Psychological symptoms and marital satisfaction in spouses of Operation Iraqi Freedom veterans: relationships with spouses' perceptions of veterans' experiences and symptoms.J Fam Psychol. 2008 Aug; 22(4):586-94.JF
Much research has shown that spouses of combat veterans with posttraumatic stress disorder (PTSD) have higher rates of psychological and marital distress than do spouses of veterans without PTSD; however, very few studies have examined potential mechanisms of this increased vulnerability. The current study examined spouses of National Guard soldiers recently returned from deployments in Iraq. In addition to documenting elevated levels of psychological symptoms in these spouses, the authors found that spouses experienced greater symptom severity when they perceived high levels of symptoms in soldiers but the soldiers endorsed low levels of symptoms. Furthermore, spouses' marital satisfaction was negatively linked to soldiers' self-reported symptom severity only when spouses perceived that soldiers had experienced low levels of combat activity while deployed. When spouses perceived high levels of such activity, soldiers' self-reported symptoms had no relationship with spouses' marital satisfaction. These findings highlight the importance of interpersonal perceptions in intimate relationships and are consistent with the notion that uncontrollable attributions for a relative's mental health problems may provide a buffer against relationship distress. (PsycINFO Database Record (c) 2008 APA, all rights reserved).