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Coping with war enforced separation: A pilot study on the account of wives of Puerto Rican civilian soldiers

Ilia Maria Apellaniz, University of Massachusetts Amherst


This study documents how spouses of Puerto Rican National Guard soldiers appraise the impact of war deployment and separation on their family lives. It examines the coping strategies they found most useful in adjusting to the demands of separation during 1989's Persian Gulf conflict. A combination of quantitative and qualitative methods is used in this study. Emotional tension, concern about their husband's safety and having to assume new family roles and full care taking and household responsibilities without their husbands' support and for such a prolonged period of time were reported by wives as the most distressing aspects of separation. In contrast to women who reported having a satisfactory marital relationship, informants who described their marital relationship as poor evaluated the actual period of separation as less distressing than previous periods of military enforced separation. Overall, women in this study were resourceful and strongly committed to overcome the obstacles faced by their families during separation. Coping strategies aimed at maintaining families united were found to be extremely helpful in adapting to separation. Religious values, a positive outlook on life events, and support from family members also contributed to strengthen their capacity to endure separation. Cultural values and social expectations related to the role that traditionally Puerto Rican women play in the family served the respondents as instrumental guidelines for adapting to the demands and strains of prolonged separation. Implications of these findings for planning intervention and support services for military families are discussed.

Subject Area

Psychotherapy|Families & family life|Personal relationships|Sociology|Womens studies

Recommended Citation

Apellaniz, Ilia Maria, "Coping with war enforced separation: A pilot study on the account of wives of Puerto Rican civilian soldiers" (1998). Doctoral Dissertations Available from Proquest. AAI9909145.