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
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
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
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