Financial boundary ambiguity in military couples
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The military lifestyle of extended trainings and deployments creates a need to clearly define each partner’s roles and responsibilities (i.e., boundary ambiguity) after each departure and reunion. Previous researchers have discovered the less boundary ambiguity that occurs when an individual enters into or departs the family system, the less likely the family will experience strain or crisis. One difficult area of boundary definition is finances, as couples tend to avoid talking about money, which could lead to higher rates of “financial boundary ambiguity”. This study applied the Contextual Model of Family Stress Theory to examine financial boundary ambiguity and its impact on marital satisfaction in the post-deployment stage. The actor-partner interdependence model was employed using structural equation modeling in a theory-driven exploration of the impact of financial ambiguity. It was hypothesized (and results support) that more resources (flexibility and communication) are related to less financial ambiguity, and financial ambiguity is inversely related to marital quality. Theoretical, clinical, and research implications are examined based on the findings to explore factors that may decrease the likelihood of financial boundary ambiguity in military couples and, potentially, any couple experiencing transitions.