Common Challenges for Dual Army National Guard Couples

Today, I want to share some common challenges for Dual Army National Guard Couples.  Sometimes in the National Guard you will find a husband and wife both serving in the National Guard at the same time.  While this is by no means a bad thing, it can create a unique set of challenges that most Soldiers don’t have to deal with.

What I want to do in the paragraphs below is share five of the most common challenges that dual National Guard Couples deal with and provide some insights and tips to help deal with it.

# 1 Working Together in the Same Unit – One of the biggest challenges that dual National Guard Couples have to deal with it is working in the same unit.  To be quite frank with you, I personally see no reason that a husband and wife should EVER serve in the same unit.  That’s just my opinion, but I think it’s a bad idea.  If for some reason your Commander lets you both serve in the same unit, make sure you are in different sections and make sure that one of you does not supervise the other person.

# 2 Child Care – If both people have drill weekend on the same weekend, they will need to find child care (if they have kids).  Finding child care on the weekend can be difficult to do, so make sure you find someone who is reliable and also have a person on “reserve” or “back up” so you can call them if needed.

# 3 Deployments – Although this goes hand in hand with the previous issue, I think that dual couples need to be prepared for deployments, especially in today’s Army National Guard.   Make sure that you have a game plan for your family ahead of time and talk with your spouse and kids to let them know what the game plan is.

# 4 Career Decisions – This is another tough challenge that lots of dual military families deal with.  Should you stay in or get out?  Should one person focus on raising the kids while the other focuses on their career?  At the end of the day, every person and every family situation is different, so the two of you need to TALK and decide who is going to do what.  It’s possible for both of you to have a successful, fulfilling career, but it won’t be easy.

# 5  Differences in Rank – Some couples might struggle with the rank differences.  For instance, if one spouse is an Officer and the other is enlisted, or if one spouse is higher ranking than the other spouse, this could create problems at work.  The bottom line is to always be professional, and while you are in uniform make sure you show the other person the respect they deserve, based upon their rank.

Final Thoughts

In summary, there are many challenges that dual Army National Guard Couples have to deal with.  The five listed above are probably the most common issues.  If you and your spouse are both serving in the Army National Guard right now, make sure that the two of you communicate and come up with a game plan to manage your career, prepare your family for deployments, and discuss what each of you want out of your career.

chuck holmes

Chuck Holmes
Former Army Major (resigned)

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7 thoughts on “Common Challenges for Dual Army National Guard Couples”

  1. I agree that married couples should not be in the same unit. If they get married while in the unit hopefully one of them will put in for a transfer. That simple moves solves so many possible problems.

    I know in my current unit all military couples (and single parents) are required to have a Family Care Plan filed with the First Sergeant. This plan includes child care on drill weekends with back ups, child care for deployment of one member and child care if both members are deployed. This includes at least 2 long care options and a couple of short term options. It's really done wonders at preventing problems long before they happen. It's required to be updated every year or whenever your life situation changes.

  2. This is a very delicate subject! I agree with Candace that being in the same battalion is okay. Being in the same unit might be a no-no especially when kids are involved, and definitely if it looks like that unit is going to deploy at the same time. There are so many logistics to take care of in situations like that. Dependable childcare is number one on the list. When my kids were young I know my father would have moved heaven & earth to watch the kids for any amount of time – my mother on the other hand, basically said, “Don’t make me get a full time job so I don’t have to watch your kids.” Tough, right? If that’s family – well, mine anyway – then imagine trying to find friends or neighbors who could accommodate you? And what if – God forbid – you were both deployed and seriously injured or killed? What then?

  3. This would be a challenging relationship issue. I am sure Candace could tell us all more about it. The one thing I would have to say when both in a relationship serve is to leave work at work and home at home. I also agree that in no circumstances whatsoever should a husband and wife serve in the same unit. There is too many bad things that can happen in a situation like that. I believe the Army should make that a mandatory no-no. When you look at civilian companies, most say that relatives cannot both be employed in the same areas for that same exact reason.

    1. My husband and I will never be in the same unit, that is a great piece of advice (although we both are in the same battalion, which makes drill weekends easier). Also, and much more importantly, when we are in uniform, that takes priority. Mission first, Soldiers first, duty first….we focus on that, and then each other if there is time. We are both leaders, and work long hours, and my husband is generally caught up even later than I am. That is just how it is, and it doesn’t bother me. Work stays work, home stays home. The only thing that crosses over is when we talk about work stuff at home, but that’s just to bounce ideas and things off each other, which comes in handy.

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