An outsider in my own home: attachment injury in stepcouple relationships

J Marital Fam Ther. 2010 Oct;36(4):403-15. doi: 10.1111/j.1752-0606.2010.00218.x.


This multiple-case study explored women's relational experiences as attachment injury patterns in distressed stepcouple relationships and how these experiences might be attributable to stepcouple status. The first author interviewed five stepmothers with biological children, using open-ended interview questions developed from attachment theory and existing research regarding attachment injury and stepfamily formation. Data analysis using the pattern-matching method derived and explored markers of attachment injury in the women's stepcouple relationships. The four categories of attachment injury showed significant attribution to stepfamily issues. This supports past stepfamily research suggesting that stepcouples face unique challenges. Further, these findings suggest that the language of attachment injury accurately describes stepcouples' problems and the usefulness of conceptualizing and addressing these problems in an attachment injury framework.

MeSH terms

  • Adaptation, Psychological
  • Adult
  • Domestic Violence / prevention & control*
  • Female
  • Humans
  • Interpersonal Relations
  • Marital Therapy / methods*
  • Marriage / psychology*
  • Middle Aged
  • Object Attachment*
  • Parent-Child Relations
  • Parenting / psychology*
  • Self Concept
  • Spouses / psychology*
  • Surveys and Questionnaires
  • Women's Health