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Reintegration, reconciliation and relationship quality

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Reintegration, reconciliation and relationship quality

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Marital separation is ranked among the events that produce high levels of stress in families and couples. Military deployments cause temporary separations and require adjustments from all those involved, before, during, and after the separation, and often with few formal resources to prepare one’s self and the family for these transitions. Not only do the temporary absences and subsequent returns of a family member into the household bring with them the need for family restructuring and adaptation, but military-induced separations also involve the potential risks of service members getting injured, or even killed, while performing their duties abroad. This risk is part of the unique combination of demands that military service members face as they seek to balance military service with their familial role. Because of the stresses involved with military deployments, these separations have the potential to strain family life and relationships. Over the last few decades, and with research demonstrating the importance of family satisfaction with the military lifestyle for retention and performance, both the beneficial and detrimental effects of military deployments on intimate relationships have been a focus area for military leaders and researchers. In particular, research has centered on the impact of deployments on married couples, their marital satisfaction, and the stability of the relationship – that is, whether the marriage ends in divorce. Although this focus is appropriate given the high rate of marriage among military members in general, and particularly officers (McCone and O’Donnell, 2006), it ignores a large group of personnel in other committed relationships, such as those who are in civil partnerships or cohabiting, and how their relationship quality is affected by military deployments. It also does not account for same-sex couples, who, depending on their citizenship, live in a country in which marriage or civil partnership is not an option. In the United States, especially, this is an important consideration in light of the relatively recent repeal of “don’t ask, don’t tell” policy.
Taking into account the diversity of intimate relationships among military personnel, the aim of this chapter is to enhance our understanding of how military deployments affect the quality and stability of a couple’s relationship from an international perspective. We focus first on the stressors that married couples experience during military deployments, using the framework of Karney and Crown (2007) for modeling stability in military marriages. We also present empirical findings from the United States and the Netherlands, in addition to recent international literature, which speaks to the issues experienced by married couples. We then challenge the dominant paradigm used to frame military families as traditional married couples, by considering other types of intimate relationship and how they experience deployments. This chapter addresses two research questions, as follows. • • How are marital relationships affected by military deployment? What are the unique challenges of different types of family/couple? We also consider the subquestion of how formal military policies regarding families influence relationship outcomes.

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Trefwoorden
OrganisatieMinisterie van Defensie - NLDA
Gepubliceerd inMilitary families and war in the 21st century Routledge, Abingdon, Oxon, Pagina's: 145-160
Jaar2015
TypeBoekdeel
TaalEngels

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