A Longitudinal Examination of Couple Communication and Role Negotiations following a Military Deployment
2020-04-16T16:41:29Z (GMT) by
Across deployment cycles, individuals negotiate family roles to accommodate the absence then re-entry of service members. There is scant empirical evidence about the processes through which roles are reorganized. Guided by the family resilience framework (Walsh, 2016) and the model of military marriage (Karney & Crown, 2007), I hypothesized that communication would be a mechanism through which couples negotiated roles during reintegration. Couple communication was conceptualized as occurring over two distinct but related temporal rhythms: established communication patterns and daily communication strategies. I expected that couples’ Time 1 (T1) established communication patterns (problem solving and withdrawal) would predict role negotiations at Time 3 (T3), and that these associations would be mediated by daily communication strategies at Time 2 (T2). 54 heterosexual National Guard couples were interviewed at three times across eight months after service members’ return from deployment. T1 and T3 were in-person interviews and measured participants’ established patterns of family life, including established communication patterns and ease in role negotiations. T2 was a four-day data “burst” and captured couples’ daily behaviors such as competence with daily communication strategies. Path analyses indicated that T1 problem solving (an established pattern) predicted service members’ more competent T2 daily communication and easier T3 role negotiations. While no indirect associations emerged for either partner, significant others’ T2 more competent daily communication strategies predicted easier T3 role negotiations for both partners. Results suggest that problem solving and competent daily communication strategies contribute to resilient family functioning during reintegration. This study highlights the viability and importance of adopting multiple temporal rhythms to examine processes across couple transitions.