Last month our article Married To A Cop. WT?! (linked below) was one of the most emailed and most read article for about a week. In the world of cops and online publishing, that is a long attention span! So I thought it would be a good idea to write a follow-up article, since I am taking the attention to mean readers are hungry for more, and offer some very practical applications to make your relationship a true partnership.
We found this to be true when we taught at the International Law Enforcement Educators & Trainers Association (ILEETA) this past April in Wheeling, Illinois. We instructed three courses; Survival Skills for Police Marriages, Survival Beyond the Street, and Police Burnout. Obviously, the first course was targeting relationship skills, but when marriage came up in the latter two courses, the reaction was comparable to the old E.F. Hutton commercials. A pin could drop and be heard hitting the floor. The officers in the room were starving for information on marriage skills! This room of very successful law enforcement officers, who also happened to be trainers in their own right, became alive and vibrant as they asked questions. There was also a lot of personal sharing of their own frustrations of balancing their intimate relationship with the job. The big, burly officers began to expose their personal pain as it resembled more of a group therapy session than a skill training session.
In last month's article I stated how Mike has always stayed true to his pledge to put our marriage before the job. I believe this is the primary key to the success of our marriage, but when Mike and I presented this concept at ILEETA it nearly sent the room into a tailspin! The other officers were adamant the job needs to come first or you will not physically survive! Others stated this was their dream and who they are! A police officer cannot turn that off when they walk through the door of their home at the end of the day, or when out with the family, or going about the everyday routine of life. After all, being a cop is not a job, it is who you are! Being a warrior is a full-time job and many of the officers argued that, if they turn that part of themselves off - even a little bit - they and their families will not be safe.
There is another side to this; that of the one who loves the officer. I talk to a lot of police wives through websites such as The National Police Wives Association and PoliceWives.org. I also have friends who are police wives, and have counseled many professionally in my office. One theme I often hear from wives is of loneliness, because they know they cannot compete with a greater good: The call of duty. They so desperately want their husbands to succeed and to love the work they do. However, what they often see is the stressors of the job and the politics of the department beginning to rob their partner's soul. They also see the critical incidents an officer lives through and how it changes their demeanor. For many, by the time their spouse has become a veteran cop the person they married, who was excited and happy about the job and what every day would bring, becomes a cynical, angry, paranoid, choir-practicing, S.O.B. who wants to hang out in his easy chair channel surfing all night long. When it comes to this point, many police wives will either start making statements of well, when he retires it will get better or they will simply leave, for it is not what they signed up for when they said I do.
Forsake all others and become one
I am very blessed Mike has always kept his promise to me that our marriage will always come before the job! It has not always been easy and can be a struggle. We know it is a concept even non-LEO marriages have difficulty keeping, which is one reason divorce rates are so high across the nation and across all professions, but as police families we have unique challenges.