According to a study done in 2018 by the Department of Defence over 20 percent of Active Duty members (enlisted and officer) are in dual-military marriages, meaning an active duty member is married to another active duty or reserve Airman. In some ways, dual military life can be compared to a normal working couple’s relationship, however in many others comes its own unique set of opportunities and challenges.
We don’t get it right all the time, but we choose to focus on open communication, gentleness, and intentionality.
Lt Col’s Jacob and Amy Justus, USAF are an example of a couple with many years of experience as a dual military couple. They met in Squadron Officer school after being on active duty for roughly 5 years. Early on they both realized that their faith would be the foundation that would sustain them through their careers and their marriage. Being a dual military couple is no easy feat, however additionally, being a household of two commanders offers additional stressors.
“Honoring Headship according to Ephesians 5 as the Lord designed is important to our family. We maintain consistency in Church attendance, place God first financially, and ensure that the level of submission to Him is paramount on both sides. It may sound extreme, but keeping Christ at the center of our lives makes the difference. The love we have for Him brings so much security into our marriage. We try to assume noble intent in the actions of the other because we know our love and commitment to Christ and His teachings are real and tangible in our lives. We don’t get it right all the time, but we choose to focus on open communication, gentleness, and intentionality. This has made the most impact in our marriage. We also love serving together. This helps us grow as a couple and as a family.”
Military Marriage and Special Needs Children
“Life can be hectic with a 3,5, and 7 year old, however finding things the boys can help with at church is important to show them they can be the hands and feet of Jesus at any age. We are intentional in reading the bible to them and being honest when we make mistakes. We believe it is important that they see that we not only own our mistakes, but also correct them.”
“Navigating command on both sides has its stressors, however is extremely rewarding. Our advice to other Mil couples is to look at what your career fields expect of you and determine what it is you want out of both your careers. Define what you want for your family, (whether you desire to have children or not) and with the help of leadership formulate a realistic plan. Once you have that, communicate that plan up your chains of command and with your functional career field managers. We have found that in doing that, it has afforded us the opportunity to be able to remain together in many duty assignments rather than apart. This is not a foolproof plan, however being proactive in communication with leadership is always a better option than trying to play defense.”
“We did our best to keep our plan realistic and flexible which both of our career fields were eager to support to keep us both progressing. Amy ended up choosing to do back to back command tours, which has been stressful, but has kept our family together.”
“We have had our fair share of separation as well to include Jake’s deployment while I was pregnant. Was the day to day rough, absolutely, but you can choose to focus on the negative or the positive. Getting through those “make it or break it” seasons, strengthened the confidence in our love and commitment to one another and showed us how much our presence meant to one another.”
“Our biggest support in those times as well as through our time in the military comes from the friendships we have made from our local church community. One of the biggest pieces of advice we give to other couples is do not forsake your military and church community. After each PCS we waste no time diving into church life as well as serving. We join life groups or small groups, bible studies, and find ways to participate in our military and church community activities. These communities have been the anchor through the storms we have gone through and we cannot stress the importance of this as a part of your life, marriage and family.”
“We want others to know, we are not perfect, we mess up and ask for forgiveness. Sometimes it is hard to say sorry, but we know it is vital to our relationship. One rule in command is to never ask something of someone that we would not do ourselves. We keep that rule in our marriage. We do our best to love and respect as Christ has taught us and try to lead others by His example.”