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Marital Separation in Contemporary Ireland

Women’s Experiences

Lucy Hyland

This book is based on detailed interviews with a group of Irish women who have experienced marital separation. It links the women’s accounts with literature on the values and beliefs about marriage, women and family which were prevalent when they were growing up in Ireland in the 1950s and 1960s. The book chronicles their young adult years, the early stages of their marriages and the events and processes which led to their separations. It explores the women’s emotional reactions at the time of separating, the types of support which they found beneficial and the personal, social and financial consequences of having separated.
Although the book is written from a sociological perspective, the combination of theory and practical insights make it accessible to a wide variety of readers. It aims to generate discussion and deepen understanding of an area into which there has been minimal research in Ireland and which poses a range of important questions for future researchers, practitioners and policy-makers.
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Chapter 1: Introduction


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On Easter Sunday morning, the 23rd March 2008, I discovered that my husband was having an affair. After a marriage that had lasted for twenty- four years, he moved out of our home permanently one week later. This is obviously not the whole story but, for our children’s sake, it is as much as I am prepared to tell right now. The following November I attended two post-separation courses in Dublin. Neither course was advertised as being solely for women or as being specifically for women aged over forty-five years of age, but that is who was there. It occurred to me that there was something taking place across the country about which very little had been written or was known and which warranted further study.

I had started a Doctorate in Social Science (DSocSc) at University College Cork (UCC) in September 2007. For a period after my separation, the only topic I was able to focus on making sense of was marital separation, so that became the subject of my dissertation. This book is based on interviews with fourteen women who had separated which I carried out in July and August of 2010 as part of my doctoral dissertation.

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