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Risk Points:

Given your understanding of risk points and the developing patterns in Kathy's family, little in this section is surprising. Kathy and Dan would certainly not be expected to solve their problems; and a nasty court fight seems likely. Emphasizing a few risk points here serves only to reinforce your learning.

"Dan tracked her down. What the hell have you done? She wondered how he could sound so shocked about them leaving after what he had done to her. I have put most of our belongings into storage until the judge determines who gets to keep it.What judge? What the hell are you talking about? ... I will be contacting a lawyer next week to proceed with a divorce. I suggest you find yourself a lawyer too."

Two points here are striking. First, Kathy assumes Dan feels the same as she does and cannot understand why he is surprised. Keep in mind, though, Kathy had been working on her plan for years. It seemed like the only outcome to her. For Dan, it was all very new. He thought she was a slut but never expected her to leave. He will need time to assimilate this idea.

Next, her plan was not missing a beat. She was simply following through with a lawyer and a divorce. The next point brings some clarity to this behavior.

"Her mother looked a little surprised. Have you already seen Mr. Benton? No, but Dad talked to him and I have an appointment with him Monday morning."

Now you see. Kathy is neither making decisions nor appointments. Her father is handling it all. He made the appointment, told Kathy, and she is following through with her father's instructions. Interestingly, Miriam did not know about the appointment either. The implication is that she and John also do not talk things over and keep each other informed about what is going on.

"She wanted to enjoy herself as much as possible before the whole divorce process started."

Of course the divorce process had started years ago. Now, it was nearing its end. Often, people view a crisis as a new event when it is better understood as a bad outcome of earlier events.

"What if he is going to prolong this or cause some sort of trouble to get even with me for leaving she reassured herself that he didn't care enough to give this divorce a second thought."

Dan's fighting the divorce or wanting a continuing relationship with Jess was immediately seen by Kathy as his causing trouble. He was trying to get even, if he did anything but fade away. Think about how these events looked from Dan's point of view, from the point of view of his mother. Also, Dan may think he has a right to see Jess whether he cares all that much about her or not. That may be similar to his sense of possession with Kathy. Jealousy often has this as a theme.

"Although her marriage was a disaster, she at least knew where she stood. But now she knew where nothing stood and she was frightened."

This point helps you understand why Kathy stayed in a marriage she professed to hate so much. Being married gave her a base, a place to be, an identity. It met her need not to be alone. To the extent this was her main reason for marrying Dan, he got the job done. That may have been part of his surprise when she left him. He was married to her and paid the bills. What more did she expect? You will recall Kathy did not tell him what else she expected.

Frequently, couples assume they both have the same view of what their marriage is and what the benefits are to each. They sadly learn that each has his or her view; and if these views are far apart, seriously bad outcomes follow. It is like two architects working together on a project: one building a house and the other building a football stadium. They may both be quite skilled and try very hard. Nonetheless, the project will fail.

"But the idea of starting a whole new life with just her and Jess terrified her. She did not want to be alone. What if I never get married again? I'm so shy, I'm surprised I even met Dan and shocked I married him."

Kathy is having second thoughts about her plan. She will move on to divorce Dan but she is not so sure about herself. Notice how low her self-esteem is and how low it has been from the time she met Dan. You may want to speculate about what contributed to her low opinion of herself.

"No! Jess shouted while sitting up in bed. Jess you have to, Kathy said. She felt tears burning in her eyes. How could she make her daughter do this? There is a man called a judge who says every other Saturday you have to spend time with Daddy since you are is daughter. No! Jess shouted again, and this time she laid down and pulled the covers over her head."

Consider the level of Parent Risk. Did Kathy raise or lower the Parent Risk between Jess and Dan, between Jess and her? The message to Jess was that she and Kathy were being made to do this terrible thing. The judge was making Kathy and she was making Jess and it was all Dan's fault. At a minimum, no one seemed to be taking Jess and her feelings into consideration. What if Kathy had approached Jess about visitation in the following way? Do you think the ensuing events would have turned out any differently?

Kathy: Jess, I have some news for you. You know Daddy and I are not living together anymore. We are getting a divorce. Daddy still wants to see you. The judge says you and Daddy can visit every other Saturday. You get to go with Daddy to Patty's house and Daddy will bring you back home when it gets dark. I think that will work out real nice for you and for Daddy and Patty too.

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Please send comments or questions to Gary A. Crow, Ph.D. GAC@GaryCrow.net