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The transition for women into a single life Sutton, Claire Joan 1992

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THE TRANSITION FOR WOMEN INTO A SINGLE LIFE by CLAIRE JOAN SUTTON B.A., Loyola College of Montreal, 1972 A THESIS SUBMITTED IN PARTIAL FULFILLMENT OF THE REQUIREMENTS FOR THE DEGREE OF MASTER OF ARTS in THE FACULTY OF GRADUATE STUDIES Counselling Psychology WE ACCEPT THIS THESIS AS CONFORMING TO THE REQUIRED STANDARD THE UNIVERSITY OF BRITISH COLUMBIA September, 1992 (çD CLAIRE JOAN SUTTON, 1992 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) i i Abstract A q u a l i t a t i v e phenomenological paradigm was used to explore the phenomenon of the t r a n s i t i o n for women into a single l i f e following the termination of th e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Five women were selected from the Vancouver area to p a r t i c i p a t e i n t h i s study. In-depth personal interviews, which were audio-taped, were conducted with each participant. During these interviews, the women described t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n experience and successful adaptation to a single l i f e . Six common themes emerged from the data using C o l a i z z i ' s (1978) method of phenomenological analysis. The resu l t s of the study indicated that as the women came to believe i n t h e i r own self-worth, they rose above i n t o l e r a b l e conditions and followed a l i f e path that would continue to enhance t h e i r personal growth and strengthen t h e i r sense of s e l f - e f f i c a c y . i i i TABLE OF CONTENTS Abstract i i Table of Contents i i i Acknowledgements v CHAPTER I INTRODUCTION 1 Statement of the Problem 1 Purpose of the Study 7 CHAPTER II LITERATURE REVIEW 9 Transitions 9 Successful Adaptation 12 A Divorce Transition Process 13 Factors Related to Successful/Unsucessful Adjustment.... 16 Limitations i n the Current Literature 31 CHAPTER III METHODOLOGY 33 Researcher ' s Experience 35 Participants 3 6 Procedure 3 7 Analysis 41 Vali d a t i o n and Limitations 42 CHAPTER IV RESULTS 45 The Women 45 Common Themes 59 CHAPTER V DISCUSSION 72 A Description of the Women's Experience 72 Comparison to the Literature 76 Implications for Future Research 85 i v Implications for Counselling 86 Conclusion 8 9 REFERENCES 91 APPENDICES A. Announcement 96 B. Sample Questions 97 C. Consent Form 98 V ACKNOWLEDGEMENT S I would l i k e to acknowledge my two young sons, Alexander and Christopher, who showed me much love, support and mayhem throughout t h i s undertaking. My motivation prevailed as I often r e c a l l e d the question they asked of me upon my return to school: "What do you want to be Mommy when you grow up?" I would l i k e to acknowledge my father, the l a t e Dr. J. C a r l Sutton, whose determination, f a i t h and perseverance c a r r i e d him through much adversity i n h i s own l i f e . Such c h a r a c t e r i s t i c s together with h i s compassionate nature and wonderful sense of humour were a major i n s p i r a t i o n to me. I would l i k e to acknowledge my mother, C l a i r e G. Sutton, f o r the love, energy and dedication that she gave to her e n t i r e family. I would l i k e to acknowledge my f i v e brothers, C a r l , B i l l , Jack, Richard and Paul, who though questioned my sanity regarding the goals I decided to pursue as a single mother, never once questioned my a b i l i t y i n reaching those goals. I would l i k e to acknowledge my cousin and fr i e n d , Susan Buchanan, f o r her encouragement and understanding e s p e c i a l l y throughout t h i s past year. I would l i k e to acknowledge the parti c i p a n t s for t h e i r t o t a l co-operation i n t h i s research study. I would l i k e to acknowledge my committee members, Dr. Marv Westwood and Angela Henderson for t h e i r e f f o r t s . Most of a l l , I would l i k e to acknowledge and thank Dr. Judith Daniluk, my t h e s i s advisor, f o r her guidance, understanding, support, laughter and patience throughout my years i n graduate school and p r i m a r i l y throughout t h i s endeavor. 1 Chapter 1 Introduction Statement of the problem The divorce s t a t i s t i c s continue to be staggering i n the 1990's. One i n 2 marriages today i n the United States end i n divorce ( V i t a l S t a t i s t i c s , U.S.A., 1990). Canada i s approaching the same d i s s o l u t i o n rate of 1 i n 2.35 marriages ( S t a t i s t i c s Canada, 1987-1988). The s i g n i f i c a n t decline i n the f e r t i l i t y and mortality rates makes t h i s society, l i k e many others, an aging society. And, l i k e other aging s o c i e t i e s , family l i f e i s being re-defined because an aging society tends to be also a divorcing society (Hagestad, 1988). Many people are l i v i n g longer today compared to the average l i f e span of f o r t y - f i v e years i n the early 1900's, and i t may seem u n r e a l i s t i c to expect human beings to maintain the same monogamous rel a t i o n s h i p for f i f t y years or more (Stevens-Long, 1988). The changing roles and expectations of women i n t h e i r progression towards emotional and f i n a n c i a l independence are also contributing factors i n the increase divorce rate over the l a s t century (Stevens-Long). Divorce i s defined as the " l e g a l d i s s o l u t i o n of marriage" (Sykes, 1976). Fisher (1981) refe r s to divorce as a "trauma". According to V i r g i n i a S a t i r (1981), divorce i s a "broken experience" and divorced people need to pick up the pieces before going on with t h e i r l i v e s . For the purposes of t h i s research, "termination of r e l a t i o n s h i p " i s used to encompass a l l p o s s i b i l i t i e s that refer to the ending of a committed heterosexual rel a t i o n s h i p i n which the couple have cohabited for 2 at l e a s t three years; with divorce being one possible "ending". In terms of the consequences of divorce, researchers suggest that adjustment seems to be more d i f f i c u l t for women than for men (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey, 1989). Women seem to su f f e r more economic hardships, tend to carry the burden of r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s revolving around employment, home and childcare and seem to f i n d t h e i r s i t u a t i o n more psychologically s t r e s s f u l than men do. Divorced men seem better off f i n a n c i a l l y a f t e r divorce because t h e i r income and t h e i r work usually continue without inter r u p t i o n (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey; Grasby, 1989; Weitzman, 1985). According to Sheehy (1981), one of the biggest drawbacks f o r many women to overcome i s the fear to r i s k . Such a drawback can leave a person f e e l i n g powerless (Jeffers, 1988). I t appears that Fisher's (1981) concept of "trauma" i s well-founded as morbid conditions p r e v a i l for many women following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Such conditions exacerbate t h e i r fear to r i s k any type of change that may lead to opportunity because they also see that i t may lead to f a i l u r e . Men too have great d i f f i c u l t y coping with divorce and the divorc i n g man often hides behind a facade of an a l l i s well s o c i a l presence and a strong ego of s e l f - r e l i a n c e . Beneath the facade there i s often intense pain (Myers, 1989). Since men do not r e a d i l y seek help, many divorced men tend to f a l l between the cracks because they either receive no treatment at a l l or the treatment they do receive i s inadequate. Thus, substance abuse, workaholism, crime and suicide tend to be experienced by some divorc i n g men (Myers). The reasons for divorce are many, but common to t h i s experience for a l l women and men i s pain (Wymard, 1990). 3 Feelings of f a i l u r e and self-blame are f e l t by most people during divorce (Myers, 1989). Myers explains that divorce begins as a psychological process a f f e c t i n g the separating couple and t h e i r children, i f they have any. Within t h i s process, the impact may also a f f e c t parents and grandparents, colleagues, classmates and peers. The repercussions may even be f e l t by the neighbors (Myers). The major developmental tasks of young adulthood include the achievement of intimacy, commitment, f i d e l i t y and caring. These developments, for the overwhelming majority, emerge into courtship, mate selection and marriage or cohabitation (Stevens-Long, 1988) . An ending of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p can also bring on a major t r a n s i t i o n according to Sheehy (1981), who views divorce as a " l i f e accident". Transitions are l i f e changes consisting of s h i f t s i n r o l e s and s o c i a l i d e n t i t y (Hagestad, 1988). Hopson (1984) defines t r a n s i t i o n as a discontinuity and explains that t r a n s i t i o n i s movement. In the present research Schlossberg's (1981) d e f i n i t i o n i s used i n which a t r a n s i t i o n i s said to occur i f "an event or non-event r e s u l t s i n a change i n assumptions about oneself and the world and thus requires a corresponding change i n one's behavior and rela t i o n s h i p s " (p. 5). For the purposes of t h i s research, the termination of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p q u a l i f i e s as such an event. Schlossberg also emphasizes the phenomenological nature of t r a n s i t i o n , saying that i t i s not so much the change that p r e c i p i t a t e s a t r a n s i t i o n but the ind i v i d u a l ' s perception of that change. Moos and Tsu (cited i n Schlossberg, 1981) explain that a t r a n s i t i o n may r e s u l t i n growth or deter i o r a t i o n . Although many 4 experience negative consequences in response to divorce, Myers (1989) explains that termination of a re l a t i o n s h i p can be seen as a c a t a l y s t i n an individual's personal development that otherwise may not have taken place had the re l a t i o n s h i p remained i n t a c t . Several factors have been reported to be associated with women's successful adaptation to the divorce t r a n s i t i o n . Independence i n terms of money and freedom appear to be two important factors that influence a woman's adaptation to the termination of a rel a t i o n s h i p (Clarke-Stewart & Ba i l e y ) . Money i s equated with "autonomy, ego, freedom and independence, not merely with the ac q u i s i t i o n of goods" (Wymard, 1990, p. 58). Freedom i s viewed by many divorced women as having c h i l d r e n beyond the pre-school stage as well as having s a t i s f a c t o r y c u s t o d i a l arrangements. Other factors c i t e d i n the l i t e r a t u r e that p o s i t i v e l y influence women's adaptation to divorce include: competence as a self-supporter; owning or renting a home i n one's own name; sound mental well-being; r e l o c a t i o n ; adequate s o c i a l support and p o s i t i v e adjustment of t h e i r children (Ambert, 1983; Clarke-Stewart & Bailey; Duffy, 1989). Education and income seem to be s i g n i f i c a n t l y r e l a t e d to the mental well-being of female heads of one-parent f a m i l i e s (Duffy, 1989). Duffy explains that education reassures women of t h e i r accomplishments and t h e i r self-worth. I t i s a means to job opportunities and greater income. Education also breaks down t r a d i t i o n a l sex r o l e orientations. Women with less t r a d i t i o n a l sex r o l e b e l i e f s reportedly adjust better to divorce because they are able to perceive the t r a n s i t i o n as an opportunity for personal growth and change (Bloom & Clement, 1984). Duffy explains that such women may f i n d i t easier to a l t e r t h e i r pre-5 termination assumptions. Factors associated with less successful adaptation for women are also numerous. M i t c h e l l (1983) states that the way women have been s o c i a l i z e d to define themselves may overshadow any confidence they have i n personal successes from other r o l e s outside of marriage. It appears that many women, following the termination of a s i g n i f i c a n t r e l a t i o n s h i p , f e e l that they have f a i l e d at t h e i r major purpose i n l i f e . A s t i n (1985) suggests that many women form gender-linked expectations i n childhood. G i r l s learn through play that a woman's s u r v i v a l depends on marriage and caring for her income earning husband. G i l l i g a n (1982) explains that women have been s o c i a l i z e d to think of themselves i n terms of t h e i r nurturing and helping r o l e i n the man's l i f e cycle. Women may define themselves i n terms of relationships but they also judge themselves according to t h e i r caring a b i l i t i e s . Therefore, many women may have d i f f i c u l t y l e t t i n g go of t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l sex ro l e b e l i e f s . Such b e l i e f s are ingrained assumptions that many women have d i f f i c u l t y changing following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . This d i f f i c u l t y i n incorporating a new sense of s e l f may impede t h e i r movement through the t r a n s i t i o n process. According to Furstenberg (1982), about h a l f of a l l women and a greater proportion of men remarry within three years following r e c e i p t of t h e i r divorce decree. However a f t e r age fort y , men are three times more l i k e l y to remarry than women. I t would appear that many more women than men seem to remain alone; a r e a l i t y that may contribute to d i f f i c u l t i e s i n adjusting to a single l i f e . Adjustment to divorce usually involves three periods: a 6 mourning period occurs immediately and i s often characterized by emotional disequilibrium as the person reacts to the changes i n her/his assumptive world (Duffy, 1989). The woman, f o r instance, may mourn numerous losses pertaining to her s o c i a l , emotional and economic well-being. This period can take up to two years from the time of separation (Kolevson & Gottlieb, 1983). The second period, occurring between two and four years following the separation, i s the re-establishment of emotional equilibrium (Duffy). In t h i s stage, the woman incorporates a new set of assumptions by using proactive behaviors to seek out new goals and opportunities. Based on research with forty-seven divorced single-parent women, Duffy reports that approximately four years a f t e r separation, most of the female heads of these one-parent fam i l i e s have t h e i r new roles and l i f e s t a b i l i z e d , s i g n i f y i n g the f i n a l adjustment period. I t appears that many women following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p f i n d adjustment to single l i f e onerous i n a society where couples p r e v a i l (Wymard, 1990). Given t h e i r s o c i a l i z a t i o n as nurturers and helpers, many women are plagued with f e e l i n g s of f a i l u r e as a re s u l t of the d i s s o l u t i o n of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p (Astin, 1985; G i l l i g a n , 1982). In consideration of a l l these factors, successful adaptation of women following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p i s of great i n t e r e s t . The concern of the present research was with women who f e l t they had successfully adapted to l i f e a f t e r the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . This research was undertaken within the context of women and the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s , with the intent of examining t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n into a single l i f e . In p a r t i c u l a r , the researcher was interested i n learning how some 7 women c a p i t a l i z e on t h i s l i f e t r a n s i t i o n i n terms of r e a l i z i n g greater personal growth. For the purpose of the study, successful adaptation was defined as a process during which in d i v i d u a l s , over time, move from being intensely preoccupied with the t r a n s i t i o n to incorporating the t r a n s i t i o n into t h e i r l i v e s (Schlossberg, 1981). With regard to the women i n t h i s research, successful adaptation was based on t h e i r subjective b e l i e f s that they had personally grown from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . Purpose of the study The question asked i n t h i s q u a l i t a t i v e study was "How do women who perceive themselves as having personally grown from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n , experience the t r a n s i t i o n process?" The l i t e r a t u r e reviewed for the purposes of t h i s study underlined many of the losses and the d i f f i c u l t i e s people face following separation and divorce. The e x i s t i n g l i t e r a t u r e also helped explain the adjustment periods necessary for people to properly grieve these losses and to re - e s t a b l i s h themselves, and examined the obstacles that many divorced women f i n d d i f f i c u l t to overcome. The research also addressed some of the factors that appear to help women adjust following the termination of a re l a t i o n s h i p . However, l i t t l e attention has been paid i n the research to understanding the components involved i n the process leading to the successful adaptation of women following t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . Information i s also lacking on how women make the t r a n s i t i o n out of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p into that of a single l i f e . The goal of t h i s study was to explore the experiences of 8 women who f e l t they had grown personally from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . I t was hoped that such exploration would y i e l d an accurate understanding on how the women participants i n t h i s study successfully adapted to t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n into a s i n g l e l i f e and that such understanding might serve to generate further research into the successful adaptation of women following the t r a n s i t i o n to divorce. It was anticipated that insight into the successful adaptation of women following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p would emerge, enabling counsellors to help other women facing a si m i l a r t r a n s i t i o n . Such insight may t r i g g e r society's recognition and support with regard to the needs of women dealing with t h i s p a r t i c u l a r l i f e t r a n s i t i o n . 9 Chapter II Literature Review Studies indicate that divorce i s an event that brings hardship to both men and women (Crosby, Gage, & Raymond, 1983; Fisher, 1981; Krantzler, 1975; Myers, 1989; Stevens-Long, 1988; Vaughan, 1986). Not only does divorce e f f e c t the p a r t i c u l a r man and woman but i t also involves t h e i r respective f a m i l i e s and anyone connected to t h e i r s o c i a l milieu (Myers, 1989; Vaughan, 198 6). Sheehy (1981) has reported that divorce i s a t r a n s i t i o n r e q u i r i n g considerable l i f e s t y l e changes. The researcher w i l l review l i t e r a t u r e on tr a n s i t i o n s and on the process of negotiating such t r a n s i t i o n s , as w i l l discuss Schlossberg's (1981) concept of successful adaptation to a t r a n s i t i o n . The current l i t e r a t u r e on the po s i t i v e and negative e f f e c t s of divorce on women w i l l also be reviewed. Transitions Based on t h e i r research, Hopson and Adams (1977) define t r a n s i t i o n s as events that e f f e c t an i n d i v i d u a l . That i s , the person experiences a s p e c i f i c discontinuity i n her/his l i f e . To adjust to t h i s personal discontinuity, the person needs to formulate new assumptions and/or develop new behavioral responses. "Transitions are a p a r t i c u l a r type of change involving personal awareness and new assumptions or behaviors" (Brammer & Abrego, 1981, p. 19) . Schlossberg's (1981) d e f i n i t i o n of t r a n s i t i o n states that "a t r a n s i t i o n can be said to occur i f an event or non-event r e s u l t s i n a change i n assumptions about oneself and the world and thus requires a corresponding change i n one's behavior and re l a t i o n s h i p s " (p. 5). Schlossberg explains that given t h e i r 10 diverse a b i l i t i e s , people cope d i f f e r e n t l y with change and t o the d i f f e r e n t types of changes that occur during t h e i r l i f e span. According to Schlossberg "the t r a n s i t i o n i s defined by the i n d i v i d u a l " (p. 7). That i s , i t i s the individual's perception of the change that p r e c i p i t a t e s a t r a n s i t i o n and not the change i t s e l f . As people experience change and t r a n s i t i o n throughout t h e i r l i f e span, new relationships, behaviors and s e l f -perceptions often r e s u l t . Schlossberg distinguishes between expected t r a n s i t i o n s that r e f e r to obvious l i f e changes and those that are not expected, and r e i t e r a t e s that the t r a n s i t i o n , whether expected or not, i s defined by the i n d i v i d u a l experiencing i t . She also states that an unanticipated t r a n s i t i o n i s more d i f f i c u l t to negotiate because of the lack of time to adequately prepare for i t and the uncertainty that may be associated with i t s outcome. Stevens-Long (1988) reviews the various developmental tasks of adulthood which begin around the age of twenty and span f o r f i f t y years or more. She highlights the concept of "anticipatory s o c i a l i z a t i o n " which refe r s to the common occurrence of an event during a person's l i f e span. Such events are often age-related such as maturational development, graduation or job entry. Anticipatory s o c i a l i z a t i o n serves to prepare a person for such an event given that a person's cohorts may be experiencing a s i m i l a r event within a comparable time period. Marriage i s such an event. Stevens-Long reports that most people on t h i s continent marry. Even i f the decision to end a marriage i s a mutual one, both par t i e s s t i l l tend to experience trauma (Fisher, 1981; Myers, 1989; Stevens-Long, 1988). Adaptation i s d i f f i c u l t , therefore, for an event that i s viewed as negative and one that 11 was not o r i g i n a l l y planned for (Schlossberg; Stevens-Long) . Hopson (1981) defines t r a n s i t i o n as a d i s c o n t i n u i t y and explains that t r a n s i t i o n i s movement. Hopson (1984) sees the negotiation of a personal t r a n s i t i o n as a seven step process. As yet there appears to be l i t t l e empirical evidence to substantiate Hopson's model of the t r a n s i t i o n process. However, the model i s of h e u r i s t i c value i n understanding the issues and emotions that may need to be negotiated i n responding to a t r a n s i t i o n l i k e divorce. The f i r s t three steps of Hopson's t r a n s i t i o n process model represent a p r e - t r a n s i t i o n period i n which the person i s s t i l l , at l e a s t psychologically, attached to the past. These steps are: immobilization (a sense of being overwhelmed); minimization (a denial that the change has an impact); and depression (feelings of powerlessness, fear and f r u s t r a t i o n ) . The next four steps involve the t r a n s i t i o n i t s e l f . Letting go i s the fourth step and i s marked by a heightened awareness and acceptance of r e a l i t y i n which the person disengages from the past while a sense of optimism emerges. Testing i s the f i f t h step, during which time the person has l o t s of energy and t r i e s out new behaviors. Search f o r meaning, step six involves the cognitive process by which the person takes the time to r e f l e c t on the how and why questions pertaining to the t r a n s i t i o n event. The f i n a l step i s i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n , s i g n i f y i n g comfort with a new i d e n t i t y . Thus, t h i s new i d e n t i t y comprises an experience of renewal and an acceptance that the t r a n s i t i o n i s concluded (Hopson, 1984). Such a process i s seldom continuous and a person may often f a l l back a step a f t e r having progressed. Many people f a i l to complete t h i s process and become stuck i n p a r t i c u l a r steps. This 12 si t u a t i o n may occur due to the person's f a i l u r e to overcome the hardships or fru s t r a t i o n s accompanying the new change. According to Hopson (1981) " a l l t r a n s i t i o n s r e s u l t i n people being subjected to some degree of stress and s t r a i n , the amount varying with the nature of the event and the demands i t makes upon t h e i r behavioral repertoires" (p. 36). I t appears that i n the case of women f a i l i n g to complete the t r a n s i t i o n process following the termination of a relationship, some of t h e i r cumulative f r u s t r a t i o n s may include: the f i n a n c i a l setbacks, the i n a b i l i t y to balance children, home and employment (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey, 1989), the lack of support and personal time (Buehler & Langenbrunner, 1987) and the fear to r i s k (Sheehy 1981). Successful adaptation Successful adaptation i s the term used by Schlossberg (1981) to describe the successful resolution of a t r a n s i t i o n . Brammer and Abrego (1981) use the term successful coping and Hopson (1981) uses i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n . Schlossberg defines adaptation as a process which culminates i n the in d i v i d u a l no longer being completely engrossed with the event. That i s , the event has been integrated into the individual's l i f e . The i n d i v i d u a l moves from being t o t a l l y preoccupied with the t r a n s i t i o n i n terms of his/her attitudes and behaviors, to a state of boundedness, where the event i s contained and integrated into his/her d e f i n i t i o n of s e l f . With regard to the phenomenological nature of such t r a n s i t i o n s , i n t e r n a l i z a t i o n and integration encompass a state of acceptance and an experience of renewal (Hopson). The event becomes only one of an individual's many dimensions. Hopson explains that the event w i l l always carry with i t some si g n i f i c a n c e and " i t may s t i l l generate sadness or joy on r e c a l l . 13 Being integrated into one's t o t a l being, i t w i l l have an influence over future directions but i t i s not imprisoning one i n the past" (p. 38). For the purposes of t h i s research, a woman was considered to have successfully adapted to the termination of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p when she f e l t she had personally grown from the experience. That i s , the woman perceived a s i g n i f i c a n t improvement i n her o v e r a l l l i f e s i t u a t i o n . Her r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n no longer dominated her every thought, f e e l i n g and action, i t had become part of her history. The woman experienced the freedom to pursue her own l i f e course. A Divorce Transition Process Many analogies have been used to describe divorce or the ending of a committed relationship. S a t i r (1981) describes such an ending as a "broken experience" (p. 1) i n which the people involved need to pick up the pieces before they can go on with t h e i r l i v e s . S a t i r (1981) also compares divorce to a "metaphorical surgery" (p. 1) which a f f e c t s every aspect of a person's l i f e and requires a period of convalescence i f proper healing i s to take place. This period of convalescence i s likened to Fisher's (1981) rebu i l d i n g process following the ending of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Fisher equates such a process with a designated time period i n which the person can get to know his/her s e l f better by reviewing the past and learning from i t , and by tapping into parts of the s e l f that were previously unknown. Fisher uses the metaphor of a mountain that needs climbing to describe the successful negotiation of the rebuilding process. The mountain i s compared to a pyramid constructed of blocks i n which a l l have 14 to be successfully climbed i n order to reach the top of the mountain which symbolizes freedom. Fisher sees the negotiation of a committed rela t i o n s h i p termination t r a n s i t i o n as a 15 step process. The f i r s t step of Fisher's rebuilding process i s denial, a minimization of the impact from the break-up or an unwillingness to accept that the relationship i s over. The second step i s loneliness; an overwhelming f e e l i n g of aloneness. Next i s r e j e c t i o n versus g u i l t i n which r e j e c t i o n i s usually f e l t by the partner who has been l e f t and g u i l t i s often f e l t by the partner that leaves. Grief, step four, i s defined as a combination of immense sadness and despair, and i s experienced by many to be p h y s i c a l l y and emotionally draining. Anger comes next and s i g n i f i e s a special rage towards the former partner. Anger helps the i n d i v i d u a l gain emotional distance from his/her former partner. L e t t i n g go i s step s i x and re f e r s to ceasing any investment whatsoever i n the former r e l a t i o n s h i p . Self-concept follows next and i s marked by the focus on s e l f i n order to r e b u i l d self-concept and self-worth. Step eight i s friendship and i s marked by the need to b u i l d up a network of friends. Leftovers i s the ninth step and refers to confronting d i f f i c u l t i e s not worked through i n the past including the former r e l a t i o n s h i p . The a b i l i t y to face and deal with such d i f f i c u l t i e s i s e s s e n t i a l before the person can begin to understand and grasp step ten. Love i s step ten and emphasizes the importance of s e l f - l o v e . Trust i s next and refers to s e l f - t r u s t . Fisher explains that i t takes time to heal a love-wound. Sexuality, step twelve, encourages each person to develop a personal and i n d i v i d u a l 15 sexual morality appropriate to the culture, attitudes, experiences and values of each individual's personality. Step th i r t e e n i s r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and emphasizes the need to r e l a t e to others on an adult l e v e l . Step fourteen i s singleness and s i g n i f i e s a time period devoted to growth as an independent person. The f i n a l stage i s freedom and refer s to freedom of choice as well as freedom to be oneself. Having completed these f i f t e e n steps a person i s seen as happy and able to be f u l l y his/her s e l f either as a single person or i n a lov e - r e l a t i o n s h i p . There appears to be no empirical evidence to support Fisher's (1981) conceptualization of the rebu i l d i n g process. However, based on his c l i n i c a l expertise, Fisher does provide some basis f o r understanding the process involved i n adapting s p e c i f i c a l l y to a divorce t r a n s i t i o n . The phenomenon under study i n t h i s research was the t r a n s i t i o n process that women who had successfully adapted to a single l i f e post-termination of relationship, had to negotiate to perceive themselves as having personally grown from t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n experience. Fisher's rebuilding process explains the steps that appear to be necessary for anyone to undertake for adjustment to a relationship's termination. The process, however, does not address how a person, e s p e c i a l l y a woman, begins to pursue these steps. With regard to women post-termination of r e l a t i o n s h i p , the l i t e r a t u r e reveals a number of po s i t i v e and negative factors associated with t h e i r adjustment. The l i t e r a t u r e does not address the issues that women must come to terms with i n order to f a c i l i t a t e the t r a n s i t i o n out of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p into that of a single l i f e , nor does i t examine the very beginnings of 16 the process that these women must access for the relevant issues to be considered. I t would appear that the exploration of such a process would be b e n e f i c i a l to furthering our understanding of women who have successfully adapted to t h e i r single l i f e s t y l e following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Factors r e l a t e d to Successful/Unsuccessful Adjustment The review of the studies that follow pertain to the adjustment to l i f e following separation and/or divorce. Previous research has investigated many of the consequences of t h i s l i f e t r a n s i t i o n . The researcher has organized the l i t e r a t u r e review so that the current understanding of the impact involved i n a rel a t i o n s h i p termination can be grasped. Given the phenomenon under study, the emphasis i s on as e x p l i c i t an understanding as possible of a l l factors involved for women i n t h e i r adjustment post-termination. Therefore, the discussion of the findings begins with the s i m i l a r outcomes experienced by both men and women i n what i s characterized as the i n i t i a l stage of adjustment, following the dis s o l u t i o n of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Following t h i s , the discussion w i l l centre on the d i f f i c u l t i e s that more men than women appear to have i n adjusting emotionally post-termination of relationship. Lastly, the researcher discusses numerous studies that have investigated the p o s i t i v e and negative influences associated with women and t h e i r adjustment following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . The chapter concludes with a discussion of gaps i n the research. Based on Chiriboga and Cutler's (1977) research on divorced men and women and t h e i r responses to stress, these authors r e i t e r a t e that divorce i s a disruptive force of paramount 17 s i g n i f i c a n c e for the men and women who experience i t . Their random sample of 96 divorced men and 156 divorced women was drawn from the records of San Francisco and Alameda counties. A l l par t i c i p a n t s had been separated an average of s i x months and were a c t i v e l y involved i n pursuing t h e i r divorce. The pa r t i c i p a n t s were interviewed with the use of structured and unstructured questions. The measures used i n t h i s study included morale scales, a symptoms ch e c k l i s t and a trauma scale. The findings suggested that there was an interplay between trauma and r e l i e f i n the separation and divorce process. The findings also suggested that the process of separation was an extremely traumatic one for the participants and considered much more s t r e s s f u l than the unhappy marriages the respondents wanted to get out of. The problems i n t h e i r marriages were on-going and ones that they had become accustomed to. The move from a couples i d e n t i t y to that of entering a single l i f e s t y l e was extremely unfamiliar and necessitated an enormous amount of new learning and relearning of suitable behaviors. I t appeared that the decision to terminate a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p no doubt ended known tensions and known behaviors, however i t also introduced a new set of stressors and fears that could prevent people from adjusting post-termination. The findings also implied that during the separation period men seemed to be more vulnerable than women i n terms of dealing with the emotional issues involved. More than 50% of the respondents recognized the many stress factors that they were faced with, yet experienced r e l i e f i n that they were able to work through t h e i r t r o u b l i n g issues. In his book Creative Divorce, Krantzler (1975) hi g h l i g h t s the divorce experience as a new opportunity for personal growth 18 for both men and women. Based on h i s personal and p r o f e s s i o n a l experiences as well as the experiences of the men and women who part i c i p a t e d i n his divorce adjustment seminars, Krantzler explains divorce and why adjustment d i f f e r s for both men and women. He rela t e s that the emotional v u l n e r a b i l i t y of American men, experienced during the divorce process, i s characterized by a denial or suppression within themselves of any emotional disturbance. According to Krantzler men suffer deeply with fe e l i n g s of v u l n e r a b i l i t y , helplessness, loneliness and fear and are intimidated by these "womanly" reactions. With such d e n i a l and suppression, men avoid t h e i r feelings of g r i e f . During the i n i t i a l phase of separation, many separated men may f i n d i t easier to evade the problems and turmoil of t h e i r break-up by escaping into t h e i r work, hobbies or a hectic s o c i a l l i f e . At f i r s t , denial i s a normal reaction yet on-going i t can be an avoidance for many men i n confronting themselves and coming to terms with t h e i r l i f e . Krantzler suggests that t h i s i s a r e s u l t of early s o c i a l i z a t i o n i n which boys are taught to eventually b u i l d a wall between themselves and t h e i r emotions. Workaholism or excessive s o c i a l a c t i v i t y may act as "buffers" for men who seek to avoid the problems and overwhelming emotions associated with separation and divorce. Krantzler found that the early s o c i a l i z a t i o n of women, on the other hand, made i t easier for many women to tap into t h e i r emotional side without seeking avenues to escape. In t h i s way, many women may plummet quickly into an emotional low yet may proceed f a s t e r through the re s o l u t i o n phase. For Jordan's (1988) study, a sample of 168 separated men was chosen from the court f i l e s of the Brisbane Registry of the 19 Family Court of A u s t r a l i a . The men were separated between one and two years. Jordan's research was undertaken to understand the e f f e c t of separation and divorce on men i n the Australian community. Written questionnaire's were used to obtain demographic and psychosocial information. Standardized t e s t s were included to ascertain psychological and psycho-physical well-being. Two other measures were used to assess the degree of attachment to wife and children and the degree to which the men coped with general l i v i n g . In t h i s study the decision to separate was the woman's i n 65% of the cases. Jordan found that immediately following separation, complaints and symptoms associated with severe loss and bereavement were reported by a high percentage of men. One i n four of the men reported being unaware of either chronic problems or recurring c o n f l i c t i n t h e i r marriage. As well, one i n four men indicated that they did not know why t h e i r wives wanted the separation. Jordan suggested that such r e s u l t s could be in d i c a t i v e of the man's lack of s e n s i t i v i t y to the marriage's emotional state. Jordan's research also indicated that many men f e l t that they had a lack of control over the marital relationship's continuance at the time of separation. Many of the men focused blame onto t h e i r wives f o r t h e i r separations and saw themselves i n the r o l e of victims. One t h i r d of the men were found to be at a high l e v e l of chronic d i s t r e s s two years a f t e r the separation. These men, who exhibited high lev e l s of chronic d i s t r e s s , did not want t h e i r separations to occur. I t appears that both Krantzler's (1975), Chiriboga and Cutler's (1977) and Jordan's (1988) research confirm the experience of emotional disequilibrium and support the need to 20 mourn the losses associated with the termination of a committed relati o n s h i p , as characterized by the i n i t i a l adjustment peri o d (Duffy, 1989). With regard to men and women, the studies a t t e s t to the fa c t that both suffer greatly following a separation. I t appears that more women are w i l l i n g to confront the emotional issues associated with the termination of re l a t i o n s h i p than men are. I t appears too, that the studies emphasize the r o l e of gender-role s o c i a l i z a t i o n i n women and men's d i f f e r e n t i a l response to the early stages of divorce t r a n s i t i o n . Weitzman's (1985) 10 year study of the economic, l e g a l and s o c i a l consequences of C a l i f o r n i a ' s no-fault divorce law revealed the existence of a great d i s p a r i t y between women and t h e i r former spouses i n t h e i r standard of l i v i n g . Weitzman analyzed 2500 C a l i f o r n i a divorce dockets selected by systematic random sampling. She began her random se l e c t i o n of cases i n 1968, two years p r i o r to C a l i f o r n i a ' s no-fault divorce laws and completed the s e l e c t i o n i n 1977. She also conducted systematic in-depth interviews with 169 family law attorneys and 44 family law judges i n C a l i f o r n i a and a si m i l a r sample of legal experts from the United Kingdom. In 1978 she conducted in-depth structured interviews with 114 divorced men and 114 divorce women. On average, these l a t t e r interviews were conducted one year a f t e r the l e g a l divorce was issued. Weitzman's findings show that following divorce, a woman's standard of l i v i n g drops 73% while the standard of l i v i n g of a divorced man r i s e s 42%. These findings suggest that most of these divorce settlements were polarized, that spousal and c h i l d support was ins u b s t a n t i a l and often went unpaid, and that the women generally did not have the same access to education, cr e d i t , pensions, insurance and jobs 21 following a divorce, that t h e i r partners had. L i v i n g i n a poor f i n a n c i a l s i t u a t i o n may add greatly to a divorced woman's s t r e s s and l e v e l of depression. Many women who are working while married are i n low-paying jobs i n comparison to t h e i r husbands. Their income, though le s s than the man's, i s often used to help out and to buy the extras. With divorce, the woman's income i s the major source of money and must be exhaustively budgeted i n order to take care of the family needs. Weitzman's (1985) findings show that the new divorce laws i n the United States may have p r o f i t e d many men and impoverished many women. Weitzman's study was an extremely broad study of divorce law reform and limited to the C a l i f o r n i a area. For many women following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p , i t appears that the lack of adequate finances causes undue anxiety compounded by the i n a b i l i t y to access opportunities and resources, and greatly impedes t h e i r successful adjustment to a single l i f e . Clarke-Stewart and Bailey (1989) conducted a study of f o r t y -f i v e s i n g l e parents using a standard interview procedure. The procedure included open-ended and closed-ended questions, as well as written ratings and checklists on adjustment, stress and s a t i s f a c t i o n . The participants consisted of 25 women and 20 men, a l l of whom had been divorced for less than three years. A l l pa r t i c i p a n t s were white, had some college education and were l i v i n g i n Orange County, C a l i f o r n i a . Clarke-Stewart and Bailey found that many of the mothers seemed to have t h e i r goals repressed by the divorce more than single fathers did. Divorced mothers relayed feelings of being bored and trapped and therefore appeared to be more emotionally taxed i n the single state as a 22 r e s u l t of being stressed by parenting and a lack of time f o r themselves. Many women could not f i n d jobs or had to accept low-paying ones to survive. Clarke-Stewart and Bailey found that the men i n t h e i r study seemed to have higher lev e l s of occupation, better job security and higher incomes. The men seemed to value t h e i r careers more than the women did, suggesting that t h e i r goals and i d e n t i t i e s were not as affected by the divorce. The women seemed to value being part of a couple. Clarke-Stewart and Bailey reported that the women who adjusted best were those who owned or rented t h e i r own home, had substantial f i n a n c i a l assets, had less f i n a n c i a l stress, enjoyed t h e i r jobs, had more s o c i a l support, had no pre-school children and seemed to have c o n t r o l over the custodial arrangements. Therefore, these findings suggest that s t r u c t u r a l barriers may impede women's adaptation and adjustment to divorce. Note that Clarke-Stewart and Bailey's (1989) sample was drawn from a s p e c i f i c county i n C a l i f o r n i a . Overall the men i n the sample had higher lev e l s of education than the women. The researchers cautioned that given the r a r i t y of single-parent fathers, the men i n the sample may have been an exceptional group and therefore better able to deal with the psychological stressors associated with divorce and single-parenting. The findings of both Weitzman (1985) and Clarke-Stewart and Bailey (1989) suggest that adjustment to l i f e a f t e r divorce seems more d i f f i c u l t for women who have a reduced standard of l i v i n g post-divorce and who have a l l or most of the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y pertaining to childcare. These findings r e i n f o r c e the importance of adequate finances, employment s a t i s f a c t i o n and reduced home and chi l d c a r e r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s in adjusting to divorce. 23 Daniels-Mohring and Berger (1984) conducted a p i l o t study of thirty-two recently divorced females and ten recently divorced males, including both objective and subjective data. The instruments used were a s o c i a l network questionnaire and an interview. The researchers found that higher self-concept and greater mental well-being seemed to be reported by those who experienced l i t t l e change i n t h e i r s o c i a l network from pre-to-post-divorce. These re s u l t s appear to reinforce the importance of s o c i a l support i n adjusting to termination of r e l a t i o n s h i p . Buehler and Langenbrunner (1987) conducted a study of eighty parents who had been l e g a l l y divorced between 6 and 12 months. The respondents, 45 women and 35 men, completed a 140 item questionnaire pertaining to eleven categories of divorced-related experiences. The researchers found that following divorce, men's le i s u r e time and s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s increased due to the reduction of home and childcare obligations. The women i n the study, however, tended to be overburdened with r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and to lack time for themselves. The discrepancy between former spouses i n t h e i r standards of l i v i n g as well as the increase i n childcare and other demands placed on women, appeared to make i t d i f f i c u l t for many women to enjoy l e i s u r e and s o c i a l a c t i v i t i e s , r e s u l t i n g i n t h e i r d i f f i c u l t i e s to adapting to t h e i r divorce t r a n s i t i o n . The overwhelming demands together with the lack of relaxation outlets seem to exacerbate women's adaptation and adjustment post-termination of rela t i o n s h i p . I t i s important to note that i n Buehler and Langenbrunner's study, 80% of the women had maternal custody while only 10% of the men had paternal custody. This study seemed to highlight the uneven d i s t r i b u t i o n of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y between men and women 24 following divorce. Interestingly, although most of the women complained of moodiness and of lack of time for themselves, most also reported many po s i t i v e sentiments such as, worthiness, growth, r e l i e f , f e e l i n g close to t h e i r children and competence. I t appears that despite the d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by many women following the dis s o l u t i o n of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p , many reveal that feelings associated with self-concept ameliorate. Also, the importance of a s o c i a l network appears to emerge as paramount for the po s i t i v e adjustment and adaptation of women to t h e i r divorce t r a n s i t i o n . Norton and Moorman (1987) examined the contemporary trends and future prospects of marriage and divorce patterns for women in the United States between the ages of 2 0 and 54. The data was taken from the 1985 Current Population Survey. Noorton and Moorman report the average age of divorce to be between 2 5 and 3 5 with an average marriage duration of seven to eight years. Therefore many divorced women would be the mothers of pre-school aged and school aged children. Given these r e s u l t s , i t would appear to add further understanding to the findings of both Clarke-Stewart and Bailey (1989) and Buehler and Langenbrunner (1987) regarding the overwhelming r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s and demands placed on many divorced women. Menaghan and Lieberman (1986) conducted an on-going panel study which consisted of interviewing 1106 adults at two d i f f e r e n t time periods. The researchers investigated the issue of marital status and psychological well-being. The i n i t i a l Time 1 sample of 2299 adults was obtained through c l u s t e r sampling of households i n the state of Chicago's urban area. Each p a r t i c i p a n t was interviewed at Time 1 (1972) and 82% agreed to be 25 interviewed four years l a t e r at Time 2 (1976). The p a r t i c i p a n t s that the researchers examined were limited to those married at Time 1 and those s t i l l married to and l i v i n g with same spouse at Time 2 (n=758) as well as those divorced at Time 2 (n=32). The researchers also examined the data of those respondents who were divorced at Time 1 and s t i l l divorced at Time 2. During the interviews, demographic information was gathered which included p r i o r and current l i f e conditions as well as intervening l i f e events. Measurements used included a depression symptoms c h e c k l i s t and a marital d i s t r e s s scale. The researchers found that depression was s i g n i f i c a n t i n the newly divorced men and women and the men and women who remained divorced. A decline (or the perception of a decline) i n standard of l i v i n g was apparent i n these l a t t e r groups, where current economic d i f f i c u l t i e s p revailed and few r e l i a b l e sources of support were a v a i l a b l e . These r e s u l t s appear to suggest that the negative l i f e conditions shared by many divorced individuals contribute greatly to t h e i r p e r s istent feelings of depression and therefore impede t h e i r successful adaptation. A r e p l i c a t i o n of the study with larger groups would seem necessary given that the sample of the newly divorced p a r t i c i p a n t s at Time 2 was quite small i n comparison to the s t i l l married p a r t i c i p a n t s . Riessman and Gerstel's (1985) study examined several sets of United States Census data pertaining to a va r i e t y of health issues. I t was an exploratory study to describe gender differences across a variety of health i n d i c a t o r s for separated and divorced men and women. Ratio analysis was used f o r gender comparisons. With regard to mild physical and emotional stress r e l a t e d symptoms, the researchers found that the period of 26 separation tended to be more detrimental to the health of the women i n t h i s study, whereas divorce appeared to be worse for the men. The findings also suggested that more divorced men tended to experience severe health problems which require h o s p i t a l i z a t i o n or r e s u l t i n death. The divorced women i n t h i s study, however, tended to suffer more acute and l a s t i n g p h y s i c a l and mental health problems. The researchers speculated that the t r y i n g separation that many women reported experiencing could be a r e s u l t of working through emotional issues and the uncertainty a r i s i n g from the le g a l aspects not yet f i n a l i z e d . The pervasive and acute mental and physical health problems that many divorced women appeared to have, could have resulted from f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s as well as the demands from children, home and employment. Focusing on good health habits, r e - p r i o r i t i z i n g and taking control of such r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s would appear to be es s e n t i a l for many women following the termination of th e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . M i t c h e l l (1983) did a comparative study of thirty-one divorced and twenty-eight remarried white suburban middle c l a s s mothers. Both groups had been single-parents for at lea s t two years, and had s i m i l a r educational backgrounds and job h i s t o r i e s . The p a r t i c i p a n t s completed questionnaires r e l a t i n g to t h e i r sense of competence and well-being. M i t c h e l l reported that the divorced mothers scored s i g n i f i c a n t l y lower on both competence and s a t i s f a c t i o n with l i f e . M i tchell argued that "Women consequently are not s o c i a l i z e d to view single-parenthood i n a p o s i t i v e l i g h t " (p. 41). Mi t c h e l l ' s (1983) findings also indicated that her group of divorced women were s a t i s f i e d with parenting, friendships and 27 work, however they did exhibit less control over t h e i r l i v e s , i n terms of time and future plans. These women f e l t 'powerlessness' and d i s s a t i s f i e d with t h e i r love l i f e , t h e i r homemaking, t h e i r finances and t h e i r community which they f e l t did not endorse a single-parenting l i f e s t y l e . This stigma was re l a t e d to f e e l i n g s of depression regarding t h e i r o v e r a l l well-being and sense of competency. Therefore, overcoming t h i s stigma may be necessary fo r women following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Duffy (1989) conducted an exploratory q u a l i t a t i v e study of 47 female heads of one-parent families. The pa r t i c i p a n t s were selected through t h e o r e t i c a l sampling, a technique used to involve a wide spectrum of women and to insure v a r i e t y on the variables of inte r e s t . The researcher found that number of years as a single parent did not correlate with higher l e v e l s of mental well being. The researcher also found that both higher education and income were two important variables that seemed to enhance mental well-being of the participants. I t would also appear that opportunities for personal accomplishment and worthiness are important for some women to achieve successful adaptation post-termination of relat i o n s h i p . A study by Brown and Manela (1978) involved structured interviews of 253 black and white separated women l i v i n g i n the c i t y and suburbs of Detroit, Michigan. A l l the pa r t i c i p a n t s were cu r r e n t l y involved i n the divorce process. Each women had at l e a s t one c h i l d under the age of 18. Eighty-one percent of the women had completed high school and t h i r t y percent had some col l e g e education. There were two interviews scheduled for each woman during t h e i r marital d i s s o l u t i o n process. One interview took place at the time that they each contacted the court 28 marriage counselling service and the second one occurred four months l a t e r . Measurements for sex role attitudes and psychological outcomes were constructed for t h i s study. The findings were arriv e d at through quantitative and q u a l i t a t i v e analyses. Each woman was asked at both interviews eighteen questions about her sex-role attitudes. During the second interview they were a l s o asked open-ended questions related s p e c i f i c a l l y to women's r o l e s . Brown and Manela's (1978) findings suggested that n o n - t r a d i t i o n a l sex-role attitudes were s i g n i f i c a n t l y related to p o s i t i v e psychological well-being. Their r e s u l t s also indicated that as a group, the women became less t r a d i t i o n a l between the f i r s t and second interview on factors such as 'Women i n the Home' and 'Job Inequality'. Given the diverse backgrounds of the pa r t i c i p a n t s and the range of o r i g i n a l attitudes, the r e s u l t s , following t h e i r second interviews, implied that the women recorded a s i m i l a r amount of change towards non-traditional sex r o l e attitudes. Research seems to be needed i n understanding how and to what extent women can change t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l sex r o l e attitudes and act e f f e c t i v e l y once those changes are made. Bloom and Clement (1984) conducted a study of 143 newly separated adults (59 males and 84 females) i n which each respondent was interviewed at four s p e c i f i c i n t e r v a l s over 3 0 months. A marital sex role orientation measure was completed i n i t i a l l y and other dependent measures of adjustment were completed at the three subsequent interviews. Bloom and Clement found that women who did not follow t r a d i t i o n a l sex roles had less d i f f i c u l t y adjusting to divorce. They appeared to view divorce as an opportunity for personal growth and change. 29 These findings are si m i l a r to Brown and Manela's (1978) findings i n that non-traditional sex r o l e attitudes for divorced women were found to lead to feelings of enhanced well-being and proactive behaviors i n a variety of l i f e s i t u a t i o n s . Bloom and Clement (1984) also reported better post separation adjustment i n women with higher s e l f orientation. Therefore, helping women l e t go of t h e i r t r a d i t i o n a l b e l i e f s to rebu i l d a new b e l i e f system would seem to be a necessary step towards personal growth. Such a step would enable women following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p to confront the pros and cons of t h e i r b e l i e f s as well as to acknowledge t h e i r strengths and t h e i r desires. Thus, a wider range of opportunities would be seen as availab l e to them which may have been previously denied due to t h e i r e a r l i e r s o c i a l i z a t i o n and t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Ambert (1983) conducted in-depth interviews of twenty-six women who experienced marital disruption. Ambert reported that low remarriages rates were seen i n women who were better educated. These women seemed to have made the decision to either avoid remarriage altogether or to delay i t . The researcher found that while f i n a n c i a l l y secure (FS) women did not have any less of an emotional need for marriage than did f i n a n c i a l l y insecure (FI) women, FS women were able to pursue l e i s u r e a c t i v i t i e s , choose to be alone rather than unhappy and could a f f o r d to make such a choice. FI women did not f e e l they had the time nor could they take the time for l e i s u r e . FI women would also put up with abuse and would be more w i l l i n g to remarry for the wrong reasons. The elements that appeared to be related to the FS women's sense of self-esteem and independence were: choices, assets and control. Such elements tended to strengthen the FS women's p e r s o n a l i t i e s 30 by allowing them alternatives i n t h e i r l i f e s t y l e s . I t appeared that the lack of these elements i n the l i v e s of the FI women were related to lower confidence and self-esteem. These r e s u l t s seem to reinforce the importance and the freedom that money allows divorced women. Many women may see remarriage as the only way out of t h e i r f i n a n c i a l d i f f i c u l t i e s . FS women, however, appear to see remarriage as something they may want to do, not something they need to do. Davis and Aron (1988) conducted a study of f i f t y - f o u r recently divorced m i d l i f e women (ages 35 - 55) i n which each p a r t i c i p a n t responded to a number of instruments. The instruments included a divorce adjustment scale and a c h e c k l i s t of perceived causes of divorce. A l l p a r t i c i p a n t s volunteered to take part i n t h i s study, l i m i t i n g the study's representativeness and making the conclusions tentative. Davis and Aaron found that better post-divorce adjustment occurred with the women who saw the causes for t h e i r divorce to be due to either t h e i r husband's f a u l t (substance abuse) or to neutral occurrences ( f i n a n c i a l and/or communication problems). Women who blamed themselves f o r the divorce had poorer adjustment i n terms of negative f e e l i n g s of self-worth and low measures of s e l f - o r i e n t a t i o n . Their husband's r e j e c t i o n of them i s an example of self-blame. Greater adjustment was also found among the partic i p a n t s who at t r i b u t e d the cause of t h e i r marriage breakdown to t h e i r personal need f o r independence. A stronger 'internal locus of co n t r o l ' was evident for these l a t t e r participants than the partic i p a n t s a c c r e d i t i n g the cause to other possible s e l f - a t t r i b u t i o n s such as 'My A f f a i r or My Alcohol Abuse'. These re s u l t s appear to suggest that adjustment for many women, i n terms of enhanced well-being and 31 opportunities for greater independence, emerges from the recognition of t h e i r own personal needs. Limitations i n the Current Literature The researcher's examination of the l i t e r a t u r e on t r a n s i t i o n , divorce and women's adjustment to t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n attempts to i l l u s t r a t e both the p o s i t i v e and negative factors associated with the divorce t r a n s i t i o n process. Adjustment appears to be equated in the l i t e r a t u r e with happiness, s a t i s f a c t i o n and freedom of choice i n terms of l i f e s t y l e . Factors that were found to aid i n women's adjustment and adaptation post-relationship termination included higher education and s u f f i c i e n t income (Duffy, 1989) ; employment s a t i s f a c t i o n , competence as a self-supporter and custodial s a t i s f a c t i o n (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey, 1989); non-traditional sex r o l e attitudes (Bloom & Clement, 1984; Brown & Manela, 1978) , and a good support network (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey; Daniels-Mohring & Berger, 1984). The l i t e r a t u r e also highlighted numerous and complex combinations of stressors that appear to impede the adjustment and adaptation of many women when t h e i r marriages or committed r e l a t i o n s h i p s break down. Such stressors include the i n a b i l i t y or the unwillingness to work through the numerous losses associated with the ending and the emotional turmoil that r e s u l t s from attempting to cope with the change (Duffy, 1989; Krantzler, 1975); negative health symptoms r e s u l t i n g from the stress associated with the l i f e disruption (Duffy; Riessman & Gerstel, 1985); the d i f f i c u l t y i n changing t r a d i t i o n a l sex r o l e attitudes (Bloom & Clement; Brown & Manela); f i n a n c i a l worries and 32 hardships (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey; Grasby, 1989; Weitzman 1985); pressure associated with children, employment and home r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s , lack of support resources and a lack of personal time (Buehler & Langenbrunner, 1987; Clarke-Stewart & Ba i l e y ) . Researchers have i d e n t i f i e d the occurrence of t r a n s i t i o n s i n a person's l i f e as well as providing an explanation for successful negotiations (Hopson, 1984; Schlossberg, 1981). There has also been some discussion i n the l i t e r a t u r e regarding the divorce t r a n s i t i o n process (Fisher, 1981; Vaughan, 1986). However, currently there i s no data available that has addressed the s a l i e n t themes associated with women and t h e i r successful adaptation to single l i f e following the ending of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . The period of t r a n s i t i o n i s a lengthy one and i t e n t a i l s g r i e v i n g and emotional upheaval i n addition to the f i n a n c i a l , childcare, employment and other worries which are compounded by the termination of a committed rela t i o n s h i p . I t would appear that an explanation as well as examples, now lacking i n the current l i t e r a t u r e , are imperative i n furthering the understanding of how women who f e e l they have successfully adapted to t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to a single l i f e s t y l e negotiated t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n process. 33 Chapter III Methodology The q u a l i t a t i v e method of phenomenological psychological research was the chosen methodology for t h i s study. Gi o r g i (1985) explains that "phenomenology i s p r e c i s e l y that d i s c i p l i n e that t r i e s to discover and account for the presence of meanings i n the stream of consciousness. I t i s a d i s c i p l i n e that t r i e s to sort out and systematize meanings" (p. 6). Phenomenology explains in-depth how a p a r t i c u l a r person orients to l i v e d experience (Van Manen, 199 0). Experimental research i n terms of rigorous and precise methods and procedures have worked succ e s s f u l l y with the phenomena of nature, however they have reached only a minimum success l e v e l with human phenomena (Giorgi). Yet, researchers need to be precise and rigorous when dealing with complex human phenomena. In looking at what has been l i v e d and experienced by a person, t h i s phenomena may be overlooked, misrepresented and/or simply not grasped i n the methods of the natural sciences. Giorgi proposes that an extremely d i f f e r e n t perspective i s required for understanding human phenomena. From a phenomenological perspective, conducting research i s a caring art, meant to question the world we l i v e i n , to question the way we experience the world and to know what i s fundamental to being (Van Manen, 1990) . W.H. . Auden's comment (cited i n Van Manen) explains that ' i n d i v i d u a l ' i s a b i o l o g i c a l term whereas the term 'person' r e l a t e s to the "uniqueness of each human being...As persons, we are incomparable, u n c l a s s i f i a b l e , uncountable, 34 irreplaceable" (p. 6). Due to t h i s uniqueness and given an atmosphere of dia l o g a l t r u s t between the researcher and the partic i p a n t , the l a t t e r may be w i l l i n g to examine personal presuppositions without threat, and to generate e x i s t e n t i a l i n s i g h t . In t h i s way, t h i s psychological human research pursues a form of e x i s t e n t i a l therapy, though i s not displaced by i t . Given the dialogal nature of the rel a t i o n s h i p between the researcher and each one of the women i n her study, the terms participant or co-researcher was used i n l i e u of subject ( C o l a i z z i , 1978) . Both Gi o r g i (1985) and Van Manen (1990) r e f e r to Husserl's dictum "Back to the things themselves" (Giorgi, p. 8). In order to endorse t h i s dictum the researcher, unlike a counterpart i n experimental psychology, must forego any passion f o r control and abandon any thinking along technological l i n e s ( C o l a i z z i , 1978) . To begin the meaningful study of psychological phenomenon the researcher must d e s c r i p t i v e l y i d e n t i f y the phenomenon. Thus, t h i s research begins by getting i n touch with that phenomenon as the people have experienced i t ( C o l a i z z i ) . For the purposes of t h i s research, the phenomenon was the successful adaptation of the t r a n s i t i o n process by women following the d i s s o l u t i o n of t h e i r relationship. In the analysis of the part i c i p a n t s ' descriptions, the researcher, using creative insight, formulated meanings by r e f l e c t i n g on the s i g n i f i c a n t statements verbalized by each woman and then thoroughly understanding such statements. Thus, the aim of t h i s research was to explore the 35 s a l i e n t themes that emerged from the st o r i e s of the pa r t i c i p a n t s , as they a r t i c u l a t e d t h e i r successful adaptation to t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to a single l i f e . Use of a q u a l i t a t i v e paradigm made i t possible for the deeper feeli n g s and thought processes of the women i n t h i s study who have grown from t h e i r relationship's termination experience, to emerge and be understood i n the context of t h e i r l i v e s . Researcher's Experience As a researcher, my intere s t i n pursuing t h i s study arose from my own t r a n s i t i o n into a single l i f e following the d i s s o l u t i o n of my (1987) committed rel a t i o n s h i p , f i v e years ago. After having c a r r i e d through with my decision, I continued to uncover within myself an inner strength that e l i c i t e d r e l e n t l e s s determination. Such determination kept me focused on my goals and my p r i o r i t i e s . Also i n my c l i n i c a l practice, I became acutely attentive to si m i l a r d i f f i c u l t i e s experienced by many of my female c l i e n t s following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . These c l i e n t s were f e e l i n g overwhelmed by the on-going struggles that appeared to burden t h e i r l i f e and weaken t h e i r sense of s e l f - e f f i c a c y . They were also f e e l i n g uncomfortable with t h e i r s i n g l e status e s p e c i a l l y i n s o c i a l , family and/or decision making s i t u a t i o n s . I was s e n s i t i v e to the numerous issues that emerged for these c l i e n t s as well as for my c l i e n t s who were considering leaving t h e i r committed relationships. Due to both my personal and professional concerns, I was curious to understand how women adjusted successfully to t h e i r divorce t r a n s i t i o n . Participants Five women were selected to pa r t i c i p a t e i n t h i s study. Although i t i s not a large sample, the f i v e women were information-rich participants who allowed for variance i n t h e i r experiences regarding t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n into a single l i f e following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Given such variance, the sample was large enough to have the themes arise from t h e i r s t o r i e s and not occur by chance. Participants i n the study met the following c r i t e r i a : i) The participants had not been out of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p for longer than s i x years to insure accuracy of r e c a l l . Note that the emotional leaving by a partner i n a rel a t i o n s h i p can take place while the couple are s t i l l l i v i n g together. Therefore, there can be no dis c r e t e time frame j u s t i f i e d by the researcher to the actual ending of a relat i o n s h i p . The date of physical separation i s used to s a t i s f y only some of the conditions. i i ) The participants had not l i v e d common-law with anyone since the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p and had adapted to a single l i f e . i i i ) The participants f e l t they had grown personally as a r e s u l t of t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n process following the termination of t h e i r long term r e l a t i o n s h i p . The pa r t i c i p a n t s conveyed the reasons for such fee l i n g s to the researcher's s a t i s f a c t i o n i n the i n i t i a l telephone conversation. The participants were able to a r t i c u l a t e t h e i r perceptions of having grown personally from t h e i r experience. 37 This c r i t e r i a was based on Schlossberg's d e f i n i t i o n of t r a n s i t i o n being phenomenological i n nature. iv) The participants were amenable i n t a l k i n g openly about the range and depth of t h e i r feelings, attitudes and experiences. According to C o l a i z z i (1978), a person who has experience with the phenomenon under study and i s able to a r t i c u l a t e that experience q u a l i f i e s as an appropriate p a r t i c i p a n t . Procedure According to C o l a i z z i (1978) "human experience i s an e s s e n t i a l and indispensable constituent of human psychological phenomena" (p. 57) . Therefore, i n i d e n t i f y i n g a p a r t i c u l a r psychological phenomenon, the researcher must s t a r t by seeking that phenomenon as ind i v i d u a l s experience i t ( C o l a i z z i ) . Thus, in-depth interviews were conducted with f i v e women who were currently out of t h e i r common-law or marital r e l a t i o n s h i p . To know what has been l i v e d and experienced, descriptions need to be obtained through in-depth interviews. Such interviews f a l l into the broad context of de s c r i p t i v e psychology. Giorgi (1985) states "that a q u a l i t a t i v e analysis of descriptions can y i e l d psychological in s i g h t of a value at least equal to what quantitative approaches y i e l d , although d i f f e r e n t i n character and s t y l e " (p. 2) . Partic i p a n t s were recruited through announcements posted i n areas where women predominantly frequent such as The Women's Resources Center and the YWCA and by word of mouth 38 to friends and acquaintances i n the helping professions who were l i k e l y to know of women who met the inclus i o n c r i t e r i a . The posted announcements b r i e f l y highlighted the study, o u t l i n e d the c r i t e r i a f o r the participants, welcomed any questions or inter e s t s pertaining to the study and/or c r i t e r i a to be met and l i s t e d the researcher's phone number (see Appendix A). Women who were interested i n the study contacted the researcher. A l l possible subjects were screened over the telephone regarding the inclusion c r i t e r i a . Some women who ca l l e d the researcher were not at the point i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n process where they were able to perceive themselves to have personally grown from t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n experience. Such women were re f e r r e d wherever possible by the researcher to mental health professionals, agencies or support groups as requested. A l l the women who were interested i n being p a r t i c i p a n t s and who, aft e r the i n i t i a l telephone conversation q u a l i f i e d for the study, were l a t e r phoned to arrange for the tape-recorded interviews. The f i r s t f i v e women to qua l i f y were selected for t h i s study. The women were oriented to the type of interview involved, and given a few sample questions to think about from a l i s t that the researcher had prepared (see Appendix B). One of the researcher's roles was that of an interviewer. In conjunction with t h i s role and beginning p r i o r to the interviews, the researcher kept a f i e l d diary i n which notes, comments and thoughts pertaining to each p a r t i c i p a n t were noted. I t was during the i n i t i a l telephone conversation that basic personal information was taken such as age, years i n and out of the r e l a t i o n s h i p , number of children, type of employment p r i o r to 39 termination and afterwards and r e l i g i o u s a f f i l i a t i o n . Monitoring feelings i n terms of t r u s t and rapport was done during the i n i t i a l telephone conversation between the p o t e n t i a l p a r t i c i p a n t s and the researcher and these were noted i n the f i e l d diary. Four of the participants were i n d i v i d u a l l y interviewed i n a room at the department of Counselling Psychology at the University of B r i t i s h Columbia. One pa r t i c i p a n t was interviewed i n her home. The participants signed a consent form p r i o r to beginning t h e i r interviews (Appendix C). No one else was present during the interviews so that complete openness and c o n f i d e n t i a l i t y were possible. A high q u a l i t y tape-recorder was used so that the interview could be transcribed and analyzed i n i t s e n t i r e t y which included a manual recording of emotions, length of silences and changes in tone of voice. Accurate recordings and precise t r a n s c r i p t s contributed to the i n t e r n a l r e l i a b i l i t y of the research. The p a r t i c i p a n t s were interviewed for as long as i t took to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s . The duration of the interviews were between two and three hours each. Each participant required only one interview session to t e l l her entire story. P r i o r to responding to the o r i e n t i n g statement, each woman was made to f e e l at ease by the researcher's reassurance and gentle manner. Such conduct deepened the t r u s t and rapport between the researcher and pa r t i c i p a n t . Trust and rapport were e a r l i e r established during the i n i t i a l telephone conversations. The interviews were unstructured. Questions were open-ended, allowing for i n d i v i d u a l responses yet keeping the in d i v i d u a l focused i n the s p e c i f i c d i r e c t i o n of t h e i r experiences throughout t h e i r divorce t r a n s i t i o n process. Verbal t a c t i c s such 40 as probes were used to acquire c l a r i f i c a t i o n of experiences and to exact depth of feelings. A probe can aid the participant to t a l k further about hers e l f as well as help her define the issues more concretely and s p e c i f i c a l l y (Egan 1986). Periods of silence were used i n order to allow the partic i p a n t s f u l l expression before u t i l i z i n g a probe. Each interview was taped and transcribed. Once transcribed and interpreted, the researcher wrote a b r i e f d e s c r i p t i o n of the pa r t i c i p a n t and her experiences. The researcher also l i s t e d f o r each p a r t i c i p a n t a l l the themes that were present i n t h e i r i n d i v i d u a l t r a n s c r i p t together with a d e f i n i t i o n and an example of each theme. To each participant, the researcher delivered a copy of t h e i r entire t r a n s c r i p t as well as an envelope containing t h e i r d e s c r i p t i o n and l i s t of themes. Each p a r t i c i p a n t read t h e i r d e s c r i p t i o n and the l i s t of themes a f t e r they had read through t h e i r t r a n s c r i p t . Each participant made any necessary changes i n terms of adding or deleting information as well as c l a r i f i c a t i o n of certa i n issues or facts presented. V a l i d a t i o n interviews were set up in-person between the researcher and each p a r t i c i p a n t within two weeks of de l i v e r i n g the s p e c i f i c material. These interviews were for further c l a r i f i c a t i o n so that the researcher thoroughly understood any changes and/or additions that each p a r t i c i p a n t made or contributed to the in t e r p r e t a t i o n . The v a l i d a t i o n interviews took place so that the researcher and each p a r t i c i p a n t were both certain that each p a r t i c i p a n t ' s experience was understood. This step served to increase the in t e r n a l v a l i d i t y of the data. 41 Analysis The researcher's small group of par t i c i p a n t s were unique, as were t h e i r experiences. These women perceived themselves as having personally grown from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . Given t h e i r d i f f e r e n t experiences, the researcher looked f o r common threads between these participants that contributed to t h e i r successful adaptation. C o l a i z z i ' s (1978) method of phenomenological analysis was applied a f t e r the descriptions or protocols ( i . e . t r a n s c r i p t s and notes i n f i e l d diary) were acquired. Once the interviews were transcribed, the data for each participant was analyzed. F i r s t , the researcher read each protocol to acquire a f e e l i n g f or and to make sense out of the women's descriptions. Each t r a n s c r i p t was then re-read i n order to extract the c r i t i c a l sentences or phrases that related d i r e c t l y to the par t i c i p a n t ' s successful adaptation to her relat i o n s h i p termination. Next, the researcher used creative insight to formulate meanings from the s i g n i f i c a n t statements that had been selected. Many of these meanings were "hidden i n the various contexts and horizons of the investigated phenomenon" ( C o l a i z z i , 1978, p. 59), yet did not di s s o c i a t e themselves from the o r i g i n a l t r a n s c r i p t . In uncovering these hidden meanings, creative insight allowed the researcher to "go beyond what (was) given i n the o r i g i n a l data and at the same time stay with i t " (p. 59). The protocols of a l l participants were again reviewed i n order to organize the aggregate formulated meanings into " c l u s t e r s of themes" (p. 59). These c l u s t e r s of themes were ref e r r e d back to the o r i g i n a l protocol for v a l i d a t i o n . Each 42 protocol's c l u s t e r of themes accounted for everything said by each p a r t i c i p a n t and no theme proposed anything that wasn't implied. From the r e s u l t s of each protocol, the researcher wrote an "exhaustive description" of the t r a n s i t i o n experience, " i n as unequivocal a statement of i d e n t i f i c a t i o n of i t s fundamental structure as possible" (p. 61). Pr i o r to the v a l i d a t i o n interview, the researcher gave these descriptions to the participants for t h e i r feedback i n order to determine i f these descriptions were consistent with t h e i r experiences. Relevant data that resulted from these v a l i d a t i o n interviews were worked into the f i n a l descriptions of the women's t r a n s i t i o n experiences. This procedure added to the integrated understanding of each woman's story, c l e a r i n g up any discrepancies that the researcher may have had and c l a r i f y i n g that which the par t i c i p a n t deemed necessary. From these complete descriptions, the themes for each protocol were as precise as possible. F i n a l l y , the researcher noted the themes that were common to a l l protocols. Thus, t h i s research produced descriptions of s t o r i e s i n which s i m i l a r i t i e s among women who perceived themselves as growing personally from t h e i r successful divorce t r a n s i t i o n process were explored. V a l i d a t i o n and Limitations In t h i s study the researcher attempted to ensure the in t e r n a l v a l i d i t y of the data, i n the development of t r u s t and rapport between the researcher and par t i c i p a n t s . The shared experience of divorce t r a n s i t i o n experienced by the researcher seemed to strengthen the t r u s t and rapport between her and each p a r t i c i p a n t . The participants f e l t at ease and f e l t understood, knowing that the researcher could personally r e l a t e to t h e i r 43 experience of the d i s s o l u t i o n of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Having experienced a s i m i l a r t r a n s i t i o n , the researcher was s e n s i t i v e to the issues that emerged. This s i m i l a r i t y contributed to the int e r n a l v a l i d i t y of the study. In accordance with McMillan and Schumacher (1989) i n t e r n a l v a l i d i t y i n q u a l i t a t i v e studies i s explained as r e l a t i n g to the extent to which the generalizations and conceptual categories have mutual meanings fo r the p a r t i c i p a n t and the researcher. Triangulation also added to the strength of i n t e r n a l v a l i d i t y , as cross-validation occurred among the various data sources. These data sources were the researcher's f i e l d d i a r y which included notes regarding each p a r t i c i p a n t . These notes were taken during the i n i t i a l telephone screening c a l l s . Other data sources included the researcher's observations and r e f l e c t i v e comments, which were also noted i n her f i e l d d iary. These valuable sources strengthened the researcher's i n t e r p r e t a t i o n of each interview. These sources were part of each p a r t i c i p a n t ' s protocol and were incorporated where applicable, according to C o l a i z z i ' s (1978) method of phenomenological analysis. Given the c r i t e r i a the participants had to meet and following C o l a i z z i ' s (1978) seven step methodology, external v a l i d i t y i n t h i s research seemed to be achieved. A small sample of p a r t i c i p a n t s were chosen who were knowledgeable and informative about the phenomenon under in v e s t i g a t i o n . The c r i t e r i a for s e l e c t i o n seemed to strengthen the r e l i a b i l i t y of the research because consistency i n the descriptions of the phenomena under study resulted, as well as consistency i n the meanings for the participants involved. 44 The l i m i t a t i o n s of t h i s study pertained to the f a c t that the r e s u l t s cannot be generalized. The small sample of women had met the researcher's c r i t e r i a . The women were considered to be information-rich key partic i p a n t s and were thoroughly interviewed. These information-rich participants were knowledgeable and informative i n the phenomena under study. Such a strategy allowed the researcher to come to understand these s e l e c t cases without expecting to generalize (McMillan & Schumacher). 45 Chapter IV Results In t h i s chapter the common themes that emerged from the par t i c i p a n t s s t o r i e s are presented. The women's experiences of th e i r committed relationships, t h e i r break-ups and t h e i r l i v e s afterwards were d i f f e r e n t . However, there were a number of si m i l a r experiences that contributed to each woman's successful adaptation into single l i f e . P r i o r to i d e n t i f y i n g and discussing each one of the s i x common themes of t h i s study, a condensed description of each pa r t i c i p a n t ' s story i s presented. These descriptions w i l l serve to f a m i l i a r i z e the reader with the uniqueness of each woman's story, as well as with the prominent aspects of her experience. The Women E l i z a S. E l i z a i s 37 years old. She i s a Canadian c i t i z e n , though she was born and raised i n East A f r i c a u n t i l she immigrated with her parents and s i s t e r to Canada at age 14. She has a B.A. i n sociology/gerontology. Most of her work, however, had been i n sales and marketing with the a i r l i n e industry. At the time of t h i s interview, she had been l a i d o f f work yet she believes that she i s resourceful enough to always f i n d work and pay her own way. E l i z a ended her eight year common law r e l a t i o n s h i p f i v e and one half years ago after attempting to end i t several times before. There were no children. I t was a r e l a t i o n s h i p which worked well for awhile. Both partners had t h e i r own careers and both careers entailed a l o t of t r a v e l l i n g . T r a v e l l i n g a l o t and then reuniting were exciting times according to E l i z a . Gradually 46 she became aware that there seemed to be no sense of " s e t t l i n g down" l i k e t h e i r couple friends who were s t a r t i n g f a m i l i e s and moving into houses. The deciding factor that led E l i z a to leave B i l l , a quantity surveyor who was eight years older than her, was her r e a l i z a t i o n that h i s drinking problem was not her problem. E l i z a describes the relationship as being on an "emotional r o l l e r - c o a s t e r " and said that staying i n i t was making her p h y s i c a l l y sick, from catching colds to a hospital stay f o r c o l i t i s . She reports having f e l t chronic hurt from what she describes as B i l l ' s subtle hints of r e j e c t i o n . Such r e j e c t i o n , according to E l i z a , resulted from her constant " t r y i n g " to make the r e l a t i o n s h i p work and she reveals that a l l such attempts were to no a v a i l . Such emotional abuse escalated over the years to where B i l l i n the end was having i n s i g n i f i c a n t a f f a i r s and not returning home for days. E l i z a remembers blaming he r s e l f f o r B i l l ' s behavioral change into that of a "monster" which occurred, she said, due to his drinking. She reports being extremely needy for h i s a f f e c t i o n . When he was sober, she f e e l s she played a "mothering" r o l e . E l i z a f e e l s she did everything she could to t r y and help B i l l including attending Al-anon. In recovering post-termination, E l i z a c r e d i t s the p s y c h i a t r i s t that counselled her and educated her on the benefits of r e l a x a t i o n and Eastern philosophy. Such counselling occurred sometime a f t e r her separation from B i l l when two subsequent and b r i e f r e l a t i o n s h i p s deteriorated. E l i z a says she confronted h e r s e l f regarding her emotional neediness for a r e l a t i o n s h i p . E l i z a c r e d i t s her i n i t i a l schooling i n East A f r i c a for her 47 confidence i n her employment a b i l i t i e s as the educational system prepared her for l i f e ' s 3 D's : Death, divorce and desertion. Yet, she acknowledges that the role model her parents exhibited contributed to her emotional dependence on men and l i k e her mother she took on the sole r o l e of f i x i n g the re l a t i o n s h i p . The memories of her childhood reveal her father's explosive bouts of anger and his control over the household. Counselling, E l i z a says, heightened the issues that needed to be worked through so that she could become her "own best f r i e n d " . She continues to enhance her personal growth through workshops and meditation r e t r e a t s . S p i r i t u a l l y , E l i z a says she has acquired a strong b e l i e f i n the process of l i f e and adapted many healt h i e r l i f e -s t y l e changes. She i s gratef u l to three long-time g i r l f r i e n d s for t h e i r emotional support. Today, E l i z a i s aware of her own personal strength. She i s aware too that she i s a very giving person, by nature. Having always given to others, she now indulges i n giving to he r s e l f . She sees herself as "a cactus that has f i n a l l y bloomed". Pam M. Pam i s a 36 year old Asian woman and the mother of a nine year old son and a f i v e year old daughter. She has a B.A. in psychology and i s a graduate student i n the human sciences. Pam's marriage ended two years ago. Except for one brother and his wife, Pam's entire family l i v e i n Asia. Although the separation was a mutual decision, Pam i n i t i a t e d divorce proceedings. Pam met Harry at an Eastern Canadian u n i v e r s i t y while she was a foreign student there. Later, Pam returned to Canada to marry him. Pam was a t r a d i t i o n a l housewife and mother for most 48 of her ten year marriage to Harry, a c h i l d psychologist. Harry i s Jewish and i s eight years older than Pam. Pam says she was a devoted mother to her children and constantly t r i e d to be a better wife. Pam f e e l s that she f e l l into a subordinate r o l e i n her marriage, given her culture and Harry's professional status. Pam recounted Harry's subtle c r i t i c i s m s which occurred even during t h e i r lovemaking. Harry i n s i s t e d that every penny Pam spent was accounted for. She says Harry would often point out to her a better way of doing something. She r e c a l l s how he was angry and c r i t i c a l for days because she bought a commercial brand of Parmesan cheese. Over time, Pam believed that there was something wrong with her. Pr i o r to the separation Pam says they t r i e d d i f f e r e n t counsellors including group counselling. Harry would tape the counselling sessions and i n s i s t that Pam go over the tapes with him again at night. Pam pushed for a t r i a l separation and Harry agreed to i t . Pam f e l t intimidated by Harry and h i s professional status. Pam recounts that h i s c r i t i c i s m s , though subtle but persistent, had shattered her self-esteem. Though they had sought counselling, an o v e r a l l malaise prevailed i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p as Pam r e c a l l s . Pam says that she wanted time alone to "soul-search", to get to know herself and to come to believe that she was okay. Once separated, Pam had to look for work and i n so doing, she became aware of her need to i n t e r a c t with more people both f o r her professional and personal goals. While separated, Pam held on to some hope and to her dream that they would reunite and l i v e a model existence as a happy and 49 loving family. Such hope dissipated when Harry got upset over something Pam said while s t a r t i n g out on a motor t r i p . He then l e f t everyone upon a r r i v i n g at t h e i r destination. Pam had agreed to go on t h i s t r i p as a family because Harry's adult niece and nephew were v i s i t i n g . This incident, reports Pam, was unacceptable and she vowed to herself that i t would be Harry's l a s t unacceptable behavior towards her. Although Pam and Harry sought marriage counselling, Pam r e c a l l s f e e l i n g stressed and intimidated by Harry's insistance of rehashing each session. While separated, Pam pursued i n d i v i d u a l counselling for the va l i d a t i o n of her feelings and to strenghten her self-esteem. A turning point i n the sessions occurred when a recu r r i n g dream Pam had been having was analyzed. The dream analysis revealed for Pam that staying i n the r e l a t i o n s h i p was equated with emotional and s p i r i t u a l death. Pam f e e l s she inherited her mother's f i g h t i n g s p i r i t that, although latent for years, emerged to restore her own self-worth. Pam gradually saw that she was a l r i g h t and she focused on what she d i d have. She enjoys working with people. Given her experience i n group counselling, she enrolled i n leadership courses and was asked to f a c i l i t a t e workshops. This confirmed for her that she was employable and she enrolled i n a Masters program. Today, there i s less tension i n Pam's house, she enjoys the freedom i n pursuing her goals and making herself and her children top p r i o r i t y . She renounced spousal support because the mental anguish and expense associated with the contested and prolonged l e g a l proceedings were overwhelming, e s p e c i a l l y i n the area of 50 custody. Believing that she was the better parent at t h i s stage i n her children's l i v e s , Pam relinquished maintenance f o r h e r s e l f and Harry gave up f i g h t i n g for 50% of custody. Pam now resents her f i n a n c i a l struggles. A b r i e f a f f a i r with a writer gave Pam the freedom f o r t o t a l sexual expression. During t h i s relationship, she also discovered she had edi t i n g a b i l i t i e s , which contributed to the writer's work being published and increased her own s e l f -confidence . Pam i s g r a t e f u l that Harry has become a more involved father, yet i s envious of his la v i s h l i f e s t y l e . Pam has a small and supportive group of friends and i s beginning to reach out even more to them. Her metaphor for herself i s that of an eagle who can see c l e a r l y above the clouds. Anne T. Anne i s 38 years old and the mother of two g i r l s and a boy, ages 4, 5, and 9. Anne was married f o r ten years. Anne i s I r i s h - C a t h o l i c and the second eldest of f i v e c h i l d r e n of a prominent family, a l l of whom l i v e i n Ireland. She emigrated here with her husband, Peter, eleven years ago. Peter returned to u n i v e r s i t y to upgrade his standards and t o l d Anne that only one of them could go back to school. Anne planned for the separation one year e a r l i e r and i n i t i a t e d i t about 18 months ago. She i s involved i n a contentious divorce. Anne was a t r a d i t i o n a l housewife f o r most of her ten year marriage. Anne describes Peter, a p s y c h i a t r i s t , as a man who controlled, c r i t i c i z e d and humiliated her over the years i n extremely subtle ways. She says that h i s personality was that of a "Dr. Jekyl and a Mr. Hyde". She explains that to 51 the outside world he was a handsome, charming and witty professional man with an a t t r a c t i v e wife and three l o v e l y c h i l d r e n . Physical, verbal and economic abuse i n t e n s i f i e d over the years i n Anne's re l a t i o n s h i p with Peter. Anne r e c a l l s being constantly reminded by Peter that they were i n debt and that i t was so important f o r her to be c a r e f u l with money. Consequently, Anne was given l i t t l e pocket money and was c a r e f u l to purchase few things for herself and only when they were on sale. Peter wore top of the l i n e business s u i t s , drove a Jaguar and belonged to the best of clubs. Unhappy and dependent, Anne says that she upheld the facade expected of a doctor's wife and shared her unhappiness with no one. A turning point for Anne occurred, she r e c a l l s , 2 1/2 years ago a f t e r an argument i n the car which culminated with Peter t e l l i n g her he was leaving. I t prove to be a ploy to only scare Anne. The incident forced her to think about such an outcome. At t h i s l i f e - s t a g e , Anne s t i l l had two pre-school c h i l d r e n at home. Since emigrating to Canada with her husband, Anne had a record of f r u s t r a t i n g attempts at employment. She was dependent on her husband who continually f a i l e d his board exams and ran up huge debts. Anne perceived Peter to blame her for these setbacks. Anne r e c a l l s c a r e f u l l y looking at her l i f e , examining her fe e l i n g s and focusing on her s e l f . Since she had acquired a r e a l s t a t e licence i n Ireland, she enrolled i n the r e a l s t a t e course offered i n Vancouver. With t h i s course, she says came her secret decision to b u i l d enough equity so that she could earn a l i v i n g f o r herself and the children should her marriage end. 52 As Anne took more r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for herself, passed the exam and enjoyed her work, Peter reacted more v i o l e n t l y with ensuing arguments. Anne spoke out about the abuse to a close f r i e n d and found out about Peter's unfaithfulness. One a f f a i r that she found out about occurred during the time that Peter was suppose to be committed t o t a l l y to h i s studies for h i s medical board exams. Such revelation destroyed for Anne her l a s t b i t of tr u s t i n the re l a t i o n s h i p . In t h e i r l a s t year of married l i f e , Anne was involved i n a freak accident which subsequently scared Peter. He i n s i s t e d they go to Seattle to "get to know each other again". According to Anne the intimacy could not be rekindled, yet Peter i n s i s t e d anyway that they throw a major party for a l l t h e i r friends to celebrate t h e i r upcoming anniversary. Anne had sought counselling i n the f i f t e e n months p r i o r to leaving. Peter was angry that she did and refused to p a r t i c i p a t e . Given her Irish-Ca t h o l i c upbringing i n Ireland, where the church rules the state, divorce was not a p o s s i b i l i t y for anyone. Anne often commented on the loving r e l a t i o n s h i p her mother and father had. Her mother was a t r a d i t i o n a l housewife as were the women of that generation i n Ireland. Once Anne started confronting herself about her rel a t i o n s h i p and that i t wasn't at a l l l i k e the one her parents had, she sought counselling i n order to make the rel a t i o n s h i p better. In her counselling sessions Anne began to perceive the depths of her troubled marriage and came to r e a l i z e that she could no longer l i v e i n such an abusive r e l a t i o n s h i p . Gradually, she came to the decision of having to leave her marriage and gathered strength from the support that 53 she received from her therapist. Anne i n i t i a t e d the separation following the r e v e l a t i o n of a subsequent a f f a i r of Peter's with a woman in his o f f i c e . Anne reports that once she l e f t the marriage, Peter sought the same marriage counsellor that Anne had o r i g i n a l l y gone to and they both attended a session together. The counsellor at the end of the session t o l d Peter, Anne says, to accept the f a c t that the marriage was over. According to Anne, upon separating, Peter had access to the house. With such access Peter could be manipulative and threatening i n attempting to get her to stop divorce proceedings. He would often provoke an argument and once choked Anne. She sought medical attention the next day to have the bruises recorded. She t o l d friends of the abuse, obtained a court order barring Peter from the house and for sometime afterwards s l e p t with a knife under her pillow. Anne says she i s reliev e d i n being able to get on with her l i f e and i n gi v i n g her children a more confident and stronger mother. Her metaphor i s that of a prisoner who has f i n a l l y been l e t out of j a i l . Karen S. Karen i s 44 years old and owns her own writing company. She i s the mother of two college aged daughters. Karen was married for 18 years to David, an urban land economist who was two years older. The marriage ended 18 months ago. Karen recounted the numerous losses she has suffered since the ending of her marriage such as a relocation, both her daughters attending university in the United States as well as the death of her mother and her brother's suicide. 54 Karen grew up "a nerdy k i d " i n a family where alcohol was prevalent and where Karen was phy s i c a l l y and sexually abused. Karen reports that she was a pleaser and a p a r e n t i f i e d c h i l d . She r e c a l l s making family decisions at the age of seven. Karen reports that there were many incidents of David's i n s e n s i t i v i t y and lack of respect for her accomplishments. His acceptance of a job i n another c i t y without Karen's consideration and his acknowledgement of an a f f a i r brought t h e i r marriage to an end. Given these incidents, Karen reports, David chose to ph y s i c a l l y leave the relationship. Karen r e c a l l s f e e l i n g r e l i e f and not anger when hearing about the a f f a i r . R e l i e f , she says, because "society" could not blame her for not following her husband to h i s new job. Karen says David controlled the "purse s t r i n g s " and even though both of them kept separate accounts, Karen was responsible for a l l the families expenses except the mortgage payments. Karen explains that she emotionally l e f t the r e l a t i o n s h i p seven years e a r l i e r when she l o s t a basic t r u s t i n David who invested money without t e l l i n g Karen and subsequently l o s t i t . I t was Karen who had to budget and deny her children i n order to recoup the losses. During her marriage Karen r e c a l l s the constant undercurrents she f e l t from her husband regarding her i n a b i l i t y to please h i s every need as h i s mother did. A sense of f a i l u r e overcame Karen in her marriage. While married, Karen worked part-time as a c r i t i c a l care nurse, pursued a Master's degree i n Health Administration and subsequently worked as a health administrator. Karen stayed home 55 for one year when the children were babies and recounts how David did not t r e a t her as an equal because she wasn't bringing i n any income. She returned to work and to school while her c h i l d r e n were s t i l l young, one of whom had a severe learning d i s a b i l i t y . She also maintained a sense of family and a home. Karen says she overfunctioned to please her Italian-American husband who expected her to earn an income as well as to provide the conveniences of a t r a d i t i o n a l home. In her words: "he expected a f u l l I t a l i a n dinner on the table at 6:31 every evening." Karen l e f t her Health Administrative job and turned to f r e e -lance w r i t i n g while the children were young. She explains that although the writing venture was extremely demanding, i t provided her with a sense of sanity i n her l i f e where she could be so focused i n her work and forget the "emotional r o l l e r coaster" she was r i d i n g on when at home. Karen had sought some counselling i n her adult l i f e , she says, i n order to come to terms with her traumatic childhood. For years Karen had suggested to David that they seek marriage counselling. David had always refused, recounts Karen. Due to Karen's furious reaction to David's acceptance of the U.S. job o f f e r and purchase of a house i n that c i t y , they sought counselling upon David's suggestion. I t was approximately one year p r i o r to t h e i r o f f i c i a l separation. Karen reveals that the counselling session highlighted for her how t o t a l l y disconnected David was with h i s feeli n g s . Karen went to a subsequent session i n which the therapist conveyed to her that David was the most n a r c i s s i s t i c man that he had ever met. At t h i s point Karen r e a l i z e d that David would have to tune i n to h i s fe e l i n g s i f 56 t h e i r marriage was to survive. In negotiating her t r a n s i t i o n to single l i f e , Karen c r e d i t s her willingness to confront herself as well as a supportive network of friends including her business partner. She acknowledges David's attributes, considers him a wonderful father and i s concerned for him. With regard to the f i n a n c i a l assets, she s e t t l e d f or less (out of court) because she could not withstand being on the opposite side of a "dealing" with David. Karen saw herself metaphorically as a compressed spring during her marriage and now with the freedom to un c o i l she wants to experience l i f e without missing out on anything. Linda M. Linda i s 44 years old and the mother of two sons, aged 10 and 15 years and a daughter, aged 13 years. Linda i s a part-time elementary school teacher and a part time student i n a diploma programme. Linda was married to Barry, an accountant, fo r 16 years. Their marriage ended 2 years ago. Linda l e f t her husband, now 42, when a l l attempts at counselling f a i l e d . Linda deferred to her husband. Linda reports of the pervasive emotional, economic and physical abuse that she was subjected to i n her marriage. There was no meaningful communication between them. Linda says Barry would degrade anything she said. She reports that his rebuttals were a r t i c u l a t e and seemed so l o g i c a l at f i r s t that Linda did not have the energy to pursue an argument any further. She says that he c r i t i c i z e d her for any purchases she made without h i s input. Barry i n s i s t e d that Linda keep track, l i t e r a l l y , of every penny she spent. According to Linda, Barry often reminded her of h i s 57 superior education. When the children were present, Linda was often the "butt" of Barry's jokes. Linda r e c a l l s herself being i n a very vulnerable p o s i t i o n as a housewife with three small children and working part-time f o r "pittance". Her salary was required to meet many of the household and children's needs. Barry d i d not account to her regarding his spending nor did he give her information p e r t a i n i n g to t h e i r f i n a n c i a l a f f a i r s , his employment status or pension plan. Linda r e c a l l s that the house had to be re-mortgaged because Barry l o s t a substantial amount of money and at one time he had no pension plan. Looking back on those years Linda r e c a l l s being extremely t i r e d . She says that Barry never helped out around the house. Linda r e c a l l s a room needing to be repainted and having to do i t h e r s e l f . She says Barry would get angry at her for keeping her books i n boxes and yet he denied her bookshelves. Linda r e c a l l s being under tremendous pressure always having to have things the way Barry demanded them. If dinner was l a t e or a minor mistake made, Barry would lose his temper and blow the incident out of proportion. Even sexually, Linda says, Barry only considered h i s needs. A c r i t i c a l incident occurred for Linda when Barry mocked a poem she had written as a member of a committee for the PTA. She read the poem anyway and was astounded at the praise she received. Linda began to have more f a i t h i n h e r s e l f . Linda reports that when her youngest c h i l d started school, she seemed to have time to r e f l e c t more on the r e l a t i o n s h i p and 58 the demands that Barry placed on her. One year p r i o r to separating, Linda sought counselling. Such a decision came about, she explains, to s a t i s f y any self-doubt as to whether she had done everything possible to make the r e l a t i o n s h i p work, should the marriage disolve. She had attended the f i r s t few sessions on her own i n order to explore her own feelings as well as to be reassured that the marital problems were not e n t i r e l y her f a u l t as Barry, she says, had indicated. Following those i n i t i a l sessions, Linda i n s i s t e d on couple-counselling and Barry agreed to attend the sessions. Looking for a sign of hope that the marriage could work, Linda r e c a l l s her willingness to be s a t i s f i e d i n t h e i r relationship i f she had seen even the s l i g h t e s t p o s i t i v e e f f o r t from Barry. Barry conveyed to the counsellor, Linda recounts, that there was nothing more that he could think of doing for the rela t i o n s h i p . In r e c a l l i n g Barry's answer to the counsellor's question as to what he did to contribute to the relationship, Linda says, Barry r e p l i e d that he took out the garbage, that he made bran muffins and that he rai s e d the seat when he used the t o i l e t . Feeling hurt and frustrated from Barry's responses i n the counselling sessions as well as from his lack motivation i n working at t h e i r relationship, Linda recounts that she moved out of t h e i r bedroom and onto the l i v i n g room couch. Linda reports that Barry started dating shortly a f t e r she moved out of the bedroom. During t h i s time, Linda r e c a l l s , waiting up at night and wondering where Barry was and with whom u n t i l two i n the morning. This behavior was t o t a l l y unacceptable and Linda asked fo r a divorce. Linda continued to see her counsellor, she 59 explains, for emotional support u n t i l Barry was out of the house. Barry remarried upon receipt of his divorce papers. The divorce settlement did not provide Linda with any spousal support and Linda says the c h i l d support she receives i s not s u f f i c i e n t for the children's needs. Linda says that although money i s t i g h t and the emotional and physical needs of her children come f i r s t , she no longer subjugates a l l of her int e r e s t s . Linda also spends time caring for her a i l i n g mother and her e l d e r l y father. Linda has a network of women friends that she can r e l y on and c r e d i t s one spec i a l g i r l f r i e n d i n giving her constant emotional support. Linda sees herself as a songbird, a metaphor that she came up with i n the counselling sessions. She i s doing and thinking for herself without waiting for approval. Common Themes Six common themes emerged from the analysis of the researcher's data. That i s , each one of the themes described experiences and/or feelings that were shared by a l l f i v e of the women pa r t i c i p a n t s . Each theme reoccurred repeatedly i n the st o r i e s of the women as they attempted to meaningfully construct t h e i r experience of relat i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n . The common themes are l i s t e d below. They are l i s t e d i n the r e l a t i v e order i n which they emerged according to the t r a n s i t i o n process experienced by the women as they adjusted to t h e i r single l i v e s . Each theme i s defined and explained within the context of the women's s t o r i e s . Quotations are used to further c l a r i f i c a t i o n . The common themes are: 1. The Experience of Rejection and Betrayal 60 2. The Experience of Self-Confrontation and Reaffirmation of S e l f 3. The Experience of Rel i e f 4. The Experience of Coming to Terms with Multiple Losses 5. The Acknowledgement of the Importance of Supportive Relationships 6. The Creation of a New L i f e Structure The Experience of Rejection and Betrayal When r e f l e c t i n g on t h e i r relationships, each of the women i n the study r e c a l l e d r e p e t i t i v e and deeply wounding fe e l i n g s of r e j e c t i o n and diminishment. Lack of control over finances and decisions, constant c r i t i q u i n g of t h e i r behavior, and the i n v a l i d a t i o n of t h e i r needs l e f t the women f e e l i n g rejected and unworthy. Each r e c a l l e d how they did not f e e l t h e i r needs or wishes were considered as important or v a l i d by t h e i r partners. Such i n v a l i d a t i o n of t h e i r needs and strengths was experienced as a betrayal by the partners whom they had committed themselves to and who they believed had made a rec i p r o c a l commitment to them. Such betrayal l e f t them f e e l i n g devalued and powerless. A l l of the women reported numerous incidents with t h e i r partners that they experienced as re j e c t i n g . For example, i n r e f l e c t i n g on B i l l ' s repeated r e f u s a l to meet her and pick her up from the a i r p o r t upon her return home a f t e r several weeks away, E l i z a s a i d : "I'd say you know I'm f l y i n g i n tomorrow...will you be at the ai r p o r t and he'd say 'well we'll see'...and he never was.11 The women also reported unmet needs and the experience of i n v a l i d a t i o n i n t h e i r sexual relationships with t h e i r partners. As r e f l e c t e d i n Pam's words when r e c a l l i n g Harry's response to her request to have her back stroked during t h e i r lovemaking: 61 "he t o l d me that my neurons were i n the wrong place." In s p i t e of t h e i r attempts to ensure that t h e i r partners' sexual needs were met, each of the women experienced t h e i r partner's apparent r e j e c t i o n of t h e i r sexual needs and desires as a fundamental betrayal of t h e i r intimate relationship. Their i n a b i l i t y to count on t h e i r partners when they were i n d i f f i c u l t y also contributed to the experience of abandonment within t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . Karen's words i n r e c a l l i n g David's lack of support during the medical investigation of a possible malignancy i n her breast r e f l e c t the experiences of a l l of the par t i c i p a n t s : "the r e a l message [was] sort of panicky fear that he [didn't] want to deal with i t . . . I f I had any needs and presented them he would react i n a bizarre, bizarre way." Each of the women r e c a l l e d f e e l i n g emotionally and p h y s i c a l l y abandoned by t h e i r partners, throughout t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . The women i n the study experienced such repeated i n v a l i d a t i o n of t h e i r needs as a re j e c t i o n of the importance of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p i n t h e i r partner's l i v e s : leaving them f e e l i n g abandoned and betrayed. These fe e l i n g s were acutely p a i n f u l and personally wounding, r e s u l t i n g for a l l i n emotional pain and for some i n physical d i s t r e s s and i l l n e s s . Ultimately, i t was through facing the r e a l i t y of these fee l i n g s and experiences that the women were forced to take action to leave t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . The Experience of Self-Confrontation and Reaffirmation of Self When r e c a l l i n g the beginnings of t h e i r decision to leave t h e i r committed relati o n s h i p , each of the women i n the study recounted how they began thoroughly questioning themselves about t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p with t h e i r partners. A l l of the women i n the study reported s u f f e r i n g a s i g n i f i c a n t amount of emotional and/or physical pain that forced them to face themselves honestly. The women reported taking the time to contemplate t h e i r l i f e and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p i n order to admit f u l l y to themselves the depth of t h e i r p r e v a i l i n g feelings and the pervasiveness of t h e i r s u f f e r i n g . Feelings such as re j e c t i o n , humiliation and diminishment dominated t h e i r existence r e s u l t i n g i n a need to examine t h e i r commitment to t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . A l l of the women reported many incidents with t h e i r partners that they subjectively reviewed i n order to explore t h e i r true f e e l i n g s . For example, i n r e c a l l i n g the turning point i n her separation where she l e t go of a l l hope for a r e c o n c i l i a t i o n with Harry, Pam said: "I mean I loved him and that's when I learned that even though you love somebody that there were c e r t a i n conditions which were t o t a l l y unacceptable to l i v e under because i f you di d allow yourself to l i v e under those conditions that means you are heading towards eventual death, you know, s p i r i t u a l , emotional death." Each of the women r e c a l l e d reaching a s p e c i f i c turning point which prompted them to carry through with t h e i r decision to end t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . The women also reported how they overcame t h e i r own denial about the state of t h e i r r elationship and the future i t held for them. As r e f l e c t e d i n Karen's words when r e c a l l i n g her thoughts when David admitted h i s unfaithfulness to her, she said "I was shocked...and honestly the thing I f e l t was r e l i e f , overwhelming r e l i e f . And what I should have f e l t was anger...what I said [was] that's r e a l l y very t e l l i n g . . . ! [was] ready to get out of 63 t h i s marriage. And i t was such a powerful emotion to say 'What do I r e a l l y f e e l ' as opposed to 'What should I f e e l ' . " A l l of the women recounted how l i n k i n g t h e i r negative feel i n g s with t h e i r adverse health symptoms influenced t h e i r decision to leave. Pam's words i n r e c a l l i n g her r e a l i t y i n her re l a t i o n s h i p with Harry r e f l e c t e d the suf f e r i n g endured by a l l the p a r t i c i p a n t s : "I mean I was never good enough...I was walking around for years with t h i s pain i n my throat and I f i n a l l y said I couldn't do i t anymore." S i m i l a r l y , E l i z a r e c a l l s her decision to leave her relationship with B i l l : "I had to do i t because I ended up getting r e a l l y sick and I just knew that I couldn't go on t h i s way." The women also reported that while confronting themselves on t h e i r true feelings, they searched incessantly for strengths and t h e i r own d e f i n i t i o n of s e l f . In r e c a l l i n g her Asian roots and her mother's f i g h t i n g s p i r i t Pam said: "there was always a l i t t l e s p r i t e i n her that stayed a l i v e and I think that [was] what I got, [mother] encouraged me to go on, to be independent ...somehow [that] got transpired to me ... the l i t t l e b i t that says 'you just can't give up'." The women i n the study experienced many private sessions of sel f - c o n f r o n t a t i o n i n order to acknowledge t h e i r true fee l i n g s and to begin facing the r e a l i t y of t h e i r l i v e s . They searched f o r t h e i r own meaning i n l i f e , they deemed what was acceptable and unacceptable treatment, and they gradually validated t h e i r d e c i s i o n to leave. A l l the women reported that only a f t e r leaving t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p could they f u l l y understand the d e b i l i t a t i n g e f f e c t that t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p had had on them. 64 The Experience of Rel i e f When r e f l e c t i n g on t h e i r i n i t i a l f eelings subsequent to ending t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p , each of the women i n the study described the f e e l i n g of r e l i e f . The women reported that the constant g i v i n g of themselves i n attempting to attend to a l l of t h e i r partners needs had greatly depleted t h e i r emotional and physical energy. In t h e i r relationship, a l l of the women f e l t that they had f a l l e n short of t h e i r partners expectations of them. Given t h i s f e e l i n g of f a i l u r e and t h e i r partners i n v a l i d a t i o n of t h e i r needs, the women f e l t a further drain on t h e i r mental and physical well-being. Carrying through with t h e i r d ecision to leave, the women experienced an end to such negative investment i n an unhealthy r e l a t i o n s h i p . For a l l the women i n the study, such an end re-energized t h e i r e n t i r e sense of being. The women reported that t h e i r i n i t i a l f e e l i n g s of r e l i e f reassured them of t h e i r own personal strengths and the opportunities opened to them. The women reported that the f u l l impact of t h e i r unhealthy r e l a t i o n s h i p did not seem to be re a l i z e d u n t i l they were f i n a l l y on t h e i r own and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p was over. As explained i n Karen's words when she r e f l e c t e d on that time immediately following the ending of her marriage: "What I didn't r e a l i z e , when he l e f t , i t was more l i k e I had been a spring that had been compressed and I didn't even know the extent of how his unhappiness had weighed on me u n t i l i t was released and then I just f e l t enormous r e l i e f . " The women reported that acting on t h e i r decision to leave acknowledged personal signs of strength, determination and s e l f -v a l i d a t i o n . Such a decision propelled them towards the pursuit of t h e i r goals, both personal and professional. The f e e l i n g of r e l i e f following the ending of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p indicated, f o r a l l the women i n the study, that they could begin giving to themselves. For example, i n r e f l e c t i n g on her time following the ending of her rel a t i o n s h i p with B i l l , E l i z a said: "I s t a r t e d taking better care of myself i n terms of everything, l i f e s t y l e . . . I needed to relax...and I guess thinking d i f f e r e n t l y . " Each of the women r e c a l l e d f i n a l l y having time to focus on themselves and reassess t h e i r p r i o r i t i e s in terms of t h e i r needs (and those of t h e i r c h i l d r e n ) . A l l the women reported higher energy l e v e l s and an end to many of the ailments they had suffered while i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Many of the women reported experiencing somewhat of a euphoric state when they were f i n a l l y out of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . As r e f l e c t e d i n Linda's words when r e c a l l i n g the time when Barry was f i n a l l y out of the house, she said " I t was almost a high that he had gone." The women i n the study i n i t i a l l y experienced a period of re s p i t e from the "emotional r o l l e r coaster" that many said they were r i d i n g on while i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . Though r e l i e f from the r e l a t i o n s h i p continued, other emotions overcame them as the women adjusted to t h e i r single l i f e . The Experience of Coming to Terms with Multiple losses A l l of the women i n the study acknowledged s u f f e r i n g numerous losses as a r e s u l t of the ending of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . When r e f l e c t i n g on these losses, each of the women r e c a l l e d feelings of pain and sadness. The women reported g r i e v i n g for what they didn't have in t h e i r committed 66 r e l a t i o n s h i p s , for what they may have once had and for the fantasies that w i l l never be r e a l i z e d with t h e i r former partners. A l l of the women reported t h e i r need to completely grieve the ending of t h e i r relationship. Pam's words i n r e c a l l i n g the ending of her marriage r e f l e c t the descriptions conveyed by a l l of the p a r t i c i p a n t s : "there i s a sadness for the loss of a family and a loss of a dream." The women reported that such f e e l i n g s continue to be reca l l e d , e s p e c i a l l y on s i g n i f i c a n t dates, such as anniversaries, birthdays and Christmas. The women reported losses pertaining to t h e i r status i n the couple r e l a t i o n s h i p , such as s o c i a l networking with e i t h e r friends, family or business acquaintances. They reported that the nature of these relationships change, now that they are single and they also said that some people, act d i f f e r e n t l y towards them because they are not part of a couple. For example, i n r e f l e c t i n g on the relationship she and David had with David's s i s t e r and her husband, Karen said: " I t ' s a c t u a l l y one of the things I f e e l the biggest loss f o r . . . I am s t i l l very good friends with h i s s i s t e r and her husband who moved up here and p a r t i a l l y i t i s because we were here...But they wouldn't have moved here i f we hadn't been here. And then David l e f t (the marriage and the province)." When r e f l e c t i n g on the loss of t h e i r partner following the termination of t h e i r committed relati o n s h i p , some of the women communicated a paradoxical quality to the re l a t i o n s h i p . For example, focusing on the sober B i l l and when he did give her hi s attentiveness, E l i z a said: "I lo s t a r e a l good f r i e n d . " A l l the women reported missing the man they entered t h e i r 67 r e l a t i o n s h i p with many years before. As r e f l e c t e d i n Karen's words when r e c a l l i n g her f i r s t meetings with David, twenty years ago, she said: "I keep a picture of him when he was 22, when I f i r s t met him, and that was the person I f e l l i n love with, he was sort of a fun person. What the h e l l happened i n twenty years? Where did that guy go? Where did the playfulness go?" The women reported mourning the loss of a healthy sexual r e l a t i o n s h i p that many of them once had with t h e i r partners. As r e f l e c t e d i n Anne's words when she r e c a l l s her attractiveness to Peter, she said: "I only used to have to see him, when we were dating, Oh God and I loved going to bed with him. From some point very early i n our marriage i t didn't work for me anymore." With regard to t h e i r sexual expressiveness, a l l the women mourned for those times i n which t h e i r needs were met. The women i n the study reported grieving tangible losses; losses pertaining to t h e i r home, t h e i r belongings and f i n a n c i a l status. For example, i n commenting on her re l o c a t i o n and i t s e f f e c t on her family, Linda said: " I t (the house) i s pretty run down and everything...It i s n ' t r e a l l y a neighborhood. There are no kids around, and that r e a l l y d i s t r e s s e s me." A l l of the participants experienced numerous losses associated with the ending of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . A l l the losses had to be acknowledged i n order f o r the women to work through emotions of g r i e f and move forward i n t h e i r l i f e . Many of the losses the women i n the study suffered were compounded by subsequent losses not associated with the d i s s o l u t i o n of t h e i r 68 r e l a t i o n s h i p . Such losses included the i l l n e s s of e l d e r l y parents for Linda and the death of a parent f o r Karen. The Acknowledgement of the Importance of a Supportive Relationship When r e f l e c t i n g on t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to a single l i f e , each of the women referred to a support system that they had sought out. Such a system included understanding friends as well as professionals i n the helping profession. A l l of the women reported that they had been able to reach out to t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n t others since the beginning of t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . Each of the women r e c a l l e d how they needed to t a l k endlessly about t h e i r experiences and t h e i r feelings regarding themselves and t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . They each r e c a l l e d t h e i r desperate need to be understood, validated and supported. The support i n terms of personal v a l i d a t i o n and help from t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n t others were reported by a l l of the women to be paramount i n coping with t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to a single l i f e . Numerous references to t h e i r s i g n i f i c a n t others were made by a l l the women when r e f e r r i n g to t h e i r coping strategies. For example, i n recounting the dist r e s s associated with the sale of the matrimonial home, Linda made s i g n i f i c a n t reference to her supportive g i r l f r i e n d and said: "I w i l l never forget, i t was about the l a s t week i n the course and my g i r l f r i e n d who I had r e l i e d upon was o f f on holidays with her family, although I must say she was keeping an almost d a i l y contact." Interestingly, a l l of the women also reported a perceived lack of s u f f i c i e n t support from t h e i r own parents and s i b l i n g s . The kind of support that they needed from family members was not av a i l a b l e to them. Three of the women had no family members even 69 remotely near them and two of the women were c r i t i c i z e d by t h e i r parents for leaving t h e i r relationships. As a r e s u l t of not turning to family and unable to always turn to friends, a l l of the women had sought counselling at some point i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n . They entered counselling i n order to be understood and accepted, and to explore t h e i r own purpose i n l i f e . In r e f l e c t i n g on her i n i t i a l counselling sessions, E l i z a said: "I went regularly l i k e i t was very important to me to make t h i s appointment and I was very honest, I cr i e d a l o t and I t o l d my whole story ...he was just a lovely man [therapist] I mean the f i r s t three sessions I just sat there and cried, he kept g i v i n g me Kleenexes." The women also reported t h e i r immense gratitude i n being able to reach out to s i g n i f i c a n t others. A l l of the women reported that i n addition to th e i r overwhelming emotions, they were required to make immediate decisions regarding numerous r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s a f f e c t i n g t h e i r l i f e and for some the l i v e s of t h e i r children, too. A l l of the women doubted whether they could have dealt with t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n without a supportive network. As r e f l e c t e d i n Karen's words when r e c a l l i n g her t r a n s i t i o n and the importance of her supportive friends: "I could not have gotten through t h i s . People who think they can do t h i s alone are nuts. 1 1 The women i n the study invoked the support of s i g n i f i c a n t others throughout t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to a single l i f e . They also reported that they continue to value and to b u i l d up t h e i r network of friends. The importance of such support was reinforced by a l l the women who f e l t t h i s support to be c r i t i c a l 70 to t h e i r process of recovering and healing. S i g n i f i c a n t others helped them i n redefining themselves and in appreciating t h e i r own self-worth. A l l the women reported that such r e - d e f i n i t i o n and appreciation advanced t h e i r own personal growth. The Creation of a New L i f e Structure When r e f l e c t i n g on t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n and where they were at the time of t h i s interview, a l l of the women reported happiness with t h e i r l i f e and i n being in control of t h e i r own destiny. They also reported a renewed sense of s e l f - e f f i c a c y and strength, and elaborated on the personal and professional goals that they were pursuing. A l l of the women had conveyed a f e e l i n g of renewal. They a l l reported pleasure i n rediscovering t h e i r personal strengths and assets as well as i n finding out who they r e a l l y were. Anne's words i n explaining her renewed sense of s e l f r e f l e c t the sentiments of a l l the women i n the study: "I have got me back. I got me who was f r i v o l o u s and carefree and successful enough. I probably have done better than that. I am probably f o r the f i r s t time i n my l i f e getting to know me... I am way stronger." A l l the women, too, recognized the s a c r i f i c e s that they would never again make i n a rel a t i o n s h i p and Anne's words r e f l e c t the personal convictions of a l l the part i c i p a n t s : "I w i l l no longer l e t me disappear to make [relationship] work." The p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the study reported tremendous s a t i s f a c t i o n with t h e i r personal growth. When r e f l e c t i n g on t h e i r adaptation to t h e i r single l i f e , Karen's words r e f l e c t the personal assessments made by a l l the women: "More productive i n 71 the sense that I am resolving problems, t r y i n g new things and so I am more productive personally." The women reported, too, that throughout t h e i r adaptation to a single l i f e they had acquired a strong sense of self-confidence and a firm b e l i e f i n t h e i r own a b i l i t y to survive. E l i z a ' s words r e f l e c t e d the convictions of a l l the women: "I know I can make i t . . . I can look a f t e r myself emotionally and that was a biggie and I learned to be there for me, I became my own best f r i e n d . . . I have gone through an incredible change." In looking a f t e r themselves, a l l the women reported monitoring t h e i r mental and physical well-being and many made reference to a renewal i n t h e i r s p i r i t u a l l i v e s . In conclusion, the women i n t h i s study gave credence to t h e i r own self-worth i n order to r i s e above conditions that became no longer tolerable to them. Only a f t e r t r y i n g an i n f i n i t e amount of times and giving u n t i l they had no more to give were the women able to plough through t h e i r own g u i l t and confront themselves with the r e a l i t y of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . In confronting themselves many were getting to know themselves f o r the f i r s t time and others were reconnected to and b u i l d i n g on that part of themselves that had been dormant for years. They knew they would never compromise so much of themselves again i n a re l a t i o n s h i p . Many of the women had experienced a t r a n s i t i o n a l r e l a t i o n s h i p i n which they were f u l l y able to express themselves sexually, reaffirming for them t h e i r own sense of being a sexual woman. A l l f i v e women were pursuing clear goals both i n t h e i r p r o f e s s i o n a l and personal l i v e s . With regard to the future, a l l of the women were looking forward to i t with a p o s i t i v e outlook. 72 Chapter V Discussion The reason for undertaking t h i s study was to explore the phenomenon of the successful adaptation of women to a s i n g l e l i f e s t y l e following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . The research question was: "How do women who perceive themselves as having personally grown from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n experience the t r a n s i t i o n process?" A condensed description of the women's t r a n s i t i o n experiences w i l l be presented i n t h i s chapter. Results of the study w i l l be compared with the existing l i t e r a t u r e . Implications for counselling and for future research w i l l be presented. A Description of the Women's Experience The women volunteered for t h i s research i n order to t e l l t h e i r s t o r i e s so that they could be heard and understood. They also hoped to a l e r t , prepare and enlighten other women, facing s i m i l a r circumstances, regarding the journey into a si n g l e l i f e . They a l l communicated that such a passage i s both challenging and traumatic, and well worth i t . From t h e i r s t o r i e s , i t i s clea r that a l l f i v e women persevered through a d i f f i c u l t t r a n s i t i o n process. In recounting t h e i r experiences, the women r e c a l l e d t h e i r intense pain. Chronic pain and hurt described the pervasive fe e l i n g s that they a l l experienced i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s with t h e i r former partners. They a l l endured such f e e l i n g s u n t i l they each reached a point where they could take no more. Pain, too, resulted from the numerous losses suffered following the termination of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . 73 The women reported how they blamed themselves when things were not working i n t h e i r r elationships. Attempting to a l l e v i a t e the blame, they constantly t r i e d to make things better, always giving more of themselves. If t h e i r partners c r i t i c i z e d them, the women either f e l t the c r i t i c i s m was j u s t i f i e d or simply attempted to r e c t i f y matters. Thus, they t r i e d to correct e i t h e r themselves or the si t u a t i o n under attack i n order to meet t h e i r partner's approval. They each recounted t h e i r experience of endless giving of themselves, attempting to attend to a l l of t h e i r partner's needs. Such constant attending reinforced t h e i r hope for an improved relationship with t h e i r partners. Many of the women reported witnessing t h e i r own mothers and other women in t h e i r culture defer to t h e i r husbands. For example, many women of Ir i s h - C a t h o l i c heritage circumscribed to t h e i r culture's submissive r o l e of women as well as to the dogmatic teachings of t h e i r r e l i g i o u s f a i t h . Given t h e i r c u l t u r a l backgrounds, t h e i r early s o c i a l i z a t i o n and/or t h e i r partner's control over them, a l l of the women i n the study were submissive to t h e i r partners. A l l of the women recounted how t h e i r own needs were considered secondary by t h e i r partners and even by themselves. Gradually, i t appeared that the women would reveal and acknowledge only to themselves that things weren't r i g h t . So began the experience of self-confrontation. As each one dared to confront t h e i r vulnerable s e l f , they were able to see the r o l e that they played i n t h e i r relationships, the r o l e t h e i r partners played and the personal costs and consequences of being involved i n these r e l a t i o n s h i p s . They were also able to see t h e i r strengths, no matter how latent they may have been. Eventually, 74 a l l the women reached a point, v i r t u a l l y a rock-bottom point, i n which the conditions they were l i v i n g under were no longer acceptable to them. For some of the women t h e i r point was triggered by health problems. Whatever the tri g g e r when that point was reached, ultimately, a f i e r c e determination emerged within each women to take r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for themselves (and t h e i r children) i n order to seek meaning i n t h e i r own l i f e . They rethought t h e i r p r i o r i t i e s and t h e i r b e l i e f systems, they outlined t h e i r goals and aspired towards them, no matter how many obstacles seemed i n t h e i r way. Their goals r e f l e c t e d personal freedom, defined as emotional and f i n a n c i a l independence. When contemplating on what they wanted i f ever they committed themselves to another relationship, they a l l disclosed convincingly that they would never s a c r i f i c e themselves so t o t a l l y again for the sake of making a re l a t i o n s h i p l a s t . Many of the women however, did not r e a l i z e how d i f f i c u l t and traumatic t h e i r passage to a state of singlehood was going to be, yet they persevered through what at times seemed l i k e insurmountable f r u s t r a t i o n s . Having withstood years of su f f e r i n g and a f t e r securing the emotional wherewithal to carry through with t h e i r decision to leave (or i n Karen's case, welcoming the ending), each of the women conveyed that the period of r e l i e f , immediately following t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p termination, was a l l too b r i e f . R e a l i t y set i n for a l l of the women with the recognition of t h e i r numerous losses and the overwhelming r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s facing them. Such demands exacerbated the s o c i e t a l , l e g a l , s o c i a l and f a m i l i a l pressures that inundated a l l of the women, hurrying them to re-organize t h e i r l i v e s . Given such demands, 75 once again, the emotional needs of the women were not to be considered by anyone but themselves. A l l of the women r e a l i z e d t h e i r l i m i t a t i o n s when affronted with such overwhelming stressors. They reached out, both to friends and to mental health professionals, for support and v a l i d a t i o n . The strengths that they had i n i t i a l l y tapped into when facing the r e a l i t y of t h e i r f a i l i n g relationships i n t e n s i f i e d , accelerating t h e i r determination to survive. No matter what, the women r e f l e c t e d , they were going to derive s a t i s f a c t i o n and meaning from t h e i r l i v e s . Many were i n charge of making decisions for the f i r s t time and they a l l t o l d how they commended themselves with each sign of progress, no matter how small. With any success, the women reported noting the conquest and often r e v e l l e d , i f only fo r a moment, i n t h e i r a c q u i s i t i o n of a new competency. A l l of the women had long range goals both personal and/or professional, yet they each r e i t e r a t e d the importance of taking one day at a time and r e a l l y l i v i n g i n the here and now. Loneliness was a c r i t i c a l factor i n the l i v e s of the women post-termination. They used t h e i r time alone, which to some appeared to be a massive amount, and they continued to face themselves honestly i n order to f i n d out who they were at t h i s l i f e stage, where they had been and what conceivable goals were r e a l i s t i c , e x c i t i n g and mobilizing for them. Again, many of the women reported reaching a point i n which they could no longer j u s t ruminate on the dormant aspects of t h e i r l i v e s ; they had to act on them. A l l of the women learned to l i k e themselves and to be t h e i r own best fr i e n d . 76 Health was of paramount importance to a l l of the women i n the study. They a l l conveyed a firm b e l i e f that i f they could take good care of themselves, they would make i t through the complex challenges of t h e i r new l i f e structure. They would also be better able to rel a t e to the s i g n i f i c a n t others i n t h e i r l i v e s ; a concern highlighted many times by the women who had children at home. Given the continued exploration of t h e i r true feelings and thoughts and the monitoring of t h e i r health symptoms, a l l of the women reported making s i g n i f i c a n t l i f e s t y l e changes. Three of the f i v e women renounced support or s e t t l e d early i n the proceedings because, they reported, the emotional anguish associated with the contentious l i t i g a t i o n s was not worth the t o l l on t h e i r o v e r a l l health. The other two women found that the l e g a l proceedings taxed overwhelmingly t h e i r emotional and physi c a l energy. Each of the women i n the study continued to l i s t e n to themselves, they focused on the various aspects of t h e i r health, they i d e n t i f i e d t h e i r own needs, they reached out to others f o r support and for help and they acted. They acted by taking r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and mobilizing t h e i r resources i n order to accomplish both personal and professional goals. And today, they are f u l l y cognizant of t h e i r shortcomings yet they continue to be proactive i n t h e i r quest towards an enhanced sense of s e l f and a s a t i s f y i n g and f u l f i l l i n g l i f e . Comparison to the Literature As e a r l i e r mentioned, there are many d e f i n i t i o n s of divorce. Among them are Sa t i r ' s (1981) description of divorce as a "broken experience" (p. 1) and Krantzler's (1975) as an emotional c r i s i s 77 provoked by a sudden and often unexpected lo s s . A l l d e f i n i t i o n s appear to stress that i t i s a death of a re l a t i o n s h i p . Such a death must be mourned and l a i d to rest before self-renewal can take place (Krantzler). A l l of the women i n the study reported feel i n g s of pain and sadness with the end of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . They also expressed the importance of mourning a l l t h e i r losses associated with the relat i o n s h i p before accepting t o t a l l y the r e a l i t y of t h e i r new l i f e s t y l e , r e i n f o r c i n g the losses inherent i n the experience of divorce. According to Vaughan (1986) "uncoupling" s t a r t s with a secret. Usually one of the partners begins to f e e l i l l at ease i n the re l a t i o n s h i p . The partner with the secret, the i n i t i a t o r , weighs a l l factors within the relat i o n s h i p . The i n i t i a t o r attempts actions to t r y to bring a sense of harmony back to the re l a t i o n s h i p . If the harmony does not occur eventually the i n i t i a t o r may decide to separate. Such d i s s a t i s f a c t i o n p r i o r to physi c a l separation for the i n i t i a t o r could be present for years, and confrontation and acceptance by the person who has been l e f t could take years following divorce (Crosby, et a l . 1983; Vaughan, 1986). Thus, the i n i t i a t o r begins the mourning process while the couple are s t i l l l i v i n g together. A l l of the women i n the study were the i n i t i a t o r s of t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s termination. Even Karen who admitted to having emotionally l e f t her marriage years ago, expressed enormous r e l i e f when David p h y s i c a l l y moved out. Prio r to leaving, they a l l recounted how they constantly gave of themselves to make t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s better and many expressed t h e i r discomfort to t h e i r partners. Linda, Pam, Anne and t h e i r partners went to marriage counselling. E l i z a went to Al-anon because B i l l , an al c o h o l i c , wouldn't go and Karen, with a prospering business, agreed to v i s i t and consider the c i t y of David's job o f f e r . Each of the women f e l t the disease from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p and t h e i r entanglement within i t . Prior to leaving and/or divorcing a l l the women confronted themselves and t h e i r r o l e i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . In so doing, they faced themselves honestly and focused on how they r e a l l y f e l t and thought. In accepting that t h e i r committed re l a t i o n s h i p was no longer viable, they also accepted that they had done the best they could and leaving appeared to be equated with personal s u r v i v a l . According to Stevens-Long (1988), more women than men are leaving marriages because of the need to achieve emotional and f i n a n c i a l independence. A l l f i v e of the women f e l t i n h i b i t e d i n t h e i r marriages because of t h e i r subjugation to c r i t i c i s m and control by t h e i r partners. Due to these fee l i n g s of suppression, the women experienced varying depths of powerlessness i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . In accordance with the three periods of adjustment to divorce outlined by Duffy (1989), a l l of the women began reacting to the changes i n t h e i r assumptive world while i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p . P r i o r to leaving, they had begun proactive behaviors a r i s i n g from t h e i r new set of assumptions. Although they feared f a i l u r e , a fear of not making i t on t h e i r own, they ri s k e d themselves. They risked to escape despair and the overwhelming feelings of powerlessness which they a l l f e l t in t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s . According to J e f f e r s (1988) fear can permeate every aspect of a persons l i f e preventing them from ever 79 taking charge and therefore rendering them powerless. The women in the study began taking charge. Each of the f i v e women had defined t h e i r own t r a n s i t i o n as an opportunity to pursue goals that would e n t i t l e them to emotional and f i n a n c i a l independence. That i s , they would no longer l i v e i n a relat i o n s h i p i n which the conditions were unacceptable to t h e i r mental and physical well-being. As they r e f l e c t e d , the women a l l communicated that t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n into a s i n g l e l i f e was a p i v o t a l change i n t h e i r l i f e course. Such a change allowed them, they reported, to focus on t h e i r personal strengths and assets, to s t r i v e towards t h e i r f u l l p o t e n t i a l and towards a sense of l i f e contentment. The t r a n s i t i o n into a sin g l e l i f e allowed each of the participants the freedom to express t h e i r own inner strength and revive t h e i r sense of s e l f -e f f i c a c y . A l l the women experienced trauma and r e l i e f upon separating, which i s consistent with the resu l t s of Chiriboga and Cutler's (1977) study. According to Chiriboga and Cutler separating people who l e f t the fa m i l i a r stressors of an unhappy marriage to the unknown stressors of a single l i f e s t y l e required new learning and new behaviors post-termination. A l l the women i n t h i s study experienced r e l i e f from being o f f i c i a l l y apart from t h e i r partners. They also reported experiencing trauma, given t h e i r range of emotions a r i s i n g from the acknowledgement of t h e i r losses and the complex combinations of r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s they suddenly had to face. Determined to f i n d meaning i n t h e i r own l i v e s , a l l of the women reported having to learn to adjust to t h e i r new l i v e s and unfamiliar stressors. 80 The women emphasized the sign i f i c a n c e of t h e i r close friends as paramount i n adjusting to t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n process; a f i n d i n g which i s very consistent with the l i t e r a t u r e (Brammer & Abrego, 1981; Daniels-Mohring & Berger, 1984; Schlossberg, 1981). Also, the women recognized the lim i t a t i o n s of t h e i r friends c a p a b i l i t i e s during c r u c i a l periods i n t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n and sought help from counsellors. Regarding t h e i r research on t r a n s i t i o n , both Schlossberg (1981) and Brammer and Abrego (1981) underscore the importance of a support network. Such a network provides support and va l i d a t i o n f o r the person undergoing a t r a n s i t i o n . A l l of the women reported the importance i n knowing that t h e i r friends accepted them, appreciated them and were there for them. Such support contributed to the women acting on t h e i r desires f o r change. Daniels-Mohring and Berger's (1984) r e s u l t s indicated that a better self-concept and ov e r a l l mental well-being were seen i n the participants i n t h e i r study who maintained t h e i r support network post-divorce. Throughout t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n process, while experiencing d i f f e r e n t i n t e n s i t i e s of stress and s t r a i n , the women assumed r e s p o n s i b i l i t y for themselves (and t h e i r children) and acted on decisions and opportunities. Such on-going action propelled them to make decisions and advance towards t h e i r personal and professional ambitions. They moved forward unwilling to be stopped by any kind of impediment. Such action i s consistent with Hopson's (1981) explanation of a t r a n s i t i o n process, that i t i s movement. According to Hopson "Nature abhors a vacuum and s t a b i l i t y . A stable state i s merely a stopping point on a 81 journey from one place to another" (p. 39). Each woman's story contained relevant markers that could be interpreted within the model of Hopson's seven step t r a n s i t i o n process. The negotiation of the steps were not always continuous for the women who appeared to skip a step or two and then f a l l back. Such a procedure i s also consistent with Hopson's (1984) explanation of the process. With regard to the f i r s t three stages of the t r a n s i t i o n process, many of the women experienced a point of 'immobilization' i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p which f i n a l l y i n s t i g a t e d t h e i r decision to leave. Hopson's stage of den i a l could be equated with the fe e l i n g of r e l i e f that the women i n i t i a l l y f e l t , although b r i e f l y , once on t h e i r own. Depression was experienced by many within the relatio n s h i p , yet post-termination i t occurred with the r e a l i z a t i o n of t h e i r losses, t h e i r overwhelming r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s and t h e i r need to deal with t h e i r aloneness. Working through t h e i r feelings of depression allowed the women to emotionally detach from t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s and move into step four. Letting Go s i g n i f i e d that the past had been put away. Once the losses had been mourned and the current r e a l i t y accepted, the women expressed a keener and more confident a t t i t u d e about the pursuit of t h e i r goals and the management of t h e i r l i f e s t y l e s . Testing was experienced by a l l the women and they reported that the tr y i n g out of new behaviors and experiences i n a l l areas of t h e i r l i v e s continued. They reported looking forward to exploring hidden talents and strengths. Step s i x r e f e r s to the cognitive process that was experienced by a l l of women. Here, they r e f l e c t e d on t h e i r l i f e to date, 82 acknowledged who and where they were, where they are now and where they are headed. Internalization, Hopson's f i n a l step, was implied by a l l the women i n terms of a comfort zone that they have reached thus f a r . They talked about the attainment of an inner peace, a s a t i s f a c t i o n with t h e i r accomplishments to-date and awareness and acceptance of t h e i r human f a i l i n g s . Their quest towards self-enhancement continues. Hopson's' f i n a l step i s synonymous with Schlossberg's (1981) d e f i n i t i o n of successful adaptation i n which the event, successfully negotiated, i s now only a part of the individual's personal his t o r y . The women recounted that while t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n into a single l i f e was a profound experience, i t was now one of many experiences i n t h e i r l i v e s . In accordance with the l i t e r a t u r e on stress and coping (Brammer & Abrego, 1981), the women, at the onset of t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n , constantly met with fr u s t r a t i o n s and/or setbacks. Such hassles were seen as challenges to be conquered f o r the pursuit of t h e i r goals. I t was during these times that such r e l e n t l e s s determination to forge ahead was reported by the women. Such fr u s t r a t i o n s and set-backs indicate the need for new behaviors and adjustments to t h e i r new l i f e s t y l e s . A l l the women reported having suffered to some degree f i n a n c i a l l y post-termination. These r e s u l t s are consistent with the l i t e r a t u r e that highlights the economic d i s p a r i t y between women and t h e i r former spouses (Clarke-Stewart & Bailey, 1989; Grasby, 1989; Weitzman, 1985). When rethinking t h e i r assumptions and t h e i r p r i o r i t i e s , a l l of the women conveyed t h e i r l i b e r a t i o n from t r a d i t i o n a l sex role 83 attitudes and b e l i e f s . With the release of such attitudes, the women learned how to t r u l y care for themselves. That i s , they reported focusing inward i n terms of exploring t h e i r f e e l i n g s , thoughts, needs and wants. As a re s u l t , the women were f r e e r to pursue t h e i r personal and professional goals. The r e l a t i o n s h i p between successful adaptation to divorce and l e t t i n g go of t r a d i t i o n a l sex r o l e attitudes i s consistent with the l i t e r a t u r e . Bloom and Clement (1984) reported that women who had not followed t r a d i t i o n a l sex rol e s appeared to adjust better to divorce. Better adjustment has also been reported for divorced women with higher s e l f - o r i e n t a t i o n (Bloom & Clement; Brown & Manela, 1978; Davis & Aron, 1988) . A l l of the women had a focus on professional goals i n which they could, e i t h e r immediately or eventually, support themselves f i n a n c i a l l y . Some of the women were pursuing diplomas or degrees i n order to reach t h e i r status of independence. The goals and attitu d e s of these women are consistent with the l i t e r a t u r e i n which educational f u l f i l l m e n t and/or employment income are contributors to greater mental-well being and p o s i t i v e outcomes post-termination of relationship (Ambert, 1983; Duffy, 1989). Following t h e i r separations, a l l of the women experienced f e e l i n g s of r e l i e f , personal growth and worthiness, and increased competency i n conjunction with experiencing the f u l l range of losses associated with t h i s c r i t i c a l l i f e event. These r e s u l t s are consistent with the many p o s i t i v e sentiments expressed by many women post-termination (Buehler & Langenbrunner, 1987). Given that such an event yielded both p o s i t i v e sentiments as well as sad and tr y i n g symptoms for a l l of the women, hi g h l i g h t s the 84 paradoxical q u a l i t y of the experience. The three women who had children at home, found t h e i r quest towards independence at times an immense struggle given a l l the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y and constant hassles, yet each also experienced a renewed closeness to t h e i r children. This closeness to ch i l d r e n i s among the p o s i t i v e sentiments expressed by the p a r t i c i p a n t s i n the study by Buehler and Langenbrunner (1987). Also the overwhelming r e s p o n s i b i l i t i e s reported by the mothers i n the study are consistent with the findings of other studies (Buehler & Langenbrunner; Clarke-Stewart & Bailey, 1989) suggesting that divorced mothers may be overburdened with the demands involving home, children and employment. A l l the women were aware of the importance of t h e i r physical and mental health and were taking steps to enhance i t . They had r e f l e c t e d on t h e i r health while i n t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s and r e c a l l e d numerous symptoms. Physical pain was f e l t by many of the women and mental anguish experienced by a l l of them. Their health became a prime focus i n t h e i r adjustment post-separation. This i s consistent again with the l i t e r a t u r e suggesting that women with higher s e l f - o r i e n t a t i o n adjust better to t h e i r divorce t r a n s i t i o n (Bloom & Clement, 1984). Focussing on health i s also consistent with the l i t e r a t u r e reporting that women who practice preventative health care behaviors enjoy better physical and mental well-being post-termination of re l a t i o n s h i p . The l i t e r a t u r e also suggests that separated and divorced mothers, p r a c t i c i n g primary health care behaviors, experience a p o s i t i v e r e d e f i n i t i o n of family l i f e (Duffy, 1989). A l l of the women i n the study reported the importance of good health i n terms of 85 f e e l i n g p o s i t i v e about themselves and t h e i r f amilies as well as having the energy to face the challenges and pursue the goals of t h e i r new l i f e s t y l e . With regard to redefining family l i f e , the four women with childre n were confident as mothers and s a t i s f i e d with the adjustments that t h e i r children had gone through. They acknowledged the losses t h e i r children had to face yet knew that the re-defined family s i t u a t i o n was better than the i n t a c t marriage for a l l concerned. Women and t h e i r successful adaptation to a single l i f e i s associated with primary health care practices r e s u l t i n g i n a more p o s i t i v e outlook for themselves and t h e i r f a m i l i e s . Implications for Future Research The findings of t h i s research are consistent with many of the diverse findings i n the areas of t r a n s i t i o n , divorce and the ef f e c t s of divorce on women. The undertaking of t h i s research was an attempt to understand the successful adaptation of women following the d i s s o l u t i o n of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Given that i t was an exploratory study, many f e r t i l e areas e x i s t for further research on women and t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n into a single l i f e . A r e p e t i t i o n of t h i s study using a larger sample would f a c i l i t a t e v e r i f i c a t i o n of the findings and expand the information obtained i n the present study. Further research too would be b e n e f i c i a l i n the exploration of each one of the common themes as well as i n the variations of the themes. Such findings may y i e l d more refined themes than the ones that emanated from t h i s research. 86 A l l the women i n the study were from middle to upper-middle class income groups. Four of the f i v e women had undergraduate degrees and the f i f t h woman had some college and a number of business diplomas. A l l of the women were pursuing profess ional career goals. Further research i s needed with diverse groups of women following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . That i s , i t would be of interest to explore successful adaptation of immigrant women and women from d i f f e r e n t cultures. Also, i t would be necessary to look at women from d i f f e r e n t socioeconomic groups as well as women with d i f f e r e n t l e v e l s of education and d i f f e r e n t career aspirations. A l l the women i n the study were considered the i n i t i a t o r s ; a factor that may have influenced the speed and extent of t h e i r adaptation to t h i s major l i f e t r a n s i t i o n . I t would be of research i n t e r e s t to explore the t r a n s i t i o n into single l i f e from the perspective of women who have been l e f t by t h e i r partners. Further research i s also needed on the t r a n s i t i o n experiences of women who have not adapted well. Implications for Counselling Given the r e s u l t s of t h i s study, several implications for counselling women following the termination of t h e i r committed re l a t i o n s h i p s emerge. Prac t i t i o n e r s i n the helping professions w i l l benefit from an understanding of the s a l i e n t themes and rel a t e d issues within the termination of r e l a t i o n s h i p t r a n s i t i o n process. Such understanding would allow the therapist to be better able to assess his/her c l i e n t and f a c i l i t a t e change towards successful adaptation. An awareness of the d i f f i c u l t i e s and losses associated with the termination of r e l a t i o n s h i p would 87 persuade the therapist to refe r the c l i e n t i n other areas, where necessary, such as medical doctors, lawyers and f i n a n c i a l planners. A l l of the women i n the study recounted t h e i r need to mourn the losses they had experienced as a r e s u l t of the ending of t h e i r committed re l a t i o n s h i p . An understanding of the numerous and diverse losses that could be associated with a r e l a t i o n s h i p d i s s o l u t i o n would enable the therapist to f a c i l i t a t e the necessary g r i e f work with his/her c l i e n t s . The women i n the study were a l l considered to be the i n i t i a t o r s . The willingness to honestly face themselves by allowing t h e i r true feelings and attitudes to emerge, was a key experience i n t h e i r decision to leave t h e i r r e l a t i o n s h i p s and i n accessing t h e i r inner strengths. When encountering a woman c l i e n t , the therapist would be better prepared to f a c i l i t a t e change i f s/he was aware of the importance of self - c o n f r o n t a t i o n of the c l i e n t , e s p e c i a l l y i n the early stages of the process. In t h i s way, the therapist could help the c l i e n t face her true fe e l i n g s about the relat i o n s h i p as well as help her r e a l i z e latent strengths and rethink p r i o r b e l i e f s and assumptions. Women, who do not seek therapy i n the early stages or who were not the i n i t i a t o r s , may be stuck or unable to adapt. The therap i s t with a knowledge of the process and i t s s a l i e n t themes w i l l be better able to work with the c l i e n t and challenge her on issues and subjective b e l i e f s that may be impeding her progress. Within the process of self-confrontation, the women i n the study began acknowledging t h e i r personal needs and wishes as well as reclaiming t h e i r latent strengths. The understanding of t h i s 88 s a l i e n t theme would enable the therapist to f a c i l i t a t e his/her c l i e n t s i n the use of " I " statements so that personal power i s not relinquished again, especially i n future r e l a t i o n s h i p s , whether personal or professional. The women i n the study rei t e r a t e d the value they placed on t h e i r support network throughout t h e i r t r a n s i t i o n to a sin g l e l i f e as well as the on-going importance of such friendships. The need to reach out, and to be accepted and validated was paramount for the women i n the study. Understanding the value of a supportive network during t h i s time, the therapist would help the c l i e n t develop a network or build up her current one and guide her on how to use i t e f f i c i e n t l y . Non-traditional sex role attitudes contributed to the successful adaptations of the women i n the study. A l l of the women were able to rethink such attitudes and r e - l i s t t h e i r p r i o r i t i e s i n order to redefine family l i f e as well as to forge ahead and pursue t h e i r goals. Therapists would be better prepared to f a c i l i t a t e change i f they could challenge c l i e n t s on the t r a d i t i o n a l sex r o l e attitudes that may be impeding t h e i r adjustment and adaptation to a single l i f e . Goal se t t i n g , professional and personal, was extremely important for the adjustment and adaptation of a l l of the women in the study. Fi n a n c i a l independence emerged as an important issue for a l l of the women. The therapist with such knowledge would help the woman c l i e n t set professional goals that would lead her towards s e l f - s u f f i c i e n c y . Personal goals, including health care, were also mentioned by a l l of the women. The c l i e n t ' s pursuit of personal goals towards a renewed sense of 89 s e l f - e f f i c a c y would be f a c i l i t a t e d by the therapist. Having a cle a r set of both personal and professional goals inspired a l l of the women to the creation of t h e i r new l i f e structure. In consideration of a remarriage or a future committed re l a t i o n s h i p , understanding the t r a n s i t i o n process involved f o r successful adaptation to a single l i f e would enable the the r a p i s t to f a c i l i t a t e the c l i e n t ' s continuing pursuit of personal and/or professional goals. The analogy of the l e t t e r "H" could be suggested when exploring the union of two partners i n a healthy committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . Each partner would be seen as a v e r t i c a l post with the freedom to grow both personally and pr o f e s s i o n a l l y . The h o r i z o n t a l bar that would j o i n the posts would s i g n i f y the strong commitment each partner has towards the other i n terms of love, t r u s t , respect and support. Such a commitment would allow each partner to give to the other and w i l l i n g l y , each would assess any necessary compromises for the sake of strengthening the r e l a t i o n s h i p as well as contributing to the growth of each i n d i v i d u a l involved. Conclusion The phenomenon of successful adaptation for women following the termination of t h e i r committed r e l a t i o n s h i p was explored i n t h i s study. The re s u l t s undoubtedly indicated that the t r a n s i t i o n process for each one of these women was one that was extremely challenging and required determination to persevere through i t . Not only did these women confront themselves and refuse to l i v e any longer i n a relat i o n s h i p they deemed unhealthy; but they also took the r e s p o n s i b i l i t y to question t h e i r l i v e s and they embraced the challenge with i t s unforeseen 90 obstacles to reach t h e i r aspired goals and seek the meaning and s e l f - r e s p e c t that they so deserved. 91 References Ambert, A.-M. (1983). Separated women and remarriage behavior: A comparison of f i n a n c i a l l y secure women and f i n a n c i a l l y insecure women. Journal of Divorce, 6(3), 43-53. Astin, H.S. (1985). The meaning of work i n women's l i v e s : A s o c i o l o g i c a l model of career choice and work behavior. The Counseling Psychologist, 12.(4) , 117-126. Bloom, L., & Clement, C. (1984). Marital sex r o l e o r i e n t a t i o n and adjustment to separation and divorce. Journal of Divorce, 7(3), 87-97. Brammer, L.M., & Abrego, P.J. (1981). 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Daniels-Mohring, D. & Berger, M. (1984). Social network changes and the adjustment to divorce. Journal of Divorce, 8(1), 17-30. Davis, B., & Aron, A. (1988). Perceived causes of divorce and postdivorce adjustment among recently divorced m i d l i f e women. Journal of Divorce, 12.(1), 41-53. Duffy, M.E. (1989). Mental well-being and primary prevention practices i n women heads of one-parent f a m i l i e s . Journal of Divorce, 13(1), 45-62. Egan, G. (1986). The s k i l l e d helper. Montery, C a l i f o r n i a : Brooks/Cole Publishing Company. Fisher, B. (1981). Rebuilding. San Luis O'Bispo, C a l i f o r n i a : Impact Publishers. Furstenberg, F.F., J r . (1982). Conjugal succession: Reentering marriage a f t e r divorce. Life-Span Development and Behavior, 4, 107-143. G i l l i g a n , C. (1982). In a d i f f e r e n t voice. Massachusetts, U.S.A.: Harvard University Press. G i o r g i , A. (1985). Phenomenology and psychological research. Pittsburg, PA. U.S.A.: Duquesne University Press. Grasby, M. (1989). Women in t h e i r f o r t i e s : The extent of t h e i r r i g h t s to alimentary support. Reports of Family Law, 30 R.F.L. (3d), 369-401. Hagestad, G.O. (1988). Demographic change and the l i f e course. Family Relations, 67, 405-410. Hopson, B. (1981). Response to the papers by Schlossberg, Brammer and Abrego. The Counseling Psychologist, 9(2), 36-39 Hopson, B. (1984). Transition: Understanding and managing personal change. In A.J. Chapman & A. Gale (Eds.), Psychology and people: A t u t o r i a l text, (pp. 120-145) London, England: The Macmillan Press Ltd. Hopson, B., & Adams, J.D. (1977). Towards an understanding of t r a n s i t i o n : Defining some boundaries of t r a n s i t i o n . In J.Adams, J.Hayes, & B. Hopson (Eds.), Transition: Understanding and managing personal change. Montclair, NJ: Allenheld & Osmun. J e f f e r s , S. (1988). Feel the fear and do i t anyway. New York, U.S.A.: Harvard University Press. Jordan, P. (1988). The e f f e c t of marital separation on men. Journal of Divorce. 12(1), 57-81. Kolevzon, M.S., & Gottlieb, S.J. (1983). The impact of divorce: A multivariate study. Journal of Divorce, 7(2), 89-98. Krantzler, M. (1975). Creative Divorce. New York: Signet. Mcmillan, J.H. & Schumacher, S. (1989). Research education: A conceptual introduction (2nd ed.). Glenview, I l l i n o i s : Scott, Foresman and Company. Menaghan, E. & Lieberman, M. (1986) . Changes i n depression following divorce: A panel study. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 48, 319-328. M i t c h e l l , K. (1983). The price tag of r e s p o n s i b i l i t y : A comparison of divorced and remarried mothers. Journal of Divorce, 6(3), 33-42. Myers, M.F. (1989). Men and divorce. New York: The G u i l f o r d Press. Norton, A.J., & Moorman, J.E. (1987). Current trends i n marriage and divorce among American women. Journal of Marriage and the Family, 4 9(February), 3-14 Riessman, C.K., & Gerstel, N. (1985). Marital d i s s o l u t i o n and health: Do males or females have greater r i s k ? S o c i a l Science & Medicine. 20(6), 627-635. S a t i r , V. (1981). Foreward. In B. Fisher, Rebuilding (pp. 1-2) . San Luis O'Bispo, C a l i f o r n i a : Impact Publishers. Schlossberg, N. (1981). A model for analyzing human adaptation to t r a n s i t i o n . The Counseling Psychologist. 9(2), 2-17. Sheehy, G. (1981). Pathfinders. New York, N.Y.: William Morrow and Company, Inc. S t a t i s t i c s Canada Health Reports (1990). Supplement No.16: Marriages, (1987-1988). Supplement No.17, 2(1): Divorces (1987-1988). Stevens-Long, J. (1988). Adult l i f e (3rd ed.) Mountain View, C a l i f o r n i a : Mayfield. Sykes, J.B. (Ed.) (1976). The concise Oxford dic t i o n a r y of current English. Oxford, England: Clarendon Press. Van Manen, M. (1990). Researching l i v e d experience. Michigan, U.S.A.: Edwards Brothers Inc. Vaughan, D. (1986). Uncoupling. New York: Vintage Books. V i t a l S t a t i s t i c s of U.S.A., S t a t i s t i c a l Abstract of the U.S. (1990). Weitzman, L.J. (1985). The divorce revolution. New York: The Free Press. Divorced women, new l i v e s 96 Appendix A Announcement Are you divorced or out of a long term committed relationship? Have you experienced personal growth as a result of the dissolution of your marriage or relationship? I am a graduate student at the University of British Columbia, and I am looking for participants to interview for my master's thesis in Counselling Psychology on "The Transition For Women Into A Single Life." The project is being supervised by: Dr. Judith Daniluk Department of Counselling Psychology Faculty of Education University of British Columbia CRITERIA FOR PARTICIPANTS: * That you feel you have personally grown as a result of the dissolution of your marriage or relationship * That it has not been longer than 6 years since the separation * That you have remained single * That each participant be open and willing to discuss their feelings and experiences regarding their relationship termination process and transition to a single lifestyle Note: Names will not be used in the research study, and all information will be held confidential. All responses will be greatly appreciated. 97 Appendix B Sample Questions 97 A SAMPLE QUESTIONS: Leading Question: ***CAN YOU TELL ME HOW YOU FEEL YOU HAVE POSITIVELY GROWN AS A RESULT OF YOUR RELATIONSHIP'S TERMINATION? Other questions that may follow: How have your p r i o r i t i e s changed? or did they? Looking back, what key differences/changes do you detect within yourself? What experiences stand out i n r e c a l l i n g your separation and your l i f e afterwards? How do you see yourself, your expectations, f i v e years from now? With regard to your adjustment post-termination, could you comment on the following issues and t h e i r e f f e c t on your t r a n s i t i o n process: f i n a n c i a l ; rent/own home; employment; support network; custody arrangements; children's adjustment? Appendix C Consent Form 9 S > T H E U N I V E R S I T Y O F B R I T I S H C O L U M B I A Department of Counselling Psychology Faculty of Education 5780 Toronto Road Vancouver, B.C. Canada V6T 1L2 r Tel: (604) 822-5259 Fax: (604) 822-2328 CONSENT FORM Research Topic: THE TRANSITION FOR WOMEN INTO A SINGLE LIFE MA Candidate: C l a i r e Sutton Faculty Adviser: Dr. Judith Daniluk T e l : (604) 822-5768 The MA Candidate w i l l meet with the p a r t i c i p a n t i n a pr i v a t e sessionl for the purposes of interviewing the p a r t i c i p a n t on issues r e l a t e d to the research study i n question. The purpose of the study i s to explore the feel i n g s , a t t i t u d e s and experiences of a small sample of women whohave suc c e s s f u l l y adapted to the termination of a committed r e l a t i o n s h i p . The objectives to be reached with t h i s study are: the complete understanding of each p a r t i -c i p ant's own t r a n s i t i o n process; the n o t i f i c a t i o n of s i m i l a r i t i e s .and d i f f e r e n c e s i n the t r a n s i t i o n process between p a r t i c i p a n t s ; and, the opportunity f o r p a r t i c i p a n t s to share t h e i r s t o r i e s . Each p a r t i c i p a n t w i l l be interviewed in-depth by the graduate student Each interviewing session w i l l l a s t no longer than two hours with each p a r t i c i p a n t having as many sessions as necessary to t e l l t h e i r story. The session(s) w i l l be audiotaped. A l l audiotapes and other information p e r t a i n i n g to the p a r t i c i p a n t w i l l be c o n f i d e n t i a l and w i l l be kept s a f e l y i n a s p e c i a l container i n the home-office of the graduate student. The audiotapes w i l l be transcribed, and together with the other information reviewed only by the MA Candidate and her f a c u l t y adviser. A pseudonym f o r each p a r t i c i p a n t w i l l be used to mark tapes and f i l e s so that the p a r t i c i p a n t s names do not appear on any la b e l or written m a t e r i a l . As soon as the study has been completed, accepted and returned to the MA Candidate, the audiotapes w i l l be erased. The p a r t i c i p a n t can refuse to p a r t i c i p a t e or can withdraw at any time during the study i f she wishes to do so. I, , agree to be interviewed i n an audiotaped sessio n (s) as o u t l i n e d above. I accept a copy of th i s form and thereby ensure my consent to p a r t i c i p a t e i n thi s study. Signature : Date : 

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