Communication and Connection During Deployment: A Daily-Diary Study From the Perspective of At-Home Partners

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Abstract

In this study, 87 partners of deployed National Guard service members completed daily diaries in which they recorded for up to 7 consecutive days the channels (e.g., phone) by which they communicated with their service member, the communication activities (e.g., support provision) they and their service member engaged in, and how connected they felt to their service member. Multilevel modeling was used to explore two types of associations between couples’ communication activities and partners’ feelings of connection for partners who communicated with their service member via phone and/or video during the week. Findings indicated that, across the week, partners who reported that their service member provided them with higher levels of support and who made decisions together more often as a couple felt more connected to their service member (between-person associations). Additionally, on days when partners reported they provided support during phone calls more than they did on average, or their service member provided them support during video calls more than their service member did on average, they reported greater feelings of connection (within-person associations). Future research should explore how daily fluctuations in deployment communication may reinforce or challenge existing relationship processes, thus impacting how couples maintain their relationships after, as well as during, deployment.

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