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Rates and correlates of intimacy challenges and relationship readjustment in military families

Wilcox, S1

1: University of Southern California, United States

Objective: While military deployments are associated with having to adjust to life in the absence of the partner, reunion after the deployment is marked with a potentially difficult relationship readjustment period. Relationship readjustment (RA) after a deployment can involve role transitioning, mismatched expectations, and intimacy challenges (IC) among others, which can contribute to intimate relationship conflict. ICs in particular are prevalent in military personnel who often report high rates of sexual dysfunction. Few studies, however, have focused on both the military service member/veteran (M/V) and the military spouse/partner (S/P). This study presents preliminary rates and correlates of RA and IC in post-deployed military couples.

Material and Methods: This exploratory study used national data from a larger study on readiness of military family members over the age of 18 (n=6,291). This sample consisted of 5,354 military service members/veterans and military spouses/partners. Binary logistic regression analyses with odds ratios with 95% confidence intervals (CIs) were performed to assess estimates of intimacy challenges across demographic characteristics, which were controlled in subsequent analyses. Ordinal logistic regression with polytomous universal modeling (PLUM) was performed for examining correlates of intimacy and relationship challenges.

Results: Results found that ICs were differentially associated with demographic and psychological characteristics. The rates of ICs were 20.3% in M/Vs and 7.1% in S/Ps. Both M/Vs and S/Ps who reported relationship readjustment challenges were significantly more likely to report ICs.

Conclusion: This study underscores the of considering intimacy challenges after a deployment, which are common in military families and associated with negative psychological well-being. Strategies aimed at addressing intimacy challenges, particularly after a deployment, can significantly improve relationship readjustment of military families and the overall readiness of military populations.


Work supported by industry: yes, by Pfizer (no industry support in study design or execution).

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