Good question. There’s a lot that I don’t know yet, but here are some things I do:
- Tandem couples are married members of the Foreign Service, whether the Department of State, USAID, Department of Commerce, etc.
- There’s no guarantee that tandem couples will be placed together, but the government does try its best to make sure they are. The fact that Alex and I will work for the same agency but in different career tracks ups our odds.
- To stick together, though, we may have fewer posts to choose from.
- We’ll each get our own salary, benefits, pensions, etc.
- One benefit we won’t get two of: government-provided houses. Yes, we’ll have to share the same house at post. Ugh.
- At various points we’ll have to make hard decisions about whose career takes precedence. The word “tandem” is fitting. Like a tandem bicycle, we won’t be riding along side-by-side. One person will be leading in front; the other will be following behind.
It’s also quite possible that we won’t be a tandem couple for quite some time. It is probably too late for me to dream of sliding onto the register and into an A-100 class in time to join Alex as an FSO in Cotonou (and that’s assuming there was even a position available there, which there isn’t). It’s far more likely that I’ll defer my assignment until Alex’s second post. At that point we’ll try to link up.
Of course like many things, the gears of this process turn slowly. The next step is for me to actually get my security clearance. Then we can talk to Alex’s CDO about what our options are. Then, finally, we’ll have more of an idea of what’s going on. Until then, I’ll bask in the warm glow of having actually passed that exam.