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Transferable resilience practices: Communication and resilience of U.S. military spouses during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic

APA Citation:

Fanari, A., Cooper, R. A., Dajches, L., Beck, G., & Pitts, M. J. (2023). Transferable resilience practices: Communication and resilience of U.S. military spouses during the initial stages of the COVID-19 pandemic. Journal of Family Communication, 23(1), 1-21. https://doi.org/10.1080/15267431.2022.2149528

Abstract Created by REACH:

The communication theory of resilience suggests that talking and interacting with others contributes to the development of resilience after a “trigger event.” 27 military spouses were interviewed about their experiences in navigating the COVID-19 pandemic and how being a military spouse impacted their ability to be resilient during the pandemic, a term called transferring resilience. Overall, military spouses had sufficient skills and strengths to overcome the ambiguity of the pandemic. 6 themes emerged from their common experiences.



Branch of Service:

Air Force
Multiple branches

Military Affiliation:

Active Duty

Subject Affiliation:

Spouse of service member or veteran


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


Qualitative Study


Fanari, Alice, Cooper, R. Amanda, Dajches, Leah, Beck, Gary, Pitts, Margaret J.


This study uses the communication theory of resilience as a sensitizing framework to explore how U.S. military spouses transferred resilience practices acquired during military deployment to early phases of the COVID-19 pandemic. Data from 27 in-depth interviews with U.S. military spouses showed that the military experience shaped participants’ appraisal of the pandemic and helped them to discursively enact resilience through previously developed practices. Six major themes emerged: (a) crafting normalcy through the military lifestyle and experience; (b) affirming identity through military anchors; (c) invoking military mantras as alternative logics; (d) foregrounding productive action through flexibility and planning; (e) maintaining communication networks through (i) technology, (ii) family and community support, and (iii) intentional communication with partner; and (f) downplaying negative feelings by generating positive emotions. Findings contribute to the communication theory of resilience by showing how individuals with a history of resilience can transfer already-built resilience practices from one context (deployment) to another (COVID-19).

Publication Type:

REACH Publication


communication, resilience, military spouses, COVID-19 pandemic

View Research Summary:

REACH Publication Type:

Research Summary

REACH Newsletter:

  April 2023

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