Living in a Fishbowl
Another hard thing to take is living in a fishbowl. To each law enforcement officer and his or her family this can look very different. My husband and I lived in a large metropolitan area and many of our neighbors did not know what he did for a living. He worked in an area away from our home and didn't have to mediate conflicts with people he had grown up with. Many officers and their families struggle with separating the personal from the professional. What we faced most often were the constant questions or requests for advice from people when they learned he was an officer. I would stand quietly by his side waiting to go mix and mingle at a party as he would explain why the officer had a right to give this friend a ticket, how a civil case was different from a criminal case or why a recent police shooting across the country was or was not justified in his opinion. I doubt a trash collector's wife has to listen to queries about the best way to get out of putting their can at the curb at the right time of morning.
The biggest difference in being married to a law enforcement officer, in my opinion, is being connected to the pain that comes with the job. No human could be out in the world seeing, feeling, hearing and experiencing the amount of chaos and turmoil that exists in a police world and not be affected. This affect comes home with them. It gets reflected to those this officer loves in many different ways. It comes out as frustration, anger, impatience, distrust, and the hardest for me to handle, grief. Words cannot express the fear and sorrow that entered my heart when my strong, well trained, composed, stoic husband cried. The ache it caused in me is indescribable. I faced those tears after he witnessed the death of a child, after a violent sexual predator who he had spent hours meticulously building a case against went free on a court blunder and after losses of his brothers in blue; three to gunfire, one to a fight that ended up under a semi and one to a car wreck on his way home from shift. The ache still haunts me.
Being married to a police officer is not like being married to someone who does any other occupation. Yes, it is just a job, but within this job comes a lifestyle, a way of thinking and a social atmosphere. For these reasons, and those I've described, we have been given books such as, I Love a Cop and Cops Don't Cry. These manuals, along with support groups, online forums and informal get-togethers, help us survive in our world affected by our LEO's world. As long as we love a cop, we get to enjoy the whirlwind of emotion that comes with pride when he, or any other officer, does well or shame, when someone in blue messes up. We want to defend and justify when they or just their badge is attacked. We know most of them are good, honorable men and women. Because of this, we fight for them in public and in our hearts. This is what makes it different.