Relationship maintenance among military couples

Leanne K. Knobloch, J. Kale Monk, Shelley M. MacDermid Wadsworth

Research output: Contribution to journalReview articlepeer-review


A burgeoning body of research on the relationship maintenance of military couples over the past two decades suggests the time is right to organize, assimilate, and critique the literature. We conducted a systematic review informed by the integrative model of relationship maintenance that considered issues of intersectionality. Our literature search identified 81 relevant journal articles representing 62 unique samples. With respect to theory, 59.3% of the journal articles employed one or more formal theoretical frameworks. In terms of research design, 88.7% of the studies focused on the U.S. military, 83.9% of the studies recruited convenience samples, 54.8% of the studies utilized quantitative methods, and 30.6% of the studies collected longitudinal data. Among the studies reporting sample demographics, 96.8% of participants were married, 77.2% of participants identified as non-Hispanic White, and only one same-sex relationship was represented. Our narrative synthesis integrated findings about relationship maintenance from studies examining (a) relationship maintenance overtly, (b) communicating to stay connected across the deployment cycle, (c) disclosure and protective buffering, (d) support from a partner, (e) dyadic coping, and (f) caregiving and accommodating a partner’s symptoms. We interpret our results with an eye toward advancing theory, research, and practice.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)734-772
Number of pages39
JournalJournal of Social and Personal Relationships
Issue number3
StatePublished - Mar 2023


  • Deployment
  • integrative model of relationship maintenance
  • military
  • military couples
  • relationship maintenance

ASJC Scopus subject areas

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


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