The psychological impact of military deployment on nondeploying partners of service members is only recently gaining attention in the literature, with preliminary findings suggesting that partners of military service members experience significant mental health consequences of deployment, but with little work examining factors that could heighten or attenuate risk for maladjustment in response to deployment. The current study uses attachment theory as a guide to explore the unique and interactive effects of two factors likely to increase risk for maladjustment among nondeploying partners: attachment anxiety and trauma history. Participants (N = 86) completed assessments 2 weeks prior to and 2 weeks following their partners' deployment departure, as well as 2 weeks following their partners' return. Attachment anxiety and trauma history independently contributed to adjustment during and following the deployment, with partners high in either factor at greatest risk for maladjustment and partners high in both exhibiting the most linguistic signs of threat orientation. Further, low attachment anxiety was associated with better adjustment when trauma history was low or moderate, but not high; similarly, low trauma history was associated with better adjustment when attachment anxiety was at low or moderate, but not high. In terms of postdeployment adjustment, partners with less trauma history reported less distress. Somewhat surprisingly, among those with more trauma history, higher attachment anxiety was associated with less risk for maladjustment. We discuss these findings in terms of their implication for theory and prevention.
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