Linguistic indicators of wives' attachment security and communal orientation during military deployment

Jessica L. Borelli, David A. Sbarra, Ashley Randall, Jonathan E. Snavely, Heather K. St. John, Sarah K. Ruiz

Research output: Contribution to journalArticle

13 Scopus citations


Military deployment affects thousands of families each year, yet little is known about its impact on nondeployed spouses (NDSs) and romantic relationships. This report examines two factors-attachment security and a communal orientation with respect to the deployment-that may be crucial to successful dyadic adjustment by the NDS. Thirty-seven female NDSs reported on their relationship satisfaction before and during their partner's deployment, and 20 also did so 2 weeks following their partner's return. Participants provided a stream-of-consciousness speech sample regarding their relationship during the deployment; linguistic coding of sample transcripts provided measures of each participant's (a) narrative coherence, hypothesized to reflect attachment security with respect to their deployed spouse; and (b) frequency of first person plural pronoun use (we-talk), hypothesized to reflect a communal orientation to coping. More frequent first person plural pronounuse-we-talk-was uniquely associated with higher relationship satisfaction during the deployment, and greater narrative coherence was uniquely associated with higher relationship satisfaction during postdeployment. Discussion centers on the value of relationship security and communal orientations in predicting how couples cope with deployment and other types of relationship stressors.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)535-554
Number of pages20
JournalFamily Process
Issue number3
StatePublished - Sep 1 2013



  • Attachment
  • Deployment
  • Relationship Satisfaction
  • Romantic Relationships
  • Word Count

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)

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