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Relational turbulence and the post-deployment transition: Self, partner, and relationship focused turbulence

APA Citation:

Theiss, J. A., & Knobloch, L. K. (2014). Relational turbulence and the post-deployment transition: Self, partner, and relationship focused turbulence. Communication Research, 41(1), 27–51. https://doi.org/10.1177/0093650211429285

Abstract Created by REACH:

Researchers examined how the relational turbulence model applied to post-deployment couple reunions. They used relational uncertainty (uncertainty about the relationship) and partner interference (a behavior of one partner that interrupts the other’s routine or pursuit of a goal) to predict three markers of possible relationship distress: (a) relational maintenance, (b) partner responsiveness, (c) and turmoil appraisals. An online survey was used to collect data Service members and their partners. Findings suggest that the model is relevant for explaining the communication experiences of military couples during the post-deployment transition, and that relational uncertainty and partner interference explained unique variance in relationships distress markers beyond the effect of reported relationship satisfaction.


Mental health

Branch of Service:

Multiple branches
Air Force
Coast Guard
Marine Corps

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

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


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


Empirical Study
Quantitative Study


Theiss, Jennifer A., Knobloch, Leanne K.


This study applied the relational turbulence model to the communication of U.S. service members and at-home partners following the return from a tour of duty by evaluating three turbulence markers: (a) relational maintenance, (b) partner responsiveness, and(c) turmoil appraisals. Participants were 235 individuals (128 service members, 107at-home partners) who completed an online questionnaire within 6 months following reunion. Relational uncertainty and interference from partners predicted turbulence markers, and they partially mediated the association between relationship satisfaction and turbulence markers. Results suggest that the relational turbulence model is useful for illuminating the experiences of military couples during the post-deployment transition. Findings also point to turbulence markers that may be salient during a variety of relationship transitions.

Publisher/Sponsoring Organization:

SAGE Publications

Publication Type:

REACH Publication

Author Affiliation:

Department of Communication, Rutgers University, JAT
Department of Communication, University of Illinois, LKL


relational turbulence, partner responsiveness, relationship satisfaction, military personnel, return from duty

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REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

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