I am a survivor of divorce. When I visited Hong Kong, a mutual friend introduced me to a cellist going through a divorce as a participant for my research which investigates music learning and identity of Chinese musicians. My research took a different path because I decided to explore how she constructed meaning through divorce, leading to her identity change. I referred her to counselling and supported her through regular messaging. Research is more than just data collection; the wounded-healer standing by the wounded is therapeutic for both of us. Using Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis (IPA), this study reports our conversations, including two face-to-face semi-structured interviews and messaging over eighteen months. Four themes emerged about the cellist’s understanding of her marital conflict: an urge for financial security and materialistic pursuit; faith abandonment; prioritizing children’s education and parenthood; and diverging lives. This longitudinal study explored relational ethics, researcher care and research as emancipation. It acknowledged the freedom and choice-making responsibility of the researcher who extended the project boundary to improve the wellbeing of the participant. This is the essence of qualitative research, with unanticipated life-changing consequences that transform the researcher, the participant, and global readers who share a similar experience.


Marriage Disintegration, Identity Change, Relational Ethics and Care, Research As Emancipation, Interpretative Phenomenological Analysis

Author Bio(s)

Dr. Annabella S. K. Fung is a recipient of numerous scholarships, grants and research awards. She completed postgraduate studies in music, psychology and languages. Since 2014, she has been an academic staff member in the Faculty of Education at Monash University. Her transdisciplinary research interests include the psychological, sociocultural and philosophical aspects of teaching, learning and being. Outside academia, she is engaged in providing pro-bono counselling, teaching adult migrant English and studio music. Correspondence regarding this article can be addressed directly to: Room 312, 29, Ancora Imparo Way, Faculty of Education, Monash University, Clayton, Vic, 3800, Australia. Email: annabella.fung@monash.edu or askfung@optusnet.com.au.


It is with gratitude that I thank Rebecca for her participation in my research. I also want to thank my mentors Dr Jane Southcott and Dr Shirley Trembath for their guidance as well as refining my manuscript for journal submission.

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