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Military spouses’ self- and partner-directed minimization in the context of deployment

APA Citation:

Marini, C. M., Wadsworth, S. M., Franks, M. M., Wilson, S. R., Topp, D., & Christ, S. L. (2019). Military spouses’ self-and partner-directed minimization in the context of deployment. Military Behavioral Health, 7, 245-256. https://doi.org/10.1080/21635781.2019.1580643

Abstract Created by REACH:

During a deployment, military spouses may withhold their own worries from their partner, a term known as self-directed minimization. They may also downplay their partner’s worries, known as partnerdirected minimization. These efforts at minimization are typically an attempt to create an emotional boundary and protect their service member from compounding stressors. This study examined military spouses’ minimization during deployment in relation to service members’ combat exposure during deployment and both service members’ and spouses’ depressive symptoms throughout the deployment cycle. Data were collected from 154 National Guard couples at three different time points: predeployment, deployment, and reintegration*. Results suggested that when military spouses reported higher levels of depressive symptoms at predeployment, they tended to use self-directed and partner-directed minimization more often during deployments. Further, service members’ combat exposure during deployment was also related to higher levels of military spouses’ selfdirected minimization.


Mental health

Branch of Service:


Military Affiliation:


Subject Affiliation:

Guard/Reserve member
Military families


Adulthood (18 yrs & older)
Young adulthood (18 - 29 yrs)
Thirties (30 - 39 yrs)


Longitudinal Study
Quantitative Study
Secondary Analysis


Marini, Christina M., Wadsworth, Shelley M. M., Franks, Melissa M., Wilson, Steven R., Topp, Dave, Christ, Sharon L.


In light of technological advances enabling military couples to communicate throughout deployment, spouses of deployed service members often make decisions about what to share with service members and how to respond to service members’ concerns. In doing so, they manage an emotional boundary between service members and their families. This study focused on 2 behaviors military spouses may use when managing this boundary, namely their minimization of (a) their own concerns (i.e., self-directed minimization) and (b) service members’ concerns (i.e., partner-directed minimization). The purpose of the current study was to identify correlates and consequences of these behaviors. Findings from a longitudinal structural equation model using 3 waves of data from a sample of 154 married military couples in which the husband was a male National Guard soldier indicated that spouses were more likely to minimize both their own—and service members’—concerns when they themselves reported higher levels of depressive symptomology prior to deployment. Spouses’ minimization of service members’ concerns during deployment, in turn, predicted higher levels of service members’ depressive symptomology at reintegration, even after accounting for their initial depressive symptomology and combat exposure. Implications for intervention efforts aimed at promoting individual and couple adjustment to deployment are discussed.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

Taylor & Francis

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Center for Healthy Aging, The Pennsylvania State University, CMM
Purdue University, SMMW
Purdue University, MMF
Purdue University, SRW
Purdue University, DT
Purdue University, SLC


military couples, communication, deployment, spouse, behaviors, National Guard, adjustment

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary


Office of the Assistant Secretary of Defense for Health Affairs, Award number: W81XWH-14-1-0325
Postdoctoral Fellowship National Institute on Aging, Grant number: T32 AG049676
Pennsylvania State University Bilsland Doctoral Dissertation Fellowship
Purdue University

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