Judy Davis is an active duty Army spouse. When she heard her husband say, “I didn’t want to worry you,” two months after he returned from his latest deployment she couldn’t help but stare at him.
“What made him think that weeks of sleepless nights and a ‘mission ready’ mindset wouldn’t worry me,” she said. “What made him think that I could, or would, pretend that things were back to ‘normal’ when they weren’t? I wanted to help, needed to help, but I didn’t know what to do.”
Davis isn’t alone in dealing with these feelings.
Many couples in today’s military community face similar challenges; how do you create and maintain a good relationship when your partner has been through such an intense experience? What does it mean to communicate “effectively” about these experiences?
A team of researchers from the University of Colorado Denver is working to understand how couples are handling these challenges after deployments, and how various strategies seem to work for them in both the short and long term.
The researchers are currently conducting an online study called the Relationships Among Military Personnel (RAMP) project and are seeking Army soldiers and their civilian wives or girlfriends to participate. The goal is to learn about military, relationship and personal experiences for these couples. Ultimately, the research team plans to bring the information back to the military community to help improve services for military couples.
Couples interested in participating should visit www.armycouples.com to learn more and to register. Participation in the study is completely confidential and consists of completing an online survey. Each participant will be compensated.
“We care about enhancing the well-being of Army couples.” says Elizabeth Allen, PhD, associate professor of psychology at CU Denver and head of the RAMP team. “There are many great services available but we know we can do even better and need to learn from military couples so we can continue to improve our programs. Couples can really help by sharing their experiences.”
Judy Davis, the military wife who worried when her husband returned home, worked with him to discover effective couples strategies that continue to guide them through the relationship challenges brought on by war. “It’s such a relief to have my husband back to his happy engaged self,” Davis said.
The University of Colorado Denver research team hopes to help other couples achieve this same level of happiness by learning more about the ways couples struggle and cope with the challenges that follow deployment. Study participants hold the key to improved, healthy relationships for the next group of military personnel returning home.
Link to this article online here.
Relationships Among Military Personnel; COMIRB Protocol 12-0916, PI: Elizabeth Allen, Ph.D.