Male service members’ and civilian wives’ perceptions of partner connection regarding deployment and PTSD symptoms


By bhadmin February 2, 2021

In general, a sense of understanding and connection is an important aspect of marital relationships. In the context of military couples in which a service member may have symptoms of posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD), spouses’ understanding of the nature and causes of service member PTSD symptoms may be protective for both partners’ marital satisfaction. However, partners may vary in the degree to which they understand and connect around (a) historical experiences of combat and deployment versus understanding and connecting around (b) any ongoing manifestation of PTSD symptoms post deployment. In a sample of 58 male Army service members and their civilian wives drawn from a larger study of military couple functioning, we found that a measure of “Combat/Deployment connection” and a measure of “PTSD connection” were strongly correlated with each other yet not isomorphic. Both Combat/Deployment connection and PTSD connection had unique predictive effects for marital satisfaction. Both husbands and wives reported higher levels of PTSD connection relative to Combat/Deployment connection. At low or average levels of Combat/Deployment connection, higher levels of PTSD symptoms were associated with lower levels of marital satisfaction, whereas at high levels of Combat/Deployment connection, this association was no longer significant. No such moderation effects were found for PTSD connection. The utility of distinguishing these two domains of potential connection for military couples is discussed.

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