“We walk on eggshells”: A phenomenological inquiry of wives’ experiences of living with active-duty Marine husbands with PTSD


Active duty, Marine Corps, PTSD, wives’ experiences


In this qualitative study, the authors explored the lived experiences of wives married to active-duty male Marines who have a diagnosis of post-traumatic stress disorder (PTSD). The first author and primary investigator conducted in-depth interviews with eight women, all of whom had been married more than 3 years and experienced at least one deployment while married. Transcendental phenomenology was used to gain an understanding of each woman’s experience. The central research question in this study was “What is it like to live with an active-duty male Marine with PTSD?” Findings demonstrated five essential themes: (1) the unpredictability of living with someone with PTSD, (2) the spouse had to take on different roles, (3) the wives felt unprepared to handle PTSD, (4) the wives received different messages when trying to seek help for their husbands, and (5) the wives wanted to send messages to other wives living with Marines with PTSD.

Original Publication Citation

Temple, J., Miller, M., Banford Witting, A.,Kim, A. (2017). "We walk on eggshells": Aphenomenological inquiry of wives' experiences of living with active-duty marine husbands with PTSD. Journal of Family Social Work, 1-20. DOI: 10.1080/10522158.2017.1279579

Document Type

Peer-Reviewed Article

Publication Date


Permanent URL



Journal of Family Social Work




Family, Home, and Social Sciences


Family Life

University Standing at Time of Publication

Full Professor