Restricted Self-Transition: A Journey of Divorcees Through Lasting Marital Dissolution in Eastern European Society


  • Lina Butkutė
  • Dimitri Mortelmans
  • Jolanta Sondaitė


Although most empirical research has focused on divorcing individuals’ experiences before or after marriage dissolution, how people understand and evaluate themselves during their lasting divorce processes has been largely understudied. We aimed to close this gap by learning how individuals regard their longer-lasting divorce process and how those experiences could relate to changes of self. Data were collected via semi-structured interviews and then analyzed by applying a grounded theory approach. Twenty-one research participants residing in Lithuania who were 6 months or more into their divorce processes (not living together or in a litigation process) participated in the study. By allowing participants to reflect on their ongoing divorce, data indicated three main categories illuminating the changes in self: temporal self-disruption, restricted self-transition, and transition-supporting strategies. These interconnected categories point toward complex paths of the divorcees from experienced losses toward a more stable and clear yet not finalized self-redefinition. Individuals’ increased vulnerability, especially during the first years of the divorce, requires particular attention from child protection officers, lawyers, mediators, and other involved professionals. Unfortunately, support is often unavailable or refuted due to the perceived low effectiveness and lack of professionalism.