Contemporary Family Therapy

, Volume 37, Issue 3, pp 329–339 | Cite as

The Role of Online Communication in the Lives of Military Spouses

  • Jennifer Rea
  • Andrew Behnke
  • Nichole Huff
  • Kimberly Allen
Original Paper


The present study explored the impact of online communication and social networking sites on military spouses as they experienced a deployment of their spouse. Qualitative data were collected through one-on-one, semi-structured Skype interviews with ten married military spouses from Eastern North Carolina. Phenomenological data analysis revealed three major themes: (1) social media and its purpose in the life of military spouses; (2) social media and its role in maintaining the relationships among military couples; and (3) implications for therapists to incorporate online communication into treatment plans of military couples around the topics of relocation, deployment, reintegration, and mental health. Key findings suggest that the use of online communication during a military deployment is a positive influence and support for military spouses. The present study provides insights into the life of military spouses and how they use online communication, including social media, as a tool for relational maintenance. By better understanding the function of social media and online communication for military spouses, family therapists can better assist military families through deployments and wartime separations.


Couple communication Deployment Military spouse Online communication Relational maintenance Social media 


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Copyright information

© Springer Science+Business Media New York 2015

Authors and Affiliations

  • Jennifer Rea
    • 1
  • Andrew Behnke
    • 2
  • Nichole Huff
    • 2
  • Kimberly Allen
    • 2
  1. 1.Department of Family Social ScienceUniversity of MinnesotaSt. PaulUSA
  2. 2.Department of Youth, Family, and Community SciencesNorth Carolina State UniversityRaleighUSA

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