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Balancing Work and Life as Dual Military Couples

Husband and wife in uniform

When you’re married to another service member, you both share the honor of proudly serving your country. Dealing with deployments and separation can be demanding, and learning techniques to balance work and life can help you and your spouse stay connected.

Know what to expect

Balancing the demands of two careers can be stressful, and entering your marriage with realistic expectations can help prepare you for what’s to come.

As a dual military couple, you can anticipate these situations:

  • Deployments and separations: You and your spouse may not always be together at every duty location throughout your careers. Deployments, remote assignments and demanding operations tempo will sometimes mean that one of you will return home from a long deployment—just in time to say goodbye to your deploying spouse.
  • Career Decisions: During the course of your marriage, you’ll have to make decisions that will impact your career and family. To stay together, you might have to pass up career enhancing assignments or accept a less desirable job, so your spouse can advance.
  • Extra help from family and friends: If both you and your spouse are deployed or on assignment, your family members may need to be caregivers to your children. To ensure the well-being of your children, an official family care plan is required. Find your service’s family care plan guidance below:

Understand your different career paths

As a dual military couple, it’s important to understand that you and your spouse could have different career paths based on factors, such as rank, career field and service branch.

Here are some things to keep in mind:

  • Different rank: Unlike couples that are closer in rank, dual military couples with different rank might not share common experiences or career expectations.
  • Career-management field: Most married service members belong to different career-management fields or communities. Different specialties might not be needed in the same locations, which could limit the likelihood of being assigned together.
  • Service Branch: Dual career relationships between service members in different service branches will rely on heavy coordination across branches and assignment managers.

Learn how to balance work and life

It can take some time to find the right balance between work and life. Here are some skills, habits and attitudes that can help:

  • Keep an open line of communication: This is essential for a healthy relationship and will help both of you stay connected. Make an effort to work around demanding duty schedules and reserve some time together to talk openly and honestly.
  • Honor each other’s goals: Honoring your partner’s military goals means taking his or her career as seriously as your own. You’ll want to focus on making joint decisions and aligning each other’s goals to make sure career and relationship goals are being met—on both sides.
  • Be prepared to switch roles: Having a sense of flexibility will help accommodate both careers and family life. Picking up children from child care, preparing meals or paying bills are examples of roles that can shift in response to the demands of military duty.

Achieving your goals as a dual-military couple

Once you and your spouse find common ground on balancing work and life, you can take these steps to improve the chances of meeting your goals:

  • Look for joint assignments: Each service branch has a program for assigning married couples to the same duty location or within 100 miles of each other. Programs, such as the Air Force Joint Spouse Program and the Married Army Couples program, do their best to ensure joint assignments.
  • Have realistic contingency plans: Once you’ve completed your service branch’s required Family Care Plan, you may also need to plan for different scenarios to make sure you’re both on the same page.
  • Reach out for support: There are resources available to help you manage the demands of being a dual military couple. If you and your spouse need help managing your careers and improving your relationship, consider talking with a Military OneSource counselor, your installation Family Support Center or your chaplain.

Even with the demands of managing two careers, you and your spouse have a special kind of bond that makes the dual military life work—teamwork and commitment to serving your country.

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