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26-09-2019 | Original Paper | Uitgave 5/2020

Journal of Child and Family Studies 5/2020

Patterns of Strengths in U.S. Military Couples

Journal of Child and Family Studies > Uitgave 5/2020
Jacqueline C. Pflieger, Ben Porter, Carlos E. Carballo, Valerie A. Stander, Nida H. Corry, for the Millennium Cohort Family Study Team
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The aim of the current study was to examine patterns of strengths among a large sample of military couples. Family resilience theory was utilized to operationalize strengths in couples, including individual beliefs represented by self-mastery, positive outlook, and spirituality; organizational patterns represented by social support; and family communication.


We used data from the Millennium Cohort Family Study; the current study was composed of 9642 married military dyads representing all service branches and components.


Using latent profile analysis, results supported five patterns of strengths in couples. Over half (58.4%) of the couples exhibited a pattern indicative of high strengths for both members of the couple, about a third (33.6%) of couples exhibited two patterns in which one member of the couple was higher on strengths than the other member, and a small proportion (5.1%) of couples exhibited a pattern of low strengths where both members of the couple were low on all indicators. The least common pattern (2.9%) was of moderately high beliefs and social support, yet very low family communication. Sociodemographic and military correlates that most consistently distinguished high strengths in couples from other patterns were higher spouse education level and service member officer rank. Service members and spouses with poorer mental health, marital quality, and overall military satisfaction were more likely to exhibit patterns indicative of low strengths.


Overall, most military couples exhibited high strengths early in the military career cycle. Future longitudinal research is needed to examine how military experiences impact patterns of strengths and adjustment in couples over time.

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