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Families serve too: Military spouse well-being after separation from active-duty service

APA Citation:

Corry, N. H., Joneydi, R., McMaster, H. S., Williams, C. S., Glynn, S., Spera, C., & Stander, V. A. (2022). Families serve too: Military spouse well-being after separation from active-duty service. Anxiety, Stress, & Coping, 35(5), 501-517. https://doi.org/10.1080/10615806.2022.2038788

Abstract Created by REACH:

This study examined differences in military spouses’ well-being based on changes in their Service member’s active-duty status (i.e., remained in vs. transitioned out). 4,087 military spouses completed measures on family functioning (e.g., marriage quality, family satisfaction, work-family conflict) and psychological health (e.g., posttraumatic stress disorder [PTSD] symptoms) at baseline and at a 3-year follow-up. The study also accounted for demographic considerations (e.g., number of children under 5, military rank) and risk factors (e.g., financial stress). Spouses of Service members who transitioned out of active duty generally reported a decline in marital quality and an increase in PTSD symptoms, but a decline in work-family conflict as well. Some differences emerged based on family context and rank.


Mental health
Physical health

Branch of Service:

Marine Corps
Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Active duty service member
Guard/Reserve member
Spouse of service member or veteran


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)
Middle age (40 - 64 yrs)


Longitudinal Study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Corry, Nida H., Joneydi, Rayan, McMaster, Hope S., Williams, Christianna S., Glynn, Shirley, Spera, Christopher, Stander, Valerie A.


Background and Objectives Transitioning from military to civilian life can be challenging for families, but most research focuses only on the service member. We applied a life course model to assess spouse well-being following this important transition.Design Prospective, longitudinal survey of service members and their spousesMethods We captured three spouse well-being domains: psychological health, physical health, and family relationships. We identified differences between families who separated from service and those still affiliated (N = 4,087) and assessed baseline factors associated with spouse well-being after the family separated from service (N = 1,199).Results Spouses of service members who had separated from the military (versus those who had not) reported poorer mental health and family relationship quality at baseline and follow-up. After controlling for baseline differences, spouses whose families transitioned experienced a greater increase in PTSD symptoms and a steeper decline in quality of marriage. Spouses of active-duty service members reported greater increases in work–family conflict. Among families who had transitioned, the most consistent predictor of positive outcomes was baseline well-being. Protective factors included having more psychological and social resources and less financial stress.Conclusions Several protective and risk factors identified in the study may inform programming for families transitioning from active duty.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

NORC, University of Chicago, NHC
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, RJ
Leidos, HMS
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, CSW
Semel Institute for Neuroscience and Human Behavior, SG
Division of Health and Environment, Abt Associates, CS
Naval Health Research Center, VAS


health, military family, transition, military spouses, well-being

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  May 2022

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