s , and that they would attend marital counselling. Subject agreed to move because she was worried at the prospect of husband becoming v i o l e n t again. (15.2b) III.8 Phvsica1 abuse. Subject i s p h y s i c a l l y abused by her spouse. Her fear of him and low self-concept combine to keep her i n the marriage longer. (Freq = 4; PR = 4/2 0 or 20%) Examples: Subject i s t r y i n g to get some information about her 187 predicament and what she can do about i t . She i s f e e l i n g devastated and very much alone. She has just f i n i s h e d some c a l l s and i s crying when her husband unexpectedly walks i n . Without any warning: His eyes just bulged and he went beserk. And he was pounding me against the wall screaming, "Don't you fuck up my l i f e , don't you fuck up my l i f e . " He just kept pounding, and pounding and then he threw me on the f l o o r and ran out of the house... Subject has a cut l i p and bruises a l l over her shoulders. Getting out of the marriage i s a very slow process because subject i s a f r a i d of her husband. He i s dangerous. His moods are unpredictable. In her words: "Everything was f i n e one minute, and the next he was throwing dishes at the wall. Just sudden and unexpected v i o l e n t behaviour" (15.4b). ************* Physical abuse has increased considerably i n the l a s t year. I t i s now a weekly occurrence and has gotten to the point where husband i s threatening subject with a loaded gun to her head. He even shot at her a couple of times and missed because she ran. (17.6) 190 APPENDIX D Interview Questions General Statement of Aim I am studying divorce from the perspective of women who made the decision to dissolve t h e i r marriage. More s p e c i f i c a l l y , I would l i k e to know how you came to that decision and what were the c r i t i c a l events which played ah important r o l e i n your decision to leave the marriage. I would also l i k e to know what s i g n i f i c a n t factors, i f any, made i t more d i f f i c u l t to come to that decision. Questions: 1. I would l i k e you to focus on a time i n your marriage when you began to have serious reservations or doubts about your r e l a t i o n s h i p . When was i t ? 2. Can you remember a s p e c i f i c incident or several small incidents when something s i g n i f i c a n t happened, either between you and your spouse or outside the re l a t i o n s h i p , which made you question your marriage and consider separation or divorce? Please take a few minutes to r e c a l l the incident(s) i n d e t a i l and when you are ready to describe i t , l e t me know. 3. Can you describe exactly what happened? 191 4. What led up to i t ? 5. How was that p a r t i c u l a r incident important and meaning-f u l to you? 6. What changed f o r you through t h i s incident? 7. How d i d you f e e l about the incident at the time? 8. How did you respond? What actions d i d you take, i f any? 9. Did that make a permanent and l a s t i n g change i n your attitude towards your marriage? This format w i l l be followed to e l i c i t as many incidents as possible. A s i m i l a r set of questions w i l l be asked to bring f o r t h descriptions of c r i t i c a l incidents which impeded your getting a separation or divorce. 192 APPENDIX E Subject Consent Form T i t l e of project A c r i t i c a l incident study of the decision-making process leading women to dissolve t h e i r marriage. P r i n c i p a l investigator: Ginette M. Proulx I am doing a master's thesis to understand the process that women go through i n making the decision to end t h e i r marriage. I w i l l be asking you to r e c a l l and describe s p e c i f i c incidents which were s i g n i f i c a n t i n your decision to leave the marriage. I w i l l also ask you to describe incidents which were s i g n i f i c a n t i n that they prompted you to stay i n the marriage despite the d i f f i c u l t i e s that you were experiencing. There w i l l be one interview l a s t i n g approximately one and a h a l f hour. The interview w i l l be tape-recorded and transcribed. The information you give to me w i l l be s t r i c t l y c o n f i d e n t i a l . C o n f i d e n t i a l i t y w i l l be maintained by deleting any personal reference, not using the surname of anyone you may mention and only using the f i r s t i n i t i a l of your f i r s t name i n the t r a n s c r i p t . Once the research i s completed, the taped interviews w i l l be erased. 193 If you have any questions about the research and how I plan to use the information, I w i l l be more than happy to explain i t to you. Your p a r t i c i p a t i o n i s voluntary. You have the r i g h t to refuse to answer any question or to withdraw from the study at any time. I HAVE READ AND UNDERSTAND THE ABOVE AND CONSENT TO BE A SUBJECT IN THIS RESEARCH Name of subject: Signature of subject: Date: 

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