Marriage in the Military: When Both Spouses Are Service Members

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When you and your spouse are service members, the dual military life can be a challenge. Trying to stay connected while juggling the demands of two hectic careers can strain even the best relationships. Give yourself a leg up by learning techniques to help you balance work and family life and develop strategies for dealing with the stress and sacrifice.

Know what to expect

Entering your military marriage with realistic expectations can help prepare you for what's to come. Here are a few situations a dual military couple can anticipate:

  • Separations. Deployments or remote assignments, and the separation that comes with them, are a fact of life for every military family. However, if you are a dual military couple, you're likely to spend even more time apart because you'll be juggling two assignments.
  • Complicated career decisions. Passing up a career-enhancing assignment or school to stay together, or accepting a less desirable job so the spouse can advance, are decisions almost every dual career couple has had to face.
  • Extra help from family and friends. You may need to ask for extra help from your family and friends, especially if you're a dual military couple with children. Your family members may need to be caregivers to your children for certain periods of time if both you and your spouse are deployed or on assignment. 

Understand the role rank, service branch and career path play

There are a few different ways your specific military path can play a unique role in dual military marriages:

  • When two service members of different rank marry, they may not have the common experiences or understanding of each other's career expectations as couples that are closer in rank.
  • When two service members belong to different career-management fields or communities, it may not always be easy to assign them to the same location.
  • When two service members from different service branches marry, the likelihood of being in the same place becomes even more complicated, because it depends on coordination across branches. 

How to develop positive coping strategies

Here are a few skills, habits, and attitudes you can adopt as a dual military couple to help manage your lifestyle:

  • Focus on communication. This is essential for all healthy relationships, but becomes even more important when you are balancing two demanding careers. Talk frequently, openly and honestly.
  • Honor each other's goals. Take your partner's career as seriously as you take your own. This may eventually mean making future career choices based on your spouse's career goals.
  • Be flexible. Your relationship will need to be flexible to accommodate both careers. Expect the balance of career responsibilities and family responsibilities to shift over time.
  • Remember the positives. You understand each other's experiences and can relate to the other's career triumphs and challenges in ways non-military spouses can't. Take time to recognize that your experience with teamwork and shared sacrifice make your relationship even stronger.

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