Communication of Military Couples During Deployment Predicting Generalized Anxiety Upon Reunion

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This study draws on the emotional cycle of deployment model (Pincus, House, Christenson, & Adler, 2001) to consider how the valence of communication between military personnel and at-home partners during deployment predicts their generalized anxiety upon reunion. Online survey data were collected from 555 military couples (N = 1,110 individuals) once per month for 8 consecutive months beginning at homecoming. Dyadic growth curve modeling results indicated that people’s anxiety declined across the transition. For at-home partners, constructive communication during deployment predicted a steeper decline in anxiety over time. For both returning service members and at-home partners, destructive communication during deployment predicted more anxiety upon reunion but a steeper decline in anxiety over time. Results were robust beyond the frequency of communication during deployment and a host of individual, relational, and military variables. These findings advance the emotional cycle of deployment model, highlight the importance of the valence of communication during deployment, and illuminate how the effects of communication during deployment can endure after military couples are reunited.

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