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Women’s lived experiences of attachment injury within their couple relationship Pelling, Cate

Abstract

An attachment injury occurs within the context of a romantic or couple relationship. It can be described as an injury or wound to the couple bond as well as a critical incident in the life of the couple relationship. The aim of this study is to explore the "lived experience" of an individual's attachment injury within their couple relationship. An interpretative, phenomenological approach (van Manen, 1990) was used in this exploratory, qualitative study. A research interview was conducted using open-ended questions in an attempt to illuminate the phenomenon of "attachment injury". A thematic analysis of interview transcripts was undertaken in order to discover the "experiential structures" of an attachment injury (van Manen, 1990). Six themes emerged from the participant interviews: a caregiving relational history, the nonresponsive partner, irrevocable change, coping through other relationships and spiritual beliefs, the long-term impact on the relationship, the impact on the self. Themes were further broken down into sub categories. Results from the study were consistent with research findings in attachment theory and the literature on trauma. The results allowed for a deeper, fuller understanding of the experience of attachment injury for the injured partner.

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