Date of Award

Spring 2014

Degree Type


Degree Name

Master of Science (MS)


Human Development and Family Studies

First Advisor

Shelley MacDermid Wadsworth

Committee Member 1

Melissa Franks

Committee Member 2

Sharon Christ


Upon returning home from deployment, service members are likely coping with strong emotions related to deployment stressors. In addition, service members and their intimate partners may be tasked with emotionally reconnecting with one another after an extended period of separation. Reintegration is therefore a critical, transitory time to evaluate associations between emotional coping strategies utilized by service members and their partners as predictors of service members' well-being. Previous research has indicated that service members' expression of emotions is positively related to their well-being post-deployment, whereas their avoidance is negatively related. These relationships were reevaluated in the current study. The current study adds to existing research by further assessing associations between partners' emotional coping and service members' well-being. A dyadic coping perspective rooted in family systems theory was adopted to guide the current study's research aims, which were: (1) to evaluate the unique associations between service members' emotional approach to coping and avoidance with their psychological health; and (2) to assess the impact of partners' emotion expression on service members' psychological health. Data were collected from 82 male National Guard members and their female partners after the service members returned from deployment in 2008. Several cross-sectional findings were consistent with research hypotheses: service members' emotion expression was positively associated with their self-reported psychological health, whereas their avoidance was negatively associated. Contrary to hypotheses, partners' emotion expression was adversely related to service members' psychological health. Post-hoc analyses revealed that this negative association was most robust when partners reported high levels of emotion expression and low levels of emotion processing. Potential implications for intervention/prevention programs focused on promoting the well-being of service members during reintegration are discussed.