How Dual Military Couples Manage Their Careers and Relationship

The military grants some accommodation, but not always

Military couple kissing
••• Stephen Morton / Stringer/Getty Images

When both spouses are service members, dual-military life as a couple can be challenging. But many choose to endure the hardships, finding a balance between their marriages and their careers.

Married Army Couples Program

Keeping a family together while accomplishing the missions set forth by the Army, is something many dual military couples face. One way to meet the challenge is by enrolling in the Married Army Couples Program (MACP). Established in August 1983, the MACP is a program designed to help ensure that married soldiers are considered for joint domicile assignments.

Challenges for Being Stationed Together

The Married Army Couples Program works, but it doesn’t guarantee you will be assigned together. There are a number of things which can make it difficult for the MACP to station a couple together. If two soldiers have the same low-density military occupational specialty (MOS) or job, they may be more difficult to station together.

MACP also applies to soldiers married to members of other services, but it is more difficult for assignment managers to station them together. In addition to the difficulties inherent in stationing soldiers from different career fields together, there are also problems stationing soldiers together when they volunteer for special duty.

Soldiers Staying Together as a Couple

While some soldiers place a lot of faith in their branch managers, others recommend that couples take a more proactive hand in their careers. They should expect to make sacrifices, sometimes above and beyond what unmarried soldiers may face. One may have to decline an appointment, for instance, in the interest of staying close to each other.

The key to a successful dual military marriage is a consideration for each other’s career goals.

Family Care Plans

Another challenge dual military couples must tackle are family care plans—written instructions for the care of family members in the event of deployments, temporary duty or field exercises. Dual military couples have 30 days after arriving at a new unit to produce a valid family care plan, which includes naming both a short-term and long-term care provider.

In some cases, finding a short-term care provider at a new duty station can be difficult. Talk to other married couples and parents before you have to deal with this situation, since care arrangements can vary from base to base or station.

Benefits of Being a Dual Military Couple

Still, other dual-military couples said while there are difficulties, there are also a number of benefits. Military spouses understand the stress each other faces on the job every day, and can help each other cope with the challenges they deal with. They can pack each other's gear and even if they're not stationed together, can be a sounding board for each other during challenging periods in their respective tours of duty.