"You can freak out or deal with it" : military wives' perspectives on communication and family resilience, coping, and support during deployment

dc.contributor.advisorMaxwell, Madeline M.en
dc.creatorRossetto, Kelly Reneeen
dc.description.abstractThis study investigates the process of resilience from the perspective of military wives during deployment. The study had two main goals: 1) to further understand the deployment experience, as it is lived personally and within the family, and 2) to develop a theory-based resilience model, guided by family stress and resilience theory, highlighting the role of communication within the family resilience process. According to the FAAR Model (Patterson, 1988; 2002), resilience involves three components: meanings, demands, and capabilities. Based on the goals of the study and the three main components of resilience, five broad research questions guided the study: How do military spouses perceive, interpret, and make meaning of their experience with spousal deployment? How do spouses cope with the spousal deployment experience? How do spouses perceive the family deployment and coping experience? What supportive resources and responses are most helpful for military spouses during spousal deployment, and why? And what supportive resources and responses are most unhelpful for military spouses during spousal deployment, and why? The data are also viewed through a lens of ambiguous loss theory (Boss, 1999; 2004; 2006; 2007), as deployment is a stressful situation that incorporates uncertainty, loss, and a presence-absence paradox for spouses and families. To investigate these questions and develop these theories, in-depth interviews were conducted with 26 military wives who were currently experiencing deployment. The results illustrate various aspects of women’s perceptions of their deployment experiences, including how they make sense of these experiences. Women did not only discuss their own personal experiences; they also reported experiences at relational and family levels. Paralleling these tri-level perceptions of the experience, women’s approaches to coping also occurred at individual, relational, and family levels. Different coping strategies within each level are outlined and discussed. Finally, women’s perceptions and evaluations of the responses they receive from others, both supportive and unsupportive, are reported and discussed. Based on the results, a transactional model of family resilience, highlighting the central role of communication, is proposed. Implications for theory (e.g., stress and resilience theories, ambiguous loss theory) and practice are discussed. Future directions for research are explored.en
dc.description.departmentCommunication Studiesen
dc.rightsCopyright is held by the author. Presentation of this material on the Libraries' web site by University Libraries, The University of Texas at Austin was made possible under a limited license grant from the author who has retained all copyrights in the works.en
dc.subjectMilitary wivesen
dc.subjectFamily resilienceen
dc.subjectSpousal deploymenten
dc.title"You can freak out or deal with it" : military wives' perspectives on communication and family resilience, coping, and support during deploymenten
thesis.degree.departmentCommunication Studiesen
thesis.degree.disciplineCommunication Studiesen
thesis.degree.grantorThe University of Texas at Austinen
thesis.degree.nameDoctor of Philosophyen

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