Living in the line of fire: the impact of the exposure to warfare on couple relationships

Michal Shamai, Guy Enosh, Ronit Machmali-Kievitz, Dvorit Gilad

Research output: Contribution to journalArticlepeer-review


The study explored how civilians living in the line of fire perceived the impact of the exposure to war on their relationships. Couple resilience and loss and gain of couple resources were hypothesized to mediate between the level of exposure and couple relationships. Data were collected from sixty-one individuals living in Israel close to the border with the Gaza Strip and 121 individuals living some distance from the border. No differences were found between the groups on couple relationships. However, the high exposure group reported significantly higher negative and positive implications of the security situation for couple relationships. Recommendations for couple and systemic intervention focused on the positive impacts for couples and on a broader macro-level approach, through group work with couples and training medical and education workers. Practitioner points: Many therapists working with populations in war situations tend to focus on the painful and stressful aspects, emphasizing traumatic symptoms and their impact on relationships This study shows that stress created by exposure to war might also enrich some aspects of couple relationships This enrichment, such as in the ability to communicate, to share, and to reach agreement and trust, should be taken into consideration when planning and implementing therapy.

Original languageEnglish
Pages (from-to)349-377
Number of pages29
JournalJournal of Family Therapy
Issue number3
StatePublished - Aug 2018

Bibliographical note

Publisher Copyright:
© 2017 The Association for Family Therapy and Systemic Practice


  • couple relationships
  • couple resilience
  • couple resources
  • couple therapy
  • security threat
  • war

ASJC Scopus subject areas

  • Social Psychology
  • Clinical Psychology
  • Social Sciences (miscellaneous)


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