by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD
Deployment of a spouse can be stressful for the partner left at home. As the family prepares for deployment, attention may be focused on the military member preparing to deploy with packing, getting chores done, visiting friends, saying goodbye and many other activities. During deployment, the spouse and children can feel disconnected, communication with the deployed spouse may be challenging, and the family at home will worry about the service member’s safety.
Mollie Gross, a comedian, motivational speaker and author of “Confessions of a Military Wife,” made Marine Corps Base Hawaii spouses and service members laugh – and sometimes cry in a recent presentation. (DVIDS, U.S. Marine Corps photo by Kristen Wong)
No matter how well a military family is prepared for deployment, the shift in family roles adds to the stressors experienced by the military family, and the role of social support for the spouse becomes more important. In a recent article, Skomorovsky (2014) surveyed spouses of Canadian military service members regarding their level of stress, well-being and depressive symptoms, and their sources of social support during and after deployment. Four types of support were examined: 1) Military spouse; 2) Family of both the military member and spouse; 3) Friends; and, 4) Military contacts. During deployment, having strong social support from family members was key for the non-military spouse’s adjustment and well-being. After deployment, support from friends and the returned spouse, as well as family members, helped predict better adjustment. Both during and after deployment, support from military contacts did not appear to provide significant help to the military spouse.
Social support, particularly from partners, family, and friends outside of the military play an important role when considering the psychological well-being of spouses when a partner is deployed. When working with military spouses, clinicians may consider emphasizing the importance of seeking social support both during and after deployment.
For videos to help spouses and families talk about deployment and illustrating social support, visit Sesame Street’s Talk, Listen, Connect. Other recent MFLN blogs related to this topic can be found here: Marital Adjustment After Deployment; Deployment and Single Parenting: A snapshot into the Experience of Navy Moms.
Skormorovsky, A. (2014). Deployment stress and well-being among military spouses: The role of social support. Miiltary Psychology, 26:1, 44-54. doi: 10.1037/mil0000029
This post was written by Jay Morse & Heidi Radunovich, PhD, members of the MFLN Family Development (FD) team which aims to support the development of professionals working with military families. Find out more about the Military Families Learning Network FD concentration on our website, on Facebook, on Twitter, YouTube, and on LinkedIn.