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Basic Rules For Balancing Your Military Career And Family Life

You love your job as much as you love your family. But do the two really have to compete for each other? Or is it really possible to achieve work-life balance just like any other working citizen out there?

Military service can put a heavy strain on your family life. Here are five ways to keep the two in check

Know That Your Family Will Only have ONE Spouse Or Parent.

Let’s face the reality. Though you are committed to your duty in the military, you should never compromise your family as well as the quality of time and affection they ought to have.

“I think it is a natural tendency for leaders to think that the military will fall apart if they leave the service. Obviously, this is not the case. Every position I have served in had a string of leaders come before me and a string of leaders come after me,” said Joe Byerly, an armor officer and executive officer for the 2nd Squadron, 1st Cavalry Regiment, 1st Stryker Brigade Combat Team, 4th Infantry Division, Fort Carson, Colo. “Once I realized that I made it a point to never sacrifice my family for the sake of getting ahead in my career. Even while commanding two companies, I strived to eat dinner with my family, attend key school functions, and honor family commitments.”

Every career Decision Is A Family Decision.

As hard as putting family first is at times, you should never regret making a family decision on a career move. Discuss everything with your partner and if possible, involve the kids. Getting their opinion is a good practice and could make them feel valued. More often than not, we practically don’t see any good coming from a career move that isn’t compatible with our family.

Take Care Of Your Health.

Your health should always be your number ONE priority. If you are not in good shape physically, mentally, and emotionally, both your work life and your personal life will suffer. Take care of yourself by eating healthy meals (especially breakfast), exercise at least three times per week and sleep a minimum of seven hours per night.

While you may not think you have time to add exercise and extra sleep to your jam-packed schedule, these practices relieve stress, raise your energy level, increase your stamina, improve your mental clarity, boost your immune system, and make you a happier, more engaged, and more productive person. Additionally, refrain from the excessive use of alcohol, tobacco, or drugs to relieve stress. These substances only tend to keep the body in a stressed state and cause even more problems.

Always Find Strategic Ways To Nurture Your Family And Relationships.

Relationships with family, friends, and loved ones are, by far, the greatest source of inner satisfaction. If your job or career is damaging your personal relationships, both areas will ultimately suffer. Definitely, there will be days when you will need to work overtime. The issue becomes problematic when these days become the rule, not the exception. By making your personal relationships a priority, your productivity and effectiveness on the job will actually increase.

Be Intentional At Work And At Home.

Many of military service members are very intentional when it comes to planning training exercises or unit functions, but they leave everything that happens at home up to chance. To overcome uncertainty at home, be creative in planning date nights (even the simplest ones will do), take advantage of your temporary location with family day trips, and avoid becoming complacent by taking vacations.

Know When To Ask For Help.

If you are overwhelmed at performing your duties, and it is causing undue stress don’t suffer in silence. Shed the Superwoman/Superman image and explain your situation to your supervisor. Untenable work situations can usually be alleviated, but it will take some assertiveness on your part. Similarly, if a balanced life continues to elude you, or you are experiencing chronic stress, talk with a professional — a counselor, mental health worker, or clergyperson. Take advantage of the services offered by the military service assistance program.


Managing the tension between your families and the military can be tough at times, but we believe that if you sit down early on in your careers and develop principles with your families, you will be in a position to better manage that tension. It’s very easy for you to lose sight of what is important and chase the next evaluation report, assignment, or rank. Over time, this can have a negative impact on our well-being and our marriages. Never sacrifice your family on the altar of your career.

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