When Life Throws you Curveballs...

The Story of Rita

Background Information

Rita is a 60 year old woman, who lives with her long-term partner, Steve. They have been cohabiting for 8 years, though have been together for 12. Together, they own a small business and are the only employees. Rita was married previously and has two daughters, with her former partner, who live out of the house and do not require financial support.


Wednesday, Sep. 1st 2004 at 12am

Columbus, Ohio, United States

Columbus, OH

Rita and her husband Franklin are separated. Rita does not consider this event as the "curveball" event because as she stated "it was a long time coming". On this date, she decided to move home to her mother's in Texas with her two daughters.

She states this date is significant to her because not only was it her oldest daughter's birthday, but it was the day she realized her marriage of 21 years was ending. Rita had decided to "start her life over" and was terrified. Fear about her children's future, and fear about the unknown events that were to come with this cross country move.

How was this event a "curveball"?

When Rita was first married she had expected to be wed for the rest of her life to Franklin. Though, after a series of events occurring from infidelity, unemployment, moving across the country (on two occasions), and coping with a spouse with a gambling addiction, Rita decided she would be better off alone than with the person she married. In doing so she defied many social norms of her generation. Her mother, though understanding, "seemed to disapprove" of her decision to leave Franklin. During the time Rita was a child, it was typical to see spouses stay together through worse events than that of what she experienced. Though because of the changes in culture, Rita decided to proclaim her independence from the institution of marriage rather than "suffer unhappiness".

Rita claims the most liberating thing she has done in her life was "packing up the SUV with [her] daughters, dog, and birds and setting a course to [her] new life". Though she describes the actual decision process was "gut-wrenching". "Weeks before I told my children we were leaving, I was in the hospital with horrible stomach pain", Rita elaborated describing the issue as "stress-induced ulcers". When questioned why she felt so much stress, she explained she was afraid she was not making the right decision for her daughters future. Rita had not worked since before the birth of her oldest daughter, who was now 21. She was not sure how she would be able to support her family, which is the primary reason she claims to have stayed in the marriage for "long after it was over".

A Product of the Times

Rita grew up in the 1960's, a time in which she claims "families stuck together" even when their marriage was not ideal. Though historically, it seems there may be more to do with the fact that love and independence have become much more significant within the institution of marriage than ever before. Love may not have played a significant role in Rita's parent's generation, as these marriages may have been primarily economical or social arrangements. Though in the modern age, Rita began to feel the changes of society and the emergence of romantic love in marriages. She was drawn to this ideal, and felt as though she deserved the same. This could have been the primary contributing factor as to why she chose her independence over being "stuck in a marriage" in which she knew "was over".