I gave up my longtime dream of being a cop. I took a deep breath and willfully surrendered it - a job I had felt drawn to and had dreamed about for years - opting instead to seek out a completely different career path altogether.
All for a woman who was emphatic she never wanted to be married to a cop!
As it turns out, that may have been the best decision I ever made.
Althea recently authored a pair of articles about marriage, written from the perspective of the spouse or domestic partner of a law enforcement officer. Both articles received a lot of attention and she got some great responses from readers, hearing from officers, the spouses of officers, and even officers married to other officers (Married to a Cop, WT..?! and Marriage Before the Job: Really?!). Out of the feedback she received came the suggestion I write something in the same vein, from the perspective of the one who wears the badge, to define my experience of how we have made marriage not only work but become even stronger despite - and maybe even because of - my working in a profession notoriously hard on relationships.
Fair enough. First, let me say this: LEOs have a notoriously high divorce rate, and are prone to experience issues and discord within their marriages at least as often as non-LEOs. Nonetheless, there is a multitude of cops who are happily married, or in long-term, forever ever after relationships, that could teach all of us a thing or two. There are others who are on marriage number two, three, or more who learned from past missteps and now enjoy smooth sailing. Believe me; we invite them or their spouses to share their experience and lessons learned if they feel inclined. This article is just my experience.
Althea likes to tell the story of how we met after we both took jobs at the same social service agency in early 1990, and how we started hanging out after I began following her around. The first part of that is true, but the second...? Nonsense! She clearly lured me. Besides, I had no interest in dating anyone and in all candor I was really bad at dating anyway (no use BSing in this era of social networking; if I tried to present myself as even halfway competent in those days I would be easily outed!).
Althea was equally uninterested in dating, having just moved back to Illinois from California and dedicated to mastering her new job, and I was not even close to being her type. We did become really good friends, however, despite our mutual disinterest in dating, and her subconscious luring of me continued. Even though I thought she was pretty cute and had come to think she would probably be a great girlfriend (if I was looking for one and I most definitely was NOT and I would certainly just screw it up if I was, anyway) I still was not her type. Besides, I had already told her of my longtime dream of being a police officer, and she made it quite clear she would never date or marry a cop because of the lifestyle, the hours, the absences, the danger, and the divorce rate. She just knew it was not possible for her. Cute or not, this was a no-brainer all around!
Naturally, we started dating. We kept on dating and becoming more and more serious. Things were not turning out as I had planned, and I liked it!
Now, I should point out that being a police officer was a big dream, but one I had very little chance of realizing. I had applied and tested for a few departments after college and, while my scores were generally pretty good, I ran up against a major hurdle: Every law enforcement agency I looked at was adamant about its officers being able to see. I was nearsighted, and not just a little. Without glasses or contacts, I was Mr Magoo! While most agencies might allow uncorrected vision of up to 20/100 or even 20/200, 20/(crashing into walls & tripping over furniture without my contacts) was a little more than they were willing to overlook. So even though Althea would never date or marry a cop, it did not look that would really ever be an issue.