Patterns of Strengths in U.S. Military Couples
- 67 Downloads
The aim of the current study was to examine patterns of strengths among a large sample of military couples. Family resilience theory was utilized to operationalize strengths in couples, including individual beliefs represented by self-mastery, positive outlook, and spirituality; organizational patterns represented by social support; and family communication.
We used data from the Millennium Cohort Family Study; the current study was composed of 9642 married military dyads representing all service branches and components.
Using latent profile analysis, results supported five patterns of strengths in couples. Over half (58.4%) of the couples exhibited a pattern indicative of high strengths for both members of the couple, about a third (33.6%) of couples exhibited two patterns in which one member of the couple was higher on strengths than the other member, and a small proportion (5.1%) of couples exhibited a pattern of low strengths where both members of the couple were low on all indicators. The least common pattern (2.9%) was of moderately high beliefs and social support, yet very low family communication. Sociodemographic and military correlates that most consistently distinguished high strengths in couples from other patterns were higher spouse education level and service member officer rank. Service members and spouses with poorer mental health, marital quality, and overall military satisfaction were more likely to exhibit patterns indicative of low strengths.
Overall, most military couples exhibited high strengths early in the military career cycle. Future longitudinal research is needed to examine how military experiences impact patterns of strengths and adjustment in couples over time.
KeywordsU.S. military couples Family resilience theory Psychological health Marital quality Military satisfaction Latent profile analysis
The authors express gratitude to the other contributing members of the Millennium Cohort Family Study team from the Naval Health Research Center, including Lauren Bauer, Alex Esquivel, Hope McMaster, Sabrina Richardson, Evelyn Sun, Lexi Takata, and Kelly Woodall. The authors also gratefully acknowledge Christianna Williams from Abt Associates; Ernestine Briggs-King, John Fairbank, Ellen Gerrity, Robert Lee, and Robert Murphy from the Center for Child and Family Health; and contributions of the Millennium Cohort Study team. In addition, the authors want to express their gratitude to the Family Study participants without whom this study would not be possible.
This study was funded by the U.S. Navy Bureau of Medicine and Surgery under work unit no. 60002.
J.P.: designed and executed the study, assisted with interpreting the results, and led the writing and revisions of the manuscript. B.P.: analyzed the data, assisted with writing the method and results sections, and reviewed the final manuscript. C.C.: conducted literature reviews, assisted with analyzing the data, contributed to writing the manuscript, and reviewed the final manuscript. V.S.: collaborated in the study design, assisted with interpreting the results, and reviewed the final manuscript. N.C.: collaborated in the study design, assisted with interpreting the results, and reviewed the final manuscript.
Compliance with Ethical Standards
Conflict of Interest
The authors declare that they have no conflict of interest.
All procedures performed in studies involving human participants were in accordance with the ethical standards of the Naval Health Research Center Institutional Review Board and with the 1964 Helsinki declaration and its later amendments or comparable ethical standards. This article does not contain any studies with animals performed by any of the authors.
Informed consent was obtained from all individual participants included in the study.
- Allen, E. S., Rhoades, G. K., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2010). Hitting home: relationships between recent deployment, posttraumatic stress symptoms, and marital functioning for Army couples. Journal of Family Psychology, 24, 280–288. https://doi.org/10.1037/a0019405.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Anderson, J. R., Amanor-Boadu, Y., Stith, S. M., & Foster, R. E. (2013). Resilience in military marriages experiencing deployment. In D. S. Becvar (Ed.), Handbook of family resilience (pp. 105–118). https://doi.org/10.1007/978-1-4614-3917-2_7.
- Asparouhov, T., & Muthén, B. (2013). Auxiliary variables in mixture modeling: a 3-step approach using Mplus (Mplus Web Notes No. 15). https://statmodel.com/examples/webnotes/AuxMixture_submitted_corrected_webnote.pdf.
- Borden, L. M., Brown, S., Cheatom, O., Hawkey, K. R., Hawkins, S., Hoang, T. N.,… Casper, D. M. (2014). Strong family functioning: research brief. Minneapolis, MN: University of Minnesota. https://reachfamilies.umn.edu/sites/default/files/rdoc/Strong%20Family%20Functioning%20(2).pdf.
- Bowen, G. L., Martin, J. A., & Mancini, J. A. (2013). The resilience of military families: theoretical perspectives. In M. A. Fine & F. D. Fincham (Eds), Handbook of family theories: a content-based approach (pp. 417–436). New York, NY: Routledge.Google Scholar
- Carter, S. P., Loew, B., Allen, E. S., Osborne, L., Stanley, S. M., & Markman, H. J. (2015). Distraction during deployment: marital relationship associations with spillover for deployed Army soldiers. Military Psychology, 2, 108–114. https://doi.org/10.1037/mil0000067.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Clark, M. A., O’Neal, C. W., Conley, K. M., & Mancini, J. A. (2018). Resilient family processes, personal reintegration, and subjective well-being outcomes for military personnel and their family members. American Journal of Orthopsychiatry, 88, 99–111. https://doi.org/10.1037/ort0000278.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Corry, N. H., Williams, C. S., Battaglia, M., McMaster, H. S., & Stander, V. A. (2017). Assessing and adjusting for non-response in the Millennium Cohort Family Study. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 17, 16. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0294-8.
- Crum-Cianflone, N. F., Fairbank, J. A., Marmar, C. R., & Schlenger, W. (2014). The Millennium Cohort Family Study: a prospective evaluation of the health and well-being of military service members and their families. International Journal of Methods and Psychiatric Research, 23, 320–330. https://doi.org/10.1002/mpr.1446.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Hill, R. (1949). Families under stress: adjustment to the crises of war separation and reunion. New York, NY: Harper.Google Scholar
- Hosek, J., Kavanagh, J., & Miller, L. (2006). How deployments affect service members. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2005/RAND_MG432.pdf.
- Kaur, N., Porter, B., LeardMann, C. A., Tobin, L. E., Lemus, H., & Luxton, D. D. (2017). Evaluation of a modified version of the posttraumatic growth inventory-short form. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 17, 69. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0344-2.
- Kazis, L. E., Miller, D. R., Clark, J. A., Skinner, K. M., Lee, A., Ren, X. S., & Ware, Jr., J. E. (2004a). Improving the response choices on the veterans SF-36 health survey role functioning scales: results from the veterans health study. Journal of Ambulatory Care Management, 27, 263–280.CrossRefGoogle Scholar
- Kim, P. Y., Kok, B. C., Thomas, J. L., Hoge, C. W., & Riviere, L. A. (2012). Land combat study of an Army infantry division 2003–2009 (Accession No. ADA563460). https://apps.dtic.mil/dtic/tr/fulltext/u2/a563460.pdf
- Lester, P., Mogil, C., Saltzman, W., Woodward, K., Nash, W., & Beardslee, W. (2011). Families overcoming under stress: Implementing family-centered prevention for military families facing wartime deployments and combat operational stress. Military Medicine, 176, 19–25. https://doi.org/10.7205/milmed-d-10-00122.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Masten, A. S., & Narayan, A. J. (2012). Child development in the context of disaster, war, and terrorism: pathways of risk and resilience. Annual Review of Psychology, 63, 227–257. https://doi.org/10.1146/annurev-psych-120710-100356.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- McMaster, H. S., LeardMann, C. A., Speigle, S., & Dillman, D. A. (2017). An experimental comparison of web-push vs. paper-only survey procedures for conducting an in-depth health survey of military spouses. BMC Medical Research Methodology, 17, 73. https://doi.org/10.1186/s12874-017-0337-1.
- Meadows, S. O., Beckett, M. K., Bowling, K., Golinelli, D., Fisher, M. P., Martin, L. T., & Osilla, K. C. (2015). Family resilience in the military: definitions, models, and policies. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/research_reports/RR400/RR470/RAND_RR470.pdf.
- Meredith, L. S., Sherbourne, C. D., Gaillot, S. J., Hansell, L., Ritschard, H. V., Parker, A. M., & Wrenn, G. (2011). Promoting psychological resilience in the U.S. military. Santa Monica, CA: RAND. https://www.rand.org/content/dam/rand/pubs/monographs/2011/RAND_MG996.pdf.
- Muthén, L. K., & Muthén, B. O. (1998–2012). Mplus user’s guide (7th edn). https://www.statmodel.com/download/usersguide/Mplus%20user%20guide%20Ver_7_r3_web.pdf.
- Office of the Joint Chiefs of Staff. (2011). Chairman’s total force fitness framework (CJCSI 3405.01). https://www.jcs.mil/Portals/36/Documents/Library/Instructions/3405_01.pdf?ver=2016-02-05-175032-517.
- Olson, D. H., & Gorall, D. M. (2003). Circumplex model of marital and family systems. In F. Walsh (Ed.), Normal family processes: growing diversity and complexity. 3rd edn (pp. 514–548). New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Porter, B., Hoge, C. W., Tobin, L. E., Donoho, C. J., Castro, C. A., Luxton, D. D., & Faix, D. (2018). Measuring aggregated and specific combat exposures: associations between combat exposure measures and posttraumatic stress disorder, depression, and alcohol-related problems. Journal of Traumatic Stress, 31, 296–306. https://doi.org/10.1002/jts.22273.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Prigerson, H. G., Maciejewski, P. K., & Rosenheck, R. A. (2002). Population attributable fractions of psychiatric disorders and behavioral outcomes associated with combat exposure among U.S. men. American Journal of Public Health, 92, 59–63. https://doi.org/10.2105/ajph.92.1.59.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Ryan, M. A., Smith, T. C., Smith, B., Amoroso, P., Boyko, E. J., Gray, G. C., & Hooper, T. I. (2007). Millennium Cohort: enrollment begins a 21-year contribution to understanding the impact of military service. Journal of Clinical Epidemiology, 60, 181–191. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jclinepi.2006.05.009.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Saltzman, W. R., Lester, P., Beardslee, W. R., Layne, C. M., Woodward, K., & Nash, W. P. (2011). Mechanisms of risk and resilience in military families: theoretical and empirical basis of a family-focused resilience enhancement program. Clinical Child and Family Psychology Review, 14, 213–230. https://doi.org/10.1007/s10567-011-0096-1.CrossRefPubMedPubMedCentralGoogle Scholar
- Sharma, V., Marin, D. B., Koenig, H. K., Feder, A., Iacoviello, B. M., Southwick, S. M., & Pietrzak, R. H. (2017). Religion, spirituality, and mental health of U.S. military veterans: results from the national health and resilience in veterans study. Journal of Affective Disorders, 217, 197–204. https://doi.org/10.1016/j.jad.2017.03.071.CrossRefPubMedGoogle Scholar
- Walsh, F. (2016). Strengthening family resilience. 3rd edn New York, NY: Guilford Press.Google Scholar
- Walter Reed Army Institute of Research. (2003). Soldier family health and well-being survey (unpublished survey). Silver Spring, MD: Walter Reed Army Institute of Research.Google Scholar
- Ware, Jr., J. E., & Sherbourne, C. D. (1992). The MOS 36-item short-form health survey (SF-36): conceptual framework and item selection. Medical Care, 30, 473–483. https://pdfs.semanticscholar.org/06cb/0076e310136d0ca8b56cc8585ec2bf43e029.pdf.