Predicting Marital Health From Adverse Childhood Experiences Among United States Air Force Active-Duty Personnel

Jeff Cigrang, Christina Balderrama-Durbin, Douglas K. Snyder, Aleja M. Parsons, Kelsey Lorko, Avantika Gupta, Amy M.Smith Slep, Richard E. Heyman, Danielle M. Mitnick, Kati L. Wijdenes, Courtney Yahle

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


Marital dysfunction in military samples demands special scrutiny because of its concurrent and prospective linkages with a broad spectrum of mental and physical health disorders, as well as its demonstrated adverse impact on military readiness. Although previous research has shown higher risk for marital distress and divorce among female service members (SMs), particularly at the enlisted ranks, contributing factors to this elevated risk remain largely undetermined. The present study examined the antecedent contributing influence of exposure to adverse childhood experiences (ACEs) on current marital health in a sample of 373 early-career active-duty Airmen, aswell as the potential moderating effect of sex on the magnitude of adverse impact. Results indicated higher prevalence of ACEs for this military sample compared with a community sample and higher prevalence of ACEs for female SMs compared with their male counterparts. Moreover, findings revealed the relatively greater adverse impact of childhood abuse or neglect for female SMs in increasing their likelihood of both IPV perpetration and victimization. Overall, these findings indicate the importance of screening for both antecedent and concurrent indicators of marital health in military settings and developing brief intervention protocols targeting relationship distress and its comorbid conditions in this population.

Original languageEnglish (US)
Pages (from-to)218-232
Number of pages15
JournalCouple and Family Psychology: Research and Practice
Issue number4
StatePublished - Nov 15 2021


  • adverse childhood experiences
  • couple functioning
  • female service members
  • intimate partner violence
  • military

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology


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