Relationship changes of military couples during reintegration: A longitudinal analysis

Lynne M. Knobloch-Fedders, Leanne K. Knobloch, Samantha Scott, Hannah Fiore

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


This study drew on the emotional cycle of deployment model to track the content, valence, and sequence of relationship changes experienced by returning service members and at-home partners during the transition from deployment to reintegration. In a longitudinal study, 555 military couples (1,100 individuals) wrote 7,387 comments describing changes that had occurred in their relationship during the past month. A content analysis identified 10 substantive categories: emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy, spending time together, appraisals of the relationship, life changes, readjustment to daily life, conflict, family changes, commitment, and reports of no change. The frequency of changes reported in emotional intimacy, sexual intimacy, readjustment to daily life, and conflict declined across the transition. In contrast, reports of life changes, and comments stating that no change had occurred, increased over time. Independent coders judged each change as positive (42.1%), negative (32.4%), or neutral (25.5%) in valence. Participants described fewer positive changes as the transition progressed, although this tendency slowed over time. In contrast, the frequency of negative changes remained stable across the transition, and the frequency of neutral changes increased. The findings are used to advance theory, research, policy, and intervention designed to help military couples negotiate relationship changes across the post-deployment transition.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)2145-2165
Number of pages21
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number7
StatePublished - Jul 1 2020


  • Deployment
  • dyadic data analysis
  • military couples

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Communication
  • Developmental and Educational Psychology
  • Sociology and Political Science


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